How to look for records of... Women in the British Army

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

The National Archives holds various records of women’s service in the British Army, though finding an individual’s record can be difficult. This short guide will outline the records which can be found and explain how to begin searching for them.

What do I need to know before I start?

Many army service records between 1914 and 1920 no longer exist as they were destroyed by German bombing in 1940; only about 7,000 Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps service records survive.

Try to find out:

  • the name and rank of the person
  • a date range to help focus the search

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was formed in 1917 and was renamed the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1918; it was disbanded in 1921.

The Auxiliary Territorial Service was formed in 1938 and was succeeded by the Women’s Royal Army Corps in 1949, which was in turn fully integrated into the British army in 1992.

About 57,000 women joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, performing non-combatant roles such as clerical and mechanical work. Most of these served within the United Kingdom.

Online records

Service records (1917-1920)

Search and download £ the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps service records (WO 398) on our website.

Campaign medal records (1914-1920)

Search and download £ the index cards to First World War campaign medals (WO 372) on our website.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

Selected medical records of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (1914-1918)

Browse MH 106 for medical records of selected personnel. MH 106 is a representative sample and is not complete.

Selected honours (1917-1918)

Consult WO 162/65 for details of women who received honours OBE, CBE, MBE, DBE or Mentioned in Despatches.

Women’s services in East Africa: nurses and other ranks

This collection consists of a selection of service records for those who served in women’s units in East Africa during the Second World War. They include those who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS); East African Military Nursing Service (EAMNS); Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS); Women’s Territorial Service (WTS); and First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY).

Search WO 427 surname, service number, and date of birth for the available records.

ATS Service records (1938-1949)

These records have been transferred to The National Archives as part of the Ministry of Defence service records project.

As they have only very recently been transferred, most of the records are currently unfindable in our catalogue. If you have been unable to find the record in our catalogue, you can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for access to this information using one of the below forms (charges may apply):

Request your own Ministry of Defence personnel record or on behalf of a living data subject

Request a FOI paid search of Ministry of Defence personnel records where the individual is presumed deceased

Request closed Ministry of Defence personnel records where the individual is presumed living

Other resources


Search the London Gazette on The Gazette website for information about British army officers’ commissions and gallantry awards.


Visit The National Archives’ bookshop for a range of publications on tracing your military ancestors. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

William Spencer, ‘First World War Army Service Records’ (The National Archives, 2008)