Twelve Months of Genealogy – November
November is a month of Remembrance in Canada and other places around the world. This is the time when we remember the veterans of all the wars and conflicts that have involved Canadians. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. This month we will look at places to find information on your veteran ancestors.
In the first week of November we will look at records for Canada. The first stop should be the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website. Here you can find information on soldiers of the First and Second World War. The Soldiers of the First World War database has digital copies of attestation papers. You will find a link so you can order a copy of their military file online.
In two previous posts (post 1 and post 2) I have gone through the information to be found under the topic of military in the Library and Archives Canada Genealogy and Family History section. This section used to be called the Canadian Genealogy Centre.
In the second week of November we will examine the military records for England. Here the first stop is The National Archives of England and Documents Online. Documents Online have databases for Army, Navy and Air Force. The First World War Medal Index Cards are a great resource.
You can find the First World War Medal Index Cards on Ancestry as well as digital copies of the surviving military files. At Findmypast you will find Chelsea Pensioner records as well as many other military records.
In the third week of November we will look at military records for the United States. The first stop is usually Ancestry but you will also find information at World Vital Records which covers the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II and at FamilySearch. The National Archives and Record Administration has a section on their website dedicated to Veteran’s Service Records.
The fourth week of November we will look at the military records from Australia. The ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) hold a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia and New Zealand.
The Australian War Memorial has descriptions of all the conflicts Australians have been involved in from 1788 through to the present day. They have a wonderful site that you should visit and take time to go through all the different links and pages.
There is a general database you can search to find information on veterans from many different conflicts.
The National Archives of Australia hold the military personnel records. They have a page dedicated to the First World War and if you scroll down you can access a link to a search page. You can search their records to see if a reference can be found for your ancestor and you can usually access a digital copy of their military file.
You will find a link to Mapping our Anzacs which is a virtual scrapbook to remember those who fought for King and country in the First World War. There is a link here to access the military files and they encourage people to create scrapbook pages to remember their loved ones.
The last week of November we will look at some general places to find information. If you have a regiment name then the first place to start is a Google search. In England you may find a regimental museum which may be able to help you with more information.
Research the battles in which your ancestor fought and find out what the soldiers went through. I know that one of my collateral lines fought in the Battle of Waterloo and that his first child was born just behind the field of battle. Women were sometimes allowed to follow their men during campaigns. They would stay behind at the camp during battles. This usually happened if the soldier was an officer.
You may be able to find sketches or pictures of the uniform your ancestor might have worn. Did they wear a uniform or their regular clothes? This sometimes happened if they were in the militia.
The military file might be the first place to look for information but not the last. What about muster rolls, pension rolls, and other records where you might find someone who was in the military.
Do not forget things like military diaries. Library and Archives Canada have digital copies of the war diaries of the First World War online.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database online. You can search for casualties of the First and Second World Wars from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India and South Africa.
Is your ancestor remembered on a war memorial in their home town? You can search online and see what you can find. Scotland has The Scottish National War Memorial online. You can search the Scottish Roll of Honour for entries from the First and Second World Wars and post 1945.
This Remembrance Day why not write the story of your veteran ancestor so that their sacrifice and their accomplishments will not fade away.
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