Military Research

I will happily tell you how to order your relative’s military record from Library and Archives Canada. I’m not adding any value by simply ordering the file for you.

What I do offer is an interpretation of those records. Dates and acronyms on their own are confusing and mean little – the first time that I looked at a military record for a relative, I could not make heads or tails of it. Through experience working with such files, and looking at the bigger picture – the unit war diaries, the larger historical perspective, and with extensive archival research – I can make your relative’s story come to life.

Have a look in our Portfolio section at the story of Sapper John P. Fotheringham, who served as a driver with the 9th Artillery Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in France and Belgium from June 1917 to January 1919. His personal diary, on its own, is not particularly detailed, except in certain small parts. However, when meshed with the War Diary of his Brigade, and the history of the Canadian Army in action in World War 1, it becomes evident that Sapper Fotheringham was involved in some of the biggest battles of the latter stages of the war – Amiens, Cambrai, Arras – only missing Passchendaele as he recovered from exposure to mustard gas in September 1917.

And consider my recent research on a Canadian artilleryman, whose daughter reported that “my father only served in England during World War 2”. After reviewing his military records and applying “the bigger picture”, I discovered that he was in the U.K. during the Battle of Britain and, had Hitler’s plan for the invasion of England occurred, the Gunner’s heavy battery on the south coast would most certainly have received special attention by paratroops and naval bombardment in the hours leading up to the seaborne invasion. His unit later also narrowly missed being sent on the disastrous Dieppe Raid of August 1942. So, there’s a lot more to the story than you might initially think …

I think that what sets me apart from other researchers is that I’m just as interested in your relative’s story as you are. They’re your father, your mother, your grandfather, your great-uncle … likely deceased, and they’re real people to me, and I’m fascinated by their stories.

Help us get started by completing this Military Service Inquiry Form.