This guide provides advice on how to search for records of Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) officers. Which sets of records you should consult will depend on the start and finish dates of the officer’s service.
What do I need to know before I start?
The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was founded in July 1914 when the naval wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was moved out of the RFC and brought under Admiralty control.
On 1 April 1918 the RNAS was merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force (RAF).
If an RNAS officer continued to serve in the RAF after April 1918, his record after that date would be kept with the RAF service records.
The service records of officers discharged after 1920 are still kept by the Ministry of Defence.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
RNAS officer records held by The National Archives are available online (see above).
Records in other archives and organisations
RAF service records after 1920
Use the GOV.UK website 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.
Some or all of the recommended publications below may be available to buy from The National Archives’ Bookshop. Alternatively, search The National Archives’ Library to see what is available to consult at Kew.
Consult the Navy List for an RNAS officer’s service up to the end of March 1918. Search the Air Force List for his service after April 1918.
Read ‘Air Force Records: A guide for family historians’, 2nd edition, by William Spencer (The National Archives, 2008).