Research World War One Gallantry awards and casualties

Search World War One Gallantry awards and casualties, the historical London street directory and pub history site.

London & World War One gallantry and casualties

LCC index & do  you need a researcher

This year (2018) is One hundred years since the end of the Great World War, when so many young soldiers died, often as young as fifteen. This year will be the start of that closure process for may families. There will be many tributes and services to commemorate this centenary; but this site is about how you can research your ancestors who died, and where to find some record of their life; and the hardships; plus many of the amazing heroic actions with many gallantry awards during this war.

The London18 site will build on this, and also provide details on how to research long lost relatives who were involved in these conflicts. It is typical of many of the sites already offering this service, but with one slight difference, this site is freely searchable, and has thousands of records added to the local search engines. Use the local search engine to search.

The Artists Rifles.

Formed in 1859, as a Volunteer Light Infantry; formed into three battalions in 1914. It appears to have been largely an Officers Training Corps during the Great War. Wilfred Owen was one of the many officers who began their careers in the Artists Rifles.

London County Council records.

The London County Council also provided a service record of the Great War, in 1920, and this was awarded to all of its former staff. It is another brilliant record of the war; and its highs and lows, the dead and those awarded with gallantry medals; this record actually lists about 10,000 former LCC personnel, and brief details of their war record, including deaths and their length of service, their regiment, and any gallantry awards etc.

I think we need to start with two sites, one is the London Gazette, the other is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Both sites are brilliant, and all research is free, and open to all. In fact as a starter, ready this account of The 23rd (Service) Battalion Royal Fusiliers (First Sportsman's) A Record of its Services in the Great War, 1914-1919 by Fred Ward.

London Gazette & CWGC.

After a read through, there is an entire list of service personnel who were killed, and also a massive listing of medal honours. You can search on the basic detail of some of these people at the CWGC to verify these facts, plus details such as grave registration reports and headstone listings; and also try the same names in the London Gazette. If you have access to Ancestry, for example, you can further research a persons records prior to the war, in particular the 1911 census; and also you may find a medal card and also a will with direct links to other members of the family. These last three access points will often confirm the same detail. The latter is free in any local library.

One point that I should note is that military records are very impersonal, they are name, rank and serial number. It is really difficult to find personal details about a person when you only have a surname and an initial. Good luck on this.

Actually, this is not entirely accurate, as I have now also found the records of the National Archive Discovery service. They are brief detail, in many instances, but incredibly useful in confirming name, rank and regimental number.

The Great War - 1914 to 1918.

Germany invaded Belguim on the 5th August 1914.  A few days later, the British government declared war on Germany. This was the start of a long, and devastating war between the countries; and around the world. By the end of the 1914, one million British citizens have signed up to fight. It was all meant to be over by Christmas. By 1918, a similar number had lost their lives in this treacherous warfare. Here are a very small selection

Wilfred Owen, one of the better known war poets of the first world war, describes the conditions superfluously. Incidentally, he was killed a week before Armistice day. His best and my favourite poem is 'Dulce et Decorum est" pro patria Mori - loosely translated means it is a great and wonderful thing to die for ones country.

The official "final and corrected" casualty figures for the British Army, including the Territorial Force , were issued on 10 March 1921. The losses for the period between 4 August 1914, and 30 September 1919, included 573,507 "killed in action, died from wounds and died of other causes" and 254,176 missing (minus 154,308 released prisoners), for a net total of 673,375 dead and missing. Casualty figures also indicated that there were 1,643,469 wounded. *

The final armistice was signed on the 11th November 1918 for cessation of hostilities, at 11 o'clock. Many European countries treat this day as a national holiday, we just remember it in a two minute silence, and church remembrances on the relevant Sunday. "We remember you".

Pip, squeak & Wilfred

All those who served in the Great war received a range of medals. Firstly there was the Star, either the 1914 Star (also known as the Mons star). The 1914 Star was issued to officers and men of British forces who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and 22 November 1914. As most of the initial British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was made up of current army members, these were largely awarded to pre-war members. With this medal would also be the Silver War medal, and the bronze Victory medal.

1914 Star, War & victory Medals

1914 Star, War & victory Medals

The British War Medal was issued to officers and men of British and Imperial forces for service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. Officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Dominion and Colonial naval forces (including reserves) were required to have completed 28 days mobilised service; although the medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service.

Next those serving in any theatre of the European War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 received the 1914-15 star instead, along with both War medal and Victory medal. This was for officers and men of British and Imperial forces.

The Victory Medal was issued to all those who received either the 1914 or the 1914–1915 Star, and also to those who were awarded the British War Medal. It was never awarded singly. Women also qualified for this and the earlier two medals, for service in nursing homes and other auxiliary forces.

All medals were individually inscribed with a persons name, rank, regiment and regimental number. The Stars were inscribed on the rear, whilst the War medal and Victory medal were inscribed around the edge.

Sadly, in 1980, when there was a silver boom due to the invasion of Afghanistan, and also Bunker Hunt cornering the market price of silver, the leap in price to $50 for a short period, saw many of these War medals sold as metal scrap!

As many are aware, the UK is currently working through the process of exiting the EU and our alliances with our European partners. This should not stop you from visiting Europe to research your history; particularly the areas in France & Belguim, e.g. the Somme, Ypres, Mons etc.

The final nail in the coffin (precisely), was the aptly named Spanish Flu which swept the world after the Great War. This affected the whole world, and it is suggested that 1 in 8 of the world population died from this aggressive flu, about 50 million people.

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