Historical records from World War 1, World War 2 and beyond
Many of us have members of our family tree who served in the armed forces. You may be aware of their military service through family stories from the two World Wars, or memorabilia and photographs.Perhaps you want to reveal more about their regiment, rank or role, or where they were active, or maybe you're looking for other ancestors with a military past.
Findmypast has the most comprehensive collection of World War 1 service records anywhere online. With millions of Army, Navy and Air Force records, carefully indexed to include hundreds of thousands more soldiers' names than you'll find elsewhere, Findmypast is the best place to start searching for your World War 1 ancestors.
Types of military record
Findmypast has many records which can provide all kinds of detail on your military ancestors:
- Medal Index Cards can tell you which medals they received, their regiment, their rank, and where they served.
- Rolls of Honour list people who died in military service.
- Attestation papers contain information about when and where they enlisted, along with their age (or the age they claimed to be) and where they came from.
- Service records can often contain any or all of the above, and even physical details such as how tall they were. Service records can vary greatly according to how much paperwork they contain – some may even have letters and notes about your ancestor's progress in their role, health, and any injuries they received.
- Pension records list the discharge of armed forces personnel.
War through history
Findmypast holds, among others, army records for:
- Boer Wars (1899-1902)
- World War 1 (1914-1918)
- World War 2 (1939-1945)
- Other wars including Napoleonic (1775-1817), Peninsular (1793-1814) and more
There are not many surviving records for navy personnel before 1853, but after this date they are often very complete, and include everyone who served regardless of their rank. We recently added 240,000 British Merchant Navy records.