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First World War Army Top Tips

Local and family history A-Z > Family History

Starting Your Search

  • British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920 (Ancestry)
    Every man and woman (as well as a few civilians) who saw service overseas was issued with a medal.
  • British Army WWI Service Records (Ancestry)
    These include the forms men completed when they joined the army. They also record a man’s service, both at home and overseas.
    Often known as the ‘burnt records’. Only 40% survive after a bomb attack in WWII led to a fire in the War Office building, where the records were held, destroying many of the records.
    May still be held by the MOD if ancestor remained in the army after WWI.
  • British Army WWI Pension Records (Ancestry)
    For those who were discharged from the Army because of sickness or wounds and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to the Second World War.
  • England, the National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918 (Ancestry)
    Mini biographies of British soldiers who served, including some who died. Information for the entries was generally submitted by family members or the soldiers themselves who paid to be included. Information provided was not verified and therefore, may or may not be accurate.
    The collection does not cover the whole of the country, and even for the areas it does cover, is not comprehensive.
    All volumes are available at Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard libraries.  Bedford Central Library holds the volume covering Bedford and Northampton.


Ancestry Library Edition website
FREE to use in Bedfordshire Libraries (free for two hours in Central Bedfordshire Libraries, free for the first 60 minutes in Bedford Borough Libraries)
Ancestry are offering library members access to the Library Edition from home until the end of June 2021.
Click here to log in with your library card number and PIN.

Was he awarded any medals/honours for gallantry?

If your ancestor died in the war:

  • UK, Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 (Ancestry)
    Lists those who died during WWI.
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Lists the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated.
  • War memorials
    Roll of Honour commemorates those who died or were injured, often for both World Wars. Search by village/town to see if your ancestor is named.
  • War Memorials Archive enables you to search the records of war memorials commemorating all wars located throughout the United Kingdom. They range from familiar community crosses and statues to less common memorials like bus shelters, sundials, park benches and even an island. 60,000 memorials have been recorded so far.

Other Resources

  • Local newspapers
    We haveback files of local newspapers on microfilm or in bound volumes
  • The Times Newspaper 1785-2007
    Search the complete digital edition of the Times newspaper.
  • Useful websites
    Armed Services section of WebLinks
  • Books
    Search the catalogue> Advanced search > Subject> Armed Forces, genealogy
  • War diaries
    The National Archives began digitising diaries in 2011
    May also be kept at Regimental museums
  • Absent Voters Lists – Reference Libraries or Archives
    After 6 February 1918, service men could register to vote in the constituency of their home address. Two Absent Voters Lists were published in October 1918 and April 1919. Men had to be over 21 years old to vote, so the names of men under 21 are not included.
  • Bedfordshire Archives has the Bedfordshire and Luton Absent Voters List
  • Soldiers’ wills
    Free to search but £10 to view a will

Page last updated: 17th June 2020