The National Archives has a huge collection of records dealing with Britain's military history. Whatever period you are studying, we will hold documents that reveal strategy, equipment and the experience of those that fought.
You might be looking for an individual serviceman or woman's record. If this is the case, you can make things easier for yourself by bringing some details with you. These starting points will help you find the individual you are after.
- Make sure you have as full a version of the name as possible - it will be easier to identify 'Thomas George Victor Atkins' if you have the full name - there may be dozens of 'T. Atkins'.
- Find out which of the services the individual served in - the army, Royal Navy (including Royal Marines) or Royal Air Force. Any further details of the regiment and battalion, ship or squadron will also speed things up.
- Find out when the person served; pre First World War, First World War and after 1920 are the loosest categories, but again, the more detail you can provide the better. Enlistment and demobilisation dates are particularly helpful.
In order to pursue your research further, there are certain things which are particular to each of the three services. Use the "topics to research" menu below for more detailed information on specific branches of the military and other records that might help you with your research.
First World War soldiers' records service - UPDATED
British Army First World War service records of soldiers discharged on account of sickness or injuries sustained during the War (catalogue reference series WO 364), are available to download from Ancestry.co.uk for a fee.
Service records of soldiers who were killed, died or survived the war (known as the 'burnt documents', held in series WO 363) are also being made available on Ancestry.co.uk. The records are being released in batches, and the project is due to be completed by the end of 2008 - please check the Ancestry.co.uk website for latest availability. There is a fee to download images, but you can access them free of charge on site at The National Archives in Kew.