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Friday, February 18, 2011

WW II Research Tips

 MAPLE LEAF UP Offers Veteran Research Tips
MAPLE LEAF UP founded in 1998 , commemorates Canadian WW2 Volunteers. It is  is the most comprehensive site on the internet in its subject field. The site receives increasing volumes of mail from around the world seeking information on relatives and loved ones who served with the Canadian Army Overseas in WW2, in whatever capacity.
Here are a few tips gleaned from MAPLE LEAF UP’s extensive, detailed list. be sure to visit their site to fully benefit from their knowledge and experience.
'Work Smart' to get results – popping a few keywords randomly into a form will rarely lead to success. These preparations will help.

  1. List  what you know: Check discharge papers, paybooks, citations, medals, old letters for : dates of service, regiments, postings, qualifications and any other qualitative data you can find. Note any details  from past conversations,  and ask other  family members what they remember. Tactfully ask friends of the same age, and local Legion branch or any Regimental Association for help,approach them with an explaining what you're trying to do.
  2. Next, visit the National Archives of Canada , even if you have very little to go on.
  3. If your loved one died in the service of his country, you may look up his record at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission through this link.
  4. Continue the research or hire a private archivist . Note: if hiring an archivist have as much information as possible  first. Specifying what you want can also save you a lot of time and money!
  5. Try to place your subject in one of the basic arms of service (see the list on their site).
  6. Identify the unit as correctly as possible. See the regimental chart on Maple Leaf Up’s Site.
  7. Head to the Internet, and use web resources.
  8. Researching someone from a fighting unit?Check out Maple Leaf Up’s Resources.They are compiling a detailed “fighting” units chart which will show the relationships between the larger organizations (Corps, Division, Brigade) and individual Regiments.
  9. Researching a support unit member can be more complex,  as many of these units have no direct descendant in the modern army nor are they shown on the basic online organizational charts.

About Resources

The National Archives of Canada is a government-run repository for any and all documents related to any aspect of Canadian history of all eras. Their depository includes  basic service records of all ex-servicemen, and  unit histories. Service records are available to the public on a limited basis, according to the statutes of the federal Privacy Act, and requests for information can only be made in writing (not online). Full explanations and instructions may be found on the Archives' Military and Civilian Personnel Records web page. Read them carefully and have patience!

Understanding Web Resources

There are four distinct types  of websites useful for investigating recorded military history:  private sites,'official' Regimental sites, government /museum sites, and internet forums and discussion boards.
Private sites,are produced and hosted by enthusiasts who have chosen to share the information they have collected. Sometimes even the 'bad' sites can be useful, though, for almost everyone displays links to other sites, which may in turn be just what you were looking for.
Regimental sites of current Canadian Army units (mostly militia) usually have a history dating back to before WW2. Their primary interest is in promoting the current iteration of the Regiment, but many include a  synopsis of their WW2 history.  If you find the website for your Regiment, they will generally be happy to put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions.
Government and museum sites can take a great deal of time and patience to wade through. Two sites MLU recommends are:. Canada's Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs. Museum sites can also offer you information on how to research their records.
Public internet forums and discussion boards are  frequented by dozens of amateur historians and enthusiasts from around the world, who often know whom to ask or where to direct you. The MLU Forum has many helpful participants. MAPLE LEAF UP also offers a free online  INFOSEARCH REGISTER which allows you to input questions about Canadian Army Overseas in WW2, or even the whereabouts of old buddies. The contents of the web form are posted online for others to look at, and hopefully you’ll get some replies.
If you have anecdotes, photos etc which you would like to share to help tell the story of the Canadian Soldier in WW2, they would be happy to consider putting them online at MLU, in your name. Please contact them.
If you are trying  to record a serviceperson's history for posterity, MLU supports you 100 percent! Good luck with your research, and thank you for you diligence in helping to preserve this important part of our history. These volunteers, and their families, endured what we can only imagine, at a time when the fate of the civilised world itself was in jeopardy. In many cases, we cannot personally thank them, only preserve a record of what they accomplished. It is a duty of love, and of honour.
Please keep me posted.
This is a condensation of the article found at:
Note: The links at the top of the above page were not working properly, when I retrieved it on Feb.18,2011. The forum IS functioning, despite any odd message you may receive. Hopefully the links in this article will be useful to you in your research.

1 comment:

YrHelper Infonut said...

MLU has a "Last Post" section dedicated to members of the Canadian Army Overseas who recently 'laid their arms to rest',due to illness, age etc. Please contact them with as much information as possible, including a short biography if available. With the permission of the family as applicable and available, their names and service will be recorded as a testament to their courage and dedication to the Canada of their dreams.

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