Great War Genealogy

Here I offer you a very special and valuable product –  a book about your ancestor who served in the Great War, something which you can share with your relations, which can be handed down through the generations and which could stimulate further research and/or travel.


They were somebody’s Ancestors

Every family in Great Britain and Ireland and in many parts of the Commonwealth was affected by the First World War. As a result of family stories, photographs, medals, letters or mementos, you might be aware of having an ancestor who served in that momentous conflict but you know very little about him or her. It is possible to uncover a lot of information, but it can be time-consuming and complicated, especially if you are unfamiliar with the primary sources and where to find them. As I have been researching Great War service people for many years (see An Imperishable Record for examples of my work), I know my way around the available records and am able to reconstruct the life of an ancestor in a fair amount of detail. In the first instance, I study the following items (where available):

  • Medal Rolls and Index Cards
  • Army, Navy and Air Force Service and Pension Records
  • Soldiers and Officers Died in the Great War Database
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission References
  • The Register of Soldiers’ Effects
  • De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour
  • England the National Roll of the Great War
  • Battalion War Diaries
  • Officers’ Service Papers at the National Archives
  • Medal Citations
  • The London Gazette
  • Census Returns and Civil Registration
  • Family Trees


    Medal Awarded to a Liverpool Man, bought by one of my students in Ypres in 2014 – the starting point for research into the soldier’s life.

From there, I move onto any other sources which might be available in libraries and archives offices, including:

  • Newspapers
  • Local Directories
  • Business and Council Records
  • Diaries and Memoirs
  • Local War Memorials and Books of Remembrance
  • Regimental and Divisional Histories
  • Photographs and Films
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Liddle Collection, University of Leeds

I strive to place your ancestor in his or her historical context and to discover where he or she went and what he or she did. The finished product is an illustrated and fully referenced biography (in other words a ‘life story’) with an appendix containing copies of all the sources which have been used. I will send it to you on a disc so that you can print it as many times as you like and share it with family. I can also print it out and have it bound at extra cost if you like.

My costs reflect the amount of work which will be undertaken. Unfortunately, due to the lack of sources, some ancestors prove to be very difficult to research and I am only able to produce a brief summary of his or her probable experiences, whereas others have a multitude of associated sources and much fuller biographies can be written. The latter is often the case with soldiers who have extant service records (service records for soldiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand are particularly thorough) and officers whose papers exist at the National Archives.


Female Ancestors might also have served.

Charges for Great War Biographies

  • £25 initial deposit for all work; if I am unable to find very much about your ancestor, I will write a brief report and this is all you will pay.
  • £75 for a reasonable-sized biography which is based approximately on a half to three-quarters of the sources mentioned above.
  • £125 for a full and exhaustive biography which is based on three-quarters to all of the sources mentioned above.
  • Extra Charges for travel to repositories and obtaining copies of records: If I have to travel to a library or archive in order to  find papers, I will discuss this with you in advance and charge you for the resulting expenses; if there are relevant officers’ papers at the National Archives, there will be an extra £20 copying fee. Fortunately, I will not have to travel to London to obtain them, but am able to pay someone else to do it for me.
  • Printing and Binding Charges: If you would like me to get the biography professionally bound, speak to me and I will arrange it at extra cost.

What to do Next.

If you are thinking of asking me to write a biography of an ancestor, please get in touch with me via my  contact page. I promise to provide you with a friendly and efficient service. Thank you very much for your interest. I hope to hear from you soon.