Sunday, 7 June 2015

Researching British Army Casualties: "new" source

Researching casualties of the Victorian British Army has always been difficult because their service papers were destroyed, although a few have survived. So, the prospect of finding out more about "Pte T Smith" was always slim. War memorials are a potential source in giving the area they came from or giving a first name, but "Thomas Smith" of Birmingham is still difficult. War memorial information is shown as part of a soldier's record on The Register.

On January 15th Ancestry made available the "UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" from the National Army Museum, Chelsea. These books contain 872,395 records detailing the disposal of monies owed to a soldier who died in service. A typical entry shows first name, surname, service number, regiment, date of enlistment, place of enlistment, for early records a trade is shown, date of death, place of death, how much was owed, to who it was paid: wife, parent, sibling.


The entry for Lance-Sergeant 5414 Henry Wyatt 2nd bn South Wales Borderers. New information: enlisted 22-09-1896, London, trade Blacksmith's mate; next of kin: mother Sarah.

The value of this data in tracing the family history of a soldier is huge, census searches are more accurate with a first name, an assumed date of birth based on enlistment year, next of kin details and possible location.

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