How to look for records of... Royal Navy ratings after 1923

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

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

Pay for research

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Visit us

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This is a brief guide to researching records of Royal Navy ratings after 1923. Service records for this period are currently held by the Ministry of Defence.

This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists and, if it does, where to find it or more information about it.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the name and rank of the person
  • the name of the ship(s) the person served on
  • a date range of service

What records can I see online?

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 roll (ADM 171) using (£). These rolls do not usually contain biographical information. Digital microfilm copies of these records are also available to download and browse from our website free of charge.

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

The National Archives has limited records relating to Royal Navy ratings after 1923.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Service records (1923-present)

Visit the GOV.UK website for information about how to request a summary of a service record from the Ministry of Defence if you are the subject of the record or next of kin. These are not available to members of the general public.

What other resources will help me find information?


Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

Bruno Pappalardo, Tracing your Naval Ancestors (The National Archives, 2003)

Did you know?

rating is the most junior class of seaman in the Royal Navy – these are below both commissioned officers and warrant officer in seniority.

service record for ratings who joined the Royal Navy after 1923 are held by the Ministry of Defence. They are not open to the general public, though next of kin may request access to them.