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Source Information

Ancestry.com. British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO).

War Office: Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ (Microfilm Copies); (The National Archives Microfilm Publication WO363); Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies; The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.

The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, Tel: 020 8392 5225. Fax: 020 8392 5266.

About British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920

Approximately 5 million men served in the British Army in World War One (WWI). This database contains the surviving service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II. With the final release, this database now contains the entire service records collection.

These records contain a variety of forms, including:

  • Attestation forms - the form completed by the individual on enlistment
  • Medical history forms
  • Casualty forms
  • Disability statements
  • Regimental conduct sheets
  • Awards
  • Proceedings on Discharge
  • Cover for Discharge Documents
  • Index Cards

Information available in these records includes:

  • Name of soldier
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Regimental number
  • Date of attestation
  • Physical description

Historical Background:

The British Army World War One Service Records are War Office (WO) records also known as the WO363 records and the ‘Burnt Documents.’ In 1940 there was a World War Two bombing raid on the War Office in London where the records were held. During this raid, a large portion (approximately 60 percent) of the 6.5 million records was destroyed by fire. The surviving service records have become known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.

Although many of these records suffered water damage following the bombing raid, all surviving service and pension records were microfilmed by The National Archives, where both collections are held, as part of a major TNA conservation project.

Tips and Notes:

  • Some records may have been stored and/or filmed in incorrect alphabetical order.
  • Some records may appear to be out of order due to a misspelling or misreading of the name.
  • Some soldiers did not record their first names; some of them only used initials, and others used nicknames or diminutive names.
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