Archive for September, 2012

Researching your relatives military service

Posted on September 28th, 2012

Military man leads seminar on researching military records

A retired army commander is using his expert knowledge to help people find out about their relatives who served in the military.

Graeme Wilson, a former commander of the Auckland army unit, has created a helpful and comprehensive workbook and series of free seminars called ‘Researching Your Relative’s Military Service’, which will be held as part of Auckland Council’s Auckland Heritage Festival 2012 (29 September – 14 October).

The seminars will give advice on how to decipher military jargon and how to interpret clues from written material, as well as from photos of relatives in military dress.

Participants will also learn about medals and the major battles and campaigns from the time of the Boer War.

“Military records are full of detailed information, if you know how to use and interpret them,” says Graeme Wilson, formerly the Commander of the 3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly’s Own) and Northland Battalion Group.

“Extensive data is available online, and in other great databases and archives. If you had a relative in the navy, air force or army, or even if they were reinforcements, wounded and in hospital, deserters or prisoners of war, there will be detailed records about them. This seminar is designed to help people track that information down, and understand what they find.”

The more a researcher knows about an individual the better, but even a small amount of information – preferably a name, and where that person was from – can be enough to get started. A photograph or medals will also hold specific information.

“A photograph of a person in military dress will generally tell us what regiment they were in. Even a black and white photograph with just the medal ribbons will also tell a story about when, where and in what manner a person served. Every bit of information can lead to something else.”

Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum chair, Councillor Sandra Coney, says, with the country beginning to focus on the centenary of World War I starting in 2014, council is encouraging families and local communities to start researching their relatives, and men and women of the region, who went to that war.

“This will be immense interest in our service people during the centenary and we would encourage people to learn more about the stories of their family members and community members who served in WW1.

“These workshops will help greatly with the somewhat daunting task of making sense of the soldiers’ war records, which can be obtained from Archives New Zealand. With my own research into the soldiers that went from Piha, I am looking forward to the help I will be able to get from the experts at these workshops.”


The seminars on researching your relative’s military history will run at Army HQ on Great North Rd, Grey Lynn. For dates and times and to book call 535 5627 or 027 814 2727