Helping you find your WWII Ancestor

Forces War Records - Helping you find your WWII Ancestor
Forces War Records - Helping you find your WWII Ancestor

By far the most common problem that people researching their family trees come across is a shortage of accessible records relating to the Second World War. The Public Records Act governs which materials created by the government can be released over what timescales. To begin with the rule was that records over 50 years old could be released to the Public Records Office or The National Archives. That timescale was later reduced to 30 years, and more recently to 20. However, there are numerous exceptions which continue to restrict access, e.g. when release of records may cause damage to the country’s image, national security or foreign relations.

Records from the Second World War fall under these restrictions, as many of the men and women who served are still alive and wouldn’t want personal information disclosed. Thus, you won’t find the full record for a relative who fought in that war anywhere except with the Ministry of Defence.

Small parts of a Second World War serviceman’s record may be found, such as those listing his or her death, casualty/missing reports, capture or medals awarded. Forces War Records, for example has a total of 4 million World War Two records, these are made up from ‘some’ of the following collections:

WWII Daily reports (missing, dead, wounded & POWs)

  • Kept under reference WO417 at the national archives these ‘daily’ reports were made on a 24/48 hour basis and often include information that can’t be sourced anywhere else!

Bomber/Fighter Command Losses 1939-1945

  • Bomber/Fighter Command Operational Losses in the European Theatre of War covering both Aircraft and Aircrew 1939-1945.

Imperial Prisoners of war held in Japan

  • 56,000+ of those held by the Empire of Japan were recorded in the War Departments records now held at Kew under the title ‘British Prisoners of War Held in Japan Or Japanese-Occupied Territory’

Prisoners of War of the British Empire held in Germany 1939-45

  • Personnel of the British armed forces as well as Merchant seamen were captured during the Second World War and placed in one of the different types of prisoner of war camps run by the Germans. Oflag was a prisoner of war camp for officers, Stalag was for enlisted personnel, and there were separate camps for navy, aircrews and civilians (Marlag/MIlag, Lufts and Ilag respectively)

Our database also includes many more collections from Rolls of honour, IWGC Registers, UK Army Lists, nominal rolls, Home Guard records, RAF, Navy collections and SO much more. Please see our full collections list HERE

Do you know enough about your ancestors who fought in the Second World War?

Log on to Forces War Records and find out more  - delve into our ‘historic documents’ library and read some of the interesting War diaries that we get sent – there’s nothing quite like reading a personal account of war, as history unfolds itself through the eyes of somebody who was actually there. Discover interesting facts about your ancestors, become more knowledgeable about history, and reveal some of the fantastic characters involved in war…What are you waiting for?

Need help requesting or understand records? Please read our FREE tutorials.


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