Discover your ancestors among more that 2 million soldiers who served in the British Army between 1760 and 1915. Find ordinary soldiers, as well as officers, in six sets of records which can tell you when your ancestor joined the army and when he left, as well as details about where he came from and whether he was married.
The records comprise soldiers' attestation and discharge papers and form part of the WO (War Office) series of records held at The National Archives in Kew. The War Office was the precursor of today's Ministry of Defence.
The attestation form was completed when the soldier joined the regiment and the discharge form when he left. This search covers all available papers for each soldier.
The records include soldiers from 'other ranks', rather than officer class soldiers, unlike many other military resources of this period. This means that you're much more likely to be able to find your ancestors in this collection.
Each of these sets of records provides rich information about your ancestors to a level that is difficult to find elsewhere. It's common to find several pages of records per soldier - some soldiers have hundreds of pages of records!
Alan Crosby writes for Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine about finding his great-uncle's service record:
I learned that he first joined up in 1893 and evidently hated it, for he bought himself out of the army only two months later. Then he joined up again in 1894, deserted, fraudulently re-enlisted, claimed to be mentally unstable and was discharged, emigrated to Canada in 1896 aged 22, returned in mysterious circumstances a year later and enlisted under a false name This was definitely not a well-behaved individual, but he certainly had character!
© Crown Copyright Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England.
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.
Applications for any other use should be made to:
The National Archives Image Library
Tel: 020 8392 5225
Fax: 020 8392 5266