How to trace World War I ancestors on Ancestry


10 October 2023
A group of female workers at a shipbuilding yard on the River Clyde in Scotland during the First World War.
Discover useful collections on Ancestry to help you research your military ancestors and family members’ experiences of World War I.

Start your military search on Ancestry

To focus your search on the military collections on Ancestry, click here.

Sort the collections by ‘record count’ to view the list by size – the largest single collection being that for the Navy Lists, spanning 1888-1970, and including more than 12 million records. Scroll down to explore the catalogue – there are 137 other military collections relating to the UK and Ireland available via Ancestry.

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Ancestors in World War I

  • The Medal and Award Rolls and Medal Index Cards are very useful starting points, as they are near comprehensive collections, covering officers and other ranks.
  • The World War I Pension Records cover pensionable other ranks service personnel, while the World War I Service Records cover the 40% of surviving soldiers’ service records (60% having been burnt during WW2).
  • Don’t miss too the listing of more than 800,000 people awarded a Silver War Badge – discharged due to ill health or injury, and given a badge to wear honouring their service.

Text extracted from a military ancestors article in the November 2023 issue of Family Tree magazine. Get your copy HERE.