Online records

Websites to help you trace your military ancestors

Carol Futers

An ever increasing amount of information can now be found on the internet, in particular at Ancestry, Find My Past and TNA websites.

It is free to search the index but a charge is made to view original records or transcripts.

British Army WWI service records 1914-1920 Many of these records were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War and only about 40% survive. The records vary in their completeness and legibility but may give you name and age, place of birth, previous occupation, next of kin, date of attestation, physical description and information about regiment, service number, conduct, awards, wounds received and discharge.

British Army pension records 1914-1920; Waterloo medal roll 1815; Casualties of the Boer War 1899-1902; The National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918.

This website has an extensive military collection to help locate ancestors who served in WWI and WWII, as well as historical lists and roll calls, and army births, marriages and deaths not found in the civil indexes. It is free to search the index but a charge is made to view original records or transcripts.

British Army Service records 1760-1913 These records are of men pensioned out of the British Army.

Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919; National Roll of the Great War 1914-1919 People who served in the armed forces and survived the war, rather than those who died in conflict. All sections of active services as well as support staff and people such as nurses, war workers and other civilians who seldom feature in other WWI records.

De Ruvigny’s Roll 1914-1918 For biographies of over 26,000 army, navy and air force men, officers and other ranks, killed in WWI.

Royal Naval Division records 1914-1919: Register of deaths of servicemen in the Royal Navy.

Royal Marine Medal Roll 1914-1920: Campaign medal rolls giving service details for a large number of men, particularly those killed in action or who died of wounds during WWI. Post war deaths and WWII also noted.

It is free to search the indexes but a charge is made to view original records or transcripts.

WWI Medal rolls Index cards; Royal Marines Service Records 1842-1925; Recommendations for Honours and Awards 1935- 1990; World War Two Medals issued to Merchant Seamen; Air Ministry Combat Reports (1939 – 1945); Royal Naval Seamen (1853 – 1923); Wills – during the 18th and early 19th centuries soldiers of all ranks had their wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) in London.

Other useful websites include:   

  • Free searches of The London Gazette can be made for reports of individuals who may have received a gallantry award, been wounded, killed in action, promoted, mentioned in dispatches or made prisoners of war.
  • the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission where the Debt of Honour Register can be searched for free. This database lists the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War.   
  • The Long Long Trail is all about the British Army in the First World War, and is aimed at the family and military researcher. Advice can be found on how to research a soldier – the basics of what is available and how to find information. The section‘Soldier’s life’ helps you understand the background and contextof soldiers who served with the British Army of WWI , whilst ‘Insights’ will help you to interpret and make sense of your soldier’s service record, providing in-depth information on army law, soldier’s numbers, definitions, abbreviations and other subjects.
  • This site provides a definitive guide to the regimental and corps museums of the British Army spread throughout the United Kingdom. They offer advice on how to search for Army ancestors and to research into your family history and military genealogy, indicating the main sources of information and where to find them.
  • Although The Imperial War Museum archives do not hold personal service records or official documentation, they do offer a wealth of material for the family history researcher, and downloadable guides to researching military ancestors can be found on their website.
  • Searches can be made for death notices, gallantry awards and articles about particular campaigns during WWI. This is a subscription website, but it can be used free of charge in all Hertfordshire libraries.
This page was added on 30/10/2010.

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  • Hi Tracie

    Sorry the links aren’t working for you. I’ve just tested them and they all opened OK, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Perhaps there was a temporary issue when you tried them.


    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/01/2017)
  • Your links are not working, it is coming up:
    Service Unavailable
    HTTP Error 503. The service is unavailable.

    By Tracie O'Donnell (29/12/2016)