Remembrance / Tracing War Grave

1. The first step is to assemble as much basic information as possible. Unless the name is unique, you will have to be able to distinguish your person from the others with similar names. You will probably have the following basic details to start with:


Full Name
Place of Birth
Father’s Name
Mother’s Name
Wife/Husband’s Name
Date of Death


If you have a medal, you may be able to read the Army Serial Number and the name of the Regiment of the recipient. These may be written on the reverse or around the edge.


2. If the soldier of interest died while in service, there are a number of places to start. You can begin your search by using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Internet site This allows you to search its registers of the dead of both World Wars. The Commission maintains the graves and memorials of the 1.7 million who died fighting as members of the Commonwealth’s armed services. This is probably the most convenient source of information about soldiers who were killed. If there is a record present, you will be given personal details, the location of a grave or memorial inscription and some information about what was happening in the area at the time of the death.


The National War Memorial at Islandbridge holds an alphabetic index of soldiers killed while serving in Irish regiments in the Great War. Each entry shows the name, regimental number, rank, regiment, battalion, cause of death, theatre of war, date of death, place of birth.


A complete list of soldiers killed was published by HMSO in 1921 under the title “Soldiers Died in the Great War”. This contains the names of 635,000 soldiers and 37,000 officers in 81 volumes covering every regiment and corps, arranged by surname within battalion. Part 73 refers to soldiers of the Dublin Fusiliers. Each entry shows the place of birth, place of enlistment, regimental number, rank, regiment, cause of death, theatre of war, date of death. The complete set was produced in CD-ROM format by the Naval and Military Press Ltd in 1998 at a price of £220 sterling plus VAT. This can be searched without knowing which regiment a soldier served in. [A copy is held by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association.]
4. The Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, contains an alphabetic microfiche index of those awarded campaign medals (WO372). Each entry contains the name, regiment, rank, number, medals awarded, the theatre of war first served in and the date of entry therein. The remarks column will note if a soldier was killed in action. This is a good starting point for a soldier who survived the War. If you intend to visit the PRO, you should read, ‘Army Service Records of the First World War,’ by Simon Fowler, William Spencer, Stuart Tamblin, published by the PRO.


The PRO has made the index available for searching on the internet See If you locate a soldier in the index, there is a charge of £3 to get an actual copy of the index card.


The regiment shown on a medal or recorded at the date of death may hide the fact that the soldier served in other regiments. For example a recruit to the 8th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, may have been assigned later to the 1st Battalion when the 8th and 9th were disbanded.
5. If you know the regiment in which the soldier served, you can obtain details of its movements, activities and battles from a number of sources. ‘British Regiments 1914-18,’ by Brigadier E.A. James, gives a brief history of each battalion in every regiment during the war. [The British Army had a complex structure during the Great War. In the infantry, a soldier served in a section of about 15 men under a corporal or sergeant. Four sections formed a platoon under a lieutenant. Four platoons formed a company under a captain. Four companies formed a battalion which was part of a regiment. The regiment did not act as unit and its battalions could be distributed among different brigades and divisions. Four battalions (reduced to 3 in 1918) formed a brigade and three brigades made a division.]


A number of regiments had their histories published for private circulation. These describe the more significant events that occurred while the regiment was on active service. Relevant books for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers are:


Neill’s “Blue Caps”, Vol. 3, by Colonel H. C. Wylly. This history of the 1st Battalion was originally published in 1924 and republished by Schull Books in 1996.


Crown and Company Vol. 2 also by Colonel H.C. Wylly. This history of the 2nd Battalion published in 1924.


The Pals at Suvla Bay, by Henry Hanna published in 1917.


The Tenth (Irish) Division in Gallipoli, by Bryan Cooper. First published in 1918 and republished by the Irish Academic Press in 1993.


6. Much greater detail is contained in the Battalion War Diaries which are held in the Public Record Office (WO95). Every battalion completed a daily record of activities for the full period of active service. It is possible to trace the movements of battalions using the war diaries and to obtain details of what was happening when a soldier was killed, injured or won a decoration. Officers are named but totals are usually given for “other ranks”. Copies of individual pages may be bought but, at present (1999), there is a maximum of 15 pages per hour while you wait. Information about obtaining a reader’s ticket, opening hours, etc., are available on the Internet at The diaries are stored in files with the general classification for the War Office, WO. Brief descriptions of every document and the reference numbers are given in the class lists. The relevant reference numbers for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, all prefixed WO95/, are:


1st Battalion Jan 1915 – Feb 1916
Mar 1916 – Sep 1917
Oct 1917 – Apr 1918
May 1918 – May 1919
4310 [29th Division, 86th Brigade]
2301 [29th Division, 86th Brigade]
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
2301 [29th Division, 86th Brigade]
2nd Battalion Aug 1914 – Nov 1916
Nov 1916 – Apr 1918
May 1918
Jun 1918 – Apr 1919
1481 [4th Division, 10th Brigade]
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
No trace
2831 [50th Division, 149th Brigade]
6th Battalion Jul 1915 – Sep 1915
Oct 1915 – Aug 1917
Sep 1917 – Jun 1918
Jul 1918 – Apr 1919
4296 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
4836 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
4583 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
3140 [197th Brigade, 66th Division]
7th Battalion Jul 1915 – Sep 1915
Oct 1915 – Aug 1917
Sep 1917 – May 1918
Jul 1918 – Aug 1919
4296 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
4836 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
4583 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
1978 [10th Division, 30th Brigade]
8th Battalion Dec 1915 – Oct 1917 Nov 1917 – Feb 1918 1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
9th Battalion Dec 1915 – Oct 1917
Nov 1917 – Feb 1918
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
8/9th Battalion Nov 1917 – Feb 1
Mar 1918
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
905 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
10th Battalion Aug 1916 – Jun 1917
Jul 1917 – Feb 1918
Feb 1918 – Apr 1918
3118 [63rd Division, 190th Brigade]
1974 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]
905 [16th Division, 48th Brigade]

The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 11th Battalions were reserve units which were used to train recruits for the battalions on active service. Copies of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers diaries are being acquired by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association for local use.


Each brigade and division also maintained war diaries.


7. Actual locations can be pinpointed using the trench maps which were drawn on a scale of 6 inches/mile. They can be bought from the Western Front Association.