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© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
Finding Those Who Served
Those   men   of   the   British   Isles   who   served   in   WW1   and   died   for   their   country   –   around   850,000   of   them   –   are   generally   well   recorded. The   Commonwealth   War   Graves   Commission   database   holds   a   wealth   of   information.   Local   memorials   and   Rolls   of   Honour   add   to   this as do publications such as “Soldiers Died in the Great War”, local newspapers and Parish Magazines. Service   and   Pension   records   for   those   who   fought   on   land,   sea   and   air   in   WW1   have   now   almost   all   passed   the   100   year   confidentiality limit   and   those   that   survive   are   available   on-line,   at   regimental   archives   and   in   the   National   Archives   at   Kew.   Although   mostly complete   for   Navy   and   Air   Force   personnel,   soldier’s   records   are   less   so   due   to   the   loss   of   over   60%   of   the   enlisted   men’s   records   in the London Blitz of WW2, and the “consolidation” of officers records in the post-war years. For   the   army   however   three   other   sets   of   records   exist   which   are   more   complete,   firstly   the   Medal   Roll   books   which   list   regiment   by regiment   all   those   entitled   to   one   or   more   general   service   medals;   secondly   the   card   index   to   these   compiled   in   the   1920’s   (“Medal Index   Cards”   or   MICs)   and   thirdly   the   London   Gazette   which   published   on   a   weekly   basis   Gallantry   Awards   and   Officer   promotions. Again   all   of   these   are   available   on   line   or   at   TNA,   Kew.   The   published   Army   Lists   for   the   war   years   can   also   prove   useful   in   finding officers and once again these are available both at Kew and in a number of on-line locations. Much   of   the   information   gleaned   from   these   sources   can   then   be   tied   in   with   that   to   be   found   in   the   various   Regimental   War   Diaries,   a good percentage of which also survive and are available at various Records Offices for public viewing. As   well   as   those   sources   noted   in   the   2 nd    and   3 rd    paragraphs   above,   further   key   records   in   this   exercise   are   the   Absent   Voters   Lists (AVLs)   complied   in   1918   and   1919   (and   in   some   cases   right   through   until   1922)   which   record   the   names   and   details   of   men   aged   21 and   over   eligible   to   vote   under   the   terms   of   the   new   “Representation   of   the   People   Act”   of   1918   who   were   still   serving   away   from home. The West Sussex record remains complete and intact in the County Records Office in Chichester. A   second   set   of   similar   records   –   the   1918   Electoral   Register   –   backs   up   the   AVL   and   also   helps   to   put   many   men   in   the   context   of   their families   as   siblings   and   surviving   parents   are   often   recorded   at   the   same   addresses   as   the   Act   mentioned   above   extended   the franchise not only to all men over 21 but also to all married women over the age of 30.
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