Researching the Great War

Sources and weblinks for anyone wishing to undertake further research

There are very many sources for researching the Great War or First World War. A good place to start is the Western Front Association's website



This has a useful guide to researching Great War family history at



You can find further weblinks at



Chris Baker's site The Long, long trail: the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918 has helpful advice about researching a soldier:



The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has a searchable database of all recorded soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the Great War. It also has links to many useful resources for schools and researchers at



The War Memorials Trust has a guide to researching the names on a war memorial at



The BBC World War One site has much information



There are many sources for schools at Schools World War One



Another useful website is that of the Imperial War Museums at



Many First World War Centenary events are listed at



The French Historial de la Grand Guerre, in Peronne, is a very good source of information with details of Great War events in France:



The Preston Remembers website lists events in Preston commemorating the Great War. It has information about the city's recently restored War Memorial or Cenotaph and other memorials in Preston. The website has links to useful websites such as the War Memorials Trust



Lancashire Archives' flowchart for researching a Great War ancestor

and the Imperial War Museums' Lives of the First World War site

The excellent Lancashire Infantry Museum, in Fulwood Barracks, Preston, is an excellent source for local military research.



Helpful books for researching Great War family history include:


 William Spencer

First World War Army Service Records: a guide for family historians. 4th. ed. (The National Archives, 2008)



Paul Reed

Great War lives: a guide for family historians (Pen & Sword Books, 2010)



Simon Fowler

Tracing your First World War ancestors: a guide for family historians (Pen & Sword Books, 2013)



The literature on the causes, progress and aftermath of the Great War is very large, sometimes with sharp differences in historical interpretation. There's also a large literature of novels, poetry, diaries and memoirs. You will need to explore this for yourself. Lancashire Libraries and Archives can help you too. However, the oral history researches of Lyn MacDonald are worth noting. She recorded the memories of Great War soldiers and nurses. Their direct, eye-witness testimonies are revealing and often very moving.


They include:


 1914: the days of hope (reissue: Penguin, 2013)


1915: the death of innocence ( Penguin, 1997)


They called it Passchendaele: the story of the Battle of Ypres and the men who fought it (Penguin, 1993)


Somme (reissue: Penguin, 2013)


The roses of No Man's Land  (reissue, Penguin, 2013) [about women nurses]


To the last man: Spring 1918 (Penguin, 1998)


 A useful general history about Pals battalions in the Great War is Roni Wilkinson's  Pals on the Somme 1916 (Pen & Sword Books, 2013).


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