William Spencer


William Spencer is The National Archives' Principal Military Specialist, and has worked for The National Archives for the past 16 years. He is the author of a number of books including Air Force Records: A Guide for Family Historians.

Podcasts by William Spencer

  • A podcast about civilian bravery during the First and Second World Wars

    Bombs, bulls and civilian bravery

    In this podcast The National Archives’ Principal Military Specialist reveals some of his favourite stories about civilian gallantry from the First and Second World Wars, from the bravery of the youngest recipient of the George medal to a bizarre tale involving a bomb and some table…

  • Sikh sepoys, non-commissioned and Indian Officers in uniform and mufti (catalogue reference CN 4/8)

    One in six: the South Asian contribution to the First World War

    One hundred years ago, undivided India provided Britain with a massive volunteer army in its hour of need. From 1914-1918 close to 1.5 million Indians served, fighting in all the major theatres of war, from Flanders’ fields in Belgium to…

  • Sikh sepoys, non-commissioned and Indian Officers in uniform and mufti (catalogue reference CN 4/8)

    India in the First World War

    The National Archives’ principal military specialist William Spencer is joined by Brigadier Brian McCall, defence advisor in the British High Commission in New Delhi, Squadron Leader Rana Chhina, with the United Service Institution of India in New Delhi, Dr Santanu…

  • Crimean War: Major Stokes and group of Anglo-Turkish soldiers (catalogue reference WO 78/1078)

    Webinar: Army musters – more than just accounts

    This webinar looks at how the army accounted for the money it spent on its personnel and what you can discover in the records in addition to financial costs. William Spencer is The National Archives’ Principal Records Specialist in military…

  • Shankill Road Contingent Imperial Yeomanry, 1900, cat. ref. COPY 1/446

    Nineteenth century soldiers: getting the most from online resources

    This talk aims to explain the intricacies of soldiers’ service records online, in record series WO 97, and how using the records of the First World War is something which should be considered when researching nineteenth-century soldiers. William Spencer is…

  • Chelsea Hospital Sunday 1871

    Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers’ service documents

    Military records specialist William Spencer talks about WO 97, one of The National Archives’ most popular record series. This series holds detailed and comprehensive military records of over 1.5 million soldiers who served in the British Army between 1760 and…

  • nsc5-119-keep-on-saving-salute-the-soldier-civilians-behind-soldiers-1944

    Civilian honours and awards

    The London Gazette is a crucial source for announcements of military and civilian honours and awards. This talk explains how to use and get the best out of the Gazette, and how further information about awards can be found among…

  • tnaprocopy1-456f532-military-naval-signal-rating-pusey-hms-victory-royal-victoria-medal

    Royal Naval medals: an introduction

    This talk discusses the Royal Naval medal rolls held by The National Archives in record series ADM 171, and explains how to interpret the most commonly used codes and abbreviations found in them. It also demonstrates how the medal rolls…

  • air29-4062-raf-vulcan-bomber-july-1967

    Royal Air Force service records

    Last year saw the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Air Force. The records of thousands of men (and women) who served in the RAF and its predecessors during the First World War are held by The National…

  • maf59-3-womens'-land-army-girls-with-piglets

    Tracing World War One ancestors

    William Spencer takes you through the key records for tracing your World War One ancestors, including records of women who were nurses or in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Please note that numerous collections have been digitised since this talk…

  • copy1-443ii-753-empire-soldierschelsea-barracks-1899

    Tracing pre-1914 army ancestors

    Covering the period from 1760 to 1913, William Spencer discusses the service records of army officers and other ranks. Please note that numerous collections have been digitised since this talk was recorded in 2008.

  • Authors


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