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Expert Q&A :: Military family history with findmypast Aust & NZ

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, April 25 we had Neil Smith from Mostly Unsung, Emma Kelly from Aust & NZ and Paul Nixon from findmypast UK to answer your questions about using findmypast military records for family history. Thanks again to Paul, Neil and and Emma for giving us all the benefit of their time and expertise.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page

When is the Q&A? NSW-ACT-VIC-TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEST | QLD: 8:30-9:30pm | WA: 6:30-7:30pm | NT: 8:00-9:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Read more on the Aust & NZ military history collections and its treasures in the special edition of Inside History partnered with – it’s digital only – and FREE!

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Summary of links from the Q&A:



Transcript of Expert Q&A – Aust & NZ 

Our Expert Q&A on researching your family’s military history using Aust & NZ starts in 30 minutes at 8:30pm AEST. Tonight we’ll be answering your questions on findmypast UK, Australia and New Zealand. Please ask your questions in a comment below, and either Paul Nixon, Neil Smith or Emma Kelly will answer in a following comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Paul Nixon, Neil Smith and Emma Kelly to tonight’s Q&A!
A. IHM: Tip :: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear and remember to look through the entire list of comments, as facebook may order your questions and answers out of sequence.
A. Paul: Helloooo!
A. Emma: Hi everyone!
A. Neil: Another wonderful ANZAC Day here in Melbourne.
A. Paul: Great to be here. Greetings from a sunny London.
A. IHM: Welcome Paul, we miss sunny ol London!

Q. From AnnMarie: How can I find out if my relative was awarded any medals from the Boer War? I only have online access to the War Memorial, his name was Edward Percy Barton. Also my husband’s grandfather (he was Australian) was awarded medals including an OBE for his service in helping train the Fijian Army during WW2, he had dementia a few years before he died and did something with his medals, we think he posted them back to whoever awarded them to him… My husband is in the Army (27) years and I really wanted to try and track them down or get them replaced for him but have no idea even where to start. Thanks in advance. 
A. Neil: @AnnMarie it is easiest to check the microfilm held by National Archives of Australia – they have most Boer War medal rolls. For the OBE try the AWM Honours and Awards section.
Q(b): AnnMarie: Thanks… Where are the National archives and do I have to go there to view it? I live in QLD.
A. AnnMarie: no records at the AWM for husband’s grandfather
A. IHM: AnnMarie, the National Archives of Australia is in Canberra but there are offices in each state. Here is the link to the Brisbane office :: | Here is a link to Boer War Link fact sheet ::
A. AnnMarie: Thanks.

Q. From Joanne: How do I locate information regarding a family member who served in Tobruk? I have been to but he is not listed – he was from western Australia and born in 1903. I have done a NAA search and located his service number however could not access any details of service. I am interested in finding out more about this significant family member. Many thanks
A. Neil: Joanne. His records can be requested through the National Archives of Australia but make sure you include his service number. For a fee, they will digitise the records.
A. IHM: Hi Joanne, here’s the link for Ordering records through the NAA ::
Q(b): Joanne: Many thanks – Just wondering if there are any instances where information would not be released? For example previously classified information?
A. Neil: Hi Joanne, not usually. An exception would be for correspondence less than 30 years old.
A. Joanne: Many thanks for your advice it is appreciated  I think it’s great that you are taking time out to help people reconnect with their family history. Especially on Anzac day…. Lest we forget ….
A. IHM: You’re welcome Joanne, thanks for being part of the Q&A – let us know if we can help with anything else

Q. From Ku-ring-gai Historical Society: We are writing a book of biographies of the KIAs and decorated soldiers commemorated on Ku-ring-gai memorials as a centenary project. A couple of our lads enlisted in UK regiments. Can anyone help with where we can access their service records please?
A. Paul: @Ku-ringgai Historical Society – unfortunately records from WW2 are still with the MoD in England and so you’ll need to start enquiries there. Depending on the regiment, you may find that some records also survive in regimental archives. Tank Corps and Royal Artillery certainly do.
A. Ku-ring-gai: We are only working on WWI at this stage – that is a big enough project, and for the centenary. Should we still look in the places you suggested above or is there somewhere else?
A. Paul: For WW1 service records, you’ll find that a lot do not survive but try the National Archives in the UK. Another well known genealogy site has other rank service records (which exist in WO 363 and WO 364). Officer’s service records have not yet been digitised.
A. Ku-ring-gai: BTW you did post a reply above, thanks
Q(b): Ku-ring-gai: Thanks, we’ll give those a try. One on my list was a Captain. Do you think there’s any chance they might digitise the officer’s records in time for the centenary?
A. Paul: Unlikely that WW1 officers’ service records will be digitised in time for August 2014 although we’ve all go to keep our fingers crossed that they’ll be online by 2018.
A. Paul: But you can of course search for the man on TNA’s online catalogue and, once found, engage a researcher to find out more.
A. Ku-ring-gai: Thank you, we are hoping to get some funding and add a CD or DVD to the book, so then things will be easier to update in coming years…maybe 2018! Will get cracking on TNA site. Thank you Paul.

Q. From Carmel: I have found one of my ancestors who went to sea in FMP and have a number for him but cannot work out where to go from there? it was for 1840’s what can I find with his number. I also think he may have been crew on the ship his wife cam out to Australia from. Shipping record states she left with him for the gold fields. 
A. IHM: Hi Carmel, the good people at Aust & NZ will take your query offline and answer asap next week – we’re talking military ancestors tonight 🙂

Q. From Rachael: What sort of information can we find? I have British relatives who were in the army and navy between 1880 and 1945. So far I have only used ancestry to look.
A. Paul: Findmypast has pension records for British soldiers beginning in 1760 and going up until 1913. So if your ancestor was discharged to pension, you should find him there. There are also many other 19th Century database. Remember that these are on and of course, through the worldwide edition.
A. IHM: Hi Rachael, here’s the link to British Army Service Records 1760-1915 on findmypast ::

Q. From Link: My great uncle flew in a Lancaster in Europe, I’ve found his name on the national but nothing comes up, does this mean his records haven’t been digitalized yet and I have to go to Canberra to view them or can I try somewhere else? His name is Ernest Frederick Miller!
A. IHM: Have you read Lancaster Men by Peter Rees ::
Q(b): Link: Looks like a great read, I’m looking to find his records, he past away 2 years ago and we don’t know which squadron he was assigned to! Once we get his basic information (without making the trip to Canberra) I should be able to piece together more of his story. He’s the only family member not to have his service record available in the just wondering why it’s not available currently?
A. Link: his service number: 419837

Q. From Sue: My grandfather was in the Polish Services but was sent to UK to hospital then went with the British Forces to France. Would his records be in Polish archives or some in the British records?
A. IHM: Hi Sue, I’m assuming that you’re looking at WW2?
A. Sue: Yes, WWII
A. Paul: Definitely worth trying the MoD. WW2 records have not yet been digitised or even passed to our National Archives. However, as a relative, you can ask the MoD to search for him. Try this link for some useful information:
A. Sue: Thanks Paul
A. Paul: You’re very welcome. Good luck.

Q. From Leigh: Hi all I’ve asked before but still trying to find a link on UK sites for fleet air arm British navy WW2 for details of my father, I’ve tried the search a person – any other suggestions please?
A. Paul: Leigh, have you tried the Fleet Air Arm museuam at Yeovilton?
A. Paul: My spelling is atrocious…
A. Leigh: Thanks Paul I will try that site
A. Leigh: Hi again Paul I checked the site you mentioned ” fleet air arm” which states all records after 1927 are held by MOD. Is there an address to search that site please?
A. Paul: Try this:
A. Paul: Also try this:
A. Cathy: Leigh have you checked with Canberra or maybe England may have something the same there but if it is a closed file it could be years before it is allowed if ever to be opened.

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