How to look for Royal Naval Air Service officers’ service records 1906-1918

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

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What are these records?

These are the service records of officers who served in the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. They can also contain details of service before the First World War.

This collection, in series ADM 273, consists of the records of approximately 7,500 men.

Many officers transferred from the Royal Navy. You can trace their previous service in the Royal Navy officers’ service records.

What information do the records contain?

The officers’ records can contain:

  • date of birth
  • marital status
  • name and address of next of kin
  • previous occupation
  • service history in the HM forces (air and naval)
  • RAC (Royal Aero Club) certificate number and details
  • appointments
  • notations by the Air department (accidents, meritorious work, for example)
  • confidential reports (ability, remarks on character, promotion assessments, for example)

How do I search the records?

You can search the records in Discovery, our catalogue, by using the search box below.

This is a keyword search so your results will show all instances of the term(s) you searched for within our catalogue descriptions for these records.

  • Use AND to find more than one term in a description
  • Use “quotation marks” to find exact phrases

Searching is free, but there may be a charge to download documents.

What do the records look like?

Sample Royal Navy Air Service service record (catalogue reference: ADM 273/3/53)

The records take the form of an entry in a book. Here is a sample image – Charles Henry Butler’s service record.

Why can’t I find what I am looking for?

If the officer you are looking for went on to serve in the RAF try searching the RAF officers service records 1918-1919.

The officer may not have served in the RNAS. You can trace an officer’s career in the published Navy Lists.