How to look for records of... Royal Naval Air Service officers

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

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.

Online records

RNAS officers’ registers of service (1906–1918)

Search by name and download (£) RNAS officers’ service records (ADM 273).

RAF service records (1918–1920)

Search the Royal Air Force officers’ service records online for RNAS officers who served after April 1918 (AIR 76).

Medal rolls (1793–1972)

Search by name for information about the award of campaign, long service and good conduct medals in the Royal Navy medal rolls (ADM 171) using (£). These rolls do not usually contain biographical information. Digital microfilm copies of these medal rolls are also available to download and browse from online free of charge.

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.

Other resources


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).