Military and intelligence
Operational records range from the daily reports of small units to the higher echelons of the military commands, or combined operations, and can provide background information not present in records of individuals.
For guidance on finding operational records of the various military services consult our guides to:
Our huge collection of First World War maps is detailed in one of our two military maps guides.
The National Archives also holds some papers of senior army officers. Browse the diaries of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig in WO 256, the papers of Field Marshal Lord Kitchener in WO 159 and PRO 30/57, the papers of General Earl Cavan in WO 79 and the papers of General Sir A J Murray, also in WO 79.
There are some surviving ships logs from merchant ships operating during the First World War, providing details of voyages. How to search for records of wrecked or sunk ships is explained in a separate guide.
On the Home Front, the Ministry of National Service was set up to oversee maintenance of a sufficient labour force and military recruiting. Find its records by searching or browsing in the series NATS 1.
Our guidance to records documenting land and property requisitioned by the military and the state contains a section on the First World War.
Though we do not generally hold photographs of individuals, there are large numbers of photographs depicting elements of military operations, some of them taken as part of the operations themselves, and some from the Home Front too. Consult the First World War section of our photographs guide for more details and advice on how to find photographs at The National Archives.