A landmark project to digitise all UK First World War pension records has been completed. The records are particularly precious because most First World War service records were destroyed during the Blitz.
They include records of all servicemen who were injured in the war and subsequently received a pension, including the nature of the serviceman’s injury and the percentage of disablement he was deemed to have, as well as the names and addresses of his next of kin. They also include details of pensions paid to the wives and children of those who were killed.
They were originally scheduled to be destroyed by the Ministry of Defence in 2012, but were saved by the Western Front Association who partnered with Ancestry to digitise the records on Ancestry’s military-focused website Fold3.
The records collection has now been completed with the release of 2,917,148 records of pension cards for ordinary soldiers who were injured. In total, there are 7,522,448 records in the collection covering the Army, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and Royal Flying Corps.
This most recent set is extremely useful for identifying individual servicemen. For example, if your great great uncle was John Smith and you know he was in the artillery, you’re really not going to be able to find a lot more about him because it’s such a common name, but these cards enable you to hunt around with the John Smiths and actually find the John Smith you’re looking for.
Indexes of the pension records are available for subscribers to Ancestry, while the records are free to view for members of the WFA.