How to find a soldiers service number
These men and women are our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings. Many have shared their stories, but many others have not, and few details from their time in service are known. The purpose of this guide is to assist veterans and their families in obtaining copies of their military personnel files from the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. Details include the types of records available, where they are located, and how to obtain copies. The latter part of the guide details the information available on WWII units and ships.
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Get a copy of military service records
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. Some First World War veterans continued to serve with the army after the war and for the records of these soldiers you may need to read the advice in our guide to British Army soldiers in service after However, many of the records in the First World War collections cover service up to The ranks covered by the records detailed in this guide include Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Sergeant Major and Warrant Officer — but not commissioned officer ranks.
For the service records of soldiers serving in the armies of Commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa you will need to contact the respective archives of those countries. Whether other records survive or ever existed for a soldier depend upon a number of variable factors.
If, for example, a soldier was wounded, taken prisoner or was granted an army pension, records may survive recording these events. Many records held at The National Archives are available online, some of them on partner websites, others on our own website.
For details of other online First World War records, see the Records in other archives and organisations listed below. Search military records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks on Ancestry.
The British Army contained regiments from parts of the former colonies. The service records in WO and WO include regiments such as:. They do not include the service records for soldiers serving in the armies of Commonwealth countries such as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa. You will need to contact their respective archives for advice on how to locate these records. These cards, along with the medal rolls to which they form an index see below , were created primarily to record the awarding of campaign medals.
Campaign medals were awarded to all soldiers who served in a theatre of conflict overseas. In some instances the cards also record gallantry awards. Alternatively you can search by regiment. The badge was awarded to all of those military personnel who were discharged as a result of sickness or wounds contracted or received during the war, either at home or overseas. See below for advice on searching for the war diaries of units that served elsewhere in the world during the war.
See our guide to records of British prisoners of the First World War for details of the prisoner of war records available online. Search by unit name and number for document references to unit war diaries in series WO 95 using the series search. Use this search tool if you are looking for the war diaries of units that served in Russia, British colonies and theatres of operations other than the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli — for these latter three see the advice on online diaries in the previous section.
UK website. Some of these records were destroyed by enemy bombing of the Guards chapel during the Second World War. These list monies owed to a soldier who died in service. The cards record details of the pension entitlements of soldiers and other servicemen killed or injured in the war, both of officers and other ranks, and of the widows and dependants of deceased soldiers.
Search for a soldier by name in the Absent Voters Lists, taken from electoral registers held at the British Library, on Findmypast. The Absent Voter Lists enabled servicemen and women away from home to vote by proxy or by postal application. They record the address, service number and regimental details of each person. Use our library catalogue to find a recommended book list. You can also search our bookshop for a wide range of history titles.
For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday to Discovery is a catalogue of archival records across the UK and beyond, from which you can search 32 million records. Subscribe now for regular news, updates and priority booking for events. Sign up. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. Skip to Main Content.
Search our website Search our records. How to look for records of View Online How many are online? None Some All. Order copies We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally. Visit us in Kew Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free. Pay for research Consider paying for research. Most soldiers were issued with campaign medals; some were also awarded medals for gallantry and meritorious service.
Unit war diaries: You will need to know which unit a soldier served with to effectively search these records; in most diaries only officers are mentioned by name. The records include: soldiers discharged between and soldiers killed in action between and soldiers who served in the war and died of wounds or disease without being discharged to pension soldiers who were demobilised at the end of the war The records do not usually include: regular soldiers who continued in the army after soldiers who transferred to another service, taking their service record with them The British Army contained regiments from parts of the former colonies.
Medal roll index cards, — These cards, along with the medal rolls to which they form an index see below , were created primarily to record the awarding of campaign medals.
Prisoner of war records, — See our guide to records of British prisoners of the First World War for details of the prisoner of war records available online. Contact us for advice. Still need help? Live chat For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday to Email For more detailed research enquiries. Related research guides. Births, marriages and deaths in the armed forces.
British Army officers of the First World War. British Army operations in the First World War. British military campaign and service medals. British military gallantry medals. Deaths in the First and Second World Wars. Related video guides. Search our catalogue. Sign me up to The National Archives' mailing list Subscribe now for regular news, updates and priority booking for events.
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British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920 (Soldiers)
This database combines references to various First World War personnel records. Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force personnel files is complete. The database also includes digitized files for many individuals who served in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps courtesy of the Rooms Provincial Archives. The files of Canadian Expeditionary Force members CEF , which include those of soldiers, nurses and chaplains, consist of documents dealing with enlistment, training, medical and dental history, hospitalization, discipline, pay, medal entitlements and discharge or notification of death. The files contain an average of 25 to 75 pages, with the smaller files typically being those of personnel who were drafted or who enlisted later in the war.
Research A Veteran
A service number is an identification code used to identify a person within a large group. Service numbers are most often associated with the military ; however, they may be used in civilian organizations as well. Social Security Numbers may be seen as types of service numbers. The term " serial number " is often seen as a synonym of service number; however, a serial number more accurately describes manufacture and product codes, rather than personnel identification. In the Canadian military, a "Serial Number" referred to a unique number assigned each unit that mobilized for the Second World War. In the First Australian Imperial Force soldiers were allotted numbers known as regimental numbers. These were allotted to NCOs and other ranks but not to officers or nurses, who had no numbers. Regimental numbers were rarely unique.
British Army Service Records
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. Some First World War veterans continued to serve with the army after the war and for the records of these soldiers you may need to read the advice in our guide to British Army soldiers in service after However, many of the records in the First World War collections cover service up to
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.
Military Records and Identification
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 is a guide to finding records of soldiers who served with the British Army after the end of the First World War, including service in the Second World War and up to the s.
On September 3, , Britain declared war on Germany. By the end of the war, 2. Understanding British war records can help you find out more information about these family members. The cemetery database at CWGC contains information about cemeteries and memorials in 23, locations and in more than countries. The CWGC honors the 1. About 1.
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
Military records are wonderful sources that provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served in the armed forces. They may include dates of birth and death, residence, names and addresses of family members, military rank and affiliation, among other details. When researching in military records, it is helpful to determine when and where in the armed service a soldier served, and whether he or she was in the enlisted ranks or an officer. Clues may be found in family stories, old newspaper clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, journals or diaries, service medals and memorabilia, and photographs of the soldier in uniform.
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.