Thursday, June 17, 2021

Virtual Institute for Military Research


Join us on November 23 & 24 for a two day intensive on Researching British Military Ancestors. Our presenter is British Army expert Paul Nixon. Paul is our Military columnist for British Connections and is also the military expert at Findmypast.


This two-day conference will examine the role our British ancestors played in the service of their monarch and country. This will look at service between 1760 and 1945, with the main focus on the British Army between 1870 and 1945.

Day 1 will begin with an overview of the topics to be covered and what survives online and offline. Two sessions will be dedicated to service at sea and service in the air, before we move on to the British Army.

1. Overview – British military research

  • what survives and where to find it
  • Where to start
  • Where to look online and offline
  • What has been published
  • What is still to come

2. My ancestor served on the water

  • Service with the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines
  • Interpretation of service records
  • Further sources of information

3. My ancestor served in the air

  • Service with the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force
  • Interpretation of service records
  • Further sources of information

4. My ancestor served on the land

  • Service with the British Army; terms of service
  • Interpretation of service records
  • Further sources of information
  • Focus on muster rolls and pay lists

Day 2 will focus entirely on service in the British Army: how the army evolved, how it was organized, how we can be smart in using surviving source material to inform us about soldiers’ services.

5. The organisation of the regular British Army 1760-1945

  • The British Army to 1870
  • The Cardwell Reforms and the Localization Scheme
  • The British Army 1870-1881
  • The Childers Reforms and the British Army 1881-1920
  • The British Army 1920-1945

6. The component parts of the British Army Regulars

  • The Militia, Special Reserve & Extra Reserve
  • The Volunteers and Terriers

7. Piecing together the jigsaw

  • Key documents
  • Using regimental and army numbers to aid research
  • Working out where soldiers served

8. The essential British Army reference library

  • Queen’s and King’s regulations
  • Chronicles, journals and war diaries
  • Annuals and year books
  • Autobiography and biography
  • Summary of the last two days, and close.
Case studies will be referenced throughout the two-day event. All presentations are being recorded and will be available for one month following the live event. 


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