This collection provides details of military and military-related personnel, who filed for a pension after World War One if injured or, if killed, details of their widow and/or other dependents or their next of kin, if they were unmarried and had no children.
This set of records comprise details of men of the Royal Navy who were killed in "warlike operations" during the First World War. The records comprise only married men (no single men, and no officers included) who were from the UK and whose widows were eligible for a pension. The records are also only for those lost at sea, and therefore precludes those who died on land (for example whilst serving with the Royal Naval Division which was part of the British Expeditionary Force).
The records provide the name of the seaman who was killed, his rating (i.e. rank/role) and the Royal Naval vessel on which he was serving. It also details his date of birth and his widow's name, date of birth and their date of marriage. Children (and their date(s) of birth) are also given. Some of the records show the amounts of 'allowance' paid to the widow and/or children (the children's allowances ceased on the 16th birthday).
The ships on which the men served will generally be commissioned warships such as HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue, HMS Illustrious, but other ships which were called up for service such as RMS Carmania, converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser after the outbreak of the war, are included. Details are also provided for trawlers, which were called up for various tasks by the Royal Navy and therefore crewed by Royal Naval personnel.
Very occasionally, there are memos attached to the original records, some of which include statements on character; one widow being "weak minded and addicted to drink" and others providing information on "illegal marriages".
Merchant Marine Cards
The Merchant Marine cards detail a small portion of the men who served in the Merchant Navy during the First World War. Over 15,000 men lost their lives in the conflict whilst serving with the Merchant Navy during the period from 1914 to 1918 and countless others were wounded. Whilst many men were killed in some of the more 'high profile' sinkings (such as the SS Lusitania), most of the casualties occurred in small incidents.
Many of these men or their dependents would have been entitled to a form of pension. These cards were used as 'finding aids' for the Ministry of Pensions, in terms of the pensions claimed after the war. How they were used is not fully known, but nevertheless they provide a resource that can yield helpful information for men who served in the Merchant Navy. They provide useful records of the seaman who was wounded or killed, such as his address and name of his dependent. They also provide the name of the ship in which the seaman was serving as well as his rating (i.e. rank/role). In the case of those men who were wounded, there is often brief details of the injury as well as the date of death or accident. Occasionally - if the seaman used an alias - this may be detailed on these cards.
This set of records comprise ledgers for over 1.5 million men who served in the British Army, Royal Navy, and RFC/RAF during the Great War and claimed a pension (or, if they were killed in the conflict, the relatives that claimed). The records show signs of having been 'weeded' at some stage, most likely after the second world war, but are nevertheless a remarkably intact set of records. The Ledgers in their original form are a series of numerically sequenced books (totalling over 15,000 books) each book containing 100 pages and each page representing one pension claimant. These are divided unequally into the following seven types:
- Disabled Soldiers
- Disabled Naval Ratings
- Disabled Airmen
- APD cases (Alternative Pension: Disablement)
- APW cases (Alternative Pension: Widow)
Once a ledger was written for an individual, an index card was created, detailing the unique reference number for the ledger. These index cards were then filed alphabetically in different 'runs', depending on the type of ledger that the card was used to index. These cards are fully intact, however, due to the weeding of the ledgers, not all cards will lead to a ledger. The cards were effectively 'finding aids' to locate the ledger, which was in turn used to summarise post-award correspondence as well as the results of medical-board examinations. Although each of the seven types of ledgers are on the face of it quite similar, they provide different levels of detail.
Other Ranks Died
This set of records, amounting to approximately one million cards, relate to pensions claimed from the British Ministry of Pensions for 'other ranks' (not officers) who were killed or died in the Great War. (Note: Pensions of men who survived the conflict will be part of a later release). This constitutes a full set of records and has not been subject to any weeding (as has been the case in other records preserved by the Ministry of Defence). Therefore a card should exist for every soldier, sailor or airman who died in the war provided his next of kin claimed a pension. If there was no pension claim, no card will exist.
They enable the identification of individual servicemen via reference to either (1) his dependent/next of kin (for example wife/parents) and/or (2) a home address. Therefore, for servicemen with common names (for example Smith and Jones) researchers can now identify the relative they are looking for, as these extra details will give certainty where none existed with other archived records, such as the Medal Index Cards.
What can I find in these records?
You may be able to find the following information (where available):
- Date of Birth
- Date of Death
- Date of Injury
- Details of dependents or next of kin
- Date of Marriage
- Place of residence
- Regimental Number
- Regiment or unit
26th September 2019: Added Other Ranks Died cards