Military records

We have an extensive collection of military records — from naval officers lists dating back to the 1600s to the essential WWI Service and Pension records and beyond.

Military records are a great way to enrich our understanding of our ancestors’ lives. If you’re new to family history, military records can help bridge the gap between you and the lives your ancestors’ lived.

After all, more than seven million Britons fought in World War One — so the chances are that most of us will have military stories somewhere in our family history.

What can I find in this collection?

Depending on the record collections, you can build up an amazing amount of information about your ancestors.

You can find out about where your ancestors served and their regiment, medals they were awarded, injuries they suffered and how they died in battle. But that’s not all.

If you search the WWI British Army Service Records or the WWI British Army Pension Records, for example, you can often discover little-known information like physical description, next of kin, family information, clues as to their character, occupation and more. So you can build up an amazingly real picture of your ancestor.

Sample records: [+] Click to magnify


A brief history of military records

Military records go back hundreds of years — there’s even a collection dating back to 1522 which was created to “provide an indication of the country's capacity to supply arms and armour in time of war” — almost like a military census. And, to help you in your searches, we’re constantly adding more and more records to our collections.

By far the most extensive are our WWI record collections. From service records to medal rolls, there are so many ways for you to trace your ancestors’ military deeds.

Some WWI Service and Pension records were sadly destroyed in a Luftwaffe bombing raid during WWII. However, many records still survive to help you in your search.

What military records do we have?

From naval records dating back to the 1600s to some rare WWII records, there are so many ways for you to trace your military ancestors.


You won’t find the WWI British Army Service records anywhere else online — so if your ancestor served and the record survived the bombing, you’ll find them with us. Other records include British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards, UK Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 and the British Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1918.

There are also Naval records and pilots’ licences, plus British Army Prisoners of War records and British Army Roll of Honour records for WWII. Other records, like Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815, can help you go even further back in time.

What's my next step?

Once you find a match, save it to your family tree — that way you can easily share your discoveries with your family, and quickly find the historical record again later. You can then search other record collections to discover more about your military ancestors.

I'm new to all this. What do I do first?

Start building your family tree

First include all the information you already know about yourself and your immediate family. To help you every step of the way, we automatically search through our records for potential matches — and give you results in seconds.

Search and attach records

There are billions of records worldwide — but searching for ancestors isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. We'll help you search quickly and accurately. And you can attach your records to your family tree to help bring it to life.

Connect, share and grow

The Ancestry Community now has nearly 3 million members worldwide. Member Connect will help you contact other members who are researching your ancestors, share research and be notified when they add new content about your ancestors to their family trees.

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