Using comments to discover information about a relative

Can I search for information about a relative by posting a comment on World War II Today?

In general I do not encourage this. A random general appeal contained in a comments box on this website is not a very effective method of doing this.

I do include memories of individuals who are mentioned in posts or involved in a particular incident or unit. For example, they served on a ship mentioned in a post.

But this is rather different from a simple “Did anyone know Sergeant Appleseed, Service No 123456 ?”, which is not going to be approved for publication.

It is extremely unlikely that someone reading or searching this site will randomly know about someone from 75 years ago. It is more likely that people coming to this site may know something, or have started researching, a particular incident or unit from the war. If you say something about that incident or unit then people searching for complementary information are much more likely to connect with what you have already said.

1. You need to say something (hopefully interesting) about the individual’s experiences or the events that they were involved in. This is not a forum or a chat room for tracing relatives – it is a blog about events in World War II. Please say something that adds to the cumulative interest of this site. This should add to the general information that readers of this site will be interested in. If so then you are much more likely to have your comment published.

Are you serious in trying to trace information about someone? – then you will have already found out something about them or the events they were involved in.

2. You also need to add your email address in the body of your comment in a suitable format such as johnnyappleseed [at] something.com before it will get published. Do not leave a proper email address as it will get picked up by spammers.

I no longer have the capacity to deal with emails from people who want me to email you so you can get in touch with them. It is really difficult to have someone get in touch years after a comment has been published, only to discover that I am trying to put them in touch with an email that is defunct.

Can you help me trace a relative from World War II or tell me where to start?

This is really not my area of expertise at all … for British forces the best general guide I have seen is on the BBC website.

If you really want to find out about one of your ancestors you have to be organised and resolute. The best thing to do is gather all the information you have about the individual, dates, places and units served in, etc and start from there.

There are many other specialist sites for doing this type of research, and there are forums where you can get much better advice on this type of research than from me.

What tips can you offer on doing general military research in the UK?

I have written a general guide on How to start Military Research in the United Kingdom which covers some of the territory that may be useful for people doing research into their relatives or their relatives’ likely experiences in a particular unit or particular theatre of war.

Where can I post some information / pictures / diary about a relative who served/lived in World War II?

There are many different websites that are dedicated to the history of individual units, most of them welcome contributions. Increasingly social media sites have pages devoted to individual units or events in the war, or sites such as Instagram attract people who are interested in wartime images. If you add some relevant, descriptive hashtags then you are likely to connect with people who are particularly interested.

If you have more substantial information such as a diary it is very easy to set up a web site or page about a particular individual – or perhaps more effectively the unit they were serving in – using many of the free facilities available on the internet – I can recommend http://wordpress.com . If you are more adventurous you can do the whole thing yourself very easily from http://wordpress.org.