Family History

Bond of Sacrice accession no. 2500-02Discover your family’s First World War history

The First World War had a huge impact on all those who lived through it.

By its end, there were very few people in the countries that took part who remained unaffected.

The war reached out and touched almost everyone’s life in some way or other.

Men enlisted, or were called up, in their millions. Children grew up in the shadow of battle, their fathers absent or lost.

Women became directly involved, taking up work in industry and agriculture as the men went off to fight. By 1918, they too could serve their country.

In this way, almost all family histories will include someone who took part in the war. Now, one hundred years after its start, find out how your ancestors were affected by the war. Discover what they experienced and remember their lives.

Start your search

There are many places to start your search for information about a relative’s First World War service. Here is a selection of some useful online archives and databases which can provide the details you need.

The UK National Archives hold a range of records related to those who lived during the First World War. Click here to find out what they have and how to access them.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a casualty database which lists the names and place of commemoration of the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) database has the records of over 600,000 men and women who enlisted in the CEF during the First World War as soldiers, nurses and chaplains and includes digitized attestation papers

The Australian War Memorial holds service and operational records for Australian servicemen

The London Gazette archive can be searched for military appointments, promotions, awards and notices published during the war

Regimental museums across the UK hold information, records and other items related to those who served during the war. You can search an online database for further information and contact details.

The collections of IWM (Imperial War Museums) include a wide range of material, from film and oral history to works of art, large objects, and personal letters and diaries. You can search them online here.

Lives of the First World War will bring material from museums, libraries, archives and family collections from across the world together to enable you to discover the life stories of those who served in uniform and worked on the home front.

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