Army Records for Family Historians by Simon Fowler. Public Record Office Readers' Guide No. 2, PRO Publications, Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR. Copyright 1992. £4.75.

This book describes the main series of records of the War Office and other government departments which provide information about the officers and soldiers who have served in the British Army. Almost all War Office records give some information about individuals, but this guide concentrates on those series containing material of greatest potential interest to the family historian. Most of the records described in the book are at the Public Record Office at Kew, with a few clearly indicated at Chancery Lane.

The book clearly outlines what records are available for you ancestors, whether they were officers or rank and file soldiers. You must begin with the regiment, and suggestions are made on where to look for this information if you don't know it. Once you know the regiment the book helps you by outlining what information you are likely to find in which series of documents. I found myself reading the book and marking references to the Royal Artillery that I had not checked yet in seeking information about my William Dixon.

The book is well laid out, easy to follow and provides lots of avenues to search in seeking that elusive military ancestor. The photographs in the appendix provide good examples of what many of the documents look like. The index is a good one for finding information on a branch of the service or a particular type of document without having to read the whole book.

Do not assume that you have to go to London to do this research. Many of the Military records have been microfilmed and are available through your local Family History Center. Look in the catalog under ENGLAND - MILITARY HISTORY.

Note: This book is now in its second edition (1998).

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.1 no.4, 1994