This Day In History

1918 Battle of the Selle. In a carefully-planned attack, rehearsed over 5 days, 5th East Lancashires mount a remarkably successful night assault near Briastre. They move off at 2 a.m., in a heavy downpour which lasted throughout the engagement, to the sound of the Regimental March being played by the battalion band. Met by heavy machine-gun fire and an artillery barrage which causes 50 casualties, they charge through with a yell and are on their final objective well before the 7 a.m. deadline set, taking 300 prisoners in the process. Casualties are 2 officers and 13 men dead, and 6 officers and 109 men wounded. Some 22 German dead were counted on the battalion front. Study of the ground the next day shows that the battalion had gone through no fewer than 6 defensive belts, including a very strongly-held railway embankment, before reaching its final objective. The 300 prisoners were ‘of far better physique and appearance’ than any of the enemy previously encountered, and turn out to be picked troops. They said that they were members of Kaiser Wilhelm’ bodyguard; that they had never before known defeat; and that they had been sent to hold the line at all costs.
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Other Research Sources

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency

The Service Records section of the SPVA website is perhaps the best place to start researching the records of any British servicemen.

Go to:

 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)

2 Marlow Rd

Tel: 01628 634221


Maintains records of burials and commemorations of Commonwealth war dead in over 170 countries. The CWGC’s website includes a magnificent search engine which lists all the 1.7 million men and women from the British Commonwealth who died in the two World Wars. If you are researching someone who died on active service, this is the best place to start.

National Archives (NA)

Ruskin Avenue

Tel: 0208-876-3444

Web Site:

The NA holds the personal service records of soldiers and officers who served until 1920. Only a small percentage of the WW1 service records survive, the majority having been destroyed during WW2.

The NA also holds the following:

Pay Lists.
Muster Rolls.
Records of pensioners of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
Medal Rolls for campaigns between 1793 and 1904.

Medal Index Cards (WO 372) and Medal Rolls (WO 329) for WW1, which lists the medals awarded to individuals and may confirm name, Army number, rank or Regiment, and the medal roll books in Regimental or unit order (1914 Star, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Silver War Badge.

War Diaries for WW1 and WW2.

Army Personnel Centre (APC)

HQ Secretariat
Historical Disclosures
Mail Point 400
Kentigern House
65 Brown Street
Glasgow G2 8EX

Tel: 0845 600 9663, option 1, then option 3

Web Site:

The APC Historical Disclosures Section holds personal service records of soldiers and officers between 1921 and 1997. For ex-Army personnel, or their widows/widowers, it can supply statements of service or confirmation of particular aspects of service from the records it holds. This service is free. It can also provide the same service for members of the family or other members of the public, subject to the consent of the next of kin and the payment of a fee.