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Royal Air Force - Air Force List, Officers - (Military)

Nature of Source

Officer records published in the official Air Force List which was first published in April 1918. The entries include all officers who joined the new service from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Details of the officer's units and locations were provided in some detail up to 1939.

The Royal Flying Corps was established in 1912 coming under the control of the War Office. The RFC included the Military Wing and Naval Wing, the latter becoming the Royal Naval Air Service in July 1914 under the control of the Admiralty. The Royal Air Force was founded on 1 April 1918 following the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps coming under control of the newly created Air Ministry. The RFC and RNAS and the RAF are and were organised into squadrons (roughly equivalent of an army regiment), wings and groups, although confusingly for RNAS research a number of different squadrons and wings were assigned the same number.

During WWI, the RFC was deployed over the battlefields performing aerial reconnaissance trips and bombing missions whilst the RNAS was also deployed for home defence against enemy attack and overseas.

Also consult the Retired Lists, first published in 1949, which provide information on an officer's birthdate, details of commissions and his retirement and other biographical information. The Lists were produced monthly up to WWII and thereafter quarterly and are now produced annually.

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
Royal Air Force Museum (The collection comprises several hundred thousand objects ranging in size from aircraft to lapel badges. The Museum's library and archives collections include items such as First World War Casualty Cards, fine art, medals and uniforms, film and sound, memoirs, historical studies, ephemera, technical manuals, magazines and periodicals, RAF Historical Society Journals Personal papers, aircrew logbooks, casualty cards and aircraft records. The website has a number of online exhibition and information leaflets)
County Record Offices
Society of Genealogists
British Library
Local and specialist reference libraries

Period Covered

1918 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Name, regiment, rank and date of promotion, decorations and war service, birth and death date, retirement date, details of commission.

Further References

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

 

Chorley, W.R. Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War Vols. 1-9: various publishers and dates

 

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

 

Fowler, Simon. Tracing Your First World War Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword, 2013

 

Franks, Norman L. R. RAF Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War vol 1. Operational Losses Aircraft and Crews 1939-1941: Ian Allan Publishing, 2008

 

Franks, Norman L. R. Royal Air Force Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War: vol. 2. Operational Losses: Aircraft and Crews 1942-1943: Midland Publishing, 1998

 

Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988: Air Britain Historians, 1989

 

Hobart, Malcolm. Badges And Uniforms of The RAF: Pen and Sword Books, 2013

Hobson, Chris. Airmen Died in the Great War, 1914-18: The Roll of Honour of the British and Commonwealth Air Services of the First World War: Hayward, 1995

 

Ingham, Mary. Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books 2012

 

McInnes, I & Webb, J. V. A Contemptible Little Flying Corps: Naval and Military Press, 2001 (Includes brief biographies of all non-commissioned airmen who joined the RFC between 1922 and 1914)

 

Philpott, Ian, The Birth of the Royal Air Force: Pen and Sword Books 2014

 

Spencer, William. Air Force Records: A Guide for Family Historians: The National Archives, 2008

 

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

 

Spencer, William. Air Force Records: The National Archives, 2008

 

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

 

Tomaselli, Phil. Tracing Your Air Force Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2014

 

Tomaselli, Phil. Air Force Lives: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books, 2013

 

Tracing Your Family History: Royal Air Force: Imperial War Museum, 2006

 

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

 


TNA Research Guides

Websites

www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html (Veterans UK)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/?research-category=military-and-maritime (TNA Research Guide Military and Maritime)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject (TNA guide: Looking for records of a Royal Air Force squadron)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/raf-officers-ww1.htm (Royal Air Force Officers' Service Records 1918-1919: Introduction to the records taken from the TNA series AIR 76)
www.raf.mod.uk/organisation/squadrons.cfm (Royal Air Force Squadrons)
www.raf.mod.uk/history/historicsquadrons.cfm (Royal Air Force Historic Squadrons search)
http://archive.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.3240 (Imperial War Museum, Your History, Family History: Royal Air Force: Information sheets include Tracing Royal Flying Corps & Royal Air Force Ancestry, Royal Air Force Service Records, RAF Squadrons and Bases and List of Abbreviations)
www.rfc-rnas-raf-register.org.uk (David J Barnes Military & Aviation Research 1914 -1919: R.F.C., R.N.A.S.,R.A.F. Register 1914-1919. Central source of service and biographical information of all those who served in the British and Commonwealth Aerial Forces during the First World War)
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.militaryarchiveresearch.com (Military Archive Research, by Dr Stuart C Blank)
www.raf.mod.uk/history (Royal Air Force History area)
www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/research-enquiries.aspx (Royal Air Force Museum Information Leaflets including Researching First World War personnel, Researching Royal Air Force unit records and Researching Royal Air Force stations)
www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/history-of-aviation-timeline.aspx (Royal Air Force Museum: History of Aviation Timeline)
www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/lest-we-forget.aspx (Royal Air Force Museum Online Exhibition: Lest We Forget)
www.raf.mod.uk/history/rafhistoricalsocietym.cfm (RAF Historical Society. The society studies the history of the RAF and the contribution it has made to global peace and security since 1918. The site includes an RAF History Timeline and other useful information)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/MilitaryRecords.html (GENUKI guide to military records)
www.waafassociation.org.uk (Women's Auxiliary Air Force Association)
www.associations.rafinfo.org.uk/acronyms.htm (Royal Air Force Acronyms/Abbreviations)
www.raf-families-federation.org.uk/policies-abbreviations.asp (Abbreviations & Acronyms)
www.lancaster-archive.com/bc_abbreviations.htm (RAF Abbreviations and Slang)
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)

Online Databases

www.thegenealogist.co.uk (Air Force Lists for 1918, 1939 and 1933)
www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.uk
(Royal Air Force Museum Storyvault: Air Force List: This website contains information from the first Air Force List, which contains information corrected to 1st February 1918)
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.familyrelatives.com (Royal Air Force List - 1920, 1922, 1929, 1949, 1954)
TNA Online Collections (Royal Air Force Officers' Service Records 1918-1919 extracted from TNA series AIR 76. TNA Online Collections is produced by The National Archives and contains online access to indexes, transcriptions and digital images of some of the TNA's most important holdings. Searches are free but a fee is levied for each downloaded item. However downloads are free if used at TNA or the Society of Genealogists)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950)
www.britishmedals.us/kevin/raf1918.html
(RAF's formation list in 1918 compiled by Ted Beard)

CD Roms

Air of Authority (Monthly Air Force Lists on CD-ROM)