If you’re researching any military personnel in your family history, a great starting point is a service record. I’ll write more about obtaining WW2 service records later on, but for now I want to focus on WW1 service records.
WW1 service records are available through The National Archives or by using Ancestry.co.uk, but while more than seven million men and women served in the military during WW1, just under half of these records survive as the rest were lost in a German bombing raid during WW2, so if you find your relative among these ‘burnt records’ you’re actually pretty lucky!
After searching for James George Jupp, my 2x Great Grandfather, I was unable to find a record for him, or indeed for two other relatives that I know served in WW1, but I was able to find a record for James Charles Jupp, James George Jupp’s son and one of my Grandad’s uncles. This is the first page:
As you can see if you click to enlarge, the edges are a little rough ad the writing is faint in places, but it is mostly intact and readable – I have seen records where there is just a small circle of paper left in the middle of what would have been a full A4 sheet – some of the text is readable, but they wouldn’t be of much use in taking your research further!
It’s nice to have found a record that relates to my family, and I’ve been able to extract some information about where James George Jupp would have been living, his wife etc, based on the record of his son, but there’s not much further I can take it as it’s not my direct line of ancestry and there’s plenty to do on that score already!
The National Archives have a web page dedicated to the burnt records if you want to look further and there are also ‘unburnt records’ which include pension records and records for the wounded which could help in place of a service record to take your research further.