top of page

Background Material

How were individuals identified and their details confirmed?

The answer to that is not straightforward! My initial, and long-term project was the Aston Parish Church Memorial, and the starting point for each of these men was an initial, perhaps two or three, and their surname. The only given information apart from this was, obviously, that they had served during World War 1 and had died. Even that was not straightforward, as I was to discover, as some men died after the end of the war, with evidence suggesting some deaths were through injuries sustained whilst others were due to illness. For a more detailed explanantion of eligibility for official commemoration policy and how this relates to the Aston Memorial please read the Commemorations document.


I was also cognisant of the fact that people from the community had been invited to submit names for inclusion on the APC Memorial, and for this reason Iimited my considerations to those that lived in Aston or appeared to have an association with Aston, such as a marriage or baptisim at the church.  I used information from the 1911 census to 'define' the reach of Aston, given that today the boundaries are different. Individuals needed to have lived in this defined area to be considered eligible for inclusion. For consistency, I applied this approach to all of the Listings on this site.  See the Defining Aston page for more details. A map for the APC Memorial gives the defined area, and also shows how many men were located within each sub-section of the area. A small number of exceptions can be seen and these are discussed in more detail in the address section of the fields definition document.

So then to the nitty-gritty of identifying individuals. There was no single route that led to the determination of someone's details, and no single source of information that gave all of the neccessary detail I wanted to find for each person.  A good starting point was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which has details for all the official war dead of WW1. This isn't much use if there are twenty five 'G Smith' entries, for example, because the challenge is knowing which is the correct one, compounded by the fact that the CWGC might include two initials when only one is included on the Aston Memorial. What is exceptionally helpful on some CWGC records is the inclusion of parents or wives names and an Aston address. However, not all of the records contain such information, and in these cases it was usually a case of looking through the military records in to find a person with Aston links, and tracking it from there. Tracking involved multiple cross-referencing between sources, often hours of work, until I was convinced, with a high level of confidence, that the person I had identified was the person on the Memorial.

The sources I used for my investigation were all publicly available, although some through subscription only to (other genealogy wesbsites would offer the same service). Sources included:

  • CWGC website

  • Details in grave headstone records (in CWGC)

  • Service Records, including attestation records - army, navy, merchant marines and airforce

  • The Great War Casualty Records

  • War pension records

  • Entries in various Rolls of Honour for WW1

  • Army registers of personal effects

  • The 1911, 1901 and 1891 census returns for England

  • Baptism and marriage registrations, particularly those at Aston Parish Church or Aston Registry Office

For each person, information could be found in a combination of these sources.

I chose to provide the following details for each person:

  • first name(s) and surname, with alternative surname spelling when necessary

  • Service unit (army regiment, navy, airforce) or maritime marine

  • Service Number

  • Date of death

  • Where buried or commemorated, and location

  • Grave inscription, when there was one

  • Name of mother and/or father, when these have been found

  • Name of wife if married, when found

  • Address in Aston, if known

  • Awards for valour, if given

Decisions to provide these details was personal choice, based on what information I could generally find and what I thought would be of interest. See the fields definition document which gives the explanation as to how the information in each field has been determined.

Image on this page from:

bottom of page