Many of our ancestors fought in the various wars in which Britain has been involved. Whether it was The Great War, the Crimean or even the Wars of the Roses, warfare is a thread through the fabric of our past. A Bit of History Way back in 1537, a Royal Charter was granted by Henry VIII authorising the establishment of a “perpetual corporation for the defence of the realm to be known as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handgonnes”. The British Army came into being and has continued to exist for nearly 500 years. Since that time, different Regiments have developed as weaponry evolved. You might find that an ancestor was one of the last to ride a horse into battle or was one of the first tank drivers. Army Ranks Whatever your ancestor did in the Army, understanding the rank in which they served will help. Officers Field Marshal General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Cadet Other Ranks Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private Whilst some records are held on various pay per view websites, the National Archives at Kew hold Muster rolls and Pay Lists from about 1730 to1878. They also hold Royal Artillery records of service and papers from 1755 to 1917. First World War medal cards may also be seen for a small fee. For the service records of those who served in the Second World War, you will need to visit the Veterans Agency website and download the appropriate forms. Their Guide on how to do this may be seen here.