New WW2 service records made available

Nearly 100,000 more Second World War service records now available to order from The National Archives in Kew

Royal Army Veterinary Corps service records
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Published: July 7, 2022 at 11:00 am
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Nearly 100,000 more Second World War service records are now available to order from The National Archives at Kew (TNA).

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The series, ‘War Office: Selected Smaller Corps Other Ranks: Service Records’, has the reference number WO 421. It can be searched via TNA’s online catalogue Discovery at discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C17682287.

The series consists of 94,234 service records of soldiers (excluding officers) who served in the Army Air Corps; the Royal Army Veterinary Corps; the Royal Military Police or Corps of Military Police; the Royal Army Pay Corps; the Royal Army Physical Training Corps; the Military Provost Staff Corps; the Royal Corps of Army Music; the Royal Army Education Corps; the Royal Pioneer Corps; the Intelligence Corps; the Officer Training Corps; and the Non-Combatant Corps. It only includes soldiers who were discharged because they were over age.

The types of documents enclosed in service records include attestation forms signed by a new recruit, or created upon transfer between units; statements of service, which outline an individual’s postings; and discharge forms issued when a soldier left the regiment.

Previously all British military service records after 1920 were held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Records can be ordered by next of kin for a £30 fee, but fulfilling an order was taking up to a year.

In February 2021, the MOD began transferring all 9.7 million historic service records to TNA. In April 2022 the first tranche was released on Discovery, covering the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, in series WO 420.

Anyone can search for a description of the service record which includes the soldier’s initial, surname, service number and date of birth. They can then order it to view at TNA with a wait time of four working days, or pay to have a copy of the record sent to them.

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Service records of men born fewer than 115 years ago are closed, but if you can supply proof of death you can make a freedom-of-information request for a record to be opened.

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