As we commemorate 100 years since the Armistice in 1918, lots of us are thinking about our own family members who served in the First World War or who helped on the home front. Here are a few hints and useful places to look if you’re just starting out.
The first thing to do is speak to family members – see who remembers what about the family history, and write it all down. You might just find out that somebody has already done some digging. Work out what questions you would like to answer.
What’s available on the family history websites?
You can try searching online for records relating to your ancestor’s war service or life on the home front. The name indexes for Findmypast and Ancestry are free to search from any computer and you can get free access to the full websites (including information from and images of archives) at most local libraries including Tameside Local Studies and Archives.
The main sources of use to First World War family historians include the service records, rolls of honour, 1911 census and service medals. You can read much more about what sources might be useful in your search at Tameside Local Studies Military Sources family history guide.
What other resources are available online?
There are many other websites you might not have heard of where you can find images, biographies, obituaries and a whole lot more. Here are just a few:
Men behind the Medals provides a comprehensive biography of every Manchester Regiment soldier whose medals have been added to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.
The Manchester Regiment Image Archive holds over 4,000 images of the Manchester Regiment so even if you cannot find a photo of your ancestor, you will find people he served alongside in his battalion.
The Manchester Regiment Memorials is a list of the memorials to members of the Manchester Regiment all over the world. The Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society’s war memorials index includes inscriptions from war memorials around Greater Manchester.
Local newspapers can be really useful for armed forces obituaries: the Ashton Pals website includes a searchable database of obituaries of members of the Ashton Territorials (the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment) from the Ashton Reporter.
The Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War is a website which includes a page for each individual who is on record as having served in uniform, worked on the home front or made a contribution during the First World War. You can see what is known already, add information based on your research, and ‘remember’ the people whose stories mean something to you.
What’s available at Tameside Local Studies and Archives?
The Manchester Regiment archives includes original war diaries, rolls of honour, some enlistment books, personal collections and histories of the regiment among many other things. Many of these are nor available online. Even if nothing survives for your ancestor, you will often be able to find material relating to his company or battalion which will help you understand his First World War service.
How can I use the Manchester Regiment archives?
The Manchester Regiment archives is arranged into sections by type of material. You can search the catalogue manually section by section by reading the black folders in the search room marked Manchester Regiment. The same information is available online alongside all the other collections at the Tameside Local Studies and Archives catalogue.
You can order archives in advance by calling 0161 342 4242 or emailing email@example.com. The archives is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (10am – 5pm) and on Saturdays (10am – 1pm).
Who else might be able to help?
You can come along and get advice from experienced family history volunteers at Tameside Local Studies and Archives on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am-1pm and on Saturdays 10-12am. To book your free appointment call 0161 342 4242.
What is Tameside Remembers?
Tameside Remembers is a veterans heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which has helped veterans to use family history resources to research Manchester Regiment soldiers online and in the Tameside Local Studies and Archives.