British Military Personal Papers and Possessions

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When trying to locate information about a member of the family who may was in the military, it is very helpful to know where they served, what regiment, what branch, etc. Often these things may be in your possession through inherited items, but you may be unaware of their value. Here are some possible items that may have details that can lead to locating more information through their military service records.

Paybooks[edit | edit source]


A Soldier's Record and Pay Book was issued to each soldier in the British Army. There were two parts to this book. Part I was to be in their possession at all times and contained all identifying information pertaining to the soldier. Part II pertains to active service and is a record of pay (see image). These books changed very little over time and may contain any of the following information:

  • Sizes of their clothing
  • Personal information: Name, Birth, Regiment, Date of Attestation (enlistment) along with age at that time and a description of themselves, their trade at the time of attestation
  • Specific types of training and dates
  • Promotions with dates of such
  • Record of Leave time
  • Medical Issues with dates
  • Inoculations with dates
  • Name of an individual to be notified if necessary
  • Dates and amounts of Pay (Part II)

Much detail on these books is provided online by Alistair Taylor.

Journals[edit | edit source]

Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857: Most of these journals come from convict ships bound for Australia, but there are some from vessels sailing within Europe to the Caribbean.

The British Military library or Journal: Sir Richard Phillips: (Vol. 1) A free e-book through Google Books.

The South African Military History Society: Military History Journal: A listing of articles published both in print and online concerning military history.

WW1 British Army War Diaries: The Great War 1914-1918

WWII Personal Stories by location and topic, including UK. Courtesy of BBC.

Envelopes and Letters[edit | edit source]

Soldiers' Traveling Trunk/Chest
[edit | edit source]

"Photo Courtesy of Ted Leonard"

The above soldier's trunk belonged to Sergeant Thomas Leonard who was in the 50th Regiment. These were used to hold all the belongings of a soldier.

Return to British Military Artifacts