Breamlea, Victoria

Breamlea, Victoria

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

I've got my WW1 ancestor's records - what do I do now?

Hi everyone!

Hopefully everybody has found their WW1 ancestor's records by going to the National Archives of Australia.  You can see my previous blog about how to research NAA to get those records.  Now that you have them, what now?

For me, researching the military records was difficult because I don't have a military background.  There are an awful lot of abbreviations and whatnot in those papers that you will become familiar with and your understanding will grow if you continue to research.

I would say the most helpful thing a person can do once they have the records, is research the context of those records.

For example, if you know your ancestor was in the 59th Battalion AIF, then your first step could be to simply Wikipedia the 59th Battalion, and see what comes up.  Wikipedia will probably have the official history of the Battalion, and will include important battles and things of major import that happened to that Battalion.  Their references are useful too, as you can see major books and websites used to gather the information and they may help you later.

Next I would check out the Australian War Memorial.  The search bar there will look for all sorts of things, including your specific ancestor, their battalion, and photographs.  You can narrow your search as long as you have a clear idea of which part of the forces your ancestor was in (which you do because you already have their military records!) If you have used Trove it is quite like that website.

Trove is great too, to see if your ancestor was mentioned perhaps in a nominal roll of volunteers.  You can see my previous blog about how to use Trove.  It is a fantastic resource for all sorts of research

There is also a Victorian Government website called, which has a wonderful list of hyperlinks to relevant external websites to help your search.

On the National Archives of Australia is the "Discovering ANZACs" section, worth a look.

Then there is always good old google images search.  I find I can scan a heap more websites with google images rather than reading each website individually with a regular google search.  If you see an image which you think suits your purpose, hover your arrow on it and it will show the website the image comes from. You can then choose or not to visit the page, and that saves time and pointless downloading and waiting.

After that there are specific websites, according to the experience your ancestor had.
For example, the 59th Battalion fought at Fromelles, so from there you can Wikipedia etc Fromelles and the Western Front.  Go through your list of resources again!

Good luck with your search.
Historically yours
Valerius Copernicus

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