How to look for records of... Royal Flying Corps airmen
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
How many are online?
This guide contains advice on how to search for records of Royal Flying Corps (RFC) airmen. Depending on when an airman served his records may be among the records of the British Army or the Royal Air Force.
What do I need to know before I start?
The RFC was in existence from 1912 to 1918.
In July 1914 the RFC’s naval wing was detached to form the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). On 1 April 1918 the two services were merged again to form the Royal Air Force (RAF).
If an RFC airman continued to serve in the RAF after April 1918, his record would be kept with RAF service records.
RAF service records (1918-1939)
Look in the RAF service records for RFC airmen who served after April 1918. Search the RAF service records (AIR 79) on findmypast (£).
If the airman went on to see service in the Second World War, his service record will still be with the RAF. If you do not know his service number, you can use the name indexes in AIR 78.
British Army personnel records (1914-1920)
The service records of RFC airman who died or were discharged before the foundation of the RAF were kept with the British Army personnel records.
Search the surviving service records (WO 363), pension records (WO 364) and medal index cards (WO 372) for soldiers in the British army in the First World War on the Ancestry (£) website.
First World War Medal Index Cards (1914-1922)
Search the First World War Medal Index Cards (WO 372) on our website (£) to find details of campaign medal awarded to some members of the RFC and RAF (Royal Air Force). RFC airmen who served overseas in 1916 or later had their medals issued by the Air Ministry, not the War Office.
Campaign medal rolls (1914-1920)
Search by name the campaign medal rolls on Ancestry (£). You may find abbreviations on a roll entry – some of these abbreviations are explained on our army medal index card guide (see section above).
Over 26,000 members of the RFC and nearly 27,000 men of the RAF are listed in the campaign medal records.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
The major collections of RFC airmen records held by The National Archives are available online (see above).
Records in other archives and organisations
Other RFC and RAF records
Find out about the aircraft record cards, personal papers and other records kept by the Royal Air Force Museum.
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 in the London Gazette on The Gazette website.
Visit The National Archives’ bookshop for a range of publications on the Royal Flying Corps and the associated records.
Read A Contemptible Little Flying Corps by I McInnes and JV Webb (London Stamp Exchange, 1991) to find out about airman who joined the RFC between 1912 and August 1914.
Read Air Force Records: A guide for family historians by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).
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