Q1: I have an ancestor who fought in WW1. How do I find their record?
The first thing you should do is check the Soldier Map to see if they are already recorded in our database. There are two ways you can do this:
- If you know the name of your ancestor’s place of birth (ie village, town or city), search for it in the search field (located in the top-left corner of the map).
- Open the filter menu by selecting this icon (located to the left of the search field) and search by any combination of name, service number, regiment or country fought in.
In either case, if one or more of these icons appear on the map, you will need to cycle through the results (using the backward / forward arrows) to see if the Soldier Record you are after is among them. If not, it is likely they are not in our database.
If you do manage to find your soldier, you can 'adopt' them by clicking on the Adopt Record button at the bottom of their record. Before you can make any changes to it, you will need to sign up as a Citizen Historian (note: the process involves email validation and only one email address can be associated with each record).
Q2: What do I do if my WW1 ancestor is not in your database?
If you can't find your ancestor on the Soldier Map, you can add them to our database by creating a new Soldier Record for them. This can be done by clicking on the filter menu icon (located to the left of the search field) and selecting the Create Record button. You will be asked to sign up as a Citizen Historian (note: the process involves email validation and only one email address can be associated with each record).
Q3: I’ve created a new record. How much information do I need to provide?
The minimum information needed to create a new Soldier Record and to publish it on the [Soldier Map][SD] is as follows:
- Your full name and email address
- The soldier's name and place of birth (see below)
You can, of course, provide more information if it’s available to you. We are particularly interested to know more about the families of the soldiers, especially to understand how they coped during the war. We would also like to know what happened to the soldier and their family after the war had ended.
(If you do not know the soldier’s place of birth, simply leave the field blank and the database will automatically assign India Gate - the memorial in New Delhi to India’s fallen soldiers who died in the period 1914-21 - as the location for the Soldier Record. If you later discover the place of birth, you can update the record and we will move it on the map accordingly.)
Q4: I don’t have a WW1 ancestor. Can I adopt a soldier and tell their story?
Yes, you can. The two simplest ways of doing this are as follows:
- Decide the criteria for choosing the soldier you wish to adopt (eg their ancestral village, regiment, name, service country, whether they were killed in action) and conduct a search on the Soldier Map using the instructions provided in the answer to Q1.
- Take a look at some of the fantastic materials on the Source Records page and select a soldier to adopt. Then follow the instructions about creating a new Soldier Record provided in the answer to Q2.
Q5: My WW1 ancestor is already in the database. Can I still contribute information to their record?
Yes, you can. Bring up their Soldier Record (the answer to Q1 explains how to do this) and press the Adopt Record button. You will be asked to sign up as a Citizen Historian after which you will be able to contribute to the Soldier Record with any information you wish to share (note: the sign up process involves email validation and only one email address can be associated with each record).
Q6: I want to contribute information to a Soldier Record that has already been ‘adopted’ by another Citizen Historian. How can I do that?
As only one Soldier Record can be associated with one email account, you have to make a request by email, making sure to quote the soldier reference number (see Q9) in the subject header.
In your email, tell us the information you wish to share in as much detail as possible. If you also want to attach media files, see our Guide to Digitisation (refer to the section ‘Sharing your images with the project’).
Q7: I have medals and other personal memorabilia belonging to a soldier. How can I add this information to their Soldier Record?
You have the option of sending us images of objects (eg photographs, medals, service records and letters) that are in your family collection by email. Please refer to our Guide to Digitisation to see how to do this (refer to the section ‘Sharing your images with the project’).
Q8: How do I upload images that I have in my family collection or that I have found through research to my Soldier Record?
To add images to your Soldier Record, refer to our Guide to Digitisation on how to do this (refer to the section ‘Sharing your images with the project’).
Q9: What’s the quickest way of bringing up a Soldier Record?
You will need to know their Soldier Number, which is the unique database reference number that looks something like this: 'EFW-1234' (it appears in the Soldier Record under their name in the light blue bar). When you find it, just add the number element (ie 1234) to the end of the following web address and paste it into the url address bar as follows:
This will bring up your Soldier Record without the need to search for it.
Q10: How do I use the filters on the Soldier Map?
The filters can be accessed by clicking the filter icon () to the immediate left of the search field. This expands to reveal filters that allow you to search by name, service number, regiment or country fought in.
Q11: How many records can I create or adopt?
You can create or adopt as many records as you wish but please note that only one email address can be used for each record (so you will need to use a different email for each additional Soldier Record).
Q12: Can I download all the records in your database?
Yes. You can download all the data in an Excel spreadsheet by clicking the download icon in the filter menu.
Q13: How can I create a new Soldier Record?
On the Soldier Map, click on this filter button (located to the left of the search field) and select the Create Record button. Follow the instructions to sign up as a Citizen Historian, which will allow you to create a new Soldier Record (note: the sign-up process involves email validation and only one email address can be associated with each record).
Q14: Can I pin my WW1 ancestor’s Soldier Record directly onto the Soldier Map?
No, this can only be done by the database administrator. However, once you have signed up as a Citizen Historian and created a Soldier Record, they will be able to add the new details to the database, after which it will appear on the Soldier Map.
Q15: What is the icon used to pin records on the Soldier Map?
The icon () consists of a quoit and dagger and is the distinctive turban badge of the 45th (Rattray's) Sikh Infantry, one of the regiments that fought in WW1.
Q16: Why do the turban badge icons change colour?
Initially on the Soldier Map the icons are all white. When you select a Soldier Record the icon becomes red. Finally, when you close the record box, the icon will now turn yellow, indicating it has recently been viewed.
Q17: My village or town or city does not appear on the Soldier Map. What should I do?
Firstly, check your spelling corresponds to the modern spelling. If not, try and find your location by performing a search for a nearby town or city and navigating around the map from there.
If you still cannot find your location, please contact us by email.
Q18: I don’t know the name of my WW1 ancestor’s village. What should I do?
If you don’t know your ancestor’s village, you can enter the nearest town or city as their place of birth in the Soldier Form.
If you decide to leave this field blank, the database will automatically assign India Gate in New Delhi as your soldier’s location. India Gate is the memorial to India’s fallen soldiers who died in the period 1914 to 1921.
Q19: I am not a Sikh and neither was my WW1 ancestor. Can I add a record for them?
Yes, absolutely. We would love to include non-Sikh soldiers who fought alongside the Sikhs, either in the same regiment or same campaigns. Just follow the instructions given in the answer to Q2.
Carrying out further research
Q20: Where can I find out more about researching the lives of Sikh soldiers?
The best place to start is our Helpful Guides page, where you will find the following guides:
- A Guide to Researching the Archives
- A Guide to Indian Army Medals
- A Guide to WW1 Indian War Diaries
- A Guide to Indian Army Enlistment Dates
- A Guide to the Indian Army List
- A Guide to Indian Army Ranks
- A Guide to Indian Infantry Regiments
You may also want to take a look at our collection of Source Records, which covers several rich online resources from a variety of official and unofficial sources. We will be updating this section as more resources become available to us, so make sure you sign up for our newsletter here to receive the latest updates.
Recording my research
Q21: How do I conduct an oral history interview?
Take a look at our Guide to Oral History Recording, which contains information on how to collect, record and share people’s own memories, stories and experiences.
Q22: Can I add an oral history interview to my record?
Yes, you can. Take a look at our Guide to Oral History Recording on how to do this (refer to the section ‘3. Things to do after an interview’).
Q23: How do I look after my old photographs and records?
You can learn how to do this in our Guide to Cataloguing Your Family Archive, which explains in easy-to-follow steps how to digitise objects such as photographs, letters and other everyday objects.
Q24: I have a medal. How can I use that find out about a soldier?
Medals awarded for service in WW1 are invaluable as a source of information. You can typically find mention of the soldier’s name, regiment and service number on the rim of the medal. For more information on how to interpret information found on Indian Army medals, please take a look at the Guide to Indian Army Medals.
You can then enter these details in the Soldier Map filter menu to see if your soldier is included in our database (see answer to Q1).
Women, freedom fighters and WW2 participants
Q25: My ancestor fought in the Second World War. Can I add their record too?
Yes. We recognise that Sikh soldiers who fought in WW2 may have been involved either in WW1 or had a family member in that conflict, which influenced them and their experiences.
Q26: Where are women documented in the database?
We are keen to learn more about about the experiences of the wives, daughters and other female relatives who were left behind during the war. This information can be added to a Soldier Record in the following fields:
- Name of Wife
- Name of Mother
- Next of Kin
- Additional Information (please use this field to elaborate as required)
Q27: Can you help me organise the photographs and paperwork relating to my WW1 / WW2 ancestor that I have in my family collection?
Yes. Take a look at our Guide to Cataloguing Your Family Archive, which explains how to maintain records to preserve your family history, including medals, photographs and documents.
Q28: My ancestor didn’t fight in WW1 but instead joined the freedom movement in India. Can I add their record to the database?
Even though our focus is mainly the Sikh soldiers’ experiences of WW1, we recognise that in order to tell the complete story of that conflict our database needs to also include the records of those who opposed the war. Unlike the British Army, there was no official process of conscription, so all recruits into the Indian Army were technically volunteers. This means that the equivalent of the conscientious objector in India included those who joined the freedom movement.
If this applies to you, just make sure that when completing the Soldier Form you enter ‘N/A’ in both the ‘Regiment’ and ‘Rank’ fields.
Q29: How is my privacy protected?
Q31: How do I share my Soldier Record on social media?
You can let your friends, family and colleagues know that you have signed up as a Citizen Historian and encourage them to do the same by clicking on the ‘Share This’ social media symbol:
Q32: I cannot find my verification email. How can I edit my Soldier Record?
Please check your spam / junk folder. If it doesn’t appear there, please contact us by email.
Q33: I’ve received the validation email but no content is visible. Why is that?
Some email accounts such as gmail may ‘trim’ the content of an email, which means it is hidden from view. All you have to do to make it appear is click on the icon with the three dots [...].
Q34: How do I report a problem?
If you need to report a problem with either the website, sign up procedure or the completing of the Soldier Form, please email us.