Many records held at The National Archives are available online, some of them on partner websites, others on our own website. For details of other online First World War records, see the Records in other archives and organisations listed below.
Soldiers’ service records (for all units except Household Cavalry and Guards regiments), 1914–1920
Search military records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks on Ancestry.co.uk (£) and Findmypast.co.uk (£) including service records (WO 363), pension records (WO 364) and campaign medal cards.
These cover regular soldiers who may have enlisted as early as 1892 for 22 years’ service as well as a small number of stray service records of pre-war soldiers who did not serve from 1914–1920.
The records include:
- soldiers discharged between 1914 and 1920
- soldiers killed in action between 1914 and 1920
- soldiers who served in the war and died of wounds or disease without being discharged to pension
- soldiers who were demobilised at the end of the war
The records do not usually include:
- regular soldiers who continued in the army after 1920
- soldiers who transferred to another service, taking their service record with them
The British Army contained regiments from parts of the former colonies. The service records in WO 363 and WO 364 include regiments such as:
- the West African Field Force (such as Nigerian, Gold Coast, Sierra Leonean and Gambian Regiments but the records are of British Army non-commissioned officers of European descent only)
- British West Indies Regiment
- the West India Regiment
They do not include the service records for soldiers serving in the armies of Commonwealth countries (such as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa). You will need to contact their respective archives for advice on how to locate these records.
Household Cavalry service records, 1799–1920
Search and download (£) service records (WO 400) of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in one of the Household Cavalry regiments during the First World War.
Medal roll index cards, 1914–1920
These cards, along with the medal rolls to which they form an index (see below), were created primarily to record the awarding of campaign medals. Campaign medals were awarded to all soldiers who served in a theatre of conflict overseas. In some instances the cards also record gallantry awards.
Search by name or regimental (service) number for First World War army medal index cards (WO 372) on our website (£).
Campaign medal rolls, 1914–1920
Search the campaign medal rolls (WO 329) on Ancestry (£) by name, regimental (service) number and regiment. You may find abbreviations on a roll entry – some of these abbreviations are explained in our guide to army medal index cards.
The British War and Victory medal entries may give you a battalion/unit number which will help you to find a unit war diary.
Silver War Badge rolls, 1914–1920
Search the Silver War Badge rolls (WO 329) on Ancestry (£) by recipients’ name, regimental number or by badge number. Alternatively you can search by regiment.
The badge was awarded to all of those military personnel who were discharged as a result of sickness or wounds contracted or received during the war, either at home or overseas.
Announcements of the award of gallantry medals and honours
Search the London Gazette on The Gazette website for the official announcements of British Army soldiers’ gallantry awards.
Unit war diaries from the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli, 1914–1922
Search by unit name and number for the war diaries of British Army units that served on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia on our website (£) and for units that served in the Gallipoli Campaign at the Dardanelles on Ancestry.co.uk (£).
See below for advice on searching for the war diaries of units that served elsewhere in the world during the war.
Prisoner of war records, 1914–1918
See our guide to records of British prisoners of the First World War for details of the prisoner of war records available online.