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For decades, our researchers have studied the intricacies of Britain’s military and authored books and articles about it. From service sheets to the numbering systems for the 1830s British Army to regimental precedence, they know precisely how to find what you need amongst millions of records.

When you hire our researchers, you get unprecedented:

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  • Efficiency: They know exactly where and how to look for what you need. In fact, our researchers are on a first-name basis with National Archives staff.
  • Passion: Our researchers served in the forces and have been dedicated to the military their entire lives.
  • Experience: They know how to transform fragments of history into a complete picture you’ll find nowhere else.

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Meet Our Researchers

Kevin Asplin Professional Military Genealogist & Military Author

Kevin, having an interest in military history his entire life, grew up with military themed toys and served in the Salisbury Plain Royal Artillery unit of the British Army. He has more than two decades of military genealogy experience, having begun his life's passion after purchasing a medal and researching its history in the mid 1990's.

Awarded the Medal of Merit by the Orders and Medals Research Society, Kevin is also recognised by his peers as an expert of the Victorian era and is the author of several books on medals of this era. Kevin is experienced in the sourcing and research of all eras of British & Commonwealth records.

Susie Davis Professional Military & Family Genealogist

Susie, has an in-depth knowledge of the types of documents and their contents at the National Archives spanning centuries from many years of dedicated research. Susie is the author of the very first War Office 97 register of Soldiers service documents from the 1770s until just before the Great War. Experience and dedication are guaranteed!

Kevin and Susie have agreed to team up with Forces War Records in an effort to provide you with professional research experience at reasonable rates. The sheer amount of data now available can make it extremely challenging to target what you’re looking for without expert insight. Our researchers can quickly sort through it all and find the records you're searching for.

Your Completed Research Results Will Contain

A detailed report summarising the results of the investigation.

Photocopies of all documents related to your ancestor.

Notes and analysis from our expert researchers explaining the historical significance of the documents found.

All information will be easily provided through online download. For your convenience, we do offer CD/DVDs when images are in excess of 20-25.

Information Typically Uncovered By Our Researchers

To find out what you can expect from our researchers, select a branch in the following dropdown list. The types of records and information generally available will depend on the time period and rank. Please keep in mind that these are not ALL the information available, just the most common - in fact, many of our customers have received much more.

  • Army

    We list here the research that can be conducted to trace an individual’s service. The examples of records that can be searched prior to the First World War are by no means all the sources by which to trace details. As well as searching for an individual’s service we will also search for Campaign and Long Service medals awarded.

    There are also many unit records and War Diaries up to circa 1970. These include many post-war operations including Korea as well as units at home and overseas. If you are interested in these please give details on the enquiry form and we can advise if anything is available.

    Commissioned Officers to 1921

    Service records for commissioned officers detailing service as far back as the late 18th century are available in some cases. The availability varies by date and regiment. Generally speaking the later the service the more likely a record will be available. There are many records that may need to be searched depending on the date/s involved. Some of the main groups are -

    The main batch of records covers some service back as far as 1764 including some to the First World War.

    Serving Field officers 1809 – 1810.

    Service returns for retired officers 1828 and 1847.

    Service returns for serving officers 1829.

    Royal Engineers from 1796

    (All the above records generally show date and place of birth, marriage and children along with service)

    General Officer’s statements of service 1807 – 1876.

    Medical officers 1799 – 1847.

    Army Chaplains 1817 – 1843.

    Hart’s army list correspondence 1838 – 1873. This is original correspondence from officers giving details of their service.

    First World War correspondence files. This series includes most officers serving in the Great War. However if service continued after 1921 the file will still be retained by the Ministry of Defence. These vary a great deal in content but generally include application for commission, service record for any service in the ranks, Birth/Baptism certificate, details of education, details of wounds received in action or sickness, posting to units together with dates of service with them. If made a Prisoner of War there is usually a statement written by the officer giving the circumstances of his capture. If killed or died details of how his estate was settled. Claims for pension due to wounds or sickness. These are some of the more usual documents. They vary a great variety from file to file.

    In the case of officers commissioned between 1793 and 1870 there are in most cases “Commander-in Chief” papers relating to the purchase and sale of commissions, promotions and retirement between these dates. These can be very interesting. They usually include details on how much the commission was purchased for, letters of recommendation, and agents. They can shed light on the circumstances of an individual. Some may also include a statement of service or baptism details. A search will always be made for an officers commission papers. Promotions papers may be obtained. This will depend on the details of service already obtained.

    With the end of purchased commissions officers were entitled to a payment upon retirement as they could not be sold. Records survive giving details of sums awarded. These usually contain a statement of service. The period covers is 1871 – 1891.

    There are also some service records for Militia officers. These mostly cover the period from circa 1860 – 1910. As well as service they also often give some personal details.

    If commission and promotion dates cannot be traced from original documentation details will be extracted from the official publication listing all commissioned officers, the “Army List”

    Other ranks to 1920

    There are many series of documents that can be searched to track a mans service depending on length of service, when they served and sometimes their regiment. Given here are details of some of the main records available and what can be achieved in a search.

    Regular Army service records pre 1914 – The main series of documents were compiled for pension purposes. Most are for those who were entitled to a pension due to length of service or sickness and wounds. The earliest records date from the late 18th century and run to those discharged to 1913. Most records give age on enlistment, place of birth, trade or calling, promotions, demotions, unit/s, details of wounds, service overseas, reason for discharge and medals awarded. The later the records the more details are included. From around the 1870’s -80’s family information is included such as next of kin, marriage, and details of children. If a mans regiment is known but his actual records is not available but enlisted prior to circa 1888 his record can still be compiled from –

    Regimental Musters – These are more or less complete from the late 18th century to around 1888. They were completed quarterly, by year for each battalion etc (including Depot) for the British Army. They list where they are based, each member of the unit by name, rank and number. If an individual is detached for any reason this is also shown. In most cases a mans service can be tracked from enlistment to discharge or death. Most list place of enlistment and many show age, trade and place of birth. For some examples of what you would receive please click here. Please note that if service was with the Royal Artillery or Royal Engineers a unit will need to be known at a particular time to conduct a search. Commissions where musters are compiled may take longer than the usual 30 days to complete due to the volume of documents involved in their compilation.

    Boer War – The service records for the Imperial Yeomanry are more or less complete for this period and show full details of service in South Africa, unit, wounds, personal information including next of kin. Many units were locally raised in South Africa. There are for many men a short form of enlistment. If this has not survived there is usually book listing all men along with date of enlistment and some brief details.

    First World War – Many actual service records for other ranks were destroyed in the London Blitz during Second World War. There is approximately a 35% chance of any one mans record being available. This is to a discharge date of 1920. The records that survive do vary but generally disclose all service, units, wounds, service dates overseas, family information and can include a vast variety of different forms and correspondence.

    If a record has not survived all is not lost. If a man can be Identified from his medal issue card (as most can) this leads to the medal roll and in some cases the Silver War Badge which was granted on honourable discharge due to wounds, sickness etc. In these cases the date of enlistment and discharge is often shown along with reason for discharge. In the cases where the medals were issued by Infantry Depots the medal rolls usually show the battalion/s a man served in. On the rolls of the Royal Fusiliers, London Regiment and Royal Defence Corps the dates of service overseas are also shown. The RA, RE & RASC do not generally show any further information apart from some for the Royal Garrison Artillery which show the last unit in which serving.

    Royal Artillery c1830 – c1855 – If a man served in the RA between these dates a record of service for most will be available. These records appear to have been commenced when the personal regimental numbering system was introduced and are compiled by battalion or RHA. Some show service as far back as 1793 if still serving in 1830. They comprise of two sheets and show place of birth, age, place and date of enlistment, physical description, unit, service overseas along with dates and medals awarded. They also give date if Killed in Action, wounded or died in service. Some also show reason for discharge, pension, character, and date of marriage. If service continued past circa 1858 some records do not list later service.

    Household Cavalry 1791 – 1919 – These records are not complete but should include a record for all those discharged from the 1st life Guards, 2nd Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards as well as the Household battalion which was formed in 1916. If a man transferred to another regiment prior to his discharge his record will not be in this series. The records vary by date but generally give details of service, personal information, wounds, and overseas service. These also include men who died in service.

    Militia - These vary in dates covered a great deal depending on the regiment. Many cover the period 1860 – 1905 for most regiments. A few are earlier and some up to the First World War period. These show age, where born, details of training and promotions. Often also listing home address. They include many who served in the Boer War.

    All ranks post First World War

    The records of those discharged after the First World War period are still held by the Ministry of Defence. Veterans or deceased Veterans Next of Kin can apply for a copy of a service records via the Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

    Whether or not you have an individuals service record the following research can be undertaken

    War Diaries WW2 – If you have an individuals service record this should list all units in which served along with overseas service dates along with the theatre of operations. Copies can be made of the unit/s War Diaries. These are a day by day account written by one of their officers. They give details of where they are based, movements, details of actions fought etc. Officers are often mentioned and other ranks on occasions. These are available for most units for operational and not operational theatres including UK based units. The fee will cover the copying of up to three years of diary entries.

    Prisoners of War WW2 – Firstly for both prisoners of the Germans and Japanese there are Interrogation Questionnaires dating from 1945 -46. About 140’000 of these are available so there will not be one for every POW.

    They include name, rank, number, unit, home address, date of birth, date and place of capture, camps held, and work camps. Any serious illnesses suffered during imprisonment and treatment received. Any interrogation after capture, escape attempts, sabotage etc.

    In addition if a prisoner of the Japanese the original Japanese POW card is often available. This is part in English and part Japanese. These show name, unit, rank, service number, date of birth, date & place of capture (in Japanese), name and address of next of kin, camps held in (in Japanese)

    If neither of these items are available for an individual there are also lists of POW’s published at various times which can be searched. These generally give camp held but no unit details and date of capture.

    This search will also include (where available) copies of the unit War Diary commencing 3 months prior to capture.

  • Royal Navy

    These searches cover the period from the late 18th century, however earlier records can be available. If you are interested in an earlier period please give us details of the individual or information you are seeking on the enquiry form. This page also covers service of members of the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The fee will also include details of any campaign medals awarded in respect of an individual’s service.

    Commissioned and Warrant Officers

    Royal Navy - In most cases a record of service will be available for commissioned officers from the late 18th century. As well as dates of commission, promotions, ships, postings and retirement personal information is recorded. In most cases they give date of birth, name and profession of father, date of marriage and wife’s name. Any awards granted are listed and examinations taken. Most records are available for those commissioned up to circa 1920. However depending on the branch this can vary. Records for Civil and Medical branch officers are also available. The records generally show all service some as late as the 1960’s.

    Confidential reports are also available for most Executive officers from circa 1890. Others are available including some for Warrant Officers. These vary by date and branch of the service. Again these records show details of ships and postings to retirement. They are annoted with details of reports from their senior officers and are often very detailed.

    In addition most Executive officers on their promotion to Lieutenant will have a Passing Certificate up to 1902. These give personal details of ships, examination results and other comments. There are also passing certificates for Midshipmen 1857 – 1899, Clerks 1852 – 1899, Carpenters 1856 – 1887, Masters 1800 – 1863, Paymasters 1851 - 1889, Boatswain’s 1851 – 1887, Gunners 1856 – 1887, Engineering officers 1863 – 1895. Further certificates survive for other periods and branches of the service.

    Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve – Most records of service are available for RNVR commissioned officers from 1914 – 1918, although those for medical officers are not. These records are brief but do show details of commission, promotions, ships served and postings along with comments. Most also note home address. If born prior to 1900 and served in the Second World War there is often a record for this period. These include reports on the officer and sometimes include a small photograph.

    Royal Naval Reserve - These records are in several groupings and vary depending on period of service. They run from the 1860’s to 1960’s the latest commission date circa 1923. Some are similar to those of RNVR officers for the First World War period others being very detailed. All will show details of commission, promotions, ships and postings with notes. Some have a great deal of information within them.

    Royal Naval Air Service – First World War RNAS officer’s records are available. These show personal details, commission, promotions, squadrons etc. Also shown are flying hours, type of aircraft flown and reports on the officer. They are often noted with details of Air Combats and instances of good conduct. If still serving on formation of the RAF a search will also be conducted for this record.

    Ratings

    Royal Navy – Prior to 1853 there were no formal service records kept. However if a man was entitled to a Greenwich pension there is often a statement giving details of all ships served on along with dates. Personal information can usually be obtained from Ships Muster’s once a ship on which served at a particular time is identified. If a man was not entitled to a pension but a ships he served is known at a particular time further details can often be traced from the Muster or Description books. Depending on whether or not these books are noted at to where a man is posted to or from, it is often possible to build up details of his service. There are many more records by which to trace an individual, too numerous to list here. Please give the details you have on the Enquiry Form and we can advise if a search is viable.

    From 1853 the continuous service system was introduced. Each man was given a number and signed on for a set period. Records from this date to enlistments to 1923 are all available all bar a few. On occasions some earlier records do on occasions not list all ships. Up till 1872, if enlistment was as a Boy a form signed by a parent is included giving permission. All records show Date and place of birth, trade on enlistment, ships with dates of service, promotions etc. Records will show details of service up until 1928 when a new system of records was introduced. These are still held by the MoD. Those who were in the RNAS and were still serving at the formation of the RAF will often have a second record covering RAF service.

    In addition, for men who entered into service circa 1905 – 1920 we can usually obtain a copy of the original Attestation/Enlistment papers. These again give personal information similar to the service sheet and are signed by the entrant. If joined as a Boy a consent form is usually included. If father or both parents deceased the date and place of death is recorded. There can on occasions include other documents such as Courts Martial papers. Please note that these records may take a while to obtain as they are not held at the central archive. You will be sent the service record and this will follow if available.

    Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve – Rating records for the RNVR are available for the First World War period, including those who served in the Royal Naval Division during the war. The records have full personal details, postings, promotions, wounds etc. Those for the RND are very detailed.

    Royal Naval Reserve – These are more or less fully available for the period 1908 – 1955. If the date of joining is post circa 1922 the service number is generally required to obtain the record. They give full personal details including next of kin and usually address. The records give details of all postings, promotions. They are heavily annoted with a variety of information.

    Later service - all ranks

    For those whose service is not covered above the service records are still held by the Ministry of Defence. Veterans or deceased Veterans Next of Kin can apply for a copy of a service records via the Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

    Whether or not you have an individual’s service record the following research can be undertaken -

    Prisoners of War WW2 – Firstly for both prisoners of the Germans and Japanese there are Interrogation Questionnaires dating from 1945 -46. About 140’000 of these are available so there will not be one for every POW.

    They include name, rank, number, unit, home address, date of birth, date and place of capture, camps held, and work camps. Any serious illnesses suffered during imprisonment and treatment received. Any interrogation after capture, escape attempts, sabotage etc.

    In addition if a prisoner of the Japanese the original Japanese POW card is often available. This is part in English and part Japanese. These show name, unit, rank, service number, date of birth, date & place of capture (in Japanese), name and address of next of kin, camps held in (in Japanese)

    If neither of these items are available for an individual there are also lists of POW’s published at various times which can be searched. These generally give camp held but no unit details and date of capture.

    This search will also include (where available) copies of any operational records covering their ship at the time of capture.

    Other research can be conducted such as operational service, Log books etc. If you are interested in a certain item please give details on the enquiry form.

  • Royal Flying Corps and Royal Airforce

    As well as record searches for individuals who served in RFC, RNAS and RAF for the First World War period additional research may be possible once you have the service record. Available are squadron operational reports showing daily in diary form aircraft and aircrew taking-of with some details. Pilots and Observers submitted “Combat in the Air” reports which details instances where they were attacked or where they have attacked enemy aircraft.

    Additionally there are records for squadrons, RAF Regiment, Training units and Bases available to circa 1980.

    Please give details on the enquiry form and we can advise if records for the unit and period of interest are available.

    Also included in the fee is included a search for campaign medals awarded for First World War service. In most cases these are available.

    Commissioned Officers

    Royal Flying Corps - As part of the British Army RFC most officers will have a correspondence file available. These vary a great deal in content but generally include application for commission, service record for any service in the ranks, Birth/Baptism certificate, details of education, details of wounds received in action or sickness, posting to units together with dates of service with them. If made a Prisoner of War there is usually a statement written by the officer giving the circumstances of his capture. If killed or died details of how his estate was settled. Claims for pension due to wounds or sickness. These are some of the more usual documents. They vary a great variety from file to file.

    Royal Naval Air Service – First World War RNAS officer’s records are available. These show personal details, commission, promotions, squadrons etc. Also shown are flying hours, type of aircraft flown and reports on the officer. They are often noted with details of Air Combats and instances of good conduct.

    Royal Air Force – For those officers serving in the RFC & RNAS at the formation of the RAF on 1st April 1918 a further record is usually available if service did not continue after c1920. The records have full personal details, promotions, postings and squadrons as well as types of aircraft flown if a pilot. They also details any wounds received and awards granted. This obviously covers new officers entering service after formation.

    Other Ranks

    Royal Flying Corps – If discharged prior to the formation of the RAF a mans record may be amongst these. Many actual service records for other ranks were destroyed in the London Blitz during Second World War. There is approximately a 35% chance of any one mans record being available. This is to a discharge date of 1920. The records that survive do vary but generally disclose all service, units, wounds, service dates overseas, family information and can include a vast variety of different forms and correspondence.

    Royal Naval Air Service – These records follow the same format as Royal Navy ratings records. All records show Date and place of birth, trade on enlistment, postings with dates of service, promotions etc.

    Royal Air Force – As with commissioned officers other ranks from the RFC and ratings from the RNAS were transferred to the RAF on formation. A further record covering RAF service is usually available along with those who joined after formation. The records cover service to the late 1920’s. However they do include in some cases details of service during the Second World War if recalled. They include records to service number of 329000. Most show birth details, address, next of kin, physical description, marriage and birth details of children. Records detail units, postings, trade, dates of service overseas and medals. Also if from the RFC or RNAS original enlistment date is shown and sometimes further details of service if from the army.

    Later service – all ranks

    The records of those not covered above are still held by the Ministry of Defence. Veterans or deceased Veterans Next of Kin can apply for a copy of a service records via the Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

    Whether or not you have an individuals service record the following research can be undertaken

    WW2 Squadron Operational record books – These were compiled by each squadron, usually in two parts – Diary and Operations. The diary gives day by day information including losses and posting in and out. The operational part in most cases lists each aircraft taking off and landing, target or type of sortie, incidents, bomb load, losses etc. Most list aircraft type, number and names of crew. If looking for details of aircrew these records are very useful. A date of service with a squadron is required for this search. If a casualty this will be available in most cases along with those who were decorated. If you obtain his service record this will give full details of squadrons.

    Prisoners of War WW2 – Firstly for both prisoners of the Germans and Japanese there are Interrogation Questionnaires dating from 1945 -46. About 140’000 of these are available so there will not be one for every POW.

    They include name, rank, number, unit, home address, date of birth, date and place of capture, camps held, and work camps. Any serious illnesses suffered during imprisonment and treatment received. Any interrogation after capture, escape attempts, sabotage etc.

    In addition if a prisoner of the Japanese the original Japanese POW card is often available. This is part in English and part Japanese. These show name, unit, rank, service number, date of birth, date & place of capture (in Japanese), name and address of next of kin, camps held in (in Japanese)

    If neither of these items are available for an individual there are also lists of POW’s published at various times which can be searched. These generally give camp held but no unit details and date of capture.

  • Royal Marines

    Some records for the Royal Marines can be searched back to the 17th century. These searches deal with those from the late 18th century. Included are the Royal Marines Light Infantry as well as the Royal Marines Artillery, Royal Marines Band as well as those who served with the Royal Naval Division, Royal Marines Engineers etc during WW1. The fee will also include details of any campaign medals awarded in respect of an individual’s service.

    Commissioned and Warrant Officers

    In most cases a record of service for Commissioned Officers will be available for commissioned officers from an entry date of 1837 and Warrant officers from 1884. In general they are available to an entry date of c1923 and record service to retirement. These records will show details of promotions, postings along with dates, awards etc. Usually birth information is shown and often name and profession of their father. Later records, particularly early 20th century more detailed information can be included, for example notes of service in Gallipoli, the Western Front or Jutland. If a record has not survived or prior to 1837 other records such as ships Musters or Description books may reveal some information. Basic details can be extracted from the Navy List for all periods.

    Other ranks

    Most Marines can be traced back to the late 18th century. The amount of information available varies from case to case. Mostly an entry and discharge date can be obtained. If a Greenwich pensioner a record may be available. Details recorded are age on enlistment, place of birth and place of enlistment. Where a ship can be identified details may be extracted from ships Musters or Description books. From the 1830’s to 1883 most Marines will have available papers such as Enlistment, Discharge and service sheet. What is available does vary but most will show details of birth, enlistment and discharge. Some may not have all ships on which served, but it may be possible to obtain these from Muster’s etc.

    In 1884 a numbering system was introduced where each Marine was allocated a personal number within their Division. From 1884 to 1925 a record will be available for most and show service to discharge. These records consist of two parts. Firstly the service registers which are one or two sheets detailing all personal information, promotions, character, medals, ships, postings etc.

    In most cases if discharged prior to circa 1925 their actual record will be available often containing Attestation forms, service record and discharge. These often include conduct sheets, casualty forms, Hurts certificate, Gunnery certificates (RMA) plus a variety of forms and correspondence.

    Please note that in the case of some service records after 1900 these may take a while to obtain as they are not held at the central archive. This is especially the case with some of the units raised for the RND during the First World War. You will be sent any records that are instantly available and the remainder will follow if available.

    Later service – all ranks

    For those whose service is not covered above the service records are still held by the Ministry of Defence. Veterans or deceased Veterans Next of Kin can apply for a copy of a service records via the Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

    Whether or not you have an individual’s service record the following research can be undertaken -

    Prisoners of War WW2 – Firstly for both prisoners of the Germans and Japanese there are Interrogation Questionnaires dating from 1945 -46. About 140’000 of these are available so there will not be one for every POW.

    They include name, rank, number, unit, home address, date of birth, date and place of capture, camps held, and work camps. Any serious illnesses suffered during imprisonment and treatment received. Any interrogation after capture, escape attempts, sabotage etc.

    In addition if a prisoner of the Japanese the original Japanese POW card is often available. This is part in English and part Japanese. These show name, unit, rank, service number, date of birth, date & place of capture (in Japanese), name and address of next of kin, camps held in (in Japanese)

    If neither of these items are available for an individual there are also lists of POW’s published at various times which can be searched. These generally give camp held but no unit details and date of capture.

    This search will also include (where available) copies of any operational records covering their ship or if RM Commando etc the War Diary entry for the time of capture.

    Other research is available not covered above. If you are interested in a certain item or subject please give details on the enquiry form.

  • Merchant Navy

    Pre 1918

    The records for majority of Merchant Mariners prior to the end of the First World War were destroyed some years ago. However a certain amount of information can be obtained on an individual and their service.

    If a Master’s certificate was held many will have a records detailing ships commanded. Some show service from the 1880’s. If holding a Master’s, 1st Mate’s, 2nd Mate’s, Engineer’s or Skipper’s certificate there are records giving personal details as well as date and place the certificate was gained. These can be noted with details of awards, misconduct, also if the certificate was lost as a result of enemy action. This often gives details of the vessel thus enabling further research. This series covers certificates awarded to 1969.

    If awarded medals for the First World War details are available giving personal details, medals awarded and often where the medals were sent. Members of the Merchant Fleet Auxiliary may have a secondary medal roll. For many, if serving from the period 1918-21 there is available a card giving details of ships served on during this period. This card also has a portrait photograph.

    For those who were killed during the First World War the Ship’s Crew List is usually available. The list details all crew members, age, when signed onto the vessel and usually next of kin and address.

    Additionally in the case where an individual was killed or served on a ship that was lost or attacked there is usually a Board of Trade report of the loss, giving details of the incident. These were completed from interviews or completed by the most senior survivor/s of a vessel. These are usually quite detailed.

    1918 – 1972

    Post First World War records are extensive and include both officers and rating of the Mercantile Marine. One can often build up a full record of service from several series of documents. As already noted there is the card index, 1918 – 21 with a portrait photograph. There are also index cards covering the inter-war years listing ships served with date of joining. There are a variety of cards that may be available covering the period to the 1960’s, some of which have a photograph.

    The main register from 1941 lists all ships served on, dates, grade, character etc. Also notes if the vessel was lost. Their MN identity card may also be available along with a variety of documentation. Those Merchant Seaman who signed up to serve on vessels under the Admiralty (TX124) usually have a record giving details of all ships served as well as other documentation.

    The records from 1941 also include those who served in the British MN from India, China as well as other nationalities.

    If an individual was on a merchant ship during the Second World War that was lost in action there is usually a survivors report available. These were made up from interviews with the most senior survivors of the ship. Giving details of the voyage and an account of action in which lost. Also shown are details of rescue and accounts of bravery, days afloat in life rafts etc.

    Also included will be details of WW2 and later campaign medals that were claimed by themselves or next of kin.

  • Medals and Honours

    We are sure you will know all awards for Gallantry and Meritorious Service are announced in the London Gazette. For many there are official recommendations available or correspondence giving details for the reason for the award. Here we give you an idea of what may be available. All awards are covered from the Victoria Cross or George Cross to Mention in Despatches or Commendation. A search will be made for the recommendation, correspondence or despatch giving details for the award as well as any operational records available if for a specific action. A copy of the entry in the London Gazette announcing the award will be supplied.

    Army

    Pre 1914 – Although not complete details will be available for many awards dating back to the Crimean War including the VC, DSO and DCM. For the Boer War 1899 – 1902 there is extensive correspondence and despatches as well as official recommendations available. These also cover details for many Mentioned in Despatches. Many were recommended for a DCM or DSO but the award was downgraded to an MID. I have complied so far a database of some 5’000 names as they can very difficult to trace in the many files.

    First World War – Citations for the VC, DSO, MC and DCM were published in the London Gazette during the Great War. However if the DSO or MC was a King’s Birthday or New Year award details were not published and in most cases will not be available. The citations published in the LG did not usually give details of the place and date of the action for which awarded for security reasons. For most of these I can obtain these details from the War Office copy of the gazette. This can enable a search of the unit War Diary which will give a broader picture of the action for which awarded. In the case of the Military Medal recommendations have not survived and are announced by name, ranks, number and unit only in the London Gazette. However once the unit and date of the award is known a search can be made of the War Diary. These quite often mention awards, sometimes giving a date of the action and on occasions a recommendation. In general no recommendations for Mention in Despatches survive for the army during WW1.

    1918 – 1939 – Some recommendations for this period can be obtained but the availability is very sketchy.

    Second World War – Most recommendations for gallantry awards during WW2 are available. Also many for the CBE, OBE, MBE, BEM, RRC, ARRC, GM etc. In a few cases recommendations for Mention in Despatches are available. If for a specific action War Diary extracts will be copied for the date. Also available are many recommendations for awards from our allies.

    1945 – 1990 – A large proportion of recommendations for Gallantry and Meritorious awards are available to 1990 bar the odd period or still sensitive theatres of operations. Those available are Korea, Kenya, Malaya, Cyprus, Suez, Aden, South Arabia, Borneo, Malay Peninsula, Dhofar and the Falklands. Also available are non-combatant gallantry awards and King’s/Queen’s New Year and Birthday awards. For some campaigns recommendations include awards to Mention in Despatches or Commendation’s. This is the case for the Falklands.

    Royal Navy & Royal Marines

    Pre 1914 – From the Crimean War many of the recommendations for awards survive amongst Admiralty correspondence. All Wars and Campaigns are covered and include those Mentioned in Despatches. For the Crimean War those awarded foreign awards for gallantry often have a short citation. Although these early awards can be some of the most complex to trace they can be some of the most interesting.

    First World War – For most RN Commissioned Officers a recommendation will be available for awards including Mention in Despatches. For RM Officer availability varies depending on Sea service or service with the Royal Naval Division. For most some details will be available. Sometimes RM officers have the details noted on their service record.

    Recommendations for awards to Ratings of the Royal Navy can be traced in at least 50% of cases. They vary from official forms to details from reports of actions. These also include some Mention in Despatches.

    Royal Marines other ranks in the Royal Naval Division etc recommendations will be available for the DCM and in a few cases the MM. For those who were on sea service the availability is similar to RN ratings.

    Recommendations for some foreign awards granted are also available.

    1920 - 1939 – For this period very few recommendations are available.

    Second World War – This covers all awards as well as Mentions in Despatches. There are a few gaps including some King’s New Year and Birthday awards.

    Post WW2 – Some recommendations for Post-war conflicts are available. Those for Suez as well as Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel who served ashore in the Falklands War can be obtained. There are various other periods covered in part.

    Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force

    First World War – Recommendation for most awards to the RFC, RNAS & RAF are available. For those where a citation was published in the London Gazette the original is often much more detailed. Recommendations are also available for the Military Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and in some cases Mentions in Despatches.

    Royal Air Force

    1918 – 1939 – The files for awards during this period sometimes contain a recommendation other may have the submission to the King.

    Second World War – Most recommendations survive for the RAF during WW2. Including VC, CGM (Flying), DFC, AFC, DFM, AFM, CB, CBE, OBE, MBE, BEM etc. Very few for Mention in despatches survive. For aircrew awards these often give a list of operations flown to date.

    1945 – c1975 – Although not complete there are many recommendations for awards for the post war period. The major wars and campaigns covered are Korea, Malaya, Suez and Kenya.

    Merchant Navy

    First World War – The availability for the MN during WW1 are similar to those of the Royal Navy. Usually about a 50% success rate.

    Second World War – Details for the awards to the Merchant Navy during WW2 are very extensive. Awards include DSO, GC, GM, CBE, OBE, MBE, BEM etc. Also available are recommendations for Mentions in Despatches and King’s Commendations.

    Other periods – Details of the reason for some official lifesaving awards are available from 1856 to 1980. Details for awards of the Albert Medal, George Cross, George Medal are often available as well as in some cases awards of the OBE, MBE & BEM.

    Civilians

    Second World War – Many awards were made to civilian’s organisations during WW2 for service in the ARP, Home Guard, Fire and Rescue Service etc. In most cases the recommendations have survived for the many people involved in Civil Defence during the war as well as civilians granted awards. These include all awards including King’s Commendations. Some of these recommendations are very detailed.

    Other periods – For awards during other periods some information might be available depending of the award and the era.

  • Women's Service

    Army

    The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps formed in March 1917 and renamed Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps in March 1918 These can include some or all of the following – enlistment form, statement of services, identification certificate, health, questionnaire, references, form of application, clothing history sheet, casualty form, as well as other correspondence.

    Nurses – There are no complete series of records covering service for nurses who have served in military hospital. However details of campaign medals awarded up to circa 1920 are available. The main records for nurse are firstly letter of recommendation and some correspondence for nurse in the Crimean War. Also Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service 1903 – 1926 and some records of service for members of the Territorial Nursing Service during the First War are available.

    Royal Navy

    Women's Royal Navy Service officer’s and rating’s records from formation in 1917 to 1919 are available. Officers records contain attestation forms, correspondence as well as personal information. Ratings service registers of service include service history, age on enrolment, next of kin details and notes on character and ability. If a lady served in the WRNS in the Second World War and was born before 1900 there is likely to be a record of service available in many cases.

    Nurses – Registers of service from 1704 – 1865 giving service of nurses in the Greenwich Hospital are available. For Nursing Sisters joining from 1884 – 1929 records are generally available. Details vary but most show full service. The records for nursing sisters of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserves 1914 – 19 are available. Various other records are available depending on type of service and dates.

    Royal Air Force

    Women's Royal Air Force (airwomen only) discharge certificate for the First World War are available. These show service number, name, rank, trade, date and place of enlistment and discharge. A description and character also noted.

    Later service

    For later service not covered above Veterans or deceased Veterans Next of Kin can apply for a copy of a service records via the Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

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