England Military Records
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|Local Research Resources|
- 1615-1930 UK, Roll of the Indian Medical Service, 1615 -1930 at Ancestry - index and images
- 1772 - 1935 - Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1799-1920 - UK, Household Cavalry Records of Service, 1799-1920, index ($), images available through Fold3 ($)
- 1800-1915 - Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Militia Attestation Papers, 1800-1915, index ($)
- 1806-1915 - UK, Militia Attestation Papers 1806-1915, index and images, ($)
- 1850-1986 - British Armed Forces Soldiers' Wills 1850-1986, index ($)
- 1914-1921, 1939-1947 Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921, 1939-1947 at MyHeritage ($), index and images
- 1939-1945 Royal Engineers Journals 1939-1945 at FindMyPast, index and images ($)
- 1939-1945 Royal Air Force, Operations Record Books 1939-1945 at FindMyPast- index ($)
- 1939-1945 British Royal Air Force, Combat Reports 1939-1945 at FindMyPast - index ($)
- Army Long Service & Good Conduct awards 1831-1979, index, incomplete
- British War Graves: War Grave Photographs
- England Military Links
- Royal Artillery Museum
- Royal Navy Biographical Database
- War Memorials Online
- London Irish Rifles Association
- Armed Forces help pages on RootsChat Armed Forces Resources and help pages. (Free)
- Second World War Dead
- British Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service and Pension Records, 1704-1919, index, ($)
- British Army, Honourable Artillery Company, ($), index
- UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, ($), index/images
- British Army, List Of Half-Pay Officers 1714, ($), index
- British Army, Royal Artillery Officers 1716-1899, ($), index
- UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Registers of Soldiers Who Served in Canada, 1743-1882, ($), index/images
- Web: United Kingdom, Royal Naval Officers' Service Records Index, 1756-1931, index
- United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913, index and images
- British Army Service Records 1760-1915, ($), index
- UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949, ($), index/images
- UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972, ($), index/images
- British Army, War Of 1812 Casualties, ($), index
- British Army Officer Promotions 1800-1815, ($), index
- England Civil War Petitions - 1642-1710
- UK, Naval Officer and Rating Service Records, 1802-1919, ($), index/images
- UK, Royal Nay Ratings' Service Records, 1853-1928, ($),
- United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915, index and images
- UK, British Army Muster Books and Pay Lists, 1812-1817, ($), index/images
- UK, Waterloo Medal Roll, 1815, ($), index/images
- United Kingdom, Waterloo Roll Call 1815, index
- Waterloo Roll Call, 1815, index ($) at FindMyPast
- UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857, ($), index
- British Royal Navy Personnel 1831, ($), index
- United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941, index
- British Army, Royal Artillery Officer Deaths 1850-2011, ($), index
- Web: UK, Royal Marines Registers of Service Index, 1842-1925, index
- Web: UK, Royal Naval Reserve Service Records Index, 1860-1955, index
- England & Wales Merchant Navy Crew Lists 1861-1913, ($), index
- Web: UK, Naval Officers' Service Record Cards and Files Index, 1880-1950s, index
- UK, Navy Lists, 1888-1970, ($), index/images
- UK, Casualties of the Boer War, 1899-1902, ($), index/images
- UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1900-1928, ($), index/images
- Web: UK, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Service Records Index, 1903-1922, ($), index/images
- Royal Air Force Nominal Index of Airmen and Airwomen 1918 to 1975, index, incomplete
- THE WEBSITE OF THE MARINERS MAILING LIST
- Military Hospitals
- The Genealogist access to various Military Records including the roll of names for those who were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) in the First World War up to 1920. ($)
- Regiments of Foot A historical record of all the foot regiments of the British Army
- Military Uniform Badges and Portrait Photographs
- UK, Imperial Yeomanry Records, 1899-1902, ($), index/images
- UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, ($), index/images. Also at findmypast, ($), index
- UK, WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli and Dardanelles), 1914-1916, ($), index/images
- World War One British Army Medal Index Cards, ($), index
- Britain, The Great War, I Was There at FindMyPast ($), index and images
- United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920, index and images
- England, The National Roll of the Great War, 1914-1918, ($), index/images. Also at MyHeritage, ($), index
- British Red Cross & Order Of St John Enquiry List, Wounded & Missing, 1914-1919, index ($)
- UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- World War I Soldier Medical Records, ($), index/image
- UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, ($), index/images
- UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921 and 1939-1947, ($), index/images
- UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- UK, Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- UK, British Officer Prisoners of War, 1914-1918, ($), index. Also at findmypast, ($), index
- UK, World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923, index ($), images on Fold3 ($)
- UK, Memorial Books WWI and WWII, 1914-1945, ($), index/images
- UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- First World War Register - Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
- The Genealogist access to various Military Records including the roll of names for those who were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) in the First World War up to 1920.($)
- UK, War Memorials 1914-1949, ($), index
- British Army, Bond Of Sacrifice: Officers Died In The Great War 1914-1916, ($), index
- British Army, Deserters and Absentees In Police Gazette 1914-1919, ($), index
- British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920, ($), index/images. Also at findmypast, ($), index
- British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920, ($), index/images
- British Army medal index cards 1914-1920. index.
- British Royal Air Force, Airmen's Service Records 1912-1939, ($), index
- British Royal Air Force, Officers' Service Records 1912-1920, ($), index
- British Royal Navy, Foreign Awards To Officers Index 1914-1922, ($), index
- Web: UK, Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen, 1914-1925, index. Also at findmypast, ($), index
- UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919, ($), index/images
- Web: UK, Royal Naval Division Index, 1914-1919, ($), index/images
- British Army nurses’ service records 1914-1918, Index.
- Web: UK, Women's Royal Naval Service Index, 1917-1919, index
- United Kingdom, World War I Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920, images/no index. Also at findmypast, ($), index
- Web: UK, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Index, 1917-1920, ($), index
- British Women's Royal Naval Service Officer Files 1917-1919, ($), index
- Web: United Kingdom, Women's Royal Air Force Index, 1918-1920, index
- British Women's Royal Air Force Service Records 1918-1920, ($), index
- British Women's Royal Naval Service Ratings' Service Registers 1918-1919, ($), index
- Web: UK, Recommendations for Honours and Awards Index, 1935-1990, ($), index/images
- Prisoners Of War 1939-1945 - British Army Held In German Territories, ($), index
- Prisoners Of War 1939-1945 - British Navy & Air Force Officers, ($), index
- Prisoners Of War 1939-1945 - Officers Of Empire Serving In British Army, ($), index
- UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, ($), index/images
- UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945, ($), index/images
- Web: UK, WWII Medals Issued to Merchant Seamen, 1939-1945, index
- UK, War Memorials 1914-1949, ($), index
- UK, World War II Royal Artillery Tracer Cards, 1939-1948, ($), index/images
- 1940 - 1941 Warwickshire, Coventry Blitz, German Air Raids 1940-1941 at FindMyPast — index and images $
- British Casualties, Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, ($), index
- British Casualties, Korean War 1950-1953, ($), index
- History Matters The Army Children Archive
Military records are potentially of great genealogical value and may provide information not found in any other source. These records identify individuals who served or were eligible to serve in the military. Military service (other than the militia) was usually a lifetime career. Officers came from the upper classes; soldiers usually came from the poor. On occasion, compulsory conscription was enforced and even "press-gangs" were used.
You may find evidence that an ancestor served in the military from family records, biographies, census, probates, civil registration, or church records.
Britain's armed forces comprise, in order of seniority, the Royal Navy (including the Royal Marines), Army and Royal Air Force. Other units can include local militia, fencibles, yeomanry and territorial units of the army. These are briefly discussed at the end of this section.
See also British Military Records Online.
History and Background
England has been regularly involved in military action. Examples of these are:
1284: The Norman invasion of Wales from 1067–1283 (formalized with the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284) put Wales under England's control. Wales came under English law with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542.
1455-1481: Wars of the Roses. These ongoing wars involved mostly knights pledged to lords or vassals. Few commoners were involved, and few records were kept.
1642–1651: Civil War and Cromwellian period. Disputes over the form of government and religion led to civil war. Only very brief military records of officers still exist.
1707: The unification of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain bring about the new British Army incorporating Regiments that had already existed in England and Scotland
- Further information: British Military Records
The National Archives (TNA), located at Kew, West London, houses information on military personnel, much of it now available to download.
Militia Lists and Musters
Militia lists (beginning as early as 1297) contain the names of men eligible for military service. Militia musters are lists of men in the militia. Early militia lists and most militia musters contain only the men’s names. A brief explanation of musters and the location of available pre-1707 lists are given in:
- Gibson, Jeremy, and Alan Dell. Tudor and Stuart Muster Rolls. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Ltd., 1989. (Family History Library book 942 M2gj)
Ship logs exist from 1673. While they usually give information only on position, weather, and sightings of other ships, records of shipboard events may include names of individual seamen.
Many other records are available, such as records on medals, casualties, promotions, desertion, and court martials. The following military branches have separate records:
- Fencibles were army units raised for home service only. Fencibles were usually classed with the militia, and records are kept with militia records.
- Yeomanry were volunteer regiments, records of which often do not survive or are less complete than other military records.
- Colonial armies were forces raised in other countries. Records of these forces are usually in the country where the forces were raised. A notable exception is the Indian Army, for which many records are held at the British Library Oriental and India Office Collections, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB England. Another source of British_colonial_army_officerscan be useful.
These records are at The National archives. For further information on military records for branches of the service other than navy or regular army, see the military record handbooks at the end of this section.
- Boer War has information on the ships used by each regiment. It names the regiments, dates of sailing, dates of arrival and ports of departure and arrival in some cases.
Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library’s collection of army records includes:
- Army soldiers’ documents
- Description books
- Officers’ records of service
- Indexes to the Regimental Registers and the Chaplains’ Returns
- Regimental histories
- Other miscellaneous army records
For the navy, the library has:
- Continuous service engagement books
- Indexes to commission and warrant books
- Bounty papers
- Various published sources
Some Royal Marine attestation (enlistment) records are also available at the library.
A number of name indexes to some military records containing birth, marriages, or deaths are in the Family History Library. These indexes can be found in the Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
- MILITARY RECORDS - CIVIL REGISTRATION
Library records are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under ENGLAND and the following subject headings:
- MILITARY RECORDS
- MILITARY HISTORY
- MILITARY RECORDS - ARMY
- MILITARY RECORDS - NAVY
Military histories or regimental histories are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
- ENGLAND - MILITARY HISTORY
Branches of Service
The first permanent naval fleet was formed during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509–1547). For many years Britain had the strongest navy in the world. The earliest surviving navy records are from 1617, but the majority of the extensive collection date from the mid-1600s. Many records are available only at The National Archives.
Several sources list navy ships with descriptions and the dates on which they were placed in service. One such work is:
Colledge, James J. Ships of the Royal Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. (FHL 400175 Family History Library book 942 M3c.)
The Navy Official List books, available from 1673, give ports of call for ships during each year. Some of these lists are available in the Family History Library.
Seamen often moved between the navy and the merchant marines. Until 1853 enlistment was informal and lasted for the ship’s commission, usually three years. Individual "ratings" (seamen) were not mentioned in navy records other than musters or pay lists unless they deserted, misbehaved, or earned a medal. After 1853 seamen often made the navy their career. They were assigned continuous service numbers and records were maintained for the duration of their careers.
You can usually find navy officers in the Navy Lists (1782 to the present) or in the Index to Commission and Warrant Books (1695 to 1742). See the sub-heading of "Lists of Officers" in this section for details.
(Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines)
The Royal marines originally maintained military discipline on navy vessels. It has been a separate corps of the military since 1755, although under the control of the Admiralty and forming part of the Naval Service. Alphabetically arranged records of marines exist from 1790, some by enlistment date and others by discharge date. Service records up to 1926 can be accessed online via TNA.
The army began as a permanent organization in 1660. Earlier armies were raised as needed, usually as county militia units. The oldest regiment is the Honourable Artillery Company, formed in 1537. For information on pre-1660 military records, see the handbooks listed at the end of this section. The Soldier in Later Medieval England database has names of about 250,000 soldiers.
The basic unit of the Army is the regiment under a colonel or lieutenant colonel. Regiments are usually divided into two or more Battalions. The main types of regiments which should be searched are:
Corps (e,g, Army Service Corps; Royal Signals; Royal Engineers etc.)
The army began as a permanent organization in 1660. Earlier armies were raised as needed, usually as county militia units. For information on pre-1660 military records, see the handbooks listed at the end of this section.
Pre-1847 - English army service was usually for life. Some soldiers were discharged early for disability, which was liberally defined. A soldier was often discharged by the age of forty.
Pre-1872 - Army records are organized by regiment. Most regiments have published histories that tell the places where they served and the battles they fought. For a bibliography of these histories, see:
White, Arthur S., comp.A Bibliography of Regimental Histories of the British Army. Dallington, East Sussex, England: Naval and Military Press Ltd., 1992. (FHL 561266 Family History Library book 942 M23was.)
Military histories or regimental histories are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
WALES - MILITARY HISTORY
GREAT BRITAIN - MILITARY HISTORY
It is difficult to locate an individual’s record without knowing his ship or regiment. If you do not know this, you may find it in other types of records. Once you know the regiment or ship, consult the muster rolls, records of service, or other records available for that ship or regiment. Strategies for finding the ship or regiment follow.