Naval & Military Press has digitised the Silver War Badge Rolls as they give us further insight into the lives of our Great War ancestors. As well as giving the individual’s name, rank, regimental number and unit discharged from, it also shows not only the date of discharge but also the exact date of enlistment. This latter information is usually very difficult to ascertain. The cause of discharge (wounds or sickness and appropriate paragraph of the King’s Regulations) is also given. Overseas service is indicated and for some the age at discharge is quoted. For officers their address is usually recorded.
When Soldiers (and Officers) Died in the Great War was first digitised by Naval & Military Press it enabled researchers to quickly check the primary details of the 703,000 military casualties of the First World War. But what about those who did not die? Aside from the medal rolls, which contain few details, very little can be ascertained about the majority of our soldiers from that conflict, as most of their service records were lost in a fire in 1940. There is, however, another source of information that has not been properly exploited until now.
Aside from the fatalities, well over two million men were injured – a number several times. Some recovered to fight again. However, almost two million former soldiers, sailors and airmen were permanently discharged from the forces due to injury or illness. They resumed the role of civilians and yet they had ‘done their bit’. In the prejudiced world of 1914–1918, apparently fit young men were regularly accosted by women brandishing white feathers and accusing them of cowardice. Something had to be done.
The solution was the retrospective award of a special badge, made from sterling silver, to indicate that the wearer had once honourably served his King and Country but was no longer fit enough to do so. It was called the Silver War Badge and bears the inscriptions ‘For King and Empire’ and ‘Services Rendered’.
First instigated in September 1916, it could be claimed by all who had been honourably discharged from the forces since 4 August 1914. Precise conditions for the badge were complex and changed during the war with the final qualifying date being 31 December 1919. It was not confined to the army; sailors and airmen were also entitled, as were members of Commonwealth forces. Certain civilians, e.g. doctors and nurses and others who served overseas in an approved occupation, were also permitted to wear the badge.
The Silver War Badge is readily found at markets, antique shops and for sale on the internet, usually lowly priced, as sadly the only identifying feature it carries is a unique serial number. Until now it has been difficult to track the identifying number back to the original recipient. The records, only available at The National Archives, are not in numerical order and hence it is time consuming to identify each badge. That is all about to change.
This fully searchable database will fill a considerable gap in our knowledge of those who served during the Great War and be most useful to family historians and researchers.
Price + VAT (VAT is applicable to all UK orders)
SILVER WAR BADGE CD-ROM Awarded for Services Rendered by Soldiers of the British Army to King and Empire 1914-18 and honourably discharged owing to wounds or sickness. Version 1.0
Any Serviceman, Old Contemptible or from the new Kitchener’s Army, who answered the call in the Great War, survived, but who were discharged from the forces before December 31st 1919 may well be on the rolls of the Silver War Badge. Search them and see!
880,000 Individual servicemen’s badge records compiled from the Roll at The National Archives reference WO329. Covers Soldiers, and some Airmen, Sailors, and Empire recipients. Search by Surname, Badge Number, Unit discharged from, Regimental number, Enlistment & Discharge dates, and whether served Overseas or not. Very detailed two year correction and verification process to clean the database unique to this CD-ROM. The ability to print facsimile “King’s Certificate on Discharge” to those entitled. This is a professionally designed research tool for the serious Great War enthusiast.