The first tranche of military service records are now available to order from The National Archives (TNA) after being transferred from the Ministry of Defence (MOD).


All British military service records after 1920 were previously held by the MOD in Glasgow. Records of deceased servicemen and women can be ordered by their next of kin for a £30 fee.

Since the covid-19 pandemic, record orders have been subject to delays of up to a year.

TNA today confirmed that the first tranche of the records have now been added to its catalogue.

The records are those in series WO 420 and relate to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) regiment.

The records added to the catalogue today are of service personnel born more than 115 years ago so only servicemen born before 1917 are included.

The rest of the records in the series will be released over the next few days, but additional restrictions may apply to protect individuals’ privacy. To access service records for REME servicemen born later, you need to contact the Access Service Team at who will check whether the record includes sensitive medical information. For those born less than 100 years ago, you may be asked to provide a death certificate.

You can now access the records by searching for ‘WO 420’ in Discovery, TNA’s online catalogue, and browsing the record listings, which include each man’s name, date of birth and service number.

The actual service records are not available online.

To access a record, you must click ‘Details’ by the man’s name and follow the instructions to order a record to view at TNA’s buildings in London. It is also possible to order a paper copy of a record using TNA's record ordering service.

The record will take four working days to prepare.

In February 2021, the MOD began the process of transferring all 9.7 million historic service personnel records, which will take six years.

The records include around 500,000 individuals with First World War service and the vast majority of those who served in the Second World War, as well as those who did National Service.

TNA also said that the military service records would eventually be digitised and it was “currently undertaking a procurement exercise to appoint a digitisation partner”.


Rosemary Collins is the staff writer of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine