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February 9, 2009

Military Records: Looking Under a Stone, not just peeking behind it...

This is a photo of my Grandmother's brother Sydney Simpson. Sydney was born in Ramsgate Kent England in 1897.
I knew Uncle Syd, as we called him, for he lived in Toronto and came to visit our family fairly often. But Until I saw this photo in Doris' Genealogy Box, I had no idea he had been in WW1.

A search of the online CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) records of soldiers in the First World War brought up the front and back of his Attestation Papers.

This was terrific to have but something that is often overlooked by researchers is that Library & Archives Canada has a nice little link called "How to consult a file on-site or order a copy of the complete file" This should not be overlooked when you find an ancestor's WW1 Attestation Papers online!

The Attestation Papers are simply the record of the soldier's signup - the date he/she enlisted, where it occured, some vital information about the individual and whether or not they were accepted and so on. But what is not online is the full file on that soldier! That file can be 2 pages. It can be 100. Most Canadian Expeditionary Force service files contain an average of 25 to 75 pages. You have no way of knowing until you order it. The cost is very reasonable and it is well worth taking the time to fill out the order form online.

I have ordered dozens of WW1 CEF files for individuals. Items included are often a list of promotions or demotions, major movements (events) such as being wounded, disciplinary action, arrival in England, to the front lines, hospitalization, leave and so on. You can also see what unit the soldier was in, and if he was transferred, when he was discharged or if he died, etc.

So remember, don't overlook the value of military records in your genealogy research but more importantly be careful to ensure you have obtained the full records and not just a small portion of them!

For Canadian military records, there is much more available online than just WW1


Tex said...

I'm working on this very issue with one of my ancestors who served in the Mexican War. One published index indicates he died in 1847 but his service record does not indicate he died in the war. I'm trying to figure out where the death information came from if it wasn't from his service file--he didn't have a pension file that I can find. mysteries, mysteries

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Mysteries - frustrating - but isn't it fun!

Hazel said...

Thanks for this tip - I had never thought of checking these records further.

Anonymous said...

What a very handsome man. I can see a touch of Christian Bale in him around the eyes and mouth.