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Three ways to find your ancestors’ World War I medals


I am often asked how members of the public can find or source the actual war medals that their family ancestors won, specifically around First World War medals. The blunt truth is it is difficult. Very difficult. It is like searching for a needle in a haystack, but it can be done. I have found three family medals in recent years, so it is possible. Here are my three top tips for trying to find your World War I family medals and tracking down your own little piece of family history!

1. Medal Tracker

Token Publishing Ltd (the guys behind UK magazine Medal News) have an online medal finding service called Medal Tracker. With the Medal Tracker anyone can upload details of the medals they are looking for and medal dealers around the country can check in and see if they have anything in their stock. Token Publishing Ltd do charge a nominal £5 fee for this service but the online entries will remain on the site until the medals are found!

2. Militaria Dealers

Talking of medal and militaria dealers, these are a great place to search to see if they are stocking any medals that belong to your family. It takes a while, but what I do is have a number of dealers websites saved as ‘favourites’ in my web browser and every couple of weeks I take a look at their sites to see what they have. I find that every few weeks is a good enough timescale as their stock doesn’t normally change significantly within this time frame. There are dozens of dealers around, but the ones that I look at are:

Many of the guys take ‘wants lists’ whether that is for a particular regiment or a surname – you can always drop these chaps a line and let them know what you are looking for and often they will let you know if/when they get something. But it is always worth having a browse through their sites periodically yourself.

3. eBay

eBay is the simplest and best way to search for your ancestors medals. Simply set up an alert in eBay for the surname of the person you are looking for. All you have to do for this is:

  • Go to the eBay home page, type in the surname you are searching for
  • Choose the correct categories. I recommend drilling down to Collectables / Militaria / World War I (1914-1918) in order to cast a nice wide net
  • Make sure you check the box that says ‘include description’ so you are searching for the surname in both the item title and description
  • Click on the green ‘follow this search’ link and you will now get an email from eBay every time a new item is added to the site that matches your criteria

It is by doing this I have found a number of family medals over the years.


I hope this helps you try and track down your ancestors medals! Good luck with your searches!

By Scott Addington

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