World War One sources

Photographed in 1914. First World War recruits lined up in front of the Town Hall then being used as a recruitment station.  [MS 2724/2/B/3494]

Photographed in 1914. First World War recruits lined up in front of the Town Hall then being used as a recruitment station.
[MS 2724/2/B/3494]

A question we are increasingly asked in this centenary year of the start of World War One, is what sources we hold for researching the histories of ancestors who were in the armed forces in the First World War.  So in this week’s blog post we thought we’d take a look at some of the resources we have available in Archives, Heritage and Photography.

In our military genealogy section you can find:

  • General histories of national regiments from the Famous Regiments Series
  • In the Men at Arms series British Battle Insignia 1914 – 1918
  • Registers of recipients of the Victoria and George Cross
  • General  guides to using military records
  • Books on medals
  • RFC and RAF roll of honour  1914-1918
  • Airmen who died in the Great War
  • Prison Service Roll of Honour  1914-1918
  • Red Cross list of wounded and missing  1917
  • List of British Officers taken prisoner  1914-1918
  • Warwickshire Roll of Honour  1914 – 2005
  • National Roll of Honour, Great War
  • Roll of Honour, Birmingham World War One

There are also a number of useful books in the Birmingham Collection relating to Birmingham Battalions and the Royal Warwickshire Regiments as well as more general books about the First World War. These can be found in the section Birmingham History under the reference BCOL 75.

Available in the Quick Reference section, we have:

  • Lists of Soldiers Died in the Great War for the Worcestershire, Royal Warwickshire and South Staffordshire regiments
  • Birmingham City Battalions Book of Honour
  • Book of Honour for Birmingham Men and Women who fell in the Great War 1914-1918
  • Bibliography of Regimental Histories
  • City of Birmingham Book of Remembrance

We hold a number of General Register Office indexes on fiche:

  • War deaths  1914 – 1921 (divided into Officers, other ranks etc.)
  • Navy deaths (all ranks) 1914 – 1921
  • Marine deaths 1837 – 1965
  • Marine births 1837 – 1965
  • Army marriages within British lines 1914 – 1925

and the Absent Voters lists for 1918-1926 are available on microfilm. To view microfilm and fiche records, please come to the customer service desk on floor 4 to book a reader.

Ancestry.com which is available in all Birmingham libraries has a large number of useful records which you can access by selecting Search and Military records. These include:

  • Army WWI Service records 1914 – 1920
  • WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914 – 1920
  • WWI Pension Records 1914 – 1920
  • UK Soldiers died in Great War 1914 – 1919
  • UK Citations of DC Medal 1914 – 1920
  • Navy Lists 1888 – 1970
  • UK Naval Medal and Awards Rolls 1793 – 1972
  • Commonwealth War Graves cemetery and memorial registers 1914 – 1921
  • National Roll of Great War (includes Birmingham)
  • Silver War Badge records (awarded to service personnel  honourably discharged due to injury and sickness  so that they could avoid being accused of cowardice at home)
  • De Ruvigny Roll of Honour 1914 – 1924 (this is also available on open access in the Military Genealogy section)
  • Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll 1914 – 1919
  • Royal Aero Club Aviators Certificates 1910 – 1950
  • UK Victoria Cross Medals 1857 – 2007
  • GB Royal Naval Division Casualties of the Great War 1914 – 1924
  • UK British Officers Prisoners of War 1914 – 1918

To view Ancestry on level  4, please come to the customer service desk and a member of staff will book you onto the computer.

Some material from the stack needs ordering in advance either in person, or by emailing archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk or by calling 0121 242 4242. This includes our newspaper cuttings on World War One, written from the 1960s onwards, and newspaper cuttings relating to the Hall of Memory, 1921-1981. It also includes the Army and Navy lists (Officers only), mid 19th century –  2012 and the Air Force Lists (Officers only) 1918 – 2007.

Sources in the archives relating to the First World War are listed in the Source Guide available here (http://10.100.179.32/calmview/app_themes/default/images/bah-source-war-ww1.pdf) and these can be viewed by making an appointment in the Wolfson Centre for Archival research by emailing archives.appointments@birmingham.gov.uk.

In our Useful websites list 2014, which you can pick up from the leaflet stand at the desk, there is a section dedicated to researching military history. It is also available on our website (http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/article/familyhistory/familyhistorywebsites).

There is plenty of useful information on the Long Long Trail website http://www.1914-1918.net/ about how to research an ancestor in the army, or find out about a specific battalion or a battle.

Finally, the National Archives has plenty of useful advice on researching military records (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/firstworldwar.htm) in their holdings and elsewhere and it has a dedicated portal from where you can access all of their online  collections and a variety of blogs and podcasts relating to the First World War (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war/).  It has also put together an online exhibition (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/index.htm).

Eleanor, Senior Customer Experience Assistant

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