Track down World War One and World War Two Officers
Army Lists are among the most important resources for tracing an officer's career in the British Services for historians and families. For the Army, for instance, there are monthly lists (1798-1940), quarterly lists (1879-1922 and 1940-1950) and half-yearly lists (1923-1950), as well as the ongoing modern Army List (1951-), for the regular army in this period. All the monthly lists and the quarterly lists for 1940-1950 include officers of colonial, militia and territorial units. If you need a particular source to give you a definitive answer as to the rank at a particular time –this is it!
If your ancestor does not appear in these lists it is very unlikely that he was an officer.
All soldiers’ ranks are denoted by a title and a set of insignia. Officers usually wear their insignia on their shoulders. Other ranks wear theirs on their sleeves.
Ranks Of the British Army
|Commissioned Officers||Non-commissioned officers and other ranks|
Warrant Officer 1st Class
Warrant Officer 2nd Class
Details you may find in these lists in are likely to include the following:
- post nominals (certain diplomas medals and awards)
- service numbers (on later issues where applicable)
Forces War Records has a number of Army Lists available for search
Royal Air Force and Navy Lists.
The Royal Air Force was first formed on 1 April 1918 when the R.F.C and the R.N.A.S. were amalgamated. The lists on Forces War Records that have been transcribed will include women’s branches of military service. You will find lists of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRENs) within the lists from 1919 to 1922. The Lists from WWII also includes Auxiliary Air Force, the Air Training Corps and Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.
If you are researching the career of an Officer in the Royal Navy, the Navy Lists are a good starting place. The lists include both commissioned and warrant officers and those who served in the Royal Marines, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service, Coast Guard, Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve , and other naval entities. The amount of information available will vary from volume to volume.
The Navy, Army and Air Force lists on Forces War Records are fully transcribed in house by our researchers, they are not merely searchable scans but a full transcription complete with all abbreviations and terms clarified, this makes them easier to search, clearer to understand and far more accurate than any other alternative version.
The following Royal Air Force and Navy Lists are available with Forces War Records Subscription:
UK Navy List of Retired Officers July 1967 (covers 1897-1967)
Records of Officers Services 1775-1914
Research the Regimental Records of Officers’ service during 1775 to 1914 with Forces War Records
This series comprises records of officers' services. The records give the different ranks held by the officer and his services, together with certain personal particulars which may include date and place of birth, when/where married and to whom, and any qualifications. The amount of detail in each record can vary depending on when the record was created and the purpose of the record, such as whether it was created for pension purposes or new recruits.
The series includes services of Royal Artillery officers, 1771 to 1870, and one volume of returns made in 1861 by officers of the Indian Army (Artillery). The dates listed for the series overlap and may not be reliable.
This is an indexed collection where the record image can be seen.
This collection is reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study, education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU.
Records in this collection are likely to include the following:
- first name(s)
- service history
- personal details
As a company based in Wiltshire, England we are constantly evolving and adding thousands of new records and features to our site.
Typical further files are those killed or injured in action, those mentioned in dispatches or awarded medals. Forces War Records also holds many exclusive lists which are unavailable elsewhere. They include imperial prisoners of war held in Italy, Home Guard officer lists from 1939-45 and military Hospitals Admissions and Discharge Registers for WW1. As well as records concerning World War One, Forces War Records also hold databases on World War Two, The Crimean War, Boer War, African Wars, Indian Mutiny, and the Napoleonic Wars (including Waterloo and Trafalgar).You can also search medal rolls, individual battle data and Prisoner of War Records, Royal Marines Databases, Fighter & Bomber Command Losses, and Fleet Air Arm Data among lots more unique collections.
Discovering your ancestors in the framework of such rich British military history makes genealogy much more than just dates and places – it’s about people, heroes, bravery, lives saved and lives lost. It’s about your history — it’s about you!
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