How to get started researching military history


Roman soldierMilitary history has traditionally been concentrated on twentieth century wars, recording both the battles and memorials in Britain and abroad as well as the effect of the wars on the lives of normal people. There has also been much interest in the Civil War, especially with re-enactment groups. However, there are now many re-enactors who undertake experimental work into other periods, from prehistory, through Roman, Saxon, Viking, medieval and later periods. There is also more academic research into the military aspect of these periods. Battlefield archaeology is a growing area of work. You can visit the Battlefield Resource Centre online.

Early military history

There are very few possible battles that are thought to have taken place in Buckinghamshire. One is the Battle of Aylesbury in the Civil War but current thinking suggests this was little more than a series of isolated skirmishes. A history of Buckinghamshire’s soldiery 'Call to Arms' by Ian Beckett (1985) covers the period before the eighteenth century quite swiftly but thereafter in more detail.

The World Wars


The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies has published a book of sources called 'Wartime Buckinghamshire (1939-45): a brief guide to sources' (Revised 1992) that is available to order from their website (price: £2.75).


A useful book on this subject is 'Thames Airfields in the Second World War: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex' by Robin J. Brooks (2000). But there are many books on Buckinghamshire in the World Wars and a search of the libraries' catalogue will generate many results:


Online resources

As well as the Defence of Britain survey that is a national project, there have been smaller regional or local projects. You can search the Defence of Britain site at on the Archaeology Data Service website. Another national project has been to record Commonwealth War Graves.


World War II huts at HaltonThe Unlocking Buckinghamshire Past website is worth a search for monuments from the First and Second World Wars, especially as this will be continuously updated. One private war memorial project aims to record all the names from every war memorial in Buckinghamshire to create a database that will also have details on the birthplaces and regiments in which each of the soldiers served. There is already a list of names and regiments on war memorials in bucks online at:


Parish Councils will also be a good source of information on local activities during the Second World War, particularly. They may have more records on war memorials, victory celebrations, evacuees and so on. There is a directory of Parish Clerks at:


Just over the county boundary in Milton Keynes Unitary Authority, but very important during the Second World War is Bletchley Park. They have a website:


Click here to find more heritage resources.