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Army - Chaplain's Returns, Regimental Registers and Service Departments Returns, Other Ranks & Officers (Military)

Nature of Source

Chaplain's Returns record births, baptisms, marriages and deaths and burials at stations overseas by the Army Chaplains' Department between 1796 and 1880. The name of the regiment served with does not appear on the index but does on the certificate. The registers are available online at findmypast.co.uk. The certificate will provide the name of soldier and regiment and the date and place of event.

Regimental Registers record the births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials of soldiers or their families. The events were compiled by each regiment and could have occurred overseas or in the UK. The indexes are not complete so the name of the regiment in which the person was serving must be known. However, births and baptisms covering 1761 to 1924 have been indexed by name. The index will provide the name of the regiment served with. The certificate will provide the date and place of event, the parent's name and regiment served with. After legislation in 1879, the records only deal with overseas BMDs and were recorded in a standardised format. Many records relate to the Army in India. BMDs for officers serving in the Indian Army are held at the India Office Collection. The index is open to public access but the records themselves held by the General Register Office remain closed to the general public.

Service Departments Returns record the voluntary registration of birth, marriages and deaths from members of the armed forces or from civilians working for the forces. It is possible that the event was also registered with the British Consul and High Commission.

The Beckett Soldiers Index contains listing of soldiers from 1793 to about 1854 extracted from WO 120 and WO 116 (a selection of records within WO 116 are available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project) and other sources such as marriage registers and medal awards. Arranged alphabetically by surname, forename and regiment including whether discharged at either Chelsea or Kilmainham Hospital. These published editions cover more ground than the Beckett Soldiers' Index available at The National Archives. The available volumes are as follows:
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, A-C: Jade Publishing, 2003
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, D-G Jade Publishing, 2009
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, H-K: Jade Publishing, 2009

Also see
Army - Casualty Lists, Other Ranks before 1914
Army - Registers of Deaths, Other Ranks & Officers, WWI
Debt of Honour Register - Commonwealth War Graves Commission
War Memorials, Graves & Rolls of Honour (Including Scotland)

Where Found

General Register Office for England and Wales (Overseas births, marriages and deaths certificates)
The National Archives (WO 156, War Office: UK and overseas garrisons: Registers of Baptisms, Confirmations, Deaths/Burials, and Marriage; TNA holds a small number of regimental registers, including Royal Hospital Chelsea in-pensioner baptisms, marriages and burials as well as the GRO indexes)
County Record Offices (Partial sets of copies)
LDS FamilySearch Centers (Partial sets of copies)
National Army Museum/Templer Study Centre (The museum houses a wealth of information on the history and traditions of the Army including officer Army Lists, regimental and campaign histories, soldier's effects records, military memoirs and diaries, regimental and other military periodicals and books and other archives relating to the pre-1914 Army. The museum also holds the enlistment and discharge books for the Buffs, the Middlesex Regiment, and the five Irish regiments disbanded in 1922. See the web site for details of their collections and a series of information sheets for researching army family history)

Period Covered

1761 - 1924

Genealogical Value

Name of soldier and regiment and the date and place of event; Parent's name

Further References

General  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, A-C: Jade Publishing, 2003  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, D-G Jade Publishing, 2009  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, H-K: Jade Publishing, 2009
(Listing of soldiers from 1793 to about 1854 extracted from TNA series WO 120 and WO 116 and other sources such as marriage registers and medal awards. Arranged alphabetically by surname, forename and regiment including whether discharged at either Chelsea or Kilmainham Hospital. These published editions cover more ground than the Beckett Soldiers' Index available at The National Archives)
 

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006

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Brereton, J.M. A Guide to the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: Bodley Head, 1985

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Blank, Dr. Stuart. Researching British Military History on the Internet: Alwyn Enterprises, 2007

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Cox. Reginald H. W. Military Badges of the British Empire 1914-18: Ernest Benn, 1982

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Farmer, John, The Regimental Records of the British Army: Grant Richards, 1901 (Free download available at the Internet Archive)

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Fowler, Simon. A Guide to Military History on the Internet: Pen & Sword, 2007

Fowler, Simon. Tracing your Army Ancestors: Pen & Sword, 2006

Fowler, Simon. Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Gaylor, John. Military Badge Collecting: Pen & Sword Books, 2002
Grehan, John & Mace, Martin. British Battles of the Crimean Wars 1854-1856: Pen & Sword Books, 2014  

Kitzmiller, John. In Search of the Forlorn Hope: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records, 1640-WWI: Manuscript Publishing Foundation, 1988

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Murphy, Gerry. Where Did That Regiment Go? The Lineage of British Infantry and Cavalry Regiments at a Glance: The History Press, 2009

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Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Family History, Army: Imperial War Museum, 2006 Buy Now on Amazon

Pols, Robert. Dating Old Army Photographs: Family History Partnership, 2011

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Saks, David. Boerejode: Jews in the Boer Armed Forces 1899-1902: 2010  

Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: The National Archives, 2007

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Spencer, William. Army Records: A Guide For Family Historians: The National Archives, 2008

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Storey, Neil. Military Photographs and How to Date Them: Countryside Books, 2009

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Swinnerton, Iain, An Introduction to the British Army: Its History, Traditions and Records: FFHS, 1996

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Swinson, Arthur. A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: The Archive Press, 1972

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The Great War: A Photographic Narrative: Imperial War Museum: Jonathan Cape, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Usher, George. Dictionary of British Military History: A&C Black Publishers, 2006

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Watts, Michael and Watts, Christopher. My Ancestor was in the British Army: Society of Genealogists, 2009

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Westlake, Ray. The Territorials 1908-1914: A Guide for Military and Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2011
WWI  
Banks, Arthur. A Military Atlas of The First World War: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Bridger, Geoff. The Great War Handbook: A Guide For Family Historians & Students Of The Conflict: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Christopher, John & McCutcheon, Campbell. 1914 the First World War in Old Photographs: Over by Christmas: Amberley Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. British Army Cap Badges of the First World War: Shire Publications, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. Great War British Tommy Manual: The British Soldier 1914-18 [All Models]-Haynes Owners' Workshop Manuals: Haynes, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. Remembering Tommy: The British Soldier in the First World War: The History Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. What Tommy Took to War, 1914-1918: Shire Publications, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. The First World War in 100 Objects: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Forty, Simon. Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above: Anova Books, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Gregson, Keith. A Tommy in the Family: First World War Family History Tales and Research Tips: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Holding, Norman, More Sources of WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 1998 Buy Now on Amazon
Holding, Norman & Swinnerton, Iain. WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 2004 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918: Harper Perennial, 2005 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Shots from the Front: The British Soldier 1914-18: HarperPress, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. The First World War in Photographs: Andre Deutsch, July 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
James, Brig. E. A. British Regiments 1914-18: Naval and Military Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Prisoner of War Ancestors: The First World War: Pen & Sword, 2012
Rawson, Andrew. The British Army 1914-1918: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Spencer, William. First World War Army Service Records: The National Archives, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Swinnerton, Iain. Identifying Your World War One Soldier from Badges and Photographs: Federation of Family History Societies, 2001 Buy Now on Amazon


TNA Research Guides

Websites

General
www.collectionsgateway.org.uk/collections/97/grooverseas.pdf (General Register Office Overseas & Military Indexes)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/birthmarriagedeatharmedforces.htm (Looking for records of a birth, marriage or death in the armed forces)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/british-army-tracing-soldiers.htm#15991 (Records of births, marriages and deaths in service)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/default.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for a subject, Military history)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for a person, Army)
www.ukmfh.org.uk (UK Military Family History Online: Links to web sites with online data and information to aid in military family history research)
www.armylists.org.uk (Guide to Army Lists and published lists available on CD)
www.parishchest.com (Online store selling military records from a variety of suppliers)
www.veterans-uk.info/index.html (Veterans UK)
www.armymuseums.org.uk/ancestor.htm (Ancestor Research & Military Genealogy)
http://archive.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.3240 (Imperial War Museum, Your History, Family History: Army: Information sheets include Tracing Army Ancestry, Army Service Records, Tracing Army Units and List of Abbreviations)
www.globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazfd/gazfd44.htm (British Military Records: The Army by Fawne Stratford-Devai)
www.militaryarchiveresearch.com (Military Archive Research, by Dr Stuart C Blank)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/MilitaryRecords.html (GENUKI Military guide with useful links)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/BritMilRecs.html (British Military Records by Jay Hall)
www.armymuseums.org.uk (Guide and links to military museums in the UK)
www.nas.gov.uk/guides/military.asp (National Archives of Scotland Research Guide: Military Records)
WWI
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/index.htm (TNA online WWI exhibition)
www.1914-1918.net (The Long, Long Trail, including a section on 'Researching a soldier')
www.military-researcher.com (Guide to WW1 research including causes of discharge)
www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa (The Great War Archive: WWI digital photographs, audio, film, documents, and stories submitted by the general public. The initiative was run by Oxford University between the 3rd March and the 30th June 2008. Users can now share First World War objects on the The Great War Archive Flickr Group)
www.europeana.eu/portal/en/collections/world-war-I (Europeana 1914-1918. Explore the untold stories and official histories of World War I in items from across Europe including postcards, letters, diaries, images and other memorabilia)
www.pals.org.uk/research.htm (Guide to researching service records)
http://ww1-lost-photos.livejournal.com (Blog covering the WWI photographs of the unknown soldiers)

Online Databases

www.familyrelatives.com (Regimental Registers of births/baptisms, marriages and deaths of British soldiers and their families, 1761-1924)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Royal Artillery Officer Deaths 1850-2011. Search through over a century of Royal Artillery records. The records include campaigns in Bosnia, Iraq and the First and Second World Wars. Discover your ancestor’s birth year, death date and obituary. The records include 27 Victoria Cross recipients)
www.findmypast.co.uk (GRO Armed forces births, marriages and deaths)
www.bmdregisters.co.uk (Miscellaneous Foreign Marriage Returns RG 34, 1826-1921. Includes WWI marriage registers)
www.gov.uk/probate-search (Find a Soldier's Will: Search for the will of a soldier who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986. Final handwritten wills and last letters home were kept by troops in their pocket service books and tucked into their uniforms. The wills, owned by Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service, include 280,000 soldiers who died in the Great War. See website for progress on the project)

CD Roms

S & N Genealogy Supplies (Overseas Births, Marriages and Deaths)