How to look for records of... British Army soldiers after 1913
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching British army records for a soldier who was discharged after the beginning of the First World War. These records are informative and varied, though not all for this period survive. While many records are available at The National Archives, some service records are currently held by the Ministry of Defence. The majority of the personnel records for the First World War have been destroyed or damaged. Soldier ranks include Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, and Warrant Officer. The Ministry of Defence website gives more detail.
1. What do I need to know before I start?
2. What records can I see online?
3. What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
4. What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
5. What other resources will help me find information?
6. Did you know?
The National Archives does not hold army service records for the Second World War. They are still with the Ministry of Defence.
Many army service records between 1914 and 1920 do not exist as they were destroyed by enemy bombing in 1940 – only about 40% survive.
The condition of the surviving service records can vary greatly – some are badly damaged.
When searching for a person you may find information on:
- regiment and rank
- remarks concerning the individual
- next of kin
- medical reports and pension details
The records of soldiers who served in the guards regiments (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh) are accessible by writing to the appropriate Regimental Headquarters. Some of these records were destroyed by enemy bombing whilst stored in the Guards chapel during the Second World war.