Ancestry online: finding ancestors who were involved in WWI

Our Reference Librarian, Owen Grey, writes:

Have you ever looked into how your family was involved in the Great War?

They may not have mentioned it to you, perhaps because it is too upsetting: the horror of the conflict is felt to this day with soldiers and artillery still being found, recently with tragic consequences; they feel you would not be interested (perhaps you never asked them); and in these more peaceful days they may not be proud that they were a member of the army. Whatever the reason,  it would be a fascinating and worthwhile project to find out more about the people involved, and perhaps who even gave their lives, during WWI – especially as we reach the 100th anniversary of its beginning.

Indeed, I myself found out from a comment from a relative that my Great Grandfather gave his life in 1917, and used Ancestry Online, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, to find out more .

Ancestry, our online database of thousands of family history records, does not just provide birth and death details, it can also help us to find more information about our ancestors- or even find ancestors we never knew we had! Once we know a few simple details, we can then find their war records using AncestryAncestry doesn’t only have UK records, it also contains:

  • records from the US, the Commonwealth, France, Germany and other European countries who were also involved in the conflict.
  • Service records
  • Medals
  • War graves
  • Rolls of honour – those who died in the war
Ancestry online
Ancestry online

You can search specifically in a particular military record, in military records in general or perhaps just in amongst Ancestry’s vast number of records.

Once you have found items of interest you could perhaps ask family members more about what they know, and continue your detective work into your family history. Try looking in newspapers (using the Times Digital Archive) from WWI to see what was happening when your family members were involved in conflict. Your search could even uncover a grave or memorial. 

Drop into Kensington Central Reference Library to find out more about Ancestry and our other online databases. A member of our team will be happy to help you use them!

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