Over half a million RAF Operations Book records from the Second World War are searchable for the first time on TheGenealogist.


The records, from The National Archives series AIR 27, reveal the lives of men who did the crucial and dangerous work of serving in the air force.

They are digitised for free on The National Archives’ website, but TheGenealogist is now publishing them in a new deal that will make them fully searchable by name, aircraft, location and other factors.

The new tranche of records covers a variety of squadrons which served under British command, including the Royal Air Force and dominion and Allied services.

They primarily cover the Second World War, but there are some records from 1911-1918.

Further batches are due to be released to mark VE Day on 8 May and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in July.

The release of the records comes shortly after the death of Wing Commander Paul Farnes, one of the last three surviving members of ‘The Few’ – the airmen who defended Britain from Nazi invasion in the 1940 Battle of Britain.

Farnes passed away on 28 January at the age of 101.

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Wing Commander Paul Farnes passed away on 28 January age 101 (Credit: oem89 with a Creative Commons licence)

During the war, he had six confirmed enemy aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, two possibly destroyed and 11 damaged, qualifying him as an ace (a pilot who shot down five or more enemy planes).

The new records on TheGenealogist include the Operations Book for 501 Squadron, where Farnes flew during the Battle of Britain.

They include his first success on 12 May 1940, when he brought down an enemy plane 30 miles north-east of Bétheniville in France with the help of another pilot.


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