Tuesday, 17 January 2017

British Army Research to 1920


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My pleasure, Bob, and happy to have been of assistance.

I research soldiers.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Northampton & Frome in the Great War

 

Having an unplanned and extended break over the Christmas period allowed me to at least catch up on some reading - at least until the school Christmas holidays began.

In retrospect you wonder why these books which focus on a particular community during the Great War, weren't published many years ago. Having added a few of these to my own collection - including a cracker for my home city of Chelmsford - I can say that they are a mixed bag, both in terms of the subject matter - cities on the one hand, small towns on the other - and in terms of the treatment meted out by the authors. The best examples, to my mind, are those books that strike the right balance between telling us something about the community during the war, and informing us about the men and women from that community who served King and Country.

Northampton in the Great War and Frome in the Great War would both, I suggest, be essential reading for anybody with an interest in these towns. The volume on Frome has more to say about the men and women from this Somerset community, and at 184 pages long it its page count be argued to represent better value for money than Northampton which weighs in at around 140 pages. But for the military researcher, both volumes - and for that matter probably - all of the volumes in this series will be worth having on standby.

Both books have good indexes - although Frome's is the better of the two - and both volumes also acknowledge local archival resources which is always encouraging to see.

Book Review: Victoria Crosses on the Western Front - Somme 1916


I have a bookshelf at home which is rapidly becoming a VC shelf. Having collected the Gerald Gliddon series when those books were published in the 1990s, I'm now adding to that with these newer 100th anniversary releases by Pen & Sword.

I should state, perhaps, that I do not have a particular interest in the Victoria Cross - although anyone owning a VC which they no longer require should not hesitate to contact me if they wish to give it away to a good home. The beauty of these books though is that the detail they give goes far beyond the individual actions which resulted in the award of this most prestigious of British gallantry awards.

I felt at the time that the Gerald Gliddon books were a terrific addition to military libraries, and I still think this. The Pen & Sword series, authored by Paul Oldfield, goes a few steps further, however, both in terms of the textual detail supplied and in the contextual detail. It is this latter information - and particularly the maps - which make these books so useful to those with a general interest in the First World War, or for that matter, a specific interest in an action or British Army unit.

As a case in point - and I am picking this example at random - take 3/5027 Private Thomas Hughes of the 6th Battalion, Connaught Rangers, who won his VC for his actions at Guillemont on the 3rd September 1916. Over seven pages in chapter four, the Battle of Guillemont between 3rd and 6th September is detailed, and there is a great map which puts the actions very clearly into context. My version of the map, below, hastily snapped on my phone, certainly does not do justice to this, but I would suggest that the maps are one of the most helpful features of this book.


It is also worth pointing out that these books double as guide books with, in this instance, instructions to "Leave Guillemont northwest on the D20 towards Longueval. After 300m park in the entrance to the silos on the left..." and so on. (I must say though, that at over 500 pages, I'd be taking the Kindle version with me to France, rather than the hardback book).

This book follows the same format as others in this series: actions described in the first half, biographies of the participants detailed in the second part. There are two pages, with illustrations and photographs of Private Hughes, much further in.

These books are well illustrated and well-indexed, which always gets a thumbs up from me. Furthermore there is also an extensive bibliography. The only problem I have is shelf-space, a dilemma I am solving today by buying another bookcase. Incidentally, the Gliddon books are still worth getting hold of. I checked what he had to say about Thomas Hughes and there are photos and illustrations included in his book which have not made it into Pen and Sword's more recent publication.

Alfred Iliffe comes home


Last month, I wrote a post on this blog called Finding a photo of your military ancestor. In that post I suggested that it was a good idea, as well as searching for photos yourself, to - as it were - get the photo to find you by creating a website or a blog asking for information. I had had success with this myself and, to illustrate this, had posted a photo sent to me of one of my Chailey 1914-1918 research subjects.

Last week, I was contacted by a gentleman - the term is entirely appropriate - who had recently won an auction on eBay. The auction he'd won had been titled "WW1 Officer Bedfordshire Regiment MC Military Cross 1915 Star medal ribbon" and showed a slightly larger than postcard-size full portrait of the Bedfordshire Regiment officer. A head and shoulders crop from that full-length photograph appears at the top of this post. That officer is my great grandmother's nephew, Alfred Eldred Iliffe, and the successful bidder on this item contacted me after his own online research found an earlier post of mine on my British Army Medals blog, requesting information about him. 

In that post I had published a photo of Alfred (above) under the heading "A/Capt Alfred Eldred Iliffe MC, Bedfordshire Regiment. I wrote, "Alfred Iliffe went to the Balkans in 1915 as 1630 Pte A E Iliffe with the 1/1 Suffolk Yeomanry. He was later commissioned into the Bedfordshire Regiment and would win the MC in 1918. I seek his 1915 Star (Suffolk Yeo), his British War and Victory Medals (Beds Regt) and his Military Cross."

As the successful bidder wrote to me, he had found my 2009 blog post as a result of a simple Google search: "... it is quite frankly a miracle that I was able to make the connection, having only searched 'Bedfordshire Regt Captain MC' into Google images and finding your blog photo within the first dozen images!" I am indebted to him for both contacting me and for offering to part with his recent purchase. I am so grateful - and also somewhat relieved that he was the high bidder on this photograph.

So the moral of the story is that publishing requests for information can work. In this case I had to wait eight years, and as I said in my December post, your chances of success may still be remote, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.




And whilst I am it, let me add some more information about Alfred Eldred Iliffe and his family. The portrait of him that I originally posted was cropped from a family portrait of Alf with his three sisters in July 1917. From left to right they are Queenie Ethel Louisa Iliffe (1890-1977), Freda Grace Iliffe (b.1900), Alfred Eldred Iliffe (1894-1961) and Margaret Elsie Iliffe (b.1898). A fifth sibling, Samuel William Iliffe (1892-1916) had died the previous year. I have a separate photograph of Samuel which I will publish on another post. 



The siblings' parents were William Henry Iliffe (1867-1938) and Margaret Franklin (1865-1933). Margaret, was the elder sister of my maternal great grandmother, Anne Roberts (1875-1952). The Iliffe family were committed Salvation Army members and both Queenie and Samuel had been born in India when their parents were working there in the early 1890s as missionaries. The photograph above shows William and Margaret in their Salvation Army uniform, photographed at Hadleigh in Essex where there had been a thriving Salvation Army farm colony since 1892. It is possible, but unproven as yet, that William had returned from India in order to take charge of this colony. He was certainly back in the UK by December 1892, the Dorking Advertiser, published on the 3rd December, reporting on a talk given by him and helpfully mentioning that for the last five years Captain Iliffe had been "labouring in Ceylon, Madras, Bombay and other parts of India."   

The final photograph that I have of the Iliffe family shows a Salvation Army wedding group on the occasion of Queenie's marriage to Walter Rendall in 1917. Again, the internet helped me to identify members of the Rendall family when, many years ago, I connected with a descendant via GenesReunited.



The participants are, front row, seated left to right: unknown, Anne Roberts (my great grandmother), Adelaide Rendall (nee Bird, Walter’s mother), Walter Rendall (born c1890), Queenie Rendall, Margaret Iliffe, and William Henry Iliffe

Behind them stand, left to right, Frederick Rendall, Emma Rendall, unknown, unknown, unknown, Gertie Rendall (George Rendall’s wife), Unknown (ie small lady standing behind Walter) George Rendall, (Walter’s brother; standing immediately behind Walter and the lady), Unknown, Margaret Iliffe, Freda Iliffe (born 1900), unknown, Alfred Iliffe.

Third Row, left to right: May Rendall (Walter’s sister), Ellen East (nee Rendall, Walter’s sister, born 1882), then all unknown.

Back row, let to right: Herbert East (1869-1919 husband of Ellen Rendall), unknown, unknown convalescent soldier, unknown, Stanley Rendall (born c1895), Walter’s brother.

It goes without saying, of course, that I am still keen to connect with anyone who has information on, photographs of (or medals of) anyone featured in this post. In concluding, I would also like to publicly thank again, the successful eBay auction bidder who contacted me and subsequently sent me the photograph of Alfred Iliffe MC.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Allied PoWs in German Hands 1914-1918


This book turned up on my desk just before Christmas and I must say I've enjoyed flicking through it. I have a particular interest in the British PoWs of 1914 and have compiled a number of PoW databases, and so this book will be a useful addition to my library and will sit happily alongside another Pen & Sword title: Tracing your Prisoner of War Ancestors (below).


This is primarily a photographic essay which deals with both military prisoners and also civilian internees, principally those detained at Ruhleben. In as far as it goes, the book is fine, but to my mind it could have gone a little further. The bibliography is helpful, but would have been more helpful still had it pointed the reader to online resources for PoWs such as those on Findmypast and the reports in WO 161 which are held at The National Archives (and also published on Findmypast). It would have been helpful too to see more detail, particularly dates, against the photographs, although I appreciate that in many cases, that detail may not exist in the originals.

Personally, I would have liked to understand more about the men's uniforms - plenty of which are illustrated - the variation to those uniforms, the mix of nationalities in camps; more about the internment of men in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and the repatriation progress both during and after the war. As I say, as far as the book goes it is good enough and certainly worth the £14.99 investment (or £12 if you hop along quickly now to the Pen & Sword website), and as the title makes clear, this is more than just a book about British PoWs. Our allies, and in the case of the French, men from their colonies, are also well represented here.


Monday, 2 January 2017

The King's Royal Rifle Corps regimental depot, 1899


There's a nice article in my recently purchased KRRC Chronicle for 1903 which details the workings of the KRRC regimental depot. The article deals specifically with the way in which the depot managed men coming into and leaving the regiment during the Boer War, and I thought it might make a nice opening blog post for 2017.

Traditionally housed at Winchester, and sharing their depot with the Rifle Brigade, a fire in 1894 completely destroyed the King's House and barracks which had been designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1685, forcing a re-location to Gosport. It would actually be ten years before the regiments moved back to their newly built barracks and depot in Winchester. I draw attention to this as this is referred to in the text below.

Notes on the Working of the Depot during the War

"The duties of the Rifle Depot are comprised under three heads. First the care and keeping of the records with all its attendant correspondence; second the receiving, clothing, partial training, and dispatch to the home battalions of recruits; and third, duties connected with mobilisation for war.

"As regards the first heading it need hardly be said that the necessity for accurately keeping all records is as paramount during war as in peace, but when the Reserves are called out all their documents, instead of lying idle on the shelves, are in active use. In addition there are innumerable letters received from relatives and friends, but perhaps the amount of clerical work will be better realised by stating that during the war roughly speaking, fifty-three thousand documents were received and dealt with, while certainly another six thousand must have been received by the commanding and other officers and which, being sent privately, were not entered into the registers. It will thus be seen that on mobilisation becoming imminent, or even probable, one of the first measures is to arrange for a considerable expansion of the office staff, and a carefully thought-out scheme of sub-division of work, in order that the additional clerks may be fully and usefully employed...

"... We come then to the third heading... The first step is the issue of the order for mobilisation, posting up the placards and sending out the notices to the reservists - the latter being done by the paymaster. Arrangements are then made for the housing of the Reservists on arrival, and drawing arms, equipment and ammunition. (This will be unnecessary when the Depot has returned to Winchester, as everything will be stored in the barracks). Then the mobilisation store has to be got ready , and the system which most happily was in force at the Depot was this. All clothing and necessaries were kept in bulk until required, the packages were then opened and the articles places in sizes for issue. There was no attempt to keep the things packed in kits, as lai8d down by regulation, for the good reason that there were no lockers for the kits, nor was there space available for any other system than adopted...

"... Then one waited for the coming of those for whom we had prepared. As a rule, one or two men appeared almost as soon as the notices were sent out and towards the expiration of the time, during which Reservists had to join, they began to come in small parties, but the large majority came only at the last minute. Needless to say this added enormously to the difficulties and militated greatly against the comfort of the men themselves. It is sincerely to be hoped that in future mobilisations the officer commanding the Depot will be permitted to exercise his discretion as to the times and numbers of men to join. To have a thousand men coming into barracks late at night - many suffering from the effects of kindness (?)  shown them during the journey by injudicious friends - meant an amount of discomfort and disorder not only prejudicial; to discipline but quite unnecessary.

"The Reservists having arrived proceeded to the guard room, where each man's name was entered on a roll, a sergeant of either regiment [ie the Rifle Brigade and The KRRC] being there for that purpose. The men were then sent to the companies (the first fifty to A Company, the next fifty to B, and so on). On joining the company each Reservist was given a card, on one side of which was a printed form for the Medical Officer's certificate of fitness or otherwise, and on the reverse a list of the articles of clothing, small kit etc the man had to receive."

I suggest that this same procedure was almost identically repeated at regimental depots up and down the country, not only in 1899 but again in 1914.

Pictured at the hesad of this post is Lieutenant, the Honourable Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC, an officer of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, and only son of Lord Roberts VC of Kandahar, who died of wounds in South Africa in February 1900.

Happy New Year, evryone.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Major Frederick Maurice Crum 1872-1955


I recently bought the King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle for 1903. The endpaper bears the signature that I have published beneath this paragraph. F M Crum was Frederick Maurice Crum and what follows is not my text at all, but rather an account of this man's life that I found online at Blairlogie Scotland. I hope this credit and the link gives me sufficient permission to re-publish - with minor editing - the words below. Note that I have omitted much of the text that covers his First World War service.


Frederick Maurice Crum was born 12th October 1872, the son of William Crum and Jean Mary Campbell. The first documentary evidence that we have of Major Crum is in The London Gazette of 7th February 1893 where it indicated that “The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Gentleman Cadet Frederick Maurice Crum, from the Royal Military College, to be Second Lieutenant, on augmentation. Dated 8th February 1893". 

Soon, Frederick was off to India to join the 1/60th Rifles as a subaltern at Rawal Pindi. Strangely the London Gazette did not mention him again until 1900. In December 1896 the 1st Battalion of the 60th Rifles sailed from Bombay for the Cape, which was three years before the second South African War of 1899 to 1902 was declared. In May 1899 Frederick moved to Natal and on the 25th September he was off once again, this time to Ladysmith where he arrived on the 2nd October. On the  5th October the battalion was marched to Dundee, arriving there two days later. On the 12th October 1899, war was declared. and Frederick was soon  in the thick of the action. He received a wound to his right shoulder at the battle of Talana Hill, which would blight him until 1919. Unable to fend for himself he was taken prisoner  and ended up in a hospital in Ladysmith where he received treatment which saved his life. 

The London Gazette for 2nd March 1900 reported "Gentleman Cadet Austin Henry Hull, from the Royal Military College, to be Second Lieutenant, in succession to Lieutenant F. M. Crum, a prisoner of war. Dated 3rd March, 1900". Frederick remained a prisoner until June 1900 when he and a further 150 or so officers and 3000 troops were released at Ladysmith. The London Gazette published on 2nd April 1901 reported "Lieutenant Frederick M. Crum to be Captain, in succession to Major O. S. W. Nugent, D.S.O., appointed to the Staff. Dated 1st January 1901". 

By 1901 Captain Crum had lost all of his molars and his manservant took this into consideration whilst preparing his meals in the field. January 1902 was Frederick’s last night patrol of the war as after this he was given leave to return home on medical grounds. His journey started in an ambulance train and then a long sail home. Six months later he was fully recuperated and returned to the Cape, being posted to De Aar. In December 1902 the Battalion was moved to Malta and in 1903 he gave his first lecture, the topic being “Mounted Infantry”. Shortly after this he received leave of 3 months and he returned home to Stirling. 

My copy of the 1903 Chronicle also mentions Major Crum:


In December 1903 Frederick was posted to the 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps as a Brevet-Major and in October 1904 he qualified in Hindustani. During his service career he was often bothered by his wound which he received in 1900 and in 1904 a surgeon removed an inch of bone and some splinters from his right arm. 

During his time in South Africa, Major Crum wrote With the mounted infantry in South Africa; being side-lights on the Boer campaign 1899-1902 and this was published in 1903. In January 1905 he arrived home on leave, boarding his ship in Bombay. From January to October 1905 he was on leave due to the wound to his right arm but by November 1905 he was back in India and was posted to Bareilly. The period April to October 1906 was to prove important for both Frederick Crum and the Boy Scout movement as he was posted to Scout Training at Rhanikhet where he excelled. 

In November 1906 he received leave to return home to cram for staff college exams. On returning home he underwent intensive learning to bring himself up to the level of passing the Staff College entry exams and on the 3rd March 1907 he sailed from Marseilles to Aden to sit the exam. Possibly fortuitously for the Boy Scout movement, he failed the exams and therefore did not attend Staff College and further promotion did not follow. In June 1907 he returned to India and was posted to Jubbulpore and then in October 1907 he was put in charge of the Battalion for 3 weeks until the new Commanding Officer arrived. The London Gazette dated 21st April 1908 reported that “The King's. Royal Rifle Corps, Captain and Brevet Major Frederick M. Crum is seconded for service on the Staff. Dated 28th February 1908.” 

In February 1908 he was posted to the Mounted Infantry School at Fategarh where he excelled. Sadly luck was not on his side and in May 1908 he fell from his horse whilst pig sticking and was given a week's leave to the hills to recover. It was at this time that the London Gazette dated 26th May 1908 reported, “To be Assistant Commandant of a Mounted Infantry School. Brevet Major F. M. Crum, 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Dated 28th February, 1908.” 

On 6th November 1908, Frederick left the Mounted Infantry School to take over the Mounted School at Poona and there was also talk of him being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He arrived at Poona and was given 6 months leave of absence due to being unwell and overworked. The London Gazette dated 18th December 1908 reported “The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Captain George F. B. Hankey is seconded for service as an Adjutant of Territorial Infantry. Dated 1st December, 1908. Brevet Major Frederick M. Crum, from Supernumerary Captain, to be Captain, vice” It would take Frederick three years to fully recover from his wound and condition. 

During his recuperation period it looked as if there was hope that Frederick would return to active service as The London Gazette dated 26th January 1909 reported "The King's Royal Rifle, Corps, Captain and Brevet Major Frederick M. Crum is seconded for service on the Staff. Dated 1st December, 1908.” Later, on 5th February 1909, the Gazette reported, “ARMY STAFF. To be Assistant Commandant of a Mounted Infantry School. Brevet Major F. M. Crum, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Dated 6th November, 1908", and on 1st March 1910,  "The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Brevet Major Frederick M. Crum, from Supernumerary Captain, is restored to the establishment, vice Captain R. Johnstone, retired. Dated 19th February, 1910". 

On March 4th 1910, The London Gazette reported, "The King's Royal Rifle Corps, Major Lord Robert W. O. Manners DSO, retires on retired pay. Dated 5th March, 1910. Captain and Brevet Major Frederick M. Crum to be Major, vice Lord R. W. 0. Manners, D.S.O. Dated 5th March, 1910". 

Clearly none of the above took place as he did not take up any of the posts due to his ill health. 3rd November 1910 would prove to be a very important date as this is when Captain Crum met Baden-Powell for the first time and he was very impressed by him and his views on helping young people. It was on the 12th October 1911 at Saint Andrews and on his 39th Birthday that Captain Crum decided to leave the army and dedicate his time to the Boy Scout movement. He sent his letter of resignation to the War Office on the 16th October 1911, resigning his commission. and from this point on Major Crum (retired) concentrated on building up the Boy Scout movement in Scotland. 

For his service during the the 2nd Boer War, Major Crum received the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Talana; and the King's South Africa Medal with the usual two claps for 1901 and 1902. The KSA roll alos notes service with the 25th Battalion, Mounted Infantry. 

When Britain went to war again in August 1914, Frederick Crum was at Hamilton Barracks by the 10th, helping to organise the new influx of recruits. It was during this period that he used boy scouts to act as guides and take recruits to the various areas rather than have them milling about. This brought order to some of the proceedings. 


On 12 October 1914, Frederick joined the 8th Kings Royal Rifles and by May 1915 he was in France. He would serve until the end of the war and would be mentioned in despatches in 1917. In July 1919 he returned to scouting in Scotland. The reverse of his medal index card, above, gives his home address - presumably in 1922 when he applied for his medals - as 13 Pitt Terrace, Stirling.

The 1933 to 1945 Valuation Rolls show that Major Crum was the tenant of Gogar house and from 1945 to 1948 he was the owner occupier of Gogar House where he built a gymnasium for scouts to use. Frederick Maurice Crum of Kenmuir, Rosneath, Dumbartonshire died at Rosneath on 8 October 1955. His diaries can be viewed in the Archives at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.

I presume that his copy of the 1903 KRRC Chronicle (and presumably other volumes besides) was donated to the KRRC Museum and subsequently sold by the museum as my copy of this volume also bears a KRRC museum stamp and a biro annotation "E14". All in all though, a nice addition to my library, and with some fine provenance.

I research soldiers! Contact me if you need help.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

St Mary's Church, Little Dunmow

 

After a pleasant walk along the old Braintree/Dunmow railway line the other day, I photographed two CWGC headstones in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Little Dunmow.


Edward George Perry - recorded as George Edward Perry on his medal index card and medal roll - was the son of Frederick George and Lucy Perry of Little Dunmow. The 1911 census notes that Frederick, a traction-engine driver, and Lucy had had 13 children, of whom one had died by the time the census was taken. Edward appears to have been the only military death in the family, although some of his brothers may also have served their King and Country.

Edward, who was a cowman by trade, was wounded whilst serving with the 9th Norfolk Regiment, date unknown, and had died of septicaemia at Exeter War Hospital. He had been conscripted in June 1918 and had arrived in France on the 11th October 1918. He received a shrapnel wound to his left foot at St Quention on the23rd October and sailed for England aboard the hospital ship, Aberdonain on the 3rd November, arriving back in England the following day. His service record notes that it was not until the 10th December 1918, five days after his death, that his father was notified.


Also buried in the churchyard are Hubert Kitchener Webb and his wife Jane Allen Webb (nee Lindsay). Hubert and Jane had married in Dunmow in the fourth quarter of 1939. Hubert, born on the 6th July 1916, appears on the 1939 Register as a 23-year-old carpenter living with his parents at 2 Watch House Villas, Dunmow. He joined the army in 1939 and, having served in France, died of tuberculosis whilst serving in Scotland.  The Felsted Remembers website has included more detail about Hubert and Jane, and the photo of Hubert, below, also appears on this site.


At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.


I research soldiers! Contact me if you need help.




Thursday, 22 December 2016

Charles Booth's poverty maps 1898-1899


This is not a strictly Army Ancestry related post, but it may be of interest to anyone who has London ancestors.

It has been a while since I looked at the Charles Booth poverty maps online. I stopped by there today and what a transformation! The site has been massively upgraded and is considerably easier to use than it was previously. Maps can be searched, and even if the place of interest falls outside the boundaries of these 1898-1899 maps, it will still show up on a modern map.  A slider at the bottom of the nineteenth century maps allows you to see the location as it appears today.

Best of all perhaps, the 12 individual maps can all be downloaded - and downloaded as large jpegs for that matter.

As well as the maps, there are also Charles Booth's notebooks, not all of which have been digitised. Nevertheless, these too can be searched from the site.

Both my father's family and my mother's family were firmly rooted in east London, and these maps are therefore very relevant for me, and will also be relevant for various military research projects, I am sure.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Finding a photo of your British military ancestor

  

The one question I get asked more than any other is, "Can you help me find a photograph of my British Army ancestor?" And the answer I give back in return is "Almost certainly not."


Although millions of photographs of men and women in uniform still survive, photographs of recruits did not form part of the attestation process (I am talking about attestations up until the end of the First World War), and most photos that do survive tend to be those informal shots taken in studios, and generally unnamed.  Think about it, if you are sending a photograph of yourself to a relative, there's no need to also write your full details because the recipient knows who you are; in such cases a simple "With love from Bob" will suffice. If the portrait is being sent to a not family member, then the message - if there is one - will be more formal. In the example at the top of this post, F R Scott of the Royal Artillery has dated his card but in the example below, submariner Joe has simply used his first name.


Even so, this misses the point. There may be descendants of F R Scott  and Submariner Joe who are looking for photos of these men right now. As illustrated here, photos of these men do exist but they are in private hands (and probably not catalogued). Here then, are my tips for finding photos of your army ancestors.

1. Post requests on forums. If your ancestor served in the First World War then post on the Great War Forum. If he served in the army before this date, post on the Victorian Wars Forum.  Be sure to write his full name and regiment.


2. Write to the relevant regimental museum but be aware that even here, photographic collections may not have been indexed. Be sure to enquire about the existence of regimental journals as these can often be excellent sources of information - particularly pre First World War when the minutiae of military life is often laid bare. The image above is taken from the Highland Light Infantry Chronicle for January 1914, and the men pictured would be in action fighting the Germans before the year was out. For a full listing of regimental museums, visit the Army Museums Ogilby Trust website.


3. Check the the Imperial War Museum collection online which includes over 800,000 items, not just photographs. Included within this collection are photographs from the museum's Bond of Sacrifice collection, above.  This should not to be confused with the two-volume published collection of officer-only casualties which can now be searched online on Findmypast.


4. Check newspapers. If your ancestor was a casualty during the First World War, it is possible that a photograph of him was published in a local newspaper. The image above, for instance, comes from the Manchester Evening News published on 9th August 1916. Check my list of 1914-1918 newspapers. The British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast both publish millions of newspapers pages.


5. Publish your request in the form of a standalone single page website. Buying a domain and sufficient space to write something meaningful is neither expensive nor difficult. If you are looking for a photograph of Alfred J Woodley of the Northumberland Fusiliers, for instance, your website needs to be called Alfred J Woodley - Northumberland Fusiliers. A single page will suffice, but write good copy; write the story of Alfred's life, repeat his name in the article and write it in different ways: A J Woodley, Alf Woodley, Alf J Woodley. The idea here is that you are asking the needle to come to you, rather than looking fruitlessly in the haystack for it. Similarly, if you have published your request on a forum, this will be indexed by search engines and should appear in search results.

Contact me If you need assistance creating and writing your web-page.

A successful by-product of my research into Chailey1914-1918 is that since publishing my research online I have been contacted by many people with connections to the men and women I have written about. This in turn has led to additional information and, in many cases, photographs of the participants (like William Jared Brooks, below). Subsequently publishing the photographs on my blog opens these up to other researchers.


6. Check published rolls of honour. I have already mentioned the Bond of Sacrifice. De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, published after the First World War, also includes thousands of photographs, and thgere are very many publications, many of these published in small runs, which may or may not include photographs of deceased service personnel. Check the Internet Archive for likely titles but be aware that a seacrh will only search indexed titles rather than a deep mining of the texts themselves. Findmypast and Ancestry both publish rolls of honour which include portrait photographs, although you may have to hunt hard on those sites to find them.

With all of the above, your chances of success are greatly improved if the man you are looking for is an officer or senior NCO but be aware that it is still uncommon to find names printed with photographs. The photograph below is taken from the 2nd Battalion, Scottish Rifles in Malta in 1913. It's a fantastic resource which includes studies of all men serving in the battalion at the time. However, only the officers' page names the subjects. 



Finally, be prepared for a long wait, and for that matter be prepared to be unsuccessful. Even following all of the tips above, your chances of finding a photograph of your military ancestor - unless he or she was a senior figure - will be remote.

I research soldiers! Contact me if you need help.