Finding Genealogy Information in Military Records

If you have an ancestor who fought in a war or was a member of the military, an obvious place to search for genealogy information is military records.

Searching military records will provide information on your ancestor’s time of service, but will also provide personal information, including the basics such as age, height, weight, visible scars, next of kin, as well as other personal information.

You may think that is all you will find, but there is so much more information to be mined from the records.   I was researching a Canadian soldier in W.W. 2 and found those little extras that really make the search interesting.   His job prior to enlisting in the military was with the Manitoba Provincial Police.  His next of kin was listed as his mother, including her full name and address.   However, later on he changed his next of kin to whom I would assume was a close personal friend (i.e. girlfriend) from his hometown.   Aha, that is interesting.   But, reading further, his next of kin became a woman in England.   Now I was really interested.    Which one of the two did he marry or did he marry at all?

As genealogists, curious minds always want to know, so on conducting further research I finally found a marriage certificate and, yes, he married the woman from England.  I also found that after the war he returned to his job with the Manitoba Provincial Police force.  This police force was amalgamated into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and he was grandfathered into the RCMP.  Through RCMP records I found his employment information, retirement date and the cemetery where he was buried, along with his wife’s grave.

All this from military records!

At a recent general meeting of our Society Steve Cowan of the BC-Yukon Branch of the Heraldic Society spoke about researching military history for genealogy purposes.   He provided a list of research sites for several countries which has now been posted on our website at http://www.qbfhs.ca/genealogy-resources/military-genealogy-research-sites/.  You may find this list helpful while conducting your own research on military ancestors.

Good luck with your research.