Our ancestors 1939-1945

The 2nd World War is becoming an increasingly important area of study. Many records are closed for data protection, or are they? What sources are available for tracking our ancestors at this crucially important time of their lives and how can you access them?

Talk overview



William G Nash, WX21541

Many people have fathers and grandfathers (and sometimes mothers and grandmothers) who fought in the second world war. It is pretty easy to find out about them online. Much is available on Ancestry or Findmypast for a fee, however much is available for free.


The 1st step

Is to gain the service record or papers of your ancestor as these can provide details of:

+ Military career
+ Unit
+ Rank
+ Promotions
+ Service overseas
+ Medal entitlement
+ Medical history
+ and other useful data

You may be able to identify the regiment from the cap badge or tunic buttons in photos. Do you have family papers that could help?

2nd world war records service records are held by Ministry of Defence, can be accessed by next of kin (info at: www.veterans-uk.info)

Many, many records are available and there are many releases online each week


Recommended next steps

Keep reading about the subject:

+ Tracing your second world war ancestors – Phil Tomaselli

+ British Campaign Medals 1914-2005 – Peter Duckers

+ Evacuees of the second world war – Mike Brown

+ My Ancestor was a Policeman – Antony Shearman

+ National Service – Peter Doyle and Paul Evans

+ The British Soldier of the Second World War – Peter Doyle


Keep an eye on:

+ Internet
+ Facebook / Twitter
+ Chat-rooms
+ Family History Magazines
+ Talks and conferences


Edward Nash: My guns 1944 North Italy

Book my talk to discover

+ Women’s Land Army records
+ Commonwealth Ware Graves Commission records
+ Gallantry and campaign medals
+ Army Casualty Lists
+ Army baptism, marriage and burial records
+ Unit War Diaries
+ Enquiries into missing naval personnel
+ Merchant shipping movement cards
+ Royal Navy registers of reports of deaths on ships
+ Royal Air Force combat reports
+ Royal Air Force operations record books
+ Wartime diaries and personal papers
+ Film and photographs
+ Wills of soldiers who died
+ Prisoner of War
+ Cabinet papers
+ Evacuees
+ 1939 Census (The Register)
+ Newspapers
+ Bomb Census Survey records
+ Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard)
+ National Farm Survey of England and Wales (to 1943)
+ Recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal to Home Guard
+ and much more

View all my talks and book me


Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Kent. He delivers courses, guidance, talks and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See https://myfamilygenealogy.co.uk/guidance/ for his 5 steps to discovering your ancestors. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation.

What stories might your ancestors tell?

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