"A very interesting exhibition, I only wish I was could be here longer to see and read more of the information. Really recommend to anyone who visits."
Mark, West London
‘A fantastic museum, a credit to all those who fought’
Researching people who were involved in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
This is a short guide to a question that we are often asked: "How can I find out more about my friend/relative who took part in D-Day?"
First, while they are still alive, try to ask them as much as possible about their experiences. Of course, in many cases that may sadly no longer be possible. If so, do you have any paperwork belonging to them? There may be clues in this, for example a photograph may have details written on the back of when and where it was taken, or which unit the troops shown in it belonged to.
We - the D-Day Museum - do not hold records about individual veterans, unless that particular person has previously given us material that we have added to the museum's archives. Before you contact us, you will need to know a few details such as which unit the veteran served in. To find this, you may need to contact other organisations, or do your own research.
There are several different types of records that you may find useful in your search. Some relate to individual people, and give specific details about their wartime service. Other useful records relate to a much larger group of people, such as an RAF squadron or an infantry battalion. These may not mention the person you are looking for by name, but will at least give an idea of what they were doing and experiencing at that time.
The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has written some guides to finding out more about people who served in the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or Merchant Navy (click on each service name to go to the relevant guide). These are a useful start.
Service Records. The IWM's guides give an address that you can write to in order to obtain an individual's service records (it is a different address for each service). These records are normally only available to next of kin. They will contain information such as when that person joined and left the armed forces, which units they served in and when, and which campaign medals they were eligible for (which indicates where they served).
Records about the unit. Once you know which unit a veteran served with, you may be able to find out more about it. The National Archives holds documents such as the war diaries of units, which can be useful for this. For army units, it is worth checking with the relevant regimental or corps museum, or with the RAF and Royal Naval Museums for those services respectively. Most of these organisations will have some information on their websites to help you in your research.
Casualties. British and Commonwealth men or women who were killed on active service should be listed on the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commision, giving their name, unit, date of death and place of burial, amongst other details. For American casualties, see the website of the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Also see our links page, which may have a link to another website relevant to the person's unit, branch of the services, or type of equipment they used (such as landing craft).
We do hold some material in the D-Day Museum's archives that may be useful. For example, we may have a published or unpublished history of a unit, the memoirs of another veteran who served in the same unit, or photographs of a relevant unit or place. We also hold material such as maps that may be useful in understanding a soldier's service in Normandy, for example. And we have a large library of books relating to
D-Day. This material can be consulted by the public, by prior appointment (click here to email or phone 023 9282 7261 and ask to speak to the D-Day Museum Development Officer).