Summary of WWI records available online

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Since Remembrance Sunday is tomorrow, now seems a good time to pull together a summary of the World War One records that are available online.

Medal Roll Index Cards

These were generated by the Army and list a man’s entitlement to campaign medals. There are over 5 million cards and they are the nearest approximation to a nominal roll of those who served in the army in WWI. Generally everyone who served overseas was entitled to a campaign medal. The rolls include RAF personnel who, before 1918, were members of the Royal Flying Corps. Royal Navy and Royal Naval Air Service personnel are not included.

Available online from (pay-per-view) and from (subscription or pay-per-view).

Descriptions of the various formats & abbreviations used at

A small proportion of cards have additional information on the back. This can only be viewed at

Service Records


  • About 60% of the service records of those soldiers (not officers) who served in the army during WWI were destroyed by bombing during WWII. The remaining records have been digitised and are available at
  • Pension records for soldiers who claimed a disability pension for service in WWI are also available at They are unlikely to include records for soldiers who had no dependants or who re-enlisted for service in WWII.
  • Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
  • Service records for more than 7,000 women who joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (1917-1918), later Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (1918-1920) are available at


  • Royal Marines Service Records
    Service records of those who joined the Royal Marines, 1842 -1936.
  • Registers of Seamen’s Services
    Service registers of more than 600,000 seamen in the Royal Navy, 1853 -1923.
  • Royal Naval Division service records
    Service records of more than 50,000 officers and men who joined the RND, 1914 -1919.
  • Royal Naval Officers’ Service Records
    Service records of officers who joined the Royal Navy, 1756 -1917.
  • Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Service Records from WW1
    Service records of those who served in the RNVR during the First World War.
  • Women’s Royal Naval Service
    Service records of more than 7,000 women who joined the WRNS (1917-1919).

These are all available from


  • Royal Air Force Officers’ Service Records
    Service records of officers who served in the RAF during the First World War.
  • Women’s Royal Air Force
    Service records of women who joined the WRAF, 1914-1919.

These are all available from


Other records

  • Selected First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries
    Selected War Diaries of British and colonial units serving in theatres of operations between 1914- 22.
  • Prisoner of War interviews and reports, First World War
    Interviews and reports of over 3000 individuals from the papers of the Committee on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War.
  • The Victoria Cross Registers
    The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 for award to members of the Royal Navy and the Army who ‘shall have performed some signal act of valour…’
  • Aliens Registration Cards
    Aliens registration cards of those living in the London area from 1914.

These are all available from

Gallantry awards and officers’ promotions

The award of a gallantry award, an honour and the promotion of military officers was gazetted, or listed, in the London Gazette. It’s also possible to trace an officer’s career in the armed forces through promotions listings. Once you’ve found the relevant service number it’s easier to search using that rather than the name of the officer. Available from (free).

I’ve tried to cover all the major sources for the British armed forces which give details of large numbers of men rather than individuals, but I’m sure to have missed some. If you know of other sources, do add them in the comments.


6 thoughts on “Summary of WWI records available online”

  1. Hi Sheena,

    Excellent summary. I have a few more sites to suggest also:

    The recently established Scottish Military Research Group site is worth mentioning at – it provides a portal to both the Scottish War Memorial Project and the Scottish War Graves Project.

    On the civilain front, my own Ruhleben Story site at commemorates British civilians interned in Germany, whilst Marcus Bateman’s First World War British Seamen and Civilian Prisoners of War site at mainly deals with interned British merchant seamen in Germany.

    Finally, the Long Long Trail site is an absolute must for understanding the campaigns of the First World War – it’s at


  2. Pingback: Why did Australia go to war in 1914 to help Great Britain? | 1914 War
  3. Marcus, I have been looking for a contact email for you on your wonderful website which I have stumbled across whilst researching my great uncle who was taken prisoner of war in August 1914 and later taken to Ruhleben. I am so lucky as his surname was Atkinson and you have him in your list A-B – can’t tell you how great it was to see his name there.Thank you so much!!! It I am trying to find out the name of the ship he was on – I think it may have been s.s. Castro or s.s. Hull which I believe were captured early on in proceedings. My great uncle was called Sydney Herbert Atkinson and he lived at 25 Devon Street Hull. He was first officer at the time. What is really sad was that though he clearly survived WW1, he was torpedoed in WW2 when he was chief officer of the Zurichmor in 1942. I had no idea about any of this until I started researching my family tree. It seems to be very difficult to find details of ships in MN at this time. I am reading ‘In Ruhleben’: Letters from a Prisoner to his mother’ and in a plan in that I can see that my uncle’s barrack was up in the Loft of the stables- probably as he would be one of the first to be interned. I am also trying to discover when he was released as I have found him in your site, listed as as one of the men who were asking for hardship money for their families. i was hoping that this might give me details of any wife he may have had. I sent for a marriiage certificate which turned out to be his second marriage, as it lists him as widower. However, I can find no trace of an earlier marriage in this country. I am wondering if he maybe married abroad. anyway thank you so much for filling this gap in the dearth of knowledge about Ruhleben. I had never heard of it until last week when I was trawling through newspaper archives online and found a short report in The Daily Mail (Hull) of 1916 which was reporting the death of his older brother at Gallipoli. In WW! , sydney Herbert also lost a brother who was drowned whilst serving in the RN in 1914. This report mentioned that another brother which you have confirmed was Sydney Herbert, was POW in Ruhleben. Thanks again so much.

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