Just started your family tree? Read these useful tips...

Britain has a rich military history meaning that there is a wealth of records created as a result of various conflicts, battles and wars. Most of us will come across military-serving ancestors in our family tree at some point. Military conflicts play such a big part in our world's history so a little tip when researching your family history is to already assume that some of your ancestors participated in the military. Creating a timeline detailing the wars and conflicts of the past could help you determine the likely military engagement of each ancestor - considering age. Generally speaking, most people that served in the military were between the ages of 18 and 30 - although many were creative with the truth when it came to age and it is not uncommon to find younger and older candidates. If you can also work out the location that your ancestor would have been in at the time you can also make your job easier because you are narrowing down your research to a specific area and time period. Why not ask family members if they remember any stories being passed down, perhaps they have already done a little bit of research that could help you. Once you have found out as much as you can then it is time to find the proof to support and grow what you have - and you can do this through searching military records, which will often provide information on the veteran in question as well as on other members of the family. This could send you along various paths. Gather as much information as possible  Searching military records involves scanning lots of information and things like what branch of service your ancestor was in, which conflict, which dates, whether they were in the regular army or a volunteer unit, whether there was a pension application e.t.c, are all important details that could help you a great deal. However, if all you have is a name to start with then medal rolls can be a good place to start because nearly every serving soldier, airman or sailor qualified for a campaign medal — and these entitlements are recorded within the rolls. From this you should hopefully then be able to identify the campaigns your ancestor was engaged in and the regiment or units they belonged to. These are just basic pointers to help you get started and knowing what you are doing and what you are looking at can really make all the difference when you are trying to grow your family tree.  Forces War Records understand that and have many more tips to help you with your genealogy quest - so keep an eye on the blog for more advice on researching your family history. We also offer the services of an experienced researcher who could do a lot of the hard work for you — if you've hit a brick wall with your research, or haven't got the patience — this could be an option to consider. For other people the challenge and the journey is exactly what makes genealogy fun because you never really know where your family research is going to take you. Add the events of war and history to the mix and you can often weave out quite a compelling background. Looking at your ancestors in the framework of such rich British military history makes genealogy much more than just dates and places – it’s about people, heroes, bravery, lives saved and lives lost. It’s about your history — it’s about you!

Forces War Records has over seven million records, a vast historic documents library and a bank of war diaries available to read for free. If you’re thinking of starting or continuing your genealogy quest, or even if you’re just interested in history – then the site would be a good place to get into the habit of visiting… If you’re looking to add more colour to your research then have a look through our historic document library and you’ll find plenty of interesting finds including war diaries, that are available to read for free. You can now also record your findings and import your family tree at the click of a button on Forces War Records with your GEDCOM genealogy software files. GEDCOM files contain genealogical information about individuals that can be linked together, imported and exported. Use this new family tree feature and take advantage of the company’s extensive record collection. Happy hunting!
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