Discover Hidden Stories of Your Wartime Heroes & Heroines at Family Tree Live


10 April 2019
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A new family history show at Alexandra Palace is offering visitors the chance to learn about the exploits of their plucky relatives during World Wars I and II.

A new family history show at Alexandra Palace is offering visitors the chance to learn about the exploits of their plucky relatives during World Wars I and II.


A stunning living history Home Front Bus depicting life in Britain in the 1940s will be making a two-day stop in Ally Pally’s Great Hall during Family Tree Live, which takes place at the historic London venue on 26 and 27 April 2019.


As well as enjoying tours of the eye-catching mobile museum, show-goers will be able to attend talks and workshops to learn about the lives of their wartime relatives and get one-to-one expert advice from military and family history experts in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the D-Day landings in June.


Organised by leading UK family history magazine Family Tree in partnership with the Family History Federation, this friendly show is ideal for anyone interested in learning about the lives of their ancestors, including their family in wartime at home and abroad.


Exhibitors include the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Business Services organisation, which holds millions of records of service personnel discharged after 1921. The records include some 500,000 individuals who saw service in the First World War as well as those who fought in the Second World War. Specialist advisers will help visitors carry out live service record searches to find out whether the MoD holds a record for a family member who served in the armed forces, including the women’s services and the Home Guard. Those interested in tracing their relatives’ war years or military careers can then use this crucial information to apply for the service record using the online forms at

To assist the search for a relative’s records, members of the public should take at least some of the following information to the stand: their surname, initials, date of birth and service number.


The MoD will also be offering a search facility for descendants of RAF servicemen and women who served in World War II. RAF casualty packs from the war are being transferred from the MoD to The National Archives at Kew. However, using the MoD’s archive and cataloguing database, an assisted search facility will enable identification of the pack that may relate to a relative. This information can then be used to either access the pack at The National Archives or, for those yet to be transferred, apply for details from the pack using the forms on site. Those seeking RAF personnel records should bring along the name of the individual(s), date of incident and type of aircraft.


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There’s also help on offer for visitors who have already obtained an ancestor’s service record but don’t know what to do next. Experts John Reynolds from the MoD’s record office, a keen Army historian and serving reserves officer, Stuart Hadaway from the Air Historical Branch – author of military books including Missing believed killed: casualty policy and the missing research and enquiry service 1939-1952 – and Sue Pass, from the Navy search service, will be explaining how to interpret relatives’ service records, helping uncover hidden stories of families’ wartime heroes and heroines.


In addition, ex-forces personnel who haven’t yet received a Veterans Badge can ask for one on the stand, following confirmation of a service record identification and a check of the Veterans Badge database (surname, initials, date of birth and service number required).


For visitors with family photos of ancestors in uniform, living military historian Captain Graham Bandy will be offering military photo-dating and analysis and have a range of memorabilia on display. The Royal British Legion and Royal College of Nursing will also be exhibiting at the show, with the RCN providing advice about researching nursing kin.


With more 120 talks and hands-on workshops on offer at Family Tree Live, visitors have a wealth of exciting subjects to help them on their family history journeys. For those interested in learning about their wartime ancestors, talk topics cover shell shock and trauma during the First World War, tracing prisoners of war and internees in both world wars, Jewish ancestors and The 1939 Register, the ‘census’ taken on the eve of World War II.


Family Tree Editor Helen Tovey said: ‘Family Tree Live promises two amazing days of military, family and living history talks and activities for all the family, so bring your budding young genealogists along too.


‘With the 75th anniversary of the start of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy just around the corner, on 6 June, this is the perfect time to start exploring the lives of your wartime relatives and the sacrifices they made.’


All-inclusive day tickets are just £12 in advance (£14 on the door), children 16 and under go free. To buy tickets and pre-book lecture seats, workshop places and one-to-one expert advice sessions, visit

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