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Royal Naval Air Service - Officer Service Records - (Military)

Nature of Source

Records of Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) officers who joined directly or were transferred in from other branches of the Royal Navy.

Also consult the Navy List for officer information including his career, promotions and stations served at up to the end of March 1918. Search the Air Force List for his service after April 1918.

The Royal Air Force was founded in 1918 following the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service (established 1914) and the Royal Flying Corps (established 1912).

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.

For previous Royal Navy service, see Royal Navy - Service Registers - Officers including WWI.

Where Found

The National Archives (ADM 196, Officers' Service Records, 1756-1966 including records for those that joined the Royal Navy and moved to RNAS before 1918. The material is arranged by the date of entry as a midshipman which is the lowest rank of officer. The Navy Lists should provide this key date; ADM 273, Royal Naval Air Service: Registers of Officers' Services, 1906-1918 including records for those that joined directly after the RNAS formation in 1914; AIR 1, Records of the Air Historical Branch; AIR 76, Royal Air Force Officers' Service Records, 1918-1920. The data extracted from series AIR 76 includes records for RNAS officers who served after April 1918 as well as retrospective details of earlier service in the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service)

Name indexes for ADM 196 and ADM 273 can be found in series ADM 313. A name index for ADM 273 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 ‘ADM 273’.

Fleet Air Arm Museum (The museum hold material relating to the Royal Naval Air Service and the Fleet Air Arm from official and private sources including service records, squadron line books, aircraft accident records, air stations, operations, ships and equipment. The museum also has custody of Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service Documents)
Royal Naval Museum (The museum houses a collection of naval related books, manuscripts and images, including the collections from the Admiralty Library formerly housed in London. The museum library offers a number of resources for those researching family histories with a number of Information Sheets available online including a guide to naval rankings. The Online Catalogue provides access to the Manuscript, Oral History, Photographic and WRNS collections)

Period Covered

1914 - 1918

Genealogical Value

Name, service details, accident and sick reports, combat details, occasionally birth date and next of kin.

Further References

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


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


Cooksley, Peter G. The Royal Flying Corps 1914-1918: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

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


King, Brad. Royal Naval Air Service, 1912-1918: Hikoki Publications, 1997


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


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


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


TNA Research Guides:
RAF, RFC and RNAS Personnel after 1913
Royal Naval Air Service Officers

Websites (TNA Guide: Looking for records of an officer in the Royal Naval Air Service) (Spartacus Educational: Royal Naval Air Service) (Wikipedia: Royal Naval Air Service) (History Learning Site: Royal Naval Air Service) (TNA online WWI exhibition) (The Long, Long Trail, including a section on 'Researching a soldier') (Guide to WW1 research including causes of discharge) (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) (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) (Guide to researching service records) (Blog covering the WWI photographs of the unknown soldiers) (World War One Photos: Thousands of identified photos & obituaries of First World War officers, soldiers, sailors, nurses, airmen and civilian workers)

Online Databases

TNA Online Collections (Royal Naval Officer's Service Records: Service records of officers who joined the Royal Navy, 1756-1917, extracted from ADM 196; Royal Air Force Officers' Service Records: Service records of officers who served in the RAF during the First World War, extracted from series AIR 76. The series includes records for RNAS officers who served after April 1918 as well as retrospective details of earlier service in the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service. 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)
(Royal Navy Officers 1899-1919. The Royal Navy Officers records contain the complete service histories of up to 79,000 Royal Navy officers who joined the Royal Navy between 1899 and 1919 extracted from TNA series ADM 196) (TNA Digital Microfilm: ADM 196: Officers' Service Records, 1756-1966. Digital Microfilm allows free downloads of records which were previously available only on microfilm in the reading room) (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)

CD Roms

The Parish Register Transcription Society (Surrey Recruitment Register, 1908-1933 first published by the Surrey History Trust)
Manchester and Lancashire FHS (Oldham Chronicle Index of Service Personnel 1914-1919: Details of service personnel mentioned in the Saturday editions of the Oldham Chronicle1914 to the end of December 1919)