The records of the First World War are too numerous to be discussed in any
detail, but the following outline should give you an indication of where to
start in your search for your relative.
For a comprehensive outline of the records
see Fowler et al., Army Service Records of the First World War.
The service records of those soldiers who survived to be discharged after 1913
are held at the PRO in two separate classes, which have been or are in the process
of being microfilmed:
- WO 364 (the `unburnt documents') contains records of many of those who were
discharged for medical reasons
- WO 363 (the `burnt documents') contains many records of those who survived
the war, plus those killed in action, those who died of their wounds and those
who were executed. Many of these documents were burnt completely or partially
as a result of enemy bombing during the Second World War, so those that survive
are too fragile to be studied by the general public. Microfilming of these
documents is in progress - eventually there will be more than 20,000 reels.
If your ancestor's records have not yet been filmed you can apply for them
to the Ministry of Defence.
The PRO also holds a large collection of pension records including:
- pension registers for war disabled, and for payments made to dependants
of the dead and missing (PMG 9, PMG 42, PMG 11, PMG 44-47)
- pension case files (PIN 26)
As colonies were gradually established in far-off continents around the world
during the 18th and 19th centuries, separate colonial regiments were raised
when they were needed. An overall view of the colonial regiments is given in
Perkins, Regiments and Corps of the British Empire and Commonwealth: a Critical
Bibliography. Many other records are held in the national archives of the different