Findmypast.co.uk publishes online Chelsea Pensioners’ British Army Service Records 1873-1900, providing colourful insights into the lives of ordinary ranking soldiers born in the UK and worldwide.
Leading family history website findmypast.co.uk has published online for the first time nearly half a million military service records of men who were pensioned out of the British Army between 1873 and 1900 and who received a pension administered through the Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Findmypast.co.uk has been working in association with The National Archives for nearly two years to scan, transcribe and publish these records online.
Known as “WO 97” at The National Archives, the first tranche of these records are now available to search online at findmypast.co.uk for the first time ever. Once complete, the entire collection will comprise over 6 million full colour images of the service records of soldiers in the British Army in receipt of a pension administered by The Royal Hospital Chelsea, and who were discharged between the dates 1760 and 1913. Many of the soldiers listed will have served in some of Britain’s most significant wars, including the Battle of Waterloo, the Crimean and both Boer Wars.
The details that can be found in these records are invaluable to family and military historians, providing a rich and colourful story of people’s family history, with a level of detail that is hard to find in any other historical records. The information could include the soldier’s date and place of birth, name and address of next of kin, height, hair and eye colour, distinguishing features such as tattoos, rank and regiment, occupation before joining the army, medical history and when and where the soldier served.
Debra Chatfield of findmypast.co.uk, said: “The Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records are a rich resource for family historians. For each soldier you’ll find a minimum of 4 pages of information, including a physical description and details of other family members such as dates of their baptism and marriage. These fascinating, detailed records enable you to find out so much about your soldier ancestors, even including what they looked like, long before the invention of photography.”