Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Tracing Your Tank Ancestors – A Guide for Family Historians
By Janice Tait & David Fletcher
Pen and Sword (
In association with the Tank Museum (
ISBN 9781848842649
RRP GBP £12.99


This book comprises another volume in the “Tracing Your ... Ancestors” series and it is an outstanding guide to researching ancestors who served in tanks. The start of this exciting book defines the scope of the volume and it is authored by the best experts in this field namely, the Tank Museum itself.

Many family historians approach the Tank Museum with the statement “My father [etc] was in the Tank Corps” and this creates some trepidation in the authors at the Museum. The Tank Corps was a specific formation that lived for a specific period from 1917 to October 1923. Prior to this date the formation did not exist and the usage of the word “tank” had no military meaning.

From October 1923 to April 1939 the correct title was the Royal Tank Corps and after April 1939 the Royal Tank Regiment. Research is compounded by the colloquial usage of the term the “Tank Corps”. The colloquial usage tending to mean any regiment that went to war in the tanks at almost any time, be it cavalry, yeomanry, infantry, Royal Artillery or even the Royal Marines as they all served in tanks.

After having defined the scope of the publication it then progresses to the inception of tanks as we now know them. The book reveals that it was the Admiralty, the Royal Naval Air Service and Winston Churchill (the later Prime Minister) who made the first moves during the World War One. The chapter describes how the Royal Navy initiated the development of these vehicles.

Other chapters reveal the development of tanks as formidable fighting vehicles. The history of the Royal Tank Corps 1923 – 1939 is discussed and then there is a large chapter on the Second World War. The New World, 1945 to 1960, is considered and the final chapter is on “Options for Change 1960 – 1990”. There is an excellent appendix listing the Second World War Royal Armoured Corps Regiments.

Each of these chapters gives essential data on how to research “Uncle Bill” and at the end of each of the chapters there is a short summary of further sources that can be utilised by the genealogist. Using the Second World War chapter as an example the “Resources” section gives details on how to conduct further research using medal information, war diaries, casualty cards, tracer cards, Royal Armoured Corps Registers, personal papers, reference books, uniforms and insignia, photographs, regimental journals, museums and associations.

The quality of the research guidance given in this volume is exceptional and the authors have conducted outstanding research which has evolved into this book. It is not possible to stress sufficiently the quality of this volume and the pay-back of purchasing this volume will be enormous.

September 2011