Research Guidelines

We cover the following Regiments only:

  • 11th  (North Devon) Regiment of Foot (1685 - 1881)
  • 39th Regiment of Foot (1702 - 1881)
  • 54th Regiment of Foot (1755 - 1881)
  • The Devonshire Regiment (1881 - 1958)
  • The Dorsetshire Regiment (1881 - 1952)
  • The Dorset Regiment (1952 - 1958)
  • The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (1958 - 2007)
  • The Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry and associated Dorset Yeomanry units.

We have very limited information on:

  • The Devon Yeomanry and Militia - most material  once held by the Museum has been deposited at the Devon Record Office in Exeter although we do hold World War 1 War Diaries. Some items relating to the North Devon Yeomanry are at Barnstaple Museum. It is also worth trying the National Archives at Kew.
  • The Dorset Militia. We suggest you also try the National Archives and the Dorset History Centre.
  • The Collingwood Battalion. We do not officially cover this Battalion in the Museum but one of our researchers has compiled a Roll of Honour with some biographical details. She has also produced a brief history of the Battalion and their role at Gallipoli.
  • The Home Guard/Local Defence Volunteers . We have very little information here on either the Dorset or the Devon Home Guard. Try the National Archives and local archives.

We do not cover:

  • The 46th (South Devon) Regiment of Foot which became part of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Their Museum is at Bodmin.
  • Fordington Barracks or the Royal Artillery. The Royal Artillery Museum is in Wiltshire.
  • Other Regiments based either in Dorchester or elsewhere in the Counties of Dorset and Devon. Many Regiments were stationed in our two counties during both World Wars and also prior to 1881 before the start of the County Regiment system. We do not hold information about these Regiments or their camps. Try the relevant Regimental Museums and the National Army Museum Library for help
  • The Royal Navy and the Royal Airforce. Both have strong associations with our county but we are purely an Army Museum and do not cover them.

Information We Require

We need you to supply certain information which we do not hold. This would include Regiment, service number, rank, battalion, service dates and date and place of birth. This information will be found in the soldier's service record which will be held either at the National Archives or The Army Personnel Centre, depending on date of discharge. It doesn't matter if you cannot tell us everything but Regiment, Battalion and a rough idea of service date (eg First World War, Second World War etc) are essential.

We also need to know what resources you have already checked . If you have copies of records it is helpful to send us a copy with your enquiry.  We can help you interpret them.

Service Records for Soldiers Discharged Before 1914


These records are held at the National Archives and it is also worth checking commercial genealogy sites such as Ancestry and Find My Past as they have an on-going programme of filming the records at The National Archives.  Survival of these records is very patchy and you are most likely to find Pension or Discharge records. Many service records were destroyed on discharge from the Army.  Be aware that before 1881 there were no County Regiments and you will be researching numbered Regiments of Foot. These Regiments only had very loose affiliations with Counties (11th Foot = North Devon; 39th Foot =  East Middlesex / Dorset; 54th Foot = West Norfolk). Regiments of Foot marched from camp to camp, recruiting as they went, so their soldiers could come from anywhere , in particular Ireland. You also have national Regiments such at the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery who had no County affiliation and who both recruited heavily in Devon and Dorset.

Service Records for Soldiers Discharged Between 1914 - 1920


All surviving World War 1 Service  records are held on film at the National Archives and include service, pension and discharge records. . Pension, Medal and Service records can be accessed from commercial companies such as Ancestry and Find My Past on a pay-per-view basis. Please note that nearly 70% of World War Service records were destroyed in the blitz and those records that survive are badly damaged. There were no copies. There are no surviving World War 1 enlistment records for any of our Regiments.

Officer's records are not available online, although there is an on-line catalogue available on the National Archives. You will need to visit the National Archives to view these records. Note that Officers did not have numbers in World War 1.

World War 1 Campaign Medal Cards for all ranks can be purchased from either the National Archives or the Ancestry website.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission can also supply useful information about soldiers who died in the two World Wars.

It is not possible to obtain replacement World War 1 Medals.

Service Records for Soldiers Discharged After March 1920 and Officers Discharged After March 1922


These records are still held by The Army Personnel Centre. Visit the Veterans UK website  for advice and to download the application forms. You will need a copy of the soldier's death certificate and his army number. If the soldier has been deceased for less than 25 years, you will also need proof that you are the next of kin. These records are covered by Data Protection Law and are not held in the public domain. There is no other way of obtaining this information. There can be a delay in receiving copies of these records as this office does get extremely busy.

We may be able to assist with service numbers for men who enlisted into the Devonshire Regiment or the Dorsetshire Regiment between 1920 and 1939 only.

The Veterans UK website also gives advices about replacing lost or stolen medals.