[page last updated 14 May 2015]
Help with tracing records:
The first step is to apply for a serviceman's records from the MOD archives.
is the website to visit.
Select if you want to apply as next of kin, or general researcher.
It helps to provide the MOD with as much information as possible. You can apply without knowing a Service No. but this will involve a much longer search. It is currently taking about 8 weeks to get a reply, even with full details. The current cost is 30 pounds per application. It might sound a lot, but if the serviceman's career was a lengthy one, there could be scores of pages on his file in which case it is pretty good value. If the application is made by a serviceman himself or his surviving spouse then there is no charge.
Check with family members to see if any of them have the serviceman's bible or any other personal momentos from the War, or post war Military Associations, which might have been inscribed with his name and Service Number.
I have included service numbers where known already, on each man's data page. Locating the correct service Number can be very tricky if the forename(s) and surname are common. It might help to have the parents or spouse's details too if you cannot locate a service number.
Once you have the service record, you can then begin the search for the War Diaries which apply to the time he was in a particular unit. War Diary originals are held at the National Archives in Kew, London.
The National Archives allow digital photography, and if you cannot find a war diary online, and can visit the National Archives, do take a digital camera with you as it makes the process of getting copies, so much faster and cheaper than photocopying.
Many war diaries have already been transcribed and published on the internet, so it is worth browsing online to check what is already available. The quality of information available from War Diaries does vary. Some are very detailed while others offer the barest minimum of information.
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