How to Research WW1 Soldiers

It is now easier than ever to conduct your own research into soldiers that fought in the First World War.  Many of the original documents have now been digitized and made available online, using our guide we will show you exactly where to find the information you require.

Our Step-by-Step Guide to WW1 Research

With every research project you undertake, the information you find will lead you in various directions. As such, this guide attempts to cover the most frequently encountered scenarios.

Step one – Finding basic WW1 soldier information

You may already know the first name of the soldier you are researching, or perhaps you only know his initials as found on his medals.

The starting point for all WW1 soldier research is to find his Medal Index Card (MIC).  Medal Index Cards do contain varying amounts of information, but you should be able to find;

  • The soldiers first name, middle initial(s) and surname (highly likely)
  • The soldiers rank upon entering and leaving a theatre of war (highly likely)
  • Which Regiment/Corps the soldier served with (highly likely)
  • The soldiers service number with each Regiment he served (highly likely)
  • Which medals he was awarded, and the medal roll reference number (highly likely)
  • Date he entered a theatre of war for the first time (usually found on pre-1916 MICs)
  • Whether he was issued a Silver War Badge (denoted as SWB/List on the card)
  • If he was Mentioned in Dispatches (denoted as ’emblems’ on the card if awarded)
  • Awarded a Gallantry Medal (may have DCM, MM, MC etc after his name)
  • Whether he was killed or survived (sometimes noted as dead, or demob)
  • The address that his medals were sent to (only usually found on officers MICs)

Where to find Medal Index Cards

There are three ways to view WW1 MICs;

  1. You can view them in person at the National Archives, Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU – FREE
  2. You can download them from the National Archives website – £3.36 each
  3. You can view as many as wish with your regular Ancestry subscription

On the main ‘Search’ page on Ancestry; Go to ‘Search’ > ‘Military’


Then in the right hand sidebar select ‘British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920’ as shown below.



Enter the soldiers first name, middle initial and surname into the search fields. If you know his service number, enter it in the appropriate place. PLEASE NOTE: Do not enter the soldiers middle name even if known, the cards usually only have the middle initial. Do not enter the soldiers Regiment name as this is often recorded in multiple ways.



Still struggling to find information?  You can task us to complete the research on your behalf.


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