Biographical research into the King's Regiment
Sheet number 40
This information sheet tells you how to research a past member of the King's Regiment. At the end is a list of records available at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. The information listed below applies to all soldiers, whatever their Regiment or Corps.
Was he in the King's Regiment?
The 8th King's Regiment became known as the King's (Liverpool Regiment) in 1881 and began to recruit from the city. In 1921 the title was altered to the King's Regiment (Liverpool). It has never been called "The King's Own". In 1958 it was amalgamated with the Manchester Regiment (63rd and 96th Regiments) to become The King's Regiment. In July 2006 The King’s Regiment, along with The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, together with their respective companies of The Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers and The King’s and Cheshire Regiment merged to form The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Information about the Regiment today is available via the internet at: www.army.mod.uk/lancs/index.htm
For information on soldiers who served with the Manchester Regiment before 1958, contact:
Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre
Old Street Ashton-under-Lyne
0161 342 4242
For soldiers who served with the 10th [Scottish] Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment [The Liverpool Scottish] contact:
The Liverpool Scottish Museum Trust
c/o Hon. Curator Mr D. Reeves
15 Rydal Bank
Tel: Mr D. Reeves (0151) 645 5717
The King's Regiment museum
The King’s collection was until recently on display in the City Soldiers gallery at the Museum of Liverpool Life. The museum has now closed, to enable the construction of the Museum of Liverpool. The new city history museum will contain new displays devoted to the Regimental collection, and is expected to be ready by 2010/11.
However, library and archive sources for biographical research remain available at the nearby Merseyside Maritime Museum (Tuesday - Thursday 10.30am - 4.30pm), see details at the end of this information sheet.
'Difficulties Be Damned: The King's Regiment 8th, 63rd, 96th, A History of the City Regiment of Manchester and Liverpool', P Mileham, hardback, 246 pages. Well illustrated, large format history of the combined Regiments, 1685-2000.
ISBN 0-1873907-10-9 (£45)
'Bravest of Hearts, The Biography of a Battalion, The Liverpool Scottish in the Great War', H Giblin (with David Evans and Dennis Reeves), hardback, 393 pages. Information on hundreds of soldiers including medal citations, biographies and photographs.
ISBN 0-9539540-0-5 (£35)
'The Liverpool Pals', G Maddocks. Detailed, illustrated history of the 17th - 20th Battalions in the First World War, with roll and places of burial of soldiers who died.
'The History of the King's Regiment Liverpool, 1914-1919', E Wyrall (3 Vols, 1935, reprinted 2002). Covers all battalions in quite good detail for specific attacks. Contains maps of the principal operations.
Soldier's service records
These are held by the National Archives, formerly the Public Record Office, or by the Ministry of Defence.
For the service record of a soldier serving in or before 1919 and Officers serving in or before 1922 contact:
Enquiries (not research questions) 0208 392 5200
The National Archives website does not have direct search capabilities, but does include information on records, an online catalogue and lists of independent researchers.
The following titles are very useful guides to the records available at the National Archives, where the bulk of surviving soldiers' service records are preserved. However, some of these records known as Burnt Records were damaged during bombing in the Second World War and many records were also lost.
'Army Service Records of the First World War', 2nd Edition, S Fowler et al, the National Archive, London, 1998.
'Records of Service of the First World War', William Spencer, the National Archive, London, 2000.
Records available online
Researchers can also access First World War service and pension records through www.ancestry.co.uk. The website is working in partnership with The National Archives to provide online access to the service and pension records for approximately 2.5 million British soldiers who served from 1914 through to 1920. The records will be fully indexed and include original images.
The records are being added in phases, first phase is already available. Searching the name index is free; however, pages from the original files are only available for viewing by subscribed members or with Pay per View.
Officers or Soldiers whose regular or reserve service ended between 1921 and 1997
Army Personnel Centre
Mail Point 400
65 Brown Street
Tel: 0845 600 9663, option 1, then option 3
Service records are released to the next of kin, and you may be required to fill in a certificate of kinship, available with an information sheet from the above address. You will also need to give known details, especially an army number and the last regiment in which the individual served. There is a non-refundable search fee.
Soldiers are awarded medals for military campaigns, long service and for meritorious or gallant conduct.
Rolls for awards before 1924 are held by the National Archives
The most comprehensive list of soldiers who served overseas during the First World War is the campaign medal card index available on microfiche at the National Archives. This gives a man's service number(s) and the Regiment(s) in which he served. His battalion is something given in the rolls. The rolls can be searched using references on the cards. A roll of recipients of the Military Medal, and citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the First World War are also available at the Merseyside Maritime Museum (see below). Please be aware that there are no surviving Military Medal citations.
The medal index cards for surnames are now available online from the National Archive. There is a fee to download the medal index card of an individual.
For medal entitlement after 1924, apply to:
MOD Army Medal Office
Tel: 01905 772 323
Proof of loss of medals is required, for example, police report or insurance claim is usually required for replacement medals. However, replica medals can be purchased from reputable companies. Enquire at RHQ for details.
The Army Medal Office also holds all Home Guard Records.
Details of awards for gallantry, can be found online at the London Gazette website.
Soldiers killed during the First or Second World Wars
For grave location and information on unit, and date of death, contact:
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road
Tel: 01628 634221 Ask for Register Enquiries
A searchable database is available on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
The publication, 'Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, Part 13. The King's (Liverpool Regiment)', (HMSO 1920) lists men by battalion with name, place of birth, enlistment and residence, number, rank, with nature, date and theatre of death.
A roll of soldiers who died during the Second World War is available in 'The Story of the King's Regiment, 1914-1948', by Lt Col JJ Burke-Gaffney (Liverpool, 1954).
Regiments are comprised of battalions of (in wartime) about a thousand men who would serve in different locations. If you want to find out what a soldier's unit did, you need to know with which battalion he served.
In which battalion did he serve?
First World War:
Forty-nine Battalions of the King's Liverpool Regiment were in existence during the First World War, although the chances are that your soldier was in one of three basic types: Regular, Territorial or New Army.
1st, 2nd, 3rd (Reserve) and 4th (Extra Reserve). The Reserve Battalions were made up from recalled Reservists. The 1st Battalion served in France from 4 August 1914, and the 4th from 6 March 1915. The 2nd Battalion remained in India throughout the War, while the 3rd Battalion remained in the UK.
Six Territorial Battalions existed before the outbreak of the First World War: 5th, 6th Liverpool Rifles, 7th, 8th Liverpool Irish, 9th and 10th Liverpool Scottish. In 1914 these Battalions accepted new recruits to expand to war strength. In September and October 1914 all these Battalions formed new second line Battalions which were numbered 2/5th, 2/6th etc., and the original first line Battalions became 1/5th etc. The first line Battalions went to France in late 1914 and early 1915, while the second line Battalions went to France in February 1917. Third line Battalions, 3/5th etc., were formed in May 1915, but they remained in the UK.
The New Armies were the result of Lord Kitchener's appeals for mass voluntary recruiting in 1914-1915 and were known as 'Kitchener' or 'Service' Battalions. The 11th - 14th (Service) Battalions were formed between August and October 1914 and went to France between May and September 1915, with the 15th and 16th as Reserve Battalions, which did not go to France. The four famous Liverpool Pals Battalions, numbered 17th - 20th Battalions, were recruited between August and October 1914 by Lord Derby and went to France in November 1915. Generally speaking, blue-collar workers joined the 11th - 18th Battalions whilst white-collar workers, especially the shipping, insurance and brokerage clerks, joined the Pals, 17th - 20th Battalions.
Which Battalion can sometimes can be deduced from the rim of gallantry medals (DCM, MM) where it will be expressed as, eg '6/LIVERPOOL'. Photographs and surviving badges may also indicate the battalion. Territorials all wore badges distinct from the Regular and New Army Battalions. If the badge is the standard horse of Hanover over a scroll, but in white metal, then he was in the 7th or 9th Battalions; if it is in black, then he was in the 5th Battalion. The Liverpool Rifles (1/6th and 2/6th Battalions), Liverpool Irish (1/8th and 2/8th Battalions) and Liverpool Scottish (1/10th and 2/10th Battalions) all wore their own distinct badges. The Liverpool Pals (17th - 20th Battalions) wore the 'Eagle and Child' crest of Lord Derby.
Second World War:
Accounts of the activities of the Battalions during the Second World War are found in J.J. Burke-Gaffney, The Story of the King's Regiment (Liverpool), 1914-1948 (1954).
The 1st Battalion took part in the 2nd Chindit Operation in Burma, 1944.
The 2nd Battalion served in Italy from 1944.
The 5th Battalion landed in Normandy on D-Day in 1944. It was then reconstituted as part of Technical Force [later 2 Technical Force] and took part in the advance into Germany and Denmark.
The 8th Battalion landed in Normandy on D-Day and was disbanded in July 1944.
The 13th Battalion took part in the first Chindit Operation in Burma in 1943.
King's Regiment sources at the Maritime Archives and Library, Merseyside Maritime Museum
The following sources are available without appointment at the Merseyside Maritime Museum during archive opening hours, Tuesday - Thursday, 10.30 am - 4.30 pm (Tel. 0151 478 4418). Admission is free. Remember that most published books will also be available via the inter-library loan service from your local public library.
S Fowler et al, 'Army Service Records of the First World War', 2nd Edition (Public Record Office, London, 1998). Very useful guide to the records available at the National Archives Office, where the bulk of surviving soldiers' service records are preserved.
[R Cannon], 'Historical Records of the King's Liverpool Regiment' (1904). History of the Regiment from 1685 to 1903. Contains biographies of officers with dates of commissions and promotions.
TR Threlfall, 'The Story of the King's (Liverpool Regiment)' (1916). Contains some useful information on the formation of units in 1914-1915, but not a good history of the earlier period.
E Wyrall, 'The History of the King's Regiment (Liverpool), 1914-1919' (3 Vols., 1935). Covers all battalions in quite good detail for specific attacks. Contains maps of the principal operations. ISBN 184342360X
JJ Burke-Gaffney, 'The Story of the King's Regiment (Liverpool), 1914-1948' (1954). Less useful for the First World War, but with more detailed accounts of the Second World War and with a roll of soldiers killed in the Second World War, with maps.
JO Coop, 'History of the 55th Division, 1916-1919' (1919). A history of the West Lancashire Division, which included the first line King's Regiment Territorials, 1/5th - 1/10th Battalion. ISBN 1843422301 (Hardback); ISBN 1843422638 (Softback)
E Wurzburg, 'History of the 2/6th (Rifle) Battalion "The King's" (Liverpool Regiment)' (1920). Detailed history including roll of all ranks, with maps.
EHG Roberts, 'The Story of the "9th King's" in France' (1922). History of 1/9th and 2/9th Battalions.
M McGilchrist, 'The Liverpool Scottish, 1900-1919' (1930). Detailed history of 1/10th and 2/10th Battalions, including roll of all ranks, with maps.
FC Stanley, 'History of the 89th Brigade, 1914-1918' (1919). A history of the Liverpool Pals Brigade (17th - 20th Battalions) by the Brigade Commander.
G Maddocks, 'The Liverpool Pals' (1991). Detailed history of the 17th - 20th Battalions with roll and places of burial for soldiers who died, with maps.
P Mileham, 'Difficulties Be Damned: The King's Regiment 8th 63rd 96th, A History of the City Regiment of Manchester and Liverpool' (2000). Well illustrated single volume history of the Regiments that amalgamated in 1958 and today's Regiment. Good for background information and the only source for post-1945 conflicts. ISBN 0 1873907 10-9.
H Giblin (with David Evans and Dennis Reeves), 'Bravest of Hearts, The Biography of a Battalion, The Liverpool Scottish in the Great War' (2000). Successor to McGilchrist's history with a great deal of information on individual soldiers, including medal citations, biographies and hundreds of portraits of individual soldiers. ISBN 0-9539540-0-5.
Unit archive records
These typed copies contain a daily record of the activities of each Battalion. Officers will be frequently mentioned, other ranks less so. The originals of all War Diaries are held at the National Archives, Kew.
First World War Battalion War Diaries.
Second World War Battalion War Diaries. Copies of the following diaries are held.
2nd Battalion April - December 1944.
5th Battalion January - December 1944.
5th Battalion January - December 1945.
8th Battalion Vol. 1 January – August 1944.
8th Battalion Vol. 2 Appendices for July 1944.
13th Battalion January - June 1943 [First Chindit Expedition].
'The South African War Casualty Roll, The "South African Field Force", 11th October 1899 - June 1902' (1982). Reprint of official list of Boer War casualties for all units, including wounded.
'The Cross of Sacrifice, Officers who died in the service of British, Indian and East African Regiments and Corps, 1914-1919', SD and DB Jarvis (1993). Lists officers with Battalion and grave locations.
'Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, part 13: The King's (Liverpool Regiment)' (1920). Official publication listing other ranks by battalion with name, place of birth, enlistments and residence, number, rank, with nature, date and theatre of death.
'The Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920 Citations'. Includes battalion and citation, and date published in the London Gazette.
'The Monthly Army List' (December 1914, July 1915, August 1916, April 1917, November 1918). Listing all officers in the Army by battalion, with dates of commissioning and promotion.
'1st Battalion The King's Regiment Register of Prisoners of War Lost since August 22nd 1914'. First World War PoWs. Copy of manuscript roll book in the King's Regiment Collection with date of capture, camps, next of kin and details of parcels sent (photocopy of original).
'1/6th Battalion (Liverpool Rifles) Casualty Books'. Three volumes containing service details (not personal details) of all ranks who served with the Battalion in France, 1915-1918. Refer first to the photocopied indexes to the three volumes in a red ring binder in the Searchroom.
'Next of Kin Rolls of the Liverpool Pals' (17th - 20th Battalions), c.1915, 4 Vols. (photocopy of original).
'Cunard Clerical Staff by Land and Sea', 1st Edition. Roll of staff serving with the Forces, c.1916 (photocopy of original).
'Bootle Roll of Honour. Photographs of Bootle Men Killed in the Great European War' (the 'Bootle Times', Bootle, 1916). A list produced in August 1916, the completed list is at the Bootle Town Hall (photocopy of original).
'Recipients of the Military Medal in the King's (Liverpool Regiment) during the First World War'. Includes some battalions and dates published in the London Gazette, but not citations, which have rarely survived.
The following are useful web addresses: