How to look for records of... Royal Naval Air Service officers

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We do not provide copies of online records – please download to view

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free



This is a brief guide to help you with your research. Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) records are kept in different places depending on when the officer served. This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists and, if it does, where to find it.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the officer’s full name
  • his approximate dates of service

What records can I see online?

RNAS officers’ registers of service (1906-1918)

Search by name and download (£) RNAS officers’ service records (ADM 273).

RAF service records (1918-1920)

Search the Royal Air Force officers’ service records online for RNAS officers who served after April 1918 (AIR 76).

Medal rolls (1793-1972)

Search by name for information about the award of campaign, long service and good conduct medals in the Royal Navy medal rolls (ADM 171) using Ancestry.co.uk (£). These rolls do not usually contain biographical information. Digital microfilm copies of these medal rolls are also available to download and browse from online free of charge.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

RNAS officer records held by The National Archives are available online (see above).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

RAF service records after 1920

Use the GOV.UK website to obtain information about accessing RAF service records after 1920, which are kept by the Ministry of Defence.

What other resources will help me find information?

Websites

Search the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for details of men and women who died in the First and Second World Wars.

Look up an announcement of a 20th century gallantry award on The Gazette website.

Books

Some or all of the recommended publications below may be available to buy from The National Archives’ Bookshop. Alternatively, search The National Archives’ Library to see what is available to consult at Kew.

Consult the Navy List for an RNAS officer’s service up to the end of March 1918. Search the Air Force List for his service after April 1918.

Read Air Force Records: A guide for family historians, 2nd edition, by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).

Did you know?

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was founded in July 1914 when the naval wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was moved out of the RFC and brought under Admiralty control.

On 1 April 1918 the RNAS was merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force (RAF).

If an RNAS officer continued to serve in the RAF after April 1918, his record after that date would be kept with the RAF service records.

The service records of officers discharged after 1920 are still kept by the Ministry of Defence.