British Army Service Records

Many records are only available online, sometimes on more than one site. We have listed the main sources but there may be others. If an individual was commissioned from the ranks, moved from the Household Cavalry or Guards to another regiment or served more than once, you may find service records in more than one set of files. Other ranks who were killed in action, died or left the British army before including the British West Indies Regiment, the West India Regiment and European non-commissioned officers of the West African Field Force, but not those of Commonwealth armies such as Canada. Approximately half the records were destroyed during the Second World War. Many files were destroyed during the Second World War. Officers did not have service numbers. Full records will be released to proven next of kin. Only very basic information about deceased service personnel will be released to other enquirers, with slightly more detail made available 25 years after the date of death. Scots Guards records are currently held by the Scots Guards Archives.

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The exact number of serving British soldiers is not known because of the loss of the records. However, about a third, approximately 2 million, were saved from destruction. Officially they are classed as WO records, which is the reference number given to them by the National Archives. Some soldiers who were in the regular army before the outbreak of war in August may, however, be included in this class of records. The Service Records will not include soldiers who continued to serve in the military after

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British Army

On September 28, , in an incident that would go down in the lore of World War I history—although the details of the event are still unclear—Private Henry Tandey, a British soldier serving near the French village of Marcoing, reportedly encounters a wounded German soldier and declines to shoot him, sparing the life of year-old Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler. Tandey, a native of Warwickshire, took part in the First Battle of Ypres in October and the Battle of the Somme in , where he was wounded in the leg.

After being discharged from the hospital, he was transferred to the 9th Battalion in France and was wounded again during the Third Battle of Ypres at Passchendaele in the summer of Though sources do not exist to prove the exact whereabouts of Adolf Hitler on that day in , an intriguing link emerged to suggest that he was in fact the soldier Tandey spared. A photograph that appeared in London newspapers of Tandey carrying a wounded soldier at Ypres in was later portrayed on canvas in a painting by the Italian artist Fortunino Matania glorifying the Allied war effort.

The authenticity of the Tandey-Hitler encounter remains in dispute, though evidence does suggest that Hitler had a reproduction of the Matania painting as early as —a strange acquisition for a man who had been furious and devastated by the German defeat at Allied hands in the Great War.

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Armed forces pensions

We use cookies to collect information about how you use GOV. We use this information to make the website work as well as possible and improve government services. You can change your cookie settings at any time. When a member of the armed forces reaches their retirement age, they receive one of the most generous pensions available in the UK.

Pension. Death date – if the individual died during service. Document type – attestation or discharge. Series – this gives you further.

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Here are some websites with British military record collections: FamilySearch – a free site, FamilySearch has a few British military collections ranging from the s to the early s Date Range, Database Title or Description, Comments.

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally. Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free. Consider paying for research. This guide will help you find records at The National Archives relating to military operations planned and carried out by the British Army since the end of the Second World War. This is not the place to find advice on looking for personnel records.

There are broadly two different types of British Army operations records. Those created by units of the army itself and those created by politicians, top-ranking officers and other high-level personnel. In the First and Second World Wars, unit records were generally in the form of war diaries but by unit diaries had been largely superseded by alternative forms of record keeping. There are countless published regimental histories and these are often a good place to start research into British Army operations — see Further reading for some examples of regimental history books.

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Discover your ancestors among more than 8 million documents about the British Army between and Find officers and other ranks in 17 different sets of records from The National Archives and the Scots Guards. The records can tell you when your ancestor joined and left the army, as well as details about where he came from and his military service. Each record comprises a transcript, and most include several black and white images ranging from of the records of your ancestors who served as officers and other ranks in the British Army.

The amount of detail in each transcript 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. Some of the First World War service papers in series WO were damaged during the Second World War; therefore, the information gathered from these forms can be limited. In the transcripts, you may find a combination of the following items:. Series — this gives you further clues to the context of the records; for example, the series WO 97 is titled Chelsea pensioners British Army service records , which explains that these are pension records from The accompanying images may include additional information about your ancestor.

Use the previous and next arrows on the images to view more pages. Further details may include. There are more than 8 million records available. The collection includes a myriad of Army forms including attestation papers, medical forms, discharge documents, pension claims, and proceedings of regimental boards.

Civilians to Soldiers