This guide contains advice on how and where to search for records of Royal Flying Corps (RFC) officers.
What do I need to know before I start?
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC), founded in 1912, was the first air service. 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).
Before 1 April 1918, the RFC was a corps of the British army. If you are looking for an RFC officer, consult both RAF and British army service records.
The service records of RFC/RAF officers who relinquished their commissions after 1920 are still kept by the Ministry of Defence.
RAF service records (1918-1920)
Search the Royal Air Force officers’ service records (£) online for RFC officer who served between 1914 and March 1918 (AIR 76).
First World War medal index cards (1914-1922)
Search and download the First World War medal index cards (£) (WO 372) online to find details of campaign medals awarded to some members of the RFC and RAF (Royal Air Force). RFC officers 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).
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
British army service records (1914-1922)
Look in the British army service records in WO 339 and WO 374 to find some records of RFC officers. Search Discovery, our catalogue by the name of the officer if he had an unusual name. Common names are likely to produce too many results.
Records in other archives and organisations
RAF service records after 1920
Use the GOV.UK website find out how to obtain information about accessing RAF service records after 1920, which are kept by the Ministry of Defence.
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.
Visit The National Archives’ bookshop for a range of publications on the Royal Flying Corps and the associated records.
Consult the Army Lists for an RFC officer’s service up to the end of March 1918. Search the Air Force Lists for his service after April 1918.
Read Air Force Records: A Guide for Family Historians, 2nd edition, by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).