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Army - Officer Service Records - Officers WWI (Military)

Nature of Source

Officer service records reconstructed from War Office correspondence files of pre-WWI regular commissioned army officers. The files also relate to those given a temporary commission or were commissioned into the Special Reserve of Officers. All official records were destroyed by enemy action during WWII and even these surviving records are not complete. The records includes officers from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

The series in WO 339 is arranged in numerical order by the officer's personal reference number known as a 'Long Number'. 'Long Numbers' were assigned to officers up to 1922 which were then replaced by 'P Numbers' from 1922. A name index which provides the 'Long Number' can be found in WO 338. The WO 339 series is only 60-70 per cent complete.

A possible starting point for officer research pre-WWI is to consult the alphabetical card index of officers compiled by staff at The National Archives in the 1970s. The information was extracted from series WO 25 and WO 26 but unfortunately is not complete.

The key starting point for most army research is to determine which regiment the officer served with.

Also consider searching TNA series WO 374 which contains details on the Territorial Army and temporary commissioned officers.

Service records for all ranks who served after 1920 remain with the Ministry of Defence with each military service maintaining its own record office. The Veterans UK web site provides contact details of where to apply for service records for each of the services.

Where Found

The National Archives (WO 339, War Office: Officers' Services, Long Number Papers; WO 374, War Office: Officers' Services, personal files. The name index covering series WO 339 and WO 374 can be found in series WO 338 and is available at the TNA Discovery catalogue. First click on ‘Advanced search’ and then type in the name being searched. Then under ‘Search within’ select ‘Enter a reference’ and type WO 338. Series WO 339 can also be searched by officer name and regiment at TNA Discovery)
The National Archives
(WO 297, War Office: Geographical Section General Staff: War of 1914-1918: Western Front: Maps; WO 153, War Office: War of 1914-1918: Maps and Plans)
National Army Museum
/Templer Study Centre (The museum houses a wealth of information on the history and traditions of the Army including officer Army Lists, regimental and campaign histories, soldier's effects records, military memoirs and diaries, regimental and other military periodicals and books and other archives relating to the pre-1914 Army. The museum also holds the enlistment and discharge books for the Buffs, the Middlesex Regiment, and the five Irish regiments disbanded in 1922. See the web site for details of their collections and a series of information sheets for researching army family history)

Period Covered

1914 - 1920

Genealogical Value

Often just the name and date of death but more details supplied if attestation papers attached.

Further References

General  

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006

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Brereton, J.M. A Guide to the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: Bodley Head, 1985

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Blank, Dr. Stuart. Researching British Military History on the Internet: Alwyn Enterprises, 2007

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Cox. Reginald H. W. Military Badges of the British Empire 1914-18: Ernest Benn, 1982

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Farmer, John, The Regimental Records of the British Army: Grant Richards, 1901 (Free download available at the Internet Archive)

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Fowler, Simon. A Guide to Military History on the Internet: Pen & Sword, 2007

Fowler, Simon. Tracing your Army Ancestors: Pen & Sword, 2006

Fowler, Simon. Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Gaylor, John. Military Badge Collecting: Pen & Sword Books, 2002
Grehan, John & Mace, Martin. British Battles of the Crimean Wars 1854-1856: Pen & Sword Books, 2014  

Kitzmiller, John. In Search of the Forlorn Hope: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records, 1640-WWI: Manuscript Publishing Foundation, 1988

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Murphy, Gerry. Where Did That Regiment Go? The Lineage of British Infantry and Cavalry Regiments at a Glance: The History Press, 2009

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Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Family History, Army: Imperial War Museum, 2006 Buy Now on Amazon

Pols, Robert. Dating Old Army Photographs: Family History Partnership, 2011

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Saks, David. Boerejode: Jews in the Boer Armed Forces 1899-1902: 2010  

Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: The National Archives, 2007

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Spencer, William. Army Records: A Guide For Family Historians: The National Archives, 2008

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Storey, Neil. Military Photographs and How to Date Them: Countryside Books, 2009

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Swinnerton, Iain, An Introduction to the British Army: Its History, Traditions and Records: FFHS, 1996

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Swinson, Arthur. A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: The Archive Press, 1972

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The Great War: A Photographic Narrative: Imperial War Museum: Jonathan Cape, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Usher, George. Dictionary of British Military History: A&C Black Publishers, 2006

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Watts, Michael and Watts, Christopher. My Ancestor was in the British Army: Society of Genealogists, 2009

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Westlake, Ray. The Territorials 1908-1914: A Guide for Military and Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2011
WWI  
Banks, Arthur. A Military Atlas of The First World War: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Bridger, Geoff. The Great War Handbook: A Guide For Family Historians & Students Of The Conflict: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Christopher, John & McCutcheon, Campbell. 1914 the First World War in Old Photographs: Over by Christmas: Amberley Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. British Army Cap Badges of the First World War: Shire Publications, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. Great War British Tommy Manual: The British Soldier 1914-18 [All Models]-Haynes Owners' Workshop Manuals: Haynes, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. Remembering Tommy: The British Soldier in the First World War: The History Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. What Tommy Took to War, 1914-1918: Shire Publications, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. The First World War in 100 Objects: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Forty, Simon. Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above: Anova Books, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Gregson, Keith. A Tommy in the Family: First World War Family History Tales and Research Tips: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Hadaway, Stuart. Tracing Your Great War Ancestors: The Egypt and Palestine Campaigns: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books, 2017
Holding, Norman, More Sources of WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 1998 Buy Now on Amazon
Holding, Norman & Swinnerton, Iain. WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 2004 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918: Harper Perennial, 2005 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Shots from the Front: The British Soldier 1914-18: HarperPress, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. The First World War in Photographs: Andre Deutsch, July 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
James, Brig. E. A. British Regiments 1914-18: Naval and Military Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Prisoner of War Ancestors: The First World War: Pen & Sword, 2012
Rawson, Andrew. The British Army 1914-1918: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Spencer, William. First World War Army Service Records: The National Archives, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Swinnerton, Iain. Identifying Your World War One Soldier from Badges and Photographs: Federation of Family History Societies, 2001 Buy Now on Amazon


TNA Research Guides:
British Army officers after 1913
British Army officers after 1913: further research
British Army officers' commissions
Military Maps of the First World War

Websites

General
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/officerbritisharmyafter1913.htm
(Looking for records of an officer in the British army after 1913)
www.colonialwargaming.co.uk/Miscellany/Army/Commissions.htm
(The Purchase of Officers' Commissions in the British Army, by John Armatys & Robert George Cordery)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/default.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for a subject, Military history)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for a person, Army)
www.ukmfh.org.uk (UK Military Family History Online: Links to web sites with online data and information to aid in military family history research)
www.armylists.org.uk (Guide to Army Lists and published lists available on CD)
www.parishchest.com (Online store selling military records from a variety of suppliers)
www.veterans-uk.info/index.html (Veterans UK)
www.armymuseums.org.uk/ancestor.htm (Ancestor Research & Military Genealogy)
http://archive.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.3240 (Imperial War Museum, Your History, Family History: Army: Information sheets include Tracing Army Ancestry, Army Service Records, Tracing Army Units and List of Abbreviations)
www.globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazfd/gazfd44.htm (British Military Records: The Army by Fawne Stratford-Devai)
www.militaryarchiveresearch.com (Military Archive Research, by Dr Stuart C Blank)
www.britishbadgeforum.com
(The British and Commonwealth Military Badge Forum
British Cavalry Badges. Forum devoted to those with an interest in military badges and military badge collecting. Sections include British Cavalry Badges, Bibliography of Military Insignia and a Glossary)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/MilitaryRecords.html (GENUKI Military guide with useful links)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/BritMilRecs.html (British Military Records by Jay Hall)
www.armymuseums.org.uk (Guide and links to military museums in the UK)
www.nas.gov.uk/guides/military.asp (National Archives of Scotland Research Guide: Military Records)
WWI
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/index.htm (TNA online WWI exhibition)
www.1914-1918.net (The Long, Long Trail - The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918: A resource for military historians, genealogists and others with an interest in the Great War of 1914-1918 with information on the soldiers, units, regiments and battles of the British Army. The site includes a section on 'Researching a soldier')
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war (The First World War - The National Archives: Web portal dedicated to WWI with collections featuring letters, diaries, podcasts and videos, maps and photographs. Also discover online collections, research guides and educational resources to learn about the history behind the war)
www.operationwardiary.org
(Operation War Diary: Crowdsourcing partnership project between The National Archives, Imperial War Museums and Zooniverse which aims to unlock the details from within the WWI unit war diaries such as individual named individuals and place names)
www.bl.uk/world-war-one (World War One - The British Library: Explore over 500 historical primary sources from across Europe, together with new insights by World War One experts. Highlights include trench photographs, soldiers’ personal diaries, censored mail and propaganda posters)
www.westernfrontassociation.com
(The Western Front Association: The Association was formed with the aim of furthering interest in The Great War of 1914-1918 and to perpetuate the memory of all those on all sides who served during The Great War. The site includes a section on Research and Family History with articles providing help and guidance for your research into The Great War)
https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org (Imperial War Museum: Lives of the First World War: Digital memorial to the 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth who made a contribution during the First World War. Each person will have their own Life Story page. Developed in Partnership with DC Thomson Family History. For the latest developments and additions see http://blog.livesofthefirstworldwar.org)
www.illustratedfirstworldwar.com (Illustrated First World War: Online access to the First World War pages of The Illustrated London News and the wartime years of The Sphere, The Sketch, The Tatler, The Bystander, The Graphic and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News)
www.cwgc.org/discover1418 (The Discover 14-18 microsite is designed to enable the public to visit the CWGC memorial sites more easily and enhance their understanding of the historical context of the cemeteries and memorials. The site features a timeline and events calendar for WW1 and content themed around major battles and the different roles of the Army, Navy and Air Force)
http://maps.nls.uk/ww1/trenches
(British First World War Trench Maps, 1915-1918 - National Library of Scotland. Maps of the Western Front in the Great War depicting British and German trenches. Users can browse individual sheets using a zoomable map or view zoomable overlays of each map on a modern Google or Bing map)
www.historypin.org/en/explore/first-world-war-centenary (Historypin: First World War Centenary Hub: A home for local community groups running First World War commemorative activities and projects in the United Kingdom and from around the world)
www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War (British Red Cross: First World War Volunteers: Search over 90,000 people who volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the war. Groups of volunteers were organised into Voluntary Aid Detachments)
www.everymanremembered.org (Every Man Remembered: The Royal British Legion initiative allows members of the public to commemorate with a personal dedication every individual man and woman from across the Commonwealth who fell in the First World War)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Welsh Guards 1914-1918. These records contain 4,060 names of officers who served with the Welsh Guards, and nominal rolls of Warrant Officers and NCOs)
www.military-researcher.com (Guide to WW1 research including causes of discharge)
http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk (TNA podcast: Tracing battalions or regiments of the British Army during the Great War)
www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa (The Great War Archive: WWI digital photographs, audio, film, documents, and stories submitted by the general public. The initiative was run by Oxford University between the 3rd March and the 30th June 2008. Users can now share First World War objects on the The Great War Archive Flickr Group)
www.europeana.eu/portal/en/collections/world-war-I (Europeana 1914-1918. Explore the untold stories and official histories of World War I in items from across Europe including postcards, letters, diaries, images and other memorabilia)
www.pals.org.uk/research.htm (Guide to researching service records)
http://ww1-lost-photos.livejournal.com (Blog covering the WWI photographs of the unknown soldiers)
www.ww1photos.com
(World War One Photos: Thousands of identified photos & obituaries of First World War officers, soldiers, sailors, nurses, airmen and civilian workers)
www.flickr.com/photos/imperialwarmuseum/sets/72157627910530369/with/6279131985 (IWM Collections: Faces of the First World War)
www.1914.org (First World War Centenary: The site highlights centenary events and resources from across the globe with details of projects and events. The project is led by led by Imperial War Museums [IMW])
http://cymru1914.org
(Cymru 1914. The Welsh Experience of the First World War. Online access to digitised primary sources relating to the First World War from the Libraries, Special Collections and Archives of Wales)
www.inflandersfields.be/en (In Flanders Fields Museum. The museum presents the story of the First World War in the West Flanders front region and is located in the famous Cloth Hall in the centre of Ypres)
www.inflandersfields.be/en/namelist (Flanders Fields Museum: The Name List: The project aims to assemble all fatalities of the Great War who died or were mortally wounded in Belgium, both civilian and military, and whatever their nationality. The Name List will be launched on 4 August 2014 and includes the digitised Ireland’s Memorial Records which commemorates the memory of the thousands of Irishmen who died during the war)
www.inflandersfields.be/en/knowledge-center/casualty-database/introduction (Flanders Fields Museum: Casualty Database: The databases from the official war grave committees can be searched individually or across all databases. The individual databases include Belgian, French, Commonwealth, German and American soldiers, Belgian civilians and Ireland’s Memorial Records)
www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/britain-remembers (Britain Remembers: The First World War Project Map: The aim of the Britain Remembers map is to showcase First World War projects run principally by volunteers)
www.stepshort.co.uk (Step Short: Folkestone Harbour Canteen Visitors' Books: Online collection of 42,000 names of soldiers, nurses and other individuals who passed through the town of Folkestone on their way to the Western Front between 1914 and 1919)
www.ljmu.ac.uk/merseyside-at-war (Merseyside at War 1914-1918: Memories and memorabilia of people from Merseyside who lived, worked or fought during the World War 1 period. Items include letters, photographs, birth certificates and records, posters and medals)
www.findmypast.ie (Ireland's Memorial Record: World War 1: 1914-1918: Online access to transcribed  volumes of Ireland's Memorial Records, created to preserve and commemorate the memory of the thousands of Irishmen who died during the war)

Online Databases

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/digital-microfilm.htm (TNA Digital Microfilm: WO 338: War Office: Officers' Services, Index to Long Number Papers, 1870-1922. Digital Microfilm allows free downloads of records which were previously available only on microfilm in the reading room)
www.findmypast.co.uk (British Army Service Records 1760-1920: The collection includes a myriad of Army forms including attestation papers, medical forms, discharge documents, pension claims, and proceedings of regimental boards from 11 different series of records from The National Archives. The dataset includes records from series WO 374 , Officers' services, First World War, personal files and WO 339, Officers' services, First World War, regular army and emergency reserve officers)
www.forces-war-records.co.uk (Military Genealogy Forces War Records: Military records of over two million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments including Rolls of Honour, Crimean and Boer War Databases, Medal Rolls and Casualties Lists. The site also has a facility to access information on specific units or bases including regiments, ships, airfields)
www.forcesreunited.org.uk
(Forces Reunited: British Armed Forces community reunion site searchable by individual name or by unit. The site also has forums, military news, photo gallery and many other great sections)
www.familyrelatives.com (The Bond of Sacrifice - A Biographical Record of British Officers Who Fell in the Great War from August 1914 to June 1915)
www.familyrelatives.com (Officers Died in the Great War 1914-1919: Published in 1919 by HMSO and compiled in the Officers Casualties branch of the War Office from reports to the notice of the Military Secretary)
http://archive.sandhurstcollection.org.uk (The Cadet and Staff Registers of the Sandhurst Collection: Details for almost every officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich, covering 1790-1793, 1799-1805, and 1820-1939 and the Royal Military College Sandhurst, covering 1800-1946. Staff registers are also included, though less informative)
www.unithistories.com/officers/persons_british.html (World War II Unit Histories & Officers: British Officers, including Commonwealth officers serving in British units. Lists and biographies of officers who served in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force)
www.militaryarchive.co.uk (The Military Archive: The site incorporates three extensive sets of resources: 'Murphy's Register' which has an index of records and photographs of individuals who served in British and Allied Forces from 1880's through to 1935, with a particular emphasis on the Great War: 'The Rolls' which can identify and confirm details from official records with regards to medals awarded: ‘The Library’ is a large, searchable online collection of divisional and regimental histories, and rolls of honour)

CD Roms

S & N Genealogy Supplies (Army Lists and Hart's Army Lists)
Naval & Military Press (Officers Died in the Great War 1914-1919: Published in 1919 by HMSO and compiled in the Officers Casualties branch of the War Office from reports to the notice of the Military Secretary)
Surrey History Trust (Surrey Recruitment Register, 1908-1933. details of about 85,000 men who signed up for service in Surrey between 1908 and 1933, including volunteers and conscripts in World War I)
Manchester and Lancashire FHS (Oldham Chronicle Index of Service Personnel 1914-1919: service personnel who were mentioned in the Saturday editions of the Oldham Chronicle1914 to the end of December 1919)
www.officialhistoryofthegreatwar.co.uk (Official History of The Great War: A complete record of the war on the Western Front, 1914-1918)
Naval & Military Press (National Archives British Trench Map Atlas: The Western Front 1914-18; Official History of The Great War France and Belgium)
The Western Front Association (Mapping the Front Collection. Produced in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum)
Great War Digital (Geo-referenced Great War Trench Maps. Digitised scanned maps from The National Archives, the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Geographical Society and various private collections)