Irish in the British Army : soldiers' records online and free at the National Army Museum
Did you know you can search the enlistment books of the Irish regiments in the British Army that were disbanded in 1922 and also view the associated images? Better yet, access is online and free.
Above: An Irish recruitment poster. Copyright the Imperial War Museum
Ireland was a recruiting ground for the British Army and Navy for hundreds of years. However, when the Irish Free State was established in 1922, the five Irish regiments then active in the British Army were disbanded. They were the:
Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Royal Irish Regiment
Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Irishmen continued to enlist in the British military up to World War 2 and beyond as a means of supporting their families. However, there were no longer any homogeneous Irish regiments for them to join.
The enlistment books for the five regiments listed above have been digitized and are now held by the UK's National Army Museum. The Museum's website states the books contain soldiers' (but not officers') records serving in these regiments during the period 1920-22. When reviewing the database I found records from as early as 1877 and as late as 1924. It appears not to matter when the soldiers enlisted. They were included provided they were still serving between 1920-22. Click here to search the records.
Above: sample search results showing the oldest records in the database.
An online search of the records initially returns an index list of records found. Clicking on the camera icon to the right of each line opens the record's image.
What is in the records?
These records hold a wealth of information about each person including:
Date of attestation
Age at attestation
Place of attestation
Transfer to or from regiment and date
Trade on enlistment
Period of mobilized or embodied service
Place of birth - parish/town/county
Full name and nationality of woman to whom married and name of each child; if unmarried name and address of Next of Kin stating relationship
Place of marriage and birth of each child
Date of marriage and birth of each child
Campaigns, wounds, medals, or rewards of any kind
Discharge or becoming ineffective:
Rank and character on discharge
Rate of Pension awarded (if any)
Address on discharge
Particulars of former service giving Corps and number
Remarks (which often includes original regimental number).
Above: Search result showing the basic index information as well as the associated image to be viewed or downloaded. Courtesy of the National Army Museum
This is an unexpected and valuable resource for Irish family history research, particularly given approximately 60% of World War 1 soldiers’ Service Records were lost as a result of enemy bombing in 1940.
How did you go?
I hope you find these records as useful as I did. With Remembrance Day next week it is timely that we search for our military ancestors. I found one of my Irish great uncles from Cork in the Leinster Regiment. I trust you will find success too. If so, I hope you will share your success in the comments box at the end of this screen.
If you didn't find any ancestors in the Irish Soldiers database, then head on over to FindMyPast.com.au. Their worldwide military records are free to access until 12 November 2020. Click here to land on the right page for the free access records.
For continued access to Findmypast records once the free period is over, use my special discount code FOFMPTL21 for 20% off the 12 month PRO subscription on their Australian website at www.findmypast.com.au.
Note: I have an affiliate relationship with FindMyPast which means I receive a small commission on any subscriptions purchased through the above link. Please be assured you do not pay any more as a result of this commission.
Until next time, happy searching.
Your Family Genealogist
Pictures: from the Imperial War Museum and the National Army Museum