Orders of Battle in WW1
The Orders of Battle are lists of military units which show the structure of command for a particular battle. An Order of Battle is compiled in order of seniority to provide a comprehensive list of every single unit to take part in a particular battle. Starting with the most senior commander the listing continues according to the structure of the military force at the time, with the fighting troops and supporting troops grouped under headings as appropriate.
Trace a Military Unit in the Orders of Battle
If you know the unit in which an individual had served in, you can use the Orders of Battle to trace the date and location of where he or she was on the battlefront.
Some individuals served in more than one unit during the war. If there were heavy casualties soldiers were sometimes transferred into different battalions to make up the full complement of men. Sometimes men transferred into newly formed units, such as Machine Gun Companies or Trench Mortar Batteries.
Where to View Orders of Battle
Official Histories of the Great War
After the First World War the Allied Forces and Central Powers published official accounts of the involvement of their forces in the war of 1914-1918. In many cases the narrative of the events has been compiled in numerous volumes with appendices and maps. These publications generally will provide an in-depth record of the military engagements by the army, navy and air forces for the relevant country. In most cases the volumes will contain Orders of Battle as appropriate for that volume or period of a battle. See our page about the Official Histories at:
British Army Orders of Battle
British Army Orders of Battle can be found in the volumes of British Official History or at the National Archives (and as a downloadable document) at Kew, Surrey. For information about the British Army Orders of Battle go to our page at:British Army Orders of Battle
Tracing a Military Unit
If you do not know the military unit of the person you are tracing you should (if the records are available) be able to find out by searching the WW1 casualty records of death in service, medal records or service records. Go to our page about getting started on Tracing a WW1 Serviceman at: