First World War deserters

This guide was last updated in 2011

Most people conducting their family tree will encounter at least one ancestor who fought in the First World War, be it for the Army or Navy (or even the Royal Flying Corps later Royal Air Force), says Sara Khan.

Such was the case with Alan Carr, whose great grandfather, Henry Carter, was a soldier during the conflict.

If you are also looking for a soldier, you can find out how to begin researching their records in our section dedicated to the First World War. Thankfully, it is now possible to obtain many of these records online on different websites avoiding the time and expense of visiting potentially faraway archives.

Henry Carter enlisted in 1915 for the duration of the conflict as a driver in the Field Artillery. His regiment would have seen service on the Western Front and Henry’s role should have seen him be at the forefront of the action, driving to take ammunitions to the front line on a continuous basis.

However, when we looked into the service history of Henry Carter, it appeared that he was not dodging the bullets quite so much. Indeed, there were four records of absenteeism on his service record and he was eventually declared a deserter by the official authorities. Henry’s desertions lay behind him relocating his family to Kent and the name change from Carter to Mercer.


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