Where is my relative buried overseas?

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There are many resources available to you to locate where a Canadian soldier is buried or commemorated.  These are two very helpful sites:

  • Veterans Affairs Canada’s Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission can help you find the war dead and cemeteries of 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the First and Second World Wars among the 23,000 cemeteries, memorial and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated.

Something to think about

People travel overseas to tour the great battlefields of the First and Second World Wars and visit the gravesite of relatives.  Those who have gone often describe it as a profound and moving experience.  You may want to consider something like this for your next trip.

Which military unit did my relative serve in?

Many people are interested in tracing their family’s history and finding out more about their ancestors, but it can be a daunting task.

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Where to start

A good place to start is by asking your family for stories about the past.  They may also be able to give you photos and records (i.e. birth, marriage, death, church, military and immigration records), which will be a big help in your research.

Military records are a fantastic source of information not only about the person who served but also their next of kin.  These records, however, can be confusing.  For example, in World War I, Canadian soldiers typically joined local units and while some of those units made it to the front, most soldiers were sent in small groups to reinforce other units.  Sometimes units were re-designated or dissolved.  It was not uncommon for a solider to have served in several units so it can be difficult to trace a soldier’s experiences.

We can help

We can tell you whether your relative served with The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Regiment but we will need some information about your relative… at the very least, one or more of the following:

  • name [surname, full given name(s)];

  • date of birth;

  • date of death; and/or

  • military service number.

Secondary information (i.e. the names of next of kin, postings, dates of service, place of enlistment) can help us identify the correct person.  For example, with a common name like “John Smith” we will need more information to determine which of the many “John Smith’s” your relative was.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles took part in many important battles since their establishment in 1883, and were awarded many battle honours in recognition.  Find out about your relative’s role as a Royal Winnipeg Rifle solider in forming Canada’s history.

If your relative served with The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, would you like to see a photo of them?

Jack Parks (left) and Jim Parks (right). Disembarkation leave. Bentwood, Essex, England 1941.

Jack Parks (left) and Jim Parks (right). Disembarkation leave. Bentwood, Essex, England 1941.

Part of the thrill of tracing your family’s history is putting a face to a name through photos.

What we can do for you

We may have a photo of your relative in our archives.  We do have to caution that most of our photos are not captioned with names.  In 2016 the Museum closed to make way for a major renewal project that includes developing a holdings database with scans of all our photos.  We are currently at the beginning stage of this initiative which means that photo searches are done by hand and take quite a long time.  Once the database is complete, photo searches will be much, much quicker.

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