WW2 Military Records

Are you researching your World War Two military ancestor? Let Forces War Records Help you.

Our World War Two genealogy collections list includes many completely exclusive collections, painstakingly transcribed from original sources to help you uncover the gems from your ancestor’s past. You can also discover a wide variety of collections with additional digital images of original historical records.

Our team is currently adding information at a rate of around 250,000 new records each month. As well as our own digitisation projects, we also license collections from a variety of sources.

Type of WW2 records we hold:

The size and scope of WWII Records held by Forces War Records makes them a fascinating resource for genealogists. The records not only include military personnel but also civilians, nurses and Merchant seamen. We hold well over 8 million WW2 records, such those injured or killed in action, those receiving awards, mention in dispatches or those captured as a P.O.W. etc.

Unfortunately, all official ‘Service Records’ for WW2 personnel are still restricted and only held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as they are still protected under the UK Data Protection Act and the MOD’s own Policies. For further information please see our Tutorials and Research Guides on Requesting WW2 Service Records. Therefore, the Full-Service Records for WW2 are not available on our website or elsewhere online.

With a wealth of genealogy experience, the friendly team at Forces War Records are happy to offer expert advice in order to help you in any way they can. Perhaps by pointing you in the right direction, or even advising you of what is actually possible in our experience and sometimes, what may not be. You can also ask questions in our open forums where other members and our own specialist genealogy researchers will also try to assist you with your quest.

WW2 Brief history

World War II, or the Second World War (often abbreviated as WWII or WW2), was a global conflict that was underway by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilised. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it is the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities.

Although Japan was already at war with China in 1937, the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany, and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and most of the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth. Germany set out to establish a large empire in Europe. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or subdued much of continental Europe; amid Nazi-Soviet agreements, the nominally neutral Soviet Union fully or partially occupied and annexed territories of its six European neighbours, including Poland. Britain and the Commonwealth remained the only major force continuing the fight against the Axis in North Africa and in extensive naval warfare. In June 1941, the European Axis launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, giving a start to the largest land theatre of war in history, which, from that moment on, tied down the major part of the Axis military power. In December 1941, Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia, attacked the United States and European possessions in the Pacific Ocean, quickly conquering much of the region.

Sourced from the Forces War Records Historic Document Archives, the 'Timeline of Events from 1939-45' provide a fascinating picture of the war as it was viewed at the time. Looking at this detailed timeline of WWII you can see wht it was called a World War, with so many countries involved across land, sea and air.

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