A good hint for researching those with destroyed records

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A good hint for researching those with destroyed records

Postby MarkCDodd » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:04 pm

This relies on you having access to excellent Ancestry indexes.

If you have found your serviecman's Medal Card then you have at least one Regimental Number to work with and the section of the forces they were assigned to i.e. R.F.A .

If they have multiple Regimental Numbers, always start with the earliest listed on the Medal Card which for soldiers is usually the one they were given the 14/15 star for. (If they served that early).

The Ancestry index should tell you what unit(s) they served in i.e. 1st Worcestershire or 2nd Staffordshire or R.F.A etc

Seach the Medal Index Cards solely on Regimental Number either side of the one you have and look for servicemen in the same unit.

Perhaps 5 each side of your number so you have a collection of ten servicemen to look up.

You should see that at least one of the Roles on the card is similar to your serviceman's.

Write their names down along with any Regimental Number given them.

Search the WWI Service Records for the soldiers you have listed. Usually the surname and Regimental Number are enough.

Search the WWI Pension Records the same way.

If you are lucky you should get 4 or 5 of those servicemen have surviving records.

Take note of:

a) Where and when they enlisted. This will at least give you the date and place of enlistment for your serviceman!

b) The unit they are assigned to on thier attestation form. This is usually on the second page and will consist of "Certificate of Primary Medical Examination" where the Medical Officer say what branch of the service they are fit for and the "Certificate of Approving Officer" which will list the specific unit they are first assigned to.

Hopefully both a) and b) are the same for each of the servicemen you find the records for.

From there it is a bit of a slog as you have to read each servicemens record.

Take note of when units are disbanded/renamed/almagamated.

Hopefully this group of serviemen stick together through all of this and then you can assume you serviceman was with them as well.

You can then assume you serviceman fought in the same battles etc.

Hopefully their medal cards reflect this as they finish and end with the same Roles listed and the same page numbers.


This works really well for units based on Counties and especially if they enlisted at a local recruitment center.

It is a bit harder if they signed up from a central recruiting station, such as Maidstone, and allocated to generic units such as the R.F.A.

You will then find they tend to get dispursed pretty quickly after their initial deployment but usually this is still based on county information.

You best bet with the R.F.A is to find others with a close Regimental Number who are also from the same County.

Then they will tend to be allocated to the artillery units associated with that County and you can safely assume your serviceman was in the same artillery brigade.


The amount of accuracy you can achieve is based on how much work you put into it.

The more servicemen you are willing to investigate and your ability to find commonality amongst them is the limiting factor.
Black Holes happen when God divides by zero.
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