Many records are held at the National Archives which is the official national repository for military records - please refer to their website for details. Our own archive has been built up over the years thanks to generous donations of material from members of our Regiments, their families and researchers. We are always grateful for donations of new material.
Below we list some of the material we hold in our extensive archive - please contact us for further information. This does not cover everything in our collection - we have many other documents that do not fit into the categories below.
Our MODES accessions database hold details of over 70,000 documents, diaries, letters, photographs, medals and artefacts donated to the Museum over the years. It is being added to daily. All names of individuals are recorded wherever possible and the database is searchable. We always check this database before undertaking an archive search. This search tells us if we have medals or records for the individual or if he is named in a photograph or document.
Our Library holds an extensive collection of books and military journals which have been donated to the Museum over the years and which cover the campaigns in which our Regiments fought. Some of these books are rare or long out of print. Photocopies can be made dependent on copyright restrictions and the general condition of the volume concerned. These books cannot be removed from the library.
We hold copies of many Battalion War Diaries but we do not have a complete set. We are happy to check these for you but please let us know which Battalion and an idea of the date. Please be aware that War Diaries are Military records and do not normally contain personal details. Names of 'other ranks' are rarely recorded. Entries are often brief and operational. The original War Diaries are held at the National Archives.
We hold a Nominal Roll for the Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry (QODY) compiled on mobilisation on 5 August 1914 and at the time of the Yeomanry renumbering in 1917. We also hold some rare or privately published books concerning the QODY in World War I. These contain some names. Searches in these books can be time consuming so please be as specific as possible and only request a search if you have evidence that your ancestor was in QODY.
We do not hold full nominal rolls of men who served in any of our other Regiments although we do have a varied collection of miscellaneous Rolls and similar records and these will be checked as part of our initial search.
We hold some enlistment records and these are mainly for the Devonshire Regiment and the Dorsetshire Regiment between 1921 and 1939.The amount of information held in enlistment records varies considerably from record to record - in many cases it is no more than a name and number but for some of the early enlistments, the entries are extremely detailed and contain valuable family history information..
We have no full enlistment records for either of the World Wars although some Battalions and some Companies did produce their own rolls from time to time. These would be checked as part of our research.
We hold transcripts for some Medal Rolls. The originals are held at the National Archives . These rolls were transcribed for us by volunteers.
We have some Gallantry Medal citations here. Most have been transcribed by volunteers, published in books or given to accompany medals.
There are very few Citations for World War I Military Medals as in the majority of cases, no citation was made.
If you are searching for a Commissioned Officer then we may be able to find him in the Army Lists. We have a large number of these but not a complete set. Searches in these can be time consuming.
We hold the Journal of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment/Light Infantry 1958-2007 on CD Rom. This is not searchable.
We also hold the Dorsetshire Regiment Journals from 1912. These are not indexed and searches in these journals can be very time consuming. We would request that you only ask for a search in these if you know what year you require. There were no journls published between 1914-1925 inclusive or 1939-1946 inclusive.
We hold some copies of the Devonshire Regiment Jorunals - The Star and The Castle, most of which were published between the wars. These are not indexed and searches in these journals can be very time consuming. We do not hold a full set. We would request that you only ask for a search in these if you know what year you require.
We hold Rolls of Honour for the members of our Regiments killed in World War I and also burial details. Please note that burial details can be obtained free of charge from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
We have an extensive collection of photographs and albums. Please be aware that many of these photographs are not captioned. It is not possible for us to identify individuals shown in uncaptioned photographs. We have the names of all men shown in our photograhic archive catalogued in our museum database so can quickly check for pictures.
We have a few Militia records but not many. They are mainly the latter part of the nineteenth century and arranged by town. We only a few dates and a few towns. Further lists are held at the Dorset History Centre and the National Archives but nowhere holds a complete set as the records have not survived. We would need to know the name of the man, the date of his service and the town he lived in. The rolls are not indexed and vary considerably in the amount of information contained. Searches in these can take time and rarely give positive results.
We hold some records of Prisoners of War in World War II but these give just name, initial, rank, number, PoW number & camp. These are the same records that you find at the National Archives and online.
We do not hold any records for World War 1 - please visit the International Red Cross website for these. The International Red Cross have digitised their World War 1 records and the database can be searched free of charge.
We have the names of those men on the Dorset Electoral Roll who were absent from home in 1918, perhaps because they were in the Army. These records give name, home address and reason for absence which may include details of the man's Regiment, rank and number. We can search these if you know where your soldier's home was in 1918. If it was in a larger town we will need his street.
Other records held in our archives include personal letters and diaries, biographies and memoirs, transcripts, memorial records, orders, campaign and battle histories. Many of these have been kindly donated to us by ex members of our Regiments, their families or by other researchers.