Sources of information
Since no single definitive list exists for the villagers who served in The Great War we have had to piece the information together from
many sources. No single source provides all the details and every man is not named in each source.
The sources used include:
- The 1911 census - this provides a complete listing of the whole country and allows us to identify family groups and the movement of men
and their families in the decades preceeding the War.
- The Commonwealth War Grave Commission - for those servicemen who died the Commonwealth War graves Commission web site (www.cwgc.org) has a database
which includes the name, rank and regiment of each man, along with details of where he is buried or commemorated.
- The First World War Medal Index cards - The index to the medal rolls is probably the closest thing we have to an index of the Army for this period.
- The First World War Medal rolls - The medal rolls themselves are held in 3,273 volumes at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew.
- First World War Officers' service records - The service records of officers who served in the war as originally maintained by the Army do not survive
for officers whose service ended after 1914, as they were destroyed by enemy bombing in 1940. However, in addition to the main file, there
was a correspondence file which did survive the bombing. These files are held at TNA in classes WO339 and WO374. Some 217,000 individual files
are found in these series and can provide detailed description of the officer's service.
- First World War Other ranks' service records - The Army repository that stored the records of service of soldiers in the Great War was
bombed in the Blitz in the Second World War and many documents were lost. Those that survive were damaged by fire and water but are now held in series
WO363 at TNA. These records, known as the burnt series, where they survive, provide a detailed record of the man's service.
- First World War pensions records - After the destruction of many service records, the authorities tried to fill in gaps from other ministries.
One major series of records, in class WO364 and known as the unburnt series came mainly from those men with sickness or medical discharge.
These records also provide detailed information on service careers.
- First World War: War diaries from class WO95 in TNA - Once a serviceman's regiment has been identified from the previous sources a picture of the day-to-day activities
of the soldier can be gained from the daily war diaries kept by every unit of the Army. These records are held at TNA in class WO95.
- The Collingham Parish magazine - this provides useful information, particularly during the early days of the war, on men who enlisted and
sometimes mentions their units. Later in the War information is generally limited to those who were killed. Nevertheless this source can give
useful family insights.
- The Wetherby News - Local papers provide a wealth of information particularly around large events such as recruitment and enlistment
early in the War as well as large engagements that affected the local men.
- Lists of early recruits from the Collingham Parish Magazine or The Wetherby News
- Electoral rolls - The local electoral rolls provide useful information on the location of men and their families in 1915, 1918, 1919 and later years.
- Absent voter's lists - In 1918 and 1919, soldiers were recorded on special versions of the electoral rolls known as the Absent Voters lists. Where
these survive they record complete details of the unit each man was serving in. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the Absent Voters
lists for the Wetherby area. However the 'normal' electoral rolls contain entries for service men and women marked as 'NM' (Naval and Military service).
This provides a useful list of names but unfortunately without the exact unit detail.
The representative medical records from various theatres of war from class MH106 in The National Archive. The records in this series are
a representative selection of First World War Medical records brought together by the Medical Research Committee and the British Museum
during and immediately after the 1914 to 1918 War for use in statistical studies of the treatment for injuries sustained, and diseases
contracted, by British troops. The records were later used by the Ministry of Pensions, which inherited them, and subsequently by the
War Pensions Branches of its successor departments, to verify claims for war disability pensions. This record set now comprises only a
small proportion of the original records but include admission and discharge registers from hospitals and casualty clearing stations,
field ambulances, an ambulance train and a hospital ship. There are also medical sheets, selected to illustrate the diversity of
diseases contracted, injuries received and treatments prescribed and medical cards relating to individuals in selected regiments,
together with means of reference to the various types of record and volumes containing information on the provenance and use of the
original collection. It is believed that the reminder of the records were destroyed before the Second World War. However, until
recently, finding records in the remaining set had not been easy as there were no indexes. These records are now
being digitised and made available on-line and have been a valuable tool in identifying men.
- The British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Records. Available at https://vad.redcross.org.uk/ list the personal records of those who served in the VAD in World War 1.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Prisoner of War records.
On 21 August 1914, the ICRC established the International Prisoners-of-War Agency
in Geneva, to which the warring States submitted, more or less regularly, lists of prisoners.
The Agency received 400,000 pages of documents: lists of prisoners’ names and records of
capture, of transfers between camps and of deaths in detention. These records are available on line and provide details of the places and dates of capture along with the names of the camps in which the prisoner was held.
- The Indian Army Quarterly Lists. Some British Officers were appointed to, or transferred to The British Indian Army. Their careers may be followed from the Quarterly lists available free at archive.org accessed via https://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Indian_Army_List_online#1910-1919.
Pension Record Cards and Ledgers.
This set of records was saved from destruction by The Western Front Association and is currently (2019) being digitised and indexed. It constitutes an important new set of records and is invaluable in that it provides links between addresses and service record, so hard to find elsewhere. Without these records a number of men would have remained unknown, but are now fully identified. This set of records comprise ledgers for over 1.5 million men who served in the British Army , Royal Navy, and RFC/RAF during the Great War and claimed a pension (or, if they were killed in the conflict, the relatives that claimed). The records show signs of having been 'weeded' at some stage, most likely after the second world war, but are nevertheless a remarkably intact set of records. The Ledgers in their original form are a series of numerically sequenced books (totalling over 15,000 books) each book containing 100 pages and each page representing one pension claimant. Once a ledger was written for an individual, an index card was created, detailing the unique reference number for the ledger. These index cards were then filed alphabetically in different 'runs', depending on the type of ledger that the card was used to index. These cards are fully intact, however, due to the weeding of the ledgers, not all cards will lead to a ledger. The cards were effectively 'finding aids' to locate the ledger, which was in turn used to summarise post-award correspondence as well as the results of medical-board examinations. Although each of the seven types of ledgers are on the face of it quite similar, they provide different levels of detail.
For further information on the index system used for Pension Record Cards and Ledgers go to Pension Record Cards and Ledgers
The Great War Forum. The many experts at The Great War Forum are in invaluable source of knowledge, help and advice. Many queries have been answered via their help. One particularly useful source of information has been Kevin Rowlinson's detailed research into the service numbers and attestation dates for soldiers in the Royal Garrison Artillery which has helped with probable service dates for soldiers with this unit. Many thanks to Kevin and all other Forum Members.