Welcome to the Royal Navy WW1 Lives at Sea Project FAQs!


Thank you for joining our Transcription Tuesday Weekly Challenge during the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday 7 April 2020, we're supporting the Royal Navy First World War Lives at Sea Project.

If you haven’t registered yet and would like to take part then please email crewlists@nationalarchives.gov.uk. Once you have registered, you will be sent full instructions by the team at The National Archives on how to take part.

As these service records were filled in by hand, they can sometimes be difficult to read and, although most records will follow general rules, there are some that are a bit more idiosyncratic.

To help the day go as smoothly as possible, we have put together these FAQs relating to the project.

If any transcribers come across a difficulty on the day, please email the project team at crewlists@nationalarchives.gov.uk.

This page is not a substitute for the general instructions sent to transcribers, rather it is here to clarify any queries that volunteers may have before signing up. There are further details on the aims of the project and what it involves on the project website.

I’m not free on Tuesday 7 April, can I volunteer for another day?

Yes absolutely. As soon as you have registered for the project (see above) and received your log in details by email, you can start transcribing. You are also encouraged to continue after Transcription Tuesday. The project is ideally looking for volunteers who can offer more than one day because your understanding and accuracy will improve as you work through the records. There are a lot of service records to get through and it's a great way to pass the time while we're confined to our homes!

How long will it take to transcribe a record?

When you log onto the site, you will be assigned a service record to transcribe. Some are longer than others and the first record you transcribe may be slow going as you get used to the process. It is probably worth allowing 10 to 15 minutes for your first record although you will get quicker and some can be done in just a few minutes.

I can't work out the discharge date or reason

When transcribing service records it might not be altogether obvious as to what the cause of discharge might be. In many of these instances the discharge reason is indicated by a stamped box, (as shown in the example below). In such cases the cause of discharge is See Record Card and the date of discharge is 1 January 1929.

I can't read the name of the ship

There is a list of ship names provided which is very helpful when decoding difficult handwriting. If you are still not sure, then please use […] to fill in any gaps or replace words.

There's another word in brackets after the ship's name, should I include that?

Yes, if you see another name in brackets after a ship, please include it. You may find the same name in brackets occurs in subsequent entries but with just ditto “ marks. Please write the word out in full again. If you can’t read the word, please use […].

More like this

There are two occupations listed on the service record. Which should I record?

Sometimes you may find two occupations listed with one of them crossed out. Please transcribe the crossed out entry which will be the one given on joining. The second occupation will have been added at a later date and is not to be recorded.

I think I made a mistake on a previous service record, can I return to it?

As you progress, you may wish to return to previous records to check your work or change something. From your ‘home’ page you should be able to see the past six records you worked on. You will have to uncheck the ‘Complete’ box to access the editing tools.


Please share your queries, experiences, photographs and any discoveries you have come across by email at wdytyaeditorial@immediate.co.uk, on Twitter using the hashtag #TranscriptionTuesday, or on our forum and Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you!