Planning a gathering over Christmas? Ask your family about your First World War connection

© IWM (Q 1631) British troops eating their Christmas dinner in a shell hole, Beaumont Hamel, 25th December 1916

© IWM (Q 1631) British troops eating their Christmas dinner in a shell hole, Beaumont Hamel, 25th December 1916

The Christmas holidays are a great opportunity to ask your relatives about your family history. Here are five top tips to researching your First World War connection:

 

  1. Remember the golden rule: always work backwards from what you know. Sketch out a family tree, starting with yourself, and see if you can trace back to a family member born between 1860 and 1901. People born between these years are more likely to have contributed to the British war effort in the First World War.

 

  1. Speak to older family members and see whether they can remember anything about the person. Remember that they may have served under a different name, e.g. did a woman serve with her maiden or married name? Did they use a nickname, e.g. ‘Betty’ instead of ‘Bertha’, or ‘Jack’ instead of ‘John’?

 

  1. Do you have any mementoes that could provide clues, such as letters, diaries, or medals? It’s worth having a look when you put your Christmas decorations back into the attic! Go through old family photo albums or scrapbooks to see if you can discover anything there.

    © IWM Documents.17046 Photograph album containing photographs of pilot Leonard Riddell, his family, and aircraft

    © IWM Documents.17046 Photograph album containing photographs of pilot Leonard Riddell, his family, and aircraft

  2. Note down names, addresses, dates and any military information such as regiments and numbers. Write down as much as you can as you research, and be sure to keep it safe. You will be able to use this vital information to find, remember and share your First World War connections on Lives of the First World War.

    © IWM (Q 19704) Dr Dorothy Hare, Assistant Medical Director Women’s Royal Naval Service, at her desk

    © IWM (Q 19704) Dr Dorothy Hare, Assistant Medical Director Women’s Royal Naval Service, at her desk

  3. Make it your New Year’s resolution to continue adding information, images and stories to Lives of the First World War. Share your amazing discoveries with us each Friday afternoon from Friday 2 January, on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Lives of the First World War in 2014. The team wishes you all a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to working together in 2015!

 

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