British Army

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The British Army is the land-based forces of the United Kingdom. The British Army was heavily involved in Imperial affairs in India and most regiments (both infantry and cavalry) served in India at some point. Throughout the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth century, a significant number of British troops were stationed at India at any one time. In 1847, for instance, around 20% of British Army regiments were on the sub-continent, while at the outbreak of the First World War, around 30% of the British Army was based in India.[1] The General staff were supported by the Staff Corps and the Office of the Quarter Master General.

Up until the early 1860s, a British man, or man of British descent could also be a soldier/officer in one of the Presidency Armies in India. These were separate from the British Army, instead consisting of regiments formed by the East India Company and under their control. Many men from those Armies then transferred to the British Army, so if you have a reference to a man in the British Army in India in the 1860s, he may well be one of those who transferred. You may be able to locate him in the records of either the Bengal Army, Madras Army, or Bombay Army.



Any regiment name prefaced by the initials H.M. (Her or His Majesty's) is a British Army regiment, although the term is not strictly applied, especially amongst the ecclesiastical records. These regiments may be referred to as "Royal Regiments".

Regiments are divided across several arms of the army, these being the Cavalry (who fought mounted on horseback), the Infantry (soldiers who fought on foot) and the support arms such as the Artillery (who used weaponry such as canons and large guns) and the Engineers construction, demolition, surveying etc.) Also see Regiment names terminology below.

The article History of British Army Infantry Regiments is a general history of the origin and development of the infantry regiments and explains some of the reforms that took place.

The cap badges of a few regiments can be found in Cap badge images.

For regiments serving in India, when a regiment was to return to England, the men were given the opportunity to 'volunteer for' (join) another British Army regiment in India. The view seems to have been "A trained soldier in India is worth five recruits, and that soldier, when he is brought home, is not worth anything."[2]As an example, when the 96th Regiment of Foot was ordered home in September 1854, a ‘great number of men’ volunteered for the 32nd foot, thirty volunteered for the 43rd, while twenty-two volunteered for the 74th Highlanders.[3] However, when transferring to another unit, the soldiers were treated as new recruits, and lost any rank they had, reverting to the rank of a private,[4] although it appears likely that in practice they were promoted again reasonably quickly.

Locating a regiment

There are many ways to find out locations at which a regiment was stationed. More labourious methods include tracking through the muster rolls, army lists or station lists published in newspapers. Many of our regiment articles include a timeline of major stations.

  • The archived website provides information about regimental deployments, which can range from general to specific. See External Links - Other, below. Additionally individual Fibiwiki regimental pages generally include links to relevant regimental pages from
  • One online source providing incomplete but highly useful information, is:
Indian portion of In Search of the 'Forlorn Hope': A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and their Records (1640-WWI) by John M Kitzmiller - lists the location/year of all British regiments that served in India and related regions. (Regiments, Locations) . From Bob Holland’s Rampais website, archived. Kitzmillers's two volume book is now available online, see below.
  • Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library [CARL] (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth USA). Then select Resources/Digital Collections and scroll down to, and select the online collection, the Nafziger Collection of Orders of Battle which includes lists of “Stations of British Troops in India” (and a wider list for the whole army) transcribed from the sources such as the Army and Navy Gazette .
To access the contents, there is the Nafziger orders of battle collection : finding aid (link to a pdf download which depending on your browser you may need to locate in your downloads folder) to assist in navigating the titles available for viewing, and the links to those titles.
The finding aid is Searchable. There are title headings such as Stations of British Troops in India (available 1836-1904), British Regiments Serving in India, (available 1816-1835), Distribution of the British Army (available 1836-1868, 1872, 1899-1903) Stations of the British Army (available 1869-1904). The latter two titles include British troops in India. For specific lists from 1862, see
Note that for some computers/browsers in the past it was not possible to search the Finding Aid, but this situation may have improved. If this is still the situation, "British Regiments Serving in India" 1816 is located on page 167. "Distribution of the British Army" 1836 is located on page 168. Alternatively use your internet Search engine with terms such as nafziger "Stations of the British Army" and a date.
Note that publications such as Army and Navy Gazette and Naval & Military Gazette used as the source of the Nafziger data, are now available online for some years, see Military periodicals online.
  • The publication Monthly Army List, many of which are available as part of Army List for British Army online usually contains information on a monthly basis about regiments and the Royal Artillery, both under individual regiments, but also in a section "Commands of the Army", where the information is listed geographically (example for 1927 September (, commencing page 18), for both UK and overseas Commands, including for India, generally listed under East Indies, which may also include Burma and Aden. Ceylon is listed under Dominions, Colonies and Protectorates etc. This information is generally not available during war time and perhaps some other periods, including editions in early years, which also lack Contents pages.
The publications New Annual Army List and New Army List, some of which are available on Army List for British Army online contain details of the regiments in the British Army for each year of publication. The details of each regiment in each volume will usually include where the regiment is garrisoned at that point of time. This is often located at the very top of the page which gives details of the regiment. As an example, ( the 2nd Battalion of the 25th Regiment of Foot was stationed at Jubbulpore Bengal page 269 The New Annual Army List for 1873, shown in the top right hand corner.
WO 25 records Embarkation Returns and Disembarkation Returns may also be useful. Records are filed in date of sailing sequence.[5] Embarkation records show Officers (named), the number of Other Ranks per unit, and the military cargo carried. As an example, an image of a record from WO 25/3544 shows officers and men from M M Gun No. 22 Battery leaving on the Ship 'Beltana' for India from Devonport on 26th February 1916.[6] Embarkation records can also originate overseas as the WO25 series includes records titled "Abroad for Home" and "Between Stations Abroad". Note: Selected WO 25 records are available as a free download from the National Archives, through TNA's Discovery catalogue, and selected WO 25 records are also available on the Ancestry database "Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900.[7]
WO 97 records Distribution of the Army Monthly Returns include station of each battalion or company. Sample images.[8]

Regiment names terminology

Regiments, especially prior to the twentieth century, were not named in a uniform manner and the historical terminology used can be unfamiliar to a beginning researcher. Some common terms and the regiment types they apply to can be found below.

Term Regiment type
Dragoons Cavalry
Foot Infantry
Fusiliers Infantry
Grenadier Infantry
Hussars Cavalry
Lancers Cavalry
Life Guards Cavalry
Rifles Infantry

Wars and campaigns

The British Army were involved in numerous wars, campaigns and battles in India and the surrounding region. The Fibiwiki has a Chronological list of wars and campaigns.

Enlistment in India

It was possible for a man born in India to enlist in the British Army in India, a fact to be considered when researching. Enlistment was possible for men with European parents, or Eurasian men of fair complexion―those whose looks allowed them to ‘pass’ as white.[9]

There are some early 1800s references to mixed race soldiers, mainly musicians, with 'black' complexions.[10] There is one reference to an Anglo Indian Boy Trumpeter in the Royal Artillery c 1936[11]

Enlistment and birth in other overseas British Empire countries

When researching, keep in mind that similar to the situation in India, it was also possible for men from other countries to enlist when regiments were stationed in their countries.[12] Men whose fathers were in the British Army could be born anywhere in the world the British Army was stationed.

Indians in the British Army

There were a limited number of Indians who were part of the British Army. C 1911, there were Indian soldiers serving in the Royal Artillery as drivers, and native gunners in ammunition columns serving as wagon-men. [13] During the First World War, there are Medal Index Card references to Lascars in the Royal Artillery, this rank was also known as a Gun Lascar. In 1924, Indian Mountain/Pack Batteries became Batteries in the Royal Artillery, which was the situation until 1939 when the Indian Mountain Batteries were transferred from the Royal Artillery to the Indian Regiment of Artillery.
During the First World War there are also references to Lascars in the Inland Water Transport, Royal Engineers.
There were Indian and Burmese drivers and artificers in 1023 and 1024 Mechanical Transport Companies ASC, raised in Burma for service in Mesopotamia.
From c 1921, there were Indian Mechanical Transport Companies, which were part of the Royal Army Service Corps, until subsequently transferred to the Indian Army.

Indian Platoon, British Army Infantry Regiment

From early 1922 , shortly after the introduction of the Vickers Machine Guns into Infantry Battalions[14], an Indian Platoon, or Support Company was attached to each British infantry regiment serving in India up until November 1932. Each such platoon comprised one Indian officer and 42 other ranks, their primary duty being to lead and care for the mule packs upon which guns and ammunition of the Machine-Gun Company were carried. However, these soldiers appear to have been regarded as part of the Indian Army. [15] Note however there was a Lancashire Fusiliers album which included 1934 in the title, which contained a photograph of the Indian Platoon, and a photograph of the Indian Machine Gun Platoon, 1st Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry Karachi 1938,[14] so at least some regiments contained these Platoons to a date after 1932.


See also - Military reading list and Occupation:Soldier

There are various sources of information for finding out about a man in the British Army.

Army Lists

Army Lists are useful if you are researching an officer. There were Monthly, Quarterly and Annual editions published. Some of these were commercial publications, while some were official War Office publications, The official publications included Quarterly Army Lists from 1880 and Monthly Army Lists from August 1881. At least during the First World War, only the Monthly Lists cover the officers in “battalion order”[16], but this listing probably appeared in earlier publications also. Quarterly Army Lists only list regular, career officers and not others such as temporary officers and territorial officers who are to be found in the Monthly Army Lists.[17] The Monthly Army Lists are available on the open shelves at the National Archives and major libraries, (but date ranges may be unclear). Based on library catalogues, Bodleian Libraries University of Oxford, and the National Library of Scotland may have the best collections of Monthly Army Lists.

For British Library holdings, including regimental and regional lists, from 1642, see the BL guide "Service Lists for the Army, Navy and Air Force". (This is a download to your computer which you may need to locate in your downloads folder.) version.

For volumes available online, see the Fibiwiki page Army List for British Army online‎‎ .
The sections are New Annual Army List, New Army List, Quarterly Army List and Monthly Army List.

Mostly free access, but also includes details of pay websites such as findmypast, Ancestry/fold3 and TheGenealogist which include databases containing Army Lists. For details see Army List for British Army online‎‎ - Quarterly Army List.

For at least some war periods a Confidential or "Security Edition" was also published with known Monthly editions for August 1939 (available online) and September 1939, and it seems possible that Monthly Lists may have been continued after May 1940, to 1943, solely on a Confidential basis.[18]

The [London] Gazette

  • The [London] Gazette Official Public Record for the U.K. Free Search for officers' commissions and promotions, and gallantry awards for both officers and other soldiers. Note that the Gazette entry could sometimes be much later than the actual event.
Search tips: include full stops after initials, and if the name includes an apostrophe, follow this by a space.[19] More tips.[20]
Some data from the London Gazette is available online elsewhere, where the Search facilities may be easier to use (Free Search, pay to view) :
Ancestry includes the database "The London Gazette (London, England), 1825-1962" (located under Newspapers & Periodicals), but notes there are random gaps in this collection.
findmypast includes the database "The London Gazette, Supplements August 1914 - January 1920" (Located under Armed forces & conflict/Medal rolls and honours), which also includes promotions and Battle Despatches
If you have a specific London Gazette reference, you may be able to locate it through the Wikipedia:London Gazette Index

Landed Gentry/high social status

Genealogical sources

Officers were often of high social status/the Landed Gentry class and genealogical resources relating to this social class may provide Army details.

  • Burke’s Peerage 1826–2016 A pay website which states “the definitive guide to the genealogy and heraldry of the Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Landed Gentry of the United Kingdom, the historical families of Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations….”
Editions of Burke's Peerage are available at major libraries, and some are online, see following.
  • The Peerage. A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain. A free website. Includes
    • "Custom Indices" with links to "Index for Battles", including First World War, and Second World War.
Historical books online

School records

Many schools which catered for this section of society are still in existence, and may be able to supply records, sometimes including photographs.
The first few pages of a 1919 book include a list of some of the well known schools then in existence (The rest of the book relates to War Service) Note there will be other schools not on this list.


Many officers attended the Royal Military College Sandhurst, England. See External links, Other below.

Military records at the National Archives

For advice about the National Archives, both about visiting and your options if you can't visit, see the Fibiwiki page The National Archives

Service and pension records

For a list of abbreviations likely to be found in service records, see Army personnel serving after January 1921, below.

Online records

Genealogy websites such as findmypast and Ancestry, mentioned in the following sections, are pay websites. The basic subscription levels do not provide access to military records. Findmypast requires at least a Plus level of subscription for military records, while Ancestry requires at least a Premium level of subscription for military records, and additionally requires a higher level subscription for access to some military images. Generally these websites provide free access for a limited number of days during the year. Depending where you live you may be able to access such websites for free at a library near you. See Miscellaneous tips - Access some subscription websites with a Library Card. Access to such sites, including fold3, is also available at FamilySearch Centres.

Where a record series appears on both findmypast, and Ancestry there may be differences in transcriptions of names which will affect the Search results. If you cannot initially find a record, it is suggested you try searching on both websites, and in addition on FamilySearch, a free website. Details of some of the military records on the latter site may be found under findmypast, below.

A researcher advised that Army service record images on findmypast are usually much better quality and Ancestry's service records may be poorly indexed, however Ancestry has the advantage that you can scroll to the records immediately before and after, which could be relevant.[21]Another advised that findmypast has a far better search facility.[22] (Comparison of online providers for WW1 records.[23])

Ancestry now owns the pay military websites Fold3 and Forces War Records, which are included with the highest Ancestry subscription.

For both findmypast and Ancestry, it is possible to undertake a broad Search by selecting the Military category from the Search tab at the top of the webpages. This will search in all Military databases. However, should you wish to perform a more targeted Search, various databases are described below.


Findmypast, a pay website, contains a database British Army Service Records,[24] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/ Regimental & Service Records, which contains records between 1760 and 1920, for officers and other ranks, mostly from The National Archives.

This database consists of

  • WO 22 - Royal Hospital Chelsea: returns of payment of Army and other pensions 1842-1883
  • WO 23 - Royal Hospital Chelsea: admission books, registers, and papers 1702-1876
  • WO 76 - Regimental records of officers' services 1775-1914
  • WO 96 - Militia service records 1806-1915
  • WO 97 - Chelsea: pensioners British Army service records 1760-1913
  • WO 121 - Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents 1760-1887
  • WO 122 - Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents, foreign regiments 1816-1817
  • WO 128 - Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers' documents, South African War 1899-1902
  • WO 131 - Chelsea: documents of soldiers awarded deferred pensions 1838-1896
  • WO 339 - Officers' services, First World War, regular army and emergency reserve officers. Transcripts only, not actual files.
  • WO 363 - First World War service records 'burnt documents'
  • WO 364 - First World War pension claims
  • WO 374 - Officers' services, First World War, personal files, Territorial and temporary officers. Index records only, not actual files.
  • WO 400 - The Household Cavalry 1801-1919
  • 'Scots Guards Enlistment Registers, 1799-1939' and 'Scots Guards Officer Enlistment Registers, 1642-1939'. These records come from the Scots Guards, not from the National Archives. Include images.
Update: Added c 2021/05/14, the database 'Scots Guards Service Records 1799-1939' described as "service records from the Second World War and beyond".[25]

See below for details of records in this database British Army Service Records.

An associated database is British Army Service Records Image Browse,[26] located in Armed forces & conflict/Service Records which contains the above records, excluding the First World War records and the 'Scots Guards Service Records'.

Additional separate databases include:

  • British Army, Coldstream Guards 1800-1947, [27] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. Originally introduced as part of the database British Army Service Records above, but c 27 Nov. 2020 became a separate database. Comprises "many different regimental history records including Discharge Books, Courts Martial Book, Decorations and Rewards and Officers' Statements of Services". Also includes post WW1 enlistment registers.[28]. More records were added c 27 Jan. 2023 "covering honours, casualties, attestations and more".
British Army, Coldstream Guards 1800-1947 Image Browse[29] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records, introduced 23 April 2021.
  • British Army Officers' Widows' Pension Forms 1755-1908,[30] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. These records are from the National Archives series WO 42: War Office: Officers’ Birth Certificates, Wills and Personal Papers, containing applications for a pension or a child’s compassionate allowance where an officer died on service or on half pay. Note, this record series may be downloaded free through TNA website.
  • British Army Pensioners - Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Ireland, 1783-1822,[31] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. These records are from the National Archives WO 119 records.
  • Surrey Recruitment Registers 1908-1933,[32] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. Transcripts of original records from The Surrey History Centre.
  • British Army, Royal Engineers 1900-1949[33] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. These records are Tracer cards which plot a soldier’s movements within and between regiments and most are for the years 1939-1945.
  • British Army, Royal Engineers Other Ranks: Casualty Cards[34] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records. These cards cover casualties during and after World War 2. An example card shows hospital admissions. Elsewhere Casualty records may list those missing, wounded, taken prisoner, killed in action or who died, but it is not clear whether these events are included on these cards.
  • British Army, Honourable Artillery Company[35] located in Armed Forces & Conflict/Regimental & Service Records.
Also "British Army, Honourable Artillery Company, Cardew-Rendle Roll Of Members 1537-1908" [36] and "British Army, Honourable Artillery Company Journal 1923-2021".

Searching the records is free, but charges apply to view the records, although they can be viewed for free at TNA (and other institutions with a FMP subscription).

For some findmypast blogs about these records, see below.[37]

FamilySearch includes two collections of index records, with the data created by findmypast:
United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913. The database description states that it includes index records from WO 97, WO 119, WO 121, WO 122, WO 131, but the associated browse images linked from the webpage appear to be for WO97 only. The index records include name, place of birth and estimated date of birth.
United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122). Note that the latter title is inaccurate, as WO 122 records are for the period 1816-1817 only. The index records include name, birth and place, and date of discharge.
To view related images, you can search on findmypast, and view the images on findmypast. This will be the most convenient option for most people. Alternatively you can access the images as digitised microfilm at a FamilySearch Family History Centre, see FamilySearch Centres.
These record images are also available through the FamilySearch catalogue, where the individual digitised microfilms may be described: United Kingdom, Chelsea pensioners' service records, 1760-1913 [WO 97]; United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: discharge documents of pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122) and in addition WO 119, WO 121, WO 131 records; Probably WO 119, although not stated). From these catalogue entries, it is clear that the FamilySearch databases of Index records cover less records than the digital microfilms available through the FamilySearch catalogue. Note however, the digitised microfilms may be selected records only from the particular record series, not the entire National Archives record series.

FamilySearch also contains the collection United Kingdom, World War I service records, 1914-1920 consisting of WO 363 and WO 364 index records and images. These images are now available on your home computer (since c 2019/03; previously only viewable at a FamilySearch Centre or Affiliate Library). A researcher commented that an image of interest for a 'burnt document' record from WO 363 was clearer, and more of the record could be read, on FamilySearch than on Ancestry (see item below).


Ancestry is a pay website.

Ancestry search tip: if you are unable to locate a record, it is possible to search by spouse name, as the search does look for next of kin.[38]

Fold3 is an Ancestry owned company. For the following Military records Ancestry has released transcribed index records on the main Ancestry site, with the images only available on Fold3, which requires an Ancestry All Access subscription, or a separate Fold3 subscription.

Notes: [1] WO 76 images are also available on findmypast, refer above, and as a free download from The National Archives. [2] WO 97 images are also available on findmypast, refer above. Ancestry titles appear inaccurate in regarding dates. [3] The National Archives classifies WO 97 records to 1913, not beyond. [4] The WO 116 records available on Ancestry may possibly be derived from the National Archives microfilms, which do not extend past 1882, or 1893, depending on category, which are available as free downloads from the National Archives website, refer below. [4] WO 119 records are catalogued by the National Archives as "1757-1849".
  • UK, Household Cavalry Records of Service, 1799-1920 WO 400 records. Released 19 March 2020. Surviving records of service for non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in the Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards and the Household Battalion, and whose Army service concluded in these regiments. WO 400 images are also available on findmypast, refer above.

Fold3: All Databases.
One of the databases is titled "UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Admission And Discharge Records" with constituent records [1] Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Disability and Royal Artillery Out-Pensions. This record set only contains one piece. [2] "WO 116: Disability and Out-Pensions, Admissions", whose index records are available on Ancestry, refer above. Records to piece 165 (TNA last record WO 116/252); [3] 'WO 117: Length of Service Pensions, Admission Books. Records to piece 77 ; [4] WO 121: Discharge Documents of Pensioners. Records to piece 257; [5] WO 122: Discharge Documents, Foreigners' Regiments" Records to piece 14. The latter record series do not appear to be indexed on Ancestry. Note, not all pieces may be included.
The fold3 database "Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents" in addition to the WO 119 records indexed by Ancestry, also includes the database "Royal Hospital, Kilmainham: Pension Admissions", thought to be from WO 118.
Note: WO 117 records are available as a free download from the National Archives website, refer below, and at least some WO 119, WO 121 and WO122 records are available on findmypast, refer above.

Fold3 contains a category Military Books (In the Search use the search term "Military Books", which contains many online Naval & Military Press reprint books relating to both the British Army and the Indian Army. There are also additional titles in the War categories catalogued under the actual title, and a category Australia Military Book Collection, which covers varying periods periods, which appear to be original scans from "Gould Genealogy and History"/"Australian and States Military Collection").

Fold3, an American company, generally provides free access for a limited number of days during the year, as an example 2019-2021 for a few days before and including "Memorial Day", a federal holiday in USA, the last Monday of May. (2021 free access for WW1 and WW2 records, and "Military Books" appears to have extended from c am Friday ET (Eastern Time) (being UTC−05:00; UTC = Greenwich Mean Time) to 11.59 pm ET Monday). 2020 free access for British records, including online books due to VE Day 8 May, with probable free dates 4-10 May (Monday-Sunday). However c October 2020 due to website changes, it is not clear whether Military Books are still considered British records.

Update. Following the 2021 purchase by Ancestry of the pay website Forces War Records, it appears that many/all? of the non-american records from Fold3 also now are available on Forces War Records, probably released late March 2023. From the Home page, scroll to the bottom of the page and select Browse Records. Then scroll down the list of datasets to the required record set, including "Military Books", as available on Fold3, but possibly a smaller database. Forces War Records also includes a free dataset "Historical Documents Library", which however requires registration to view the books etc in it.

Chelsea Pensioners

Discharge papers (WO 97, (to 1913)), usually containing service/attestation information, and pension records (WO 22) may also be found at TNA. Records in WO 97 are usually only for men discharged with a pension (i.e. for long service or having been invalided [39]) as these were the papers sent to the Royal Hospital Chelsea and preserved, but from 1883, most causes of discharge, (apart from death (with a few exceptions)[40]) were included. Note however, the survival rate of discharge papers appears to be low for men discharged overseas[41] [ie not in Britain, and therefore low for India]. If a man went on to serve during World War 1 then his records would normally have been removed from WO97 and placed with his WW1 service records[42]. WO 97 records are also unlikely to include men who immediately went on active service with a Militia unit, (whose discharge papers may have been transferred to the Militia unit)[43]. The records often contain a wealth of genealogical information, including birth date and location, physical description, service locations, medical history and medals. Records after 1883[44] usually contain fuller particulars, such as next of kin and details of marriages, births of children or deaths of family members. Note: There are examples of records to 1913, which are located in the WW1 records, rather than in the WO 97 records, even though the man did not serve in WW1.

For the period 1760-1854 (WO 97/1-1271) a name index has been produced, which may be Searched on the National Archives website. The webpage also advises for the period 1760-1872 the documents are arranged alphabetically by name within regiment.

For details of FamilySearch indexes and digitised microfilms for WO97 records, see above under Findmypast.

Other service records

WO 25 War Office and predecessors Registers With a Search. Click on “browse by … reference” for the various records. Includes some records of service, embarkation, disembarkation information etc. Download some, but not all, records for free through the record references in the National Archives Discovery catalogue.

Note a selection of WO 25 records is available on Ancestry, (pay website), in the dataset "Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900"

FamilySearch has a selection of WO 25 indexed records, (free), see FamilySearch catalogue entry where the magnifying glass icon indicates the records which have been indexed and are now searchable - click further near the red text. These appear to be mainly pre 1850 records. The digitised microfilms, (which are only a selection of WO 25 records, in the range WO 25/266 to WO 25/805), including those from which the index records are derived, are available to members of the public with restrictions, being viewable at FS Centres and FS Affiliate Libraries, see FamilySearch Centres.

Kilmainham Pensioners

The records online at findmypast now include those men discharged through the Kilmainham Hospital in Ireland, as "British Army Pensioners - Kilmainham, Ireland 1783-1822". These records are held under TNA reference WO 119, and are similar to the Chelsea Pensioner records WO 97, above.

There are other records for Kilmainham , not digitised by findmypast, under WO 118 “Registers of in- and out- pensioners of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham”. In-pensioners were admitted until 1922.

These two record series may be searched by name on the National Archives website: WO 118 Search, WO 119 Search

FamilySearch has digitised microfilms for these records, with catalogue entries:
Registers of out-pensioners of the Army and of the Militia, 1759-1863 (W. O. 118) This appears to be a selection of WO 118 records, not the complete series.
For WO 119, see above under Findmypast.
These digitised microfilms are viewable at FamilySearch Centres. In addition the WO 118 records may be viewed at a Family Search Affiliate Library.

Other Pension Records

Another useful TNA source is the now available online WO 22 subseries "Army and other pensions paid out locally in India, Ceylon and China" detailing names and payments made, including WO 22/228-230 Bengal, WO 22/237-238 Bombay and WO 22/266-270, mainly Madras.

WO 120 and WO 121 records may be helpful.[45] Catalogue references are:

  • WO 120 "From about 1812 dates of death have been noted and in the last series these dates extend to 1877" The WO 120 records do not appear to be available online but are available on FamilySearch digitised microfilm, catalogue entry. See FamilySearch Centres for details.
    • The book British Army Pensioners Abroad, 1772-1899 by Norman K. Crowder includes all British Army pensioners who retired to any place outside of Great Britain for which records are available (1772-1899). There are 8,934 entries, transcribed from WO 120/35 and WO 120/69-70. Each entry has one line, in the form "51st Regiment of Foot; Josh ABBOTT; pension awarded 27 Sept 1842; residence - Hobart Town, Australia; died 22 Apr 1871. Source WO120 Volume 69 page 206".[46] Available at the British Library UIN: BLL01008881220, including open access shelves. A "transcription of those entries with relevance or reference to India" of 1135 records may be found on the FIBIS database.
  • WO 121 records. These records are available online on findmypast , refer above. The records include "Register of men discharged without pension", 1884 to 1887. Although the catalogue does not mention this, there are many records of men leaving the army in India under the heading "Nominal list of men discharged by the Commander-in-Chief in India." As the register provides name, regimental number, rank, corps, date and cause of discharge, attestation date (and a few other administration details) it is an invaluable resource for those not able to find these details elsewhere.

These records are included in the National Archives catalogue entry Records of the Royal Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals. The latter hospital was in Ireland. This category of records also includes

  • WO 116 Disability and all Royal Artillery pensions and
  • WO 117 Pensions awarded to soldiers for length of service.

Some of these records, in particular WO 116 (for what appears to be WO 116/1-165 being Cavalry and Infantry Disability October 1715 to 1882 (when the records cease) and Royal Artillery 1 November 1833 to 1893) (when the records continue but are not digitised) and WO 117 ( October 1823 to 1913) are available to download free of cost from the National Archives website, though the Discovery catalogue, or the links above. Note, some records within this series have been seen subject to a fee, if so it is suggested you query.
Elsewhere, it is stated these are large pdfs, which need a broadband internet connection. An British Army Message Board post[47] details some of the information found.

An interesting series of selected records is PIN 71: Selected War Pensions Award Files for Service Prior to 1914. This series consists of personal case files on disablement pensions arising from service in the Army or Navy before the First World War and case files concerning widows of such servicemen. The files contain medical records and details of place of birth, age, names of parents and siblings, religion, physical attributes, marital and parental status. The series appears to consist of approximately 6,300 individual files which are searchable by name online on the Discovery catalogue. The actual files however are not available online.

Service and pension records from World War 1 from the National Archives are available on the pay sites findmypast and Ancestry, refer above. They do contain some papers for men who did not serve in WW1,[48] so it is suggested you check these records for men with service prior to the War years. The World War 1 records include

  • WO 363 records also known as the ‘Burnt Documents.’ These are the records which survived a fire, about one third of the total documents.
  • WO 364 records
  • PIN 82, The National Archives record series from the Ministry of Pensions available on Findmypast in the database "British Armed Forces, First World War Widows' Pension Forms", located in Military, Armed Forces & Conflict/First World War. These are only a sample of the original forms, less than 2% of the original records. The rest of the collection was destroyed. Includes pension records for soldiers who died up to 1925.

Muster rolls

Unlike those of the presidency armies, muster rolls for British Army regiments stationed in India are not at the British Library but are instead at The National Archives at Kew in London.

Refer National Archives Guides, below, in particular the linked webinar "Army Musters".

The majority of the Muster records up to 1878 are in WO 12, including Cavalry and Infantry, with Royal Artillery muster records in WO 10. The catalogue describes the records as:

"...a comprehensive means of establishing dates of enlistment, movements throughout the world, and of discharge or death. The first entry may show age on enlistment. An entry on the form "Men becoming non-effective", sometimes to be found at the end of each quarter's musters, shows the birthplace, trade, and date of enlistment of any soldier discharged or dead during the quarter. From about 1868, at the end of each muster, may be found a Marriage Roll, which enumerates wives and children for whom married quarters were provided."

Detail from a 1877 Married Roll

An 1877 example of data from a Marriage Roll can be seen in the image on the right.

From 1878 to 1898, all muster rolls are in WO 16. The majority of the records for the years 1878 to 1888 contain detailed pay lists with names. From 1888 onwards (WO 16/2917-3049) the series consists of company muster rolls only, and these do not contain pay lists. From about 1890, the muster rolls generally are only for men at Depots, and recruits, and do not generally include Battalions overseas.[49]

The Muster Rolls for the 63rd Regiment of Foot in the period 1819-1840 are known to contain Officers names[50], but generally the rolls are of enlisted men.

Muster roll records are unfortunately NOT available on LDS microfilms. If you are a FIBIS member and are unable to visit Kew, the FIBIS Research team should be able to assist.

Please note that muster roll records may be missing for some Regiments and periods, in India and generally. For example, there are virtually no muster roll records for the Royal Artillery in India.

Online records
  • Ancestry (pay site with a free search) includes the collections
  • Findmypast includes the records, (located in Armed forces & conflict/Regimental & service records) British Army, Worldwide Index 1861 extracted from the National Archives April-June quarter Paylists held in WO 10 (Royal Artillery), WO 11 (Royal Engineers) and WO 12 (Cavalry, Guards, Infantry and other units) series War Office records, including men serving overseas. Note, one record seen is based on an 1862, not 1861, muster record.[53] Searching the records is free, but charges apply to view the records, although they can be viewed for free at TNA (and other institutions with a FMP subscription). Also on Findmypast is the database British Army, Worldwide Index 1871, with census day 2 April 1871 and generally covering much of the June Quarter 1871, extracted from War Office army pay lists. Further databases in this series are: British Army, Worldwide Index 1841, created from muster rolls and pay lists between April and June 1841 (released (2016/1) and British Army, Worldwide Index 1851(released 2016/9), which contains records from regiments listed in this regimental list.
Worldwide Indexes 1841-1871 are also available on the Ancestry owned pay websites fol3/Forces War Records.
As advised in the section above, there are virtually no muster roll records for Royal Artillery soldiers in India.

Medal Rolls

See Medal Rolls. Includes information about those medal rolls available online.

Military Nurses

See the Fibiwiki page Nurse.

Army Orders etc

There are record series at the National Archives concerning Army Orders and Instructions etc. Army Council Instructions (ACIs), were issued 'For Official Use Only' and, unlike Army Orders (AOs), were not public documents. ACIs were effectively legal directions and had the weight of law. Army Orders were the means by which they were carried out.[54]
TNA catalogue references:

  • WO 123 1711-1992. Ministry of Defence and predecessors: Army Circulars, Memoranda, Orders and Regulations. Includes Army Orders. Army Orders are also available at the British Library UIN: BLL01001093463 , with an additional series of records IOR/L/MIL/17/1/1886-1890 (British Army: General Orders and Circular Memoranda (1861-1866)) and IOR/L/MIL/17/1/1891-1967 (British Army: General Orders ‎ (1867-1945)).
Example image of 2 pages.[55]
For online editions to December 1917 (broken range), see Military periodicals online - Army Orders.
  • WO 293 1914-1964 War Office: Army Council: Instructions. This series contains a complete set of the formal orders known as Army Council Instructions, from January 1916 to March 1964, when they were superseded by Defence Council Instructions (Army). The series also contains the final years of the preceding War Office Instructions from August 1914 to December 1915. Also available at the British Library IOR/L/MIL/17/1/2031-2062 1916-1947. Example image of 2 pages.[55]
  • War Establishments WO 24/894 1888-1891 to WO 24/999 1955.

War Diaries

Research guides

National Archives Guides
British Library Guides
Online books
  • Tracing your family history: Army published by Imperial War Museum London, catalogued 2006. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. Keep in mind that developments in online records will not be covered.
  • My ancestor was in the British Army : how can I find out more about him? by Michael J Watts and Christopher T Watts, 2014 reprint of 2009 edition, first published 1992. (1995 edition). Published by Society of Genealogists London. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. Keep in mind that developments in online records since the last date of publication 2014 will not be covered.
World War I
World War I Army Ancestry 4th edition 2003 by Norman Holding, revised and updated by Iain Swinnerton. Published by Federation of Family History Societies, UK. (3rd edition 1997) Both Books to Borrow. Keep in mind that developments in online records will not be covered.

India Office military records at the British Library

For a comprehensive description of sources available in the India Office Records, see Peter Bailey's article in FIBIS Journal 13.

There is a small collection of India Office records at the British Library called British Army Records IOR/L/MIL/15 1806-1930 (catalogue entry which includes links to subgroups including British Army: British troops embarked for India IOR/L/MIL/15/42-46 1871-1889).
Update: The latter records are available[57] on Findmypast (pay website), located in Military, Armed Forces & Conflict/Other Wars & Conflicts, (added 9 July 2021).

There are also reference books from the Military Department Library relating to the British Army IOR/L/MIL/17/1 (catalogue entry), including Army Lists for the British Army, apart from publications specifically relating to the British Army in India.

Up until the early 1860s, a British man, or man of British descent could be a soldier/officer in one of the Presidency Armies in India. These were separate from the British Army, instead consisting of regiments formed by the East India Company and under their control. Many men from those Armies then transferred to the British Army, so if you have a reference to a man in the British Army in India in the 1860s, he may well be one of those who transferred. You may be able to locate him in the records of one of the Presidency Armies, which are to be found at the British Library, see Presidency Armies for an overview, and Bengal Army, Madras Army, or Bombay Army for details.

Ecclesiastical returns

If the man married, had children or died out on the Sub-continent then records of these occurences can often be found in the India Office Church records. However, some regimental chaplains only filed their BMDs with the General Register Office in London. The British Army Overseas Indexes can be found in genealogical libraries, the National Archives and searched on various websites including and Certificates of these army returns can then be obtained from the GRO by ordering them online. For more details refer Chaplains Returns.

Note that if a record is available both in the Church records and in the General Register Office records, the latter may contain more information, at least for some time periods. By way of example, in 1903 the additional information available for a marriage record was the nationalities of the groom and bride, and the occupations of the fathers of the groom and bride.

Cemetery records

  • See Cemeteries including details about Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.

Courts martial and desertion

Other sources

Additional sources include:

Soldiers’ wills

Online search Find a soldier's will Search for the will of a soldier who died while serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986. UK Government Probate Service. Free to search, (but first you must register) and then pay for a record.

No further details are given, but previously this link[58] advised that 300,000 wills of soldiers killed in action were to become available online. They do not include officers. These wills date from the Crimea period onwards, and appear to be wills completed by soldiers in their paybooks. It appears the majority are from WW1. The article "Wills of English soldiers killed in the Great War" by David Tattersfield 25 September 2013 (“The Western Front Association”, now an archived webpage) has more details.

Update. What appears to be the same database of Index records only in respect of privates and non-commissioned officers, is now available on the pay website Findmypast,[59] added c 20 November 2020, at which time located in Civil Deaths & Burials/Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records. Full records from UK Government Probate Service, see above.

The index to some soldiers’ wills, perhaps more likely to be officers' wills, are also available in the Probate Calendars Of England & Wales 1858-1996, in an additional section on the UK Government website, mentioned above. Also see Wills, Administrations, Probate and Inventories.

For soldiers with a Scottish domicile, Soldiers’ Wills are available on ScotlandsPeople. Free to search, but pay to view. Most are from WW1, then WW2, with very limited data for other dates.

Soldiers Wills 1914-1918 National Archives of Ireland. Search online. The National Archives of Ireland holds over 9,000 wills of enlisted and non-commissioned soldiers domiciled in Ireland, from the thirty-two counties of Ireland, who fought in the British Army in the World War I and in the South African war of 1899-1902. The collection does not include wills of commissioned officers.

Soldiers’ effects records at the National Army Museum

These records relate to monies paid to the named relatives of deceased soldiers and those discharged insane. The records include officers. They do not give details of the personal possessions of dead personnel, but provide next of kin details. Transcripts of records between 1901 and 1960 are available, at a charge. They are not viewable at the Museum as they are stored off site.[60] Further details are provided in an archived National Army Museum link

Update January 2015. Some of these records are now available on the pay website Ancestry, record category Military, with the dataset titled UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929.[61] For entries involving the India and Mesopotamia theatres in WW1, there will generally be two separate records for each death.[62]

WW1 pension records

WFA WW1 pension record cards
Updates:2018/10/03. Ancestry has released the first stage of the records in the database "UK, WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923",[63] (located in Military), which are index records, with the images available on the Ancestry owned pay website fold3,[64] (which requires an Ancestry All Access subscription, or a separate fold3 subscription). The first released records relate to Naval and Mercantile Marine explained in the WFA article "Release of Naval and Mercantile Marine Pension Records by Ancestry" October 2018. Manual look ups have been suspended and are unlikely to be available in the future.
2018/11. Release of Ledgers. British Army and Royal Air Force. Record cards will be released in 2019. "Further sets of Pension Records saved by The Western Front Association available on Ancestry" c 9 November 2018. "A Further Release of First World War Pension Records by Ancestry" c 10 November 2018. "The Western Front Association's Pension Record Card and Ledger Archive" c 10 November 2018. WFA
Currently (2018/11/19) there are problems with the fold3 Search, and it is better to search on Ancestry.
2018/12. WFA members can access these records for free through the WFA's members' area.
Added 2019/09/26 Pension Record Cards - claims for soldiers who were killed written c 1 July 2019. WFA. A card should exist for every soldier, sailor or airman who died in the war provided his next of kin claimed a pension.
More records to be released in 2020. Article 1, Article 2, written c 2020/02. Article 3 2020/03/17. WFA
Added 2021/01/30 Announcing the publication of 2.9 million pension cards. Other Ranks Survived: The final release of Pension Records WFA.
Note 2021/05/11. The database appears to contain men who were not in the British Army. A card was seen for a claim by the widow, living in South Africa, of John Henry Doyle, No 1372, Gunner 2nd Rhodesian Regiment, died in South Africa, after discharge.
Scottish pension records

Scottish WW1 Pension Appeals Tribunal records, National Records of Scotland catalogue reference PT6, are to have indexed records produced and digitised, funded by the Wellcome Trust, and should be available by the end of 2019, free of charge, possibly through the ScotlandsPeople website.[65]

WW1 Casualty Lists

In its military sense, the term "casualty" includes all those who are killed in action or who die of wounds, as well as those who are wounded, listed as missing, or taken prisoner of war.[66]

WW1 Casualty Lists were initially published on a daily basis in newspapers, but WO original lists no longer appear to exist. They were then published weekly by HMSO, as War Office Weekly Casualty List no.1-48 (7 Aug.1917 - 2 July 1918), and later as Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry) no.49-83 (9 July 1918 - 4 March 1919), available at some libraries.

Daily lists may be found in online newspaper databases such as The [London] Times Digital Archive, for access see Miscellaneous tips, and The Scotsman in Scotland, the latter initially all casualties but later limited to Scots related. TheGenealogist, a pay website, as part of its Diamond premium subscription, includes a database "Military and Casualty Lists"[67], which appears to consist of Daily Lists transcribed from newspapers, together with Weekly Lists transcribed and with images, from British Library held original publications,[68] with data to April 1918,[69] (Weekly List No. 36 April 9th 1918[70]) but with some gaps in the data, and Officers seem to be listed to 1920.[71] Added July 2017, with later 1919 additions, findmypast and the British Newspaper Archive[72], under Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry) contain Lists from 7 Aug. 1917 to 4 Mar. 1919 (currently (2019/01/06) missing publications between 1 Jan. and 23 Apr. 1918), and not all editions may be complete.[73] These websites may also contain newspapers with Daily Lists. On findmypast, the Weekly Lists may be located either in the category Newspapers and periodicals, or in the category Armed Forces & Conflict/First World War in the databases "British Army, First World War Casualty Lists", and the related Browse database,[74]which have different viewing formats, the latter much easier to view/browse than the Newspapers format. Note, however, the Armed Forces category does not contain any 1919 publications.
Update 17 July 2019, National Library of Scotland released a free database of all weekly Casualty Lists,[75] except one, and currently (2021/09/28) the NLS database is still missing List No. 63, 15 October 1918. Note, some missing names were noted in the NLS pages, due to cropping at the margins during the filming (an example[75]), so it is worthwhile trying different sources of databases for comparison if you cannot find a name of interest.

Weekly Casualty List No. 78, January 28th, 1919 is known to contain names of "Released Prisoners of War from Germany, arrived in England".[76] It is possible that names of released POWs are similarly contained in other editions, particularly those issued after 11 December 1918.

Note, online searching may be unsuccessful due to the underlying poor quality OCR text caused by the tiny font used in the original lists.[73]

Note, the above Casualty Lists include British personnel serving in the Indian Army.[77]

WW1 British Red Cross & Order Of St John Enquiry Lists For Wounded And Missing

Naval & Military Press has published a number of facsimile reprints, in total 14 (9 for 1915, 2 for 1916, 1 for 1917, 2 for 1918)[78] catalogued as British Red Cross & Order Of St John Enquiry List For Wounded And Missing, however the titles on the book covers do not contain the word for. N&MP states the originals are held by the Department of Printed Books, The Imperial War Museum, “who hold the largest collection of these titles known to exist”. The IWM catalogue reference is "Enquiry list... : wounded and missing", part of Books, First World War, catalogue number LBY S. 6/767, and the holding details are 1915 (July-September), 1916 (February, September), 1917 (up to and including July 20th 1917, reprint), 1918 (October, December). Note: the IWM catalogue, when re-searching, often did not locate the item. In addition, elsewhere[79] it is advised that a publication available at IWM catalogued as The British Red Cross Society. Summary of Work for the week ending… includes a “report by the Enquiry Department for Wounded and Missing”, which possibly may include a List of names. These reports are catalogued by IWM as LBY BRCS B69- LBY BRCS B76 1914- 21 Oct.-4, 11, 24 Nov.-1, 5, 12, 19 Dec; LBY BRCS B77- LBY BRCS B87 1915- 2, 9, 16, 23 Jan.-6, 13, 20, 27 Feb.-6, 13, 27 Mar.; LBY BRCS B88- LBY BRCS B97 1915- 10, 17 Apr.-1, 8, 15, 29 May-5, 12, 19, 26 June; LBY BRCS B98- LBY BRCS B103 1915-3, 10, 17, 24? July-7, 21 Aug. LBY BRCS B104 Summaries of Work 11 September 1915 - March 1919. It is possible there may be additional IWM catalogue entries.

The Red Cross Archive in London is stated to hold additional lists to those reprinted by Naval and Military Press,[80] but details could not be located in the Red Cross Archive online catalogue, so it is unclear under what title they are catalogued. The British Library catalogue details one list Enquiry List, No. 21, 1918. Wounded and missing... up to November 20th, 1918 (UIN: BLL01001129921). The Australian War Memorial Library holds copies, probably four, catalogued as Enquiry list : wounded and missing by British Red Cross and Order of St. John. (More details of these records.[81][80]). The reprints are available at The National Archives Library.

Fold3, an Ancestry related pay website has a database "British WWI Wounded And Missing", which is stated to be sourced from the Naval & Military Press, but which reprint(s) is/are included is not stated, or otherwise known. (Total records 158,041). The records are stated to be a "List of wounded and missing British, Australian, Canadian, South African personnel in all theatres of war about whom enquiries have been made". Forces War Records, a pay website, contains a database consisting of the 1 August 1917 List (List No. 14, 1917).
Update, c 20 November 2020. Findmypast, a pay website, has added a database (seemingly almost identical to that on Fold3), "British Red Cross..." [82] located in Military, Armed Forces & Conflict/First World War, total records 158,035.
The data may possibly include regimental details not generally available elsewhere, such as Battery number for Royal Artillery soldiers, and Company details for Infantry soldiers.

Prisoners of War

ICRC Archives
  • Prisoners of the First World War - ICRC Archives, including Glossary of abbreviations and acronyms in the lists. Free online records of the International Committee of the Red Cross, primarily from the Western, Romanian and Serbian Fronts, but does not include records from the Russian Front. These records may be quite complex to search, and there are many helpful hints about searching on the Great War Forum.[83] There is also some information on the Long, Long Trail website - "Records of British prisoners of war 1914-1918" and "Making the most of the Red Cross prisoner of war records"[84]. The records include soldiers of the Indian Army taken as POWs on the Western Front and sent to Germany.
  • From 24 May 2019, some of the records (details unknown) are available on findmypast, see next section.
  • Forces War Records, a pay website, includes a transcribed database WWI Prisoner of War Records based on ICRC records of British soldiers. However, there is no information about the number of transcribed records available.
  • Reports by ICRC about Prisoner of War Camps, WW1 French language. ICRC on Also available through the ICRC website, click on individual camps in list of camps.
  • ICRC Archives in Geneva has records for the Second World War. There is a quarterly "quota" for enquires, due to staff numbers but if the quota has been exceeded, you can apply at the beginning of the next quarter. Details are linked from the page Researching victims of conflict. It appears that the demand for this service is very great, and elsewhere it was stated that as the quota may be filled within two hours of opening, it was suggested to check from 7am UK time on the day the quota opens.
  • Findmypast includes a database "Prisoners Of War 1715-1945" and also a similar "Browse" database (both located in Armed forces & conflict/Regimental & service records) which contains records from The National Archives , including selected FO 383 records, including some for Indian Army soldiers. The records included are detailed in this Findmypast link which indicates there is also a category "Transcript only material". However, records added subsequently, such as the ICRC records next mentioned, although included in this database, do not appear to have been included in the description of the database.
Update 24 May 2019. A group of records from First World War ICRC records (see above) has been added to Findmypast, although exact details were not provided.[85] It appears possible to search by regiment, which isn't possible in the original ICRC records. Some names have been transcribed incorrectly. As the original records were mainly typed, it has been suggested that inaccurate transcription may be due to automatic transcription by OCR (optical character recognition).
Helpful hints about searching in this Findmypast dataset. [86]
  • Ancestry (pay website) contains the database "UK, British Officer Prisoners of War, 1914-1918"[87] (located in category Military) consisting of data transcribed from the 1919 publication List of British Officers Taken Prisoner in the Various Theatres of War Aug 1914 to Nov 1918 [88], compiled from records kept by Messrs Cox & Co.'s Enquiry Office. Transcribed records from this source are also available in the findmypast database above "Prisoners Of War 1715-1945", (sub category "Transcript only material"). Some sample pages from this publication for the Western Theatre of operations are available
  • Also see WW1 Casualty Lists, above.


1911 England and Wales Census

British Army personnel in India, together with their families appeared for the first time in an England and Wales Census in 1911. The 1911 Census is available on the pay websites findmypast, Ancestry and perhaps other pay sites. This National Archives catalogue entry shows the regiments that were included in the 1911 Census. The items (17 in total) are RG 14/34978-34992, 34995, 34997. However, it is probable there were other regiments in India at this time. The census was taken on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911. Note however, there are is at least one known instance of a soldier and his family known to be in the British Army in India at the time of the census, whose names do not appeat in the census, another indication that the data may not be complete. The 1911 Census also includes similar information for other British Army overseas bases, and returns from ships of the Royal Navy at sea and in ports in England, Wales, Ireland but not Scotland, and abroad. For ships at sea on the census date, the next port of call determined into which category the records were placed.

For those with access to Ancestry, for a helpful finding aid to locate regimental information, consisting of all overseas including India, and in addition England, Wales and Ireland, but not Scotland, see Stations of British Army troops in India - 1911 England and Wales Census. Also includes Royal Navy, overseas and England, Wales and Ireland, but not Scotland.

The Ancestry owned pay websites fold3/Forces War Records include a specific database "UK, Worldwide Army Census, 1911" introduced 7 June 2023, being transcriptions from the Census data.

1911 Scotland Census
  • In Scotland, the Census was also taken on the night of Sunday 2 April 1911 and records are available online on the pay website ScotlandsPeople. There is a separate registration district called Shipping - Royal Navy.[89] Records for previous censuses in Scotland are available on findmypast, Ancestry, etc.
1911 and 1901 Ireland Census
  • Census of Ireland 1901/1911 The National Archives of Ireland. Free online records. The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901 and the 1911 census was taken on 2 April 1911. (Transcriptions of these records are also available on the pay website Findmypast).
  • The Ancestry owned pay websites fold3/Forces War Records include a database "UK, Ireland Army Census, 1911" introduced 22 May 2023, being transcriptions of the British Army in the 1911 Irish census.
1921 England and Wales Census

The 1921 England and Wales Census, taken on Sunday 19 June 1921, (initially scheduled for April 1921, but delayed) is available on Findmypast pay website and is included in the Premium 12 months subscription, or is available on a pay per view record basis. At release date 6 January 2022, and for an extended period up to three years, Findmypast has exclusive rights. The overseas coverage is similar to the 1911 census, and also includes RAF bases overseas, including British military personnel in Ireland, plus the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.[90]

1921 Scotland Census

The census in Scotland, recorded on the night of 19 June 1921, was released on ScotlandsPeople (pay website) 30 November 2022. Includes military personnel.
Census returns Guide. Search indexes free of charge and use pay-per-view to view.

1921 Ireland

There was no census in Ireland in 1921. Censuses in Ireland and Northern Ireland were conducted in 1926. However, members of the British military (British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy), together with H.M. Coastguard Service, across Ireland appear in the 1921 England and Wales Census, part of the category British armed forces overseas.

1939 England and Wales Register

The survey taken on 29th September 1939 was for civilians only, and does not include service personnel who were either in army, naval and air force establishments on the 29th September, or even members of the forces who were resident or visiting their own home at the time.[91]

National Army Museum

The National Army Museum's previous website included the following Information Sheets (archived versions shown) which also refer to sources at other institutions.

Absent Voters Lists(UK): 1918- c 1923, a few later

Generally arranged by Electoral District. Mainly contain military personnel, but also men and women who were engaged in war-related work who were still living away from home. Sources are major libraries and record offices nearest to the place in question. Some of these records are available online. The London Metropolitan Archives holds some AVLs to 1939.[92], however it appears that information such as a serviceman’s rank, unit and number, only appeared initially for a few years.[93] Note however these lists appear to have contained some errors when first compiled.[94]

In October 2015, findmypast introduced a database "Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921" (located in Census, Land & Surveys/Electoral Rolls), based on records from the British Library. The coverage is set out in Britain, Absent Voters Constituency List. Data additional to the initial release is expected to be added. (Guide to BL holdings[95]). There is also a stand alone "Kent, Bromley Absent Voters List 1918". In July 2016 an associated dataset "Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921 Browse" was introduced to enable browsing through the records. Additionally there appear to be some Absent Voters Lists within the findmypast database “England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1832-1932” (located in Census, Land & Surveys/Electoral Rolls) as a researcher here found a 1931 AVL record which showed a soldier’s unit and number.[96] 2018/09/14 a separate database "England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920-1932" was introduced, expanded to "1910-1932" (from 2021/09/24) stated by findmypast able to be searched with greater accuracy.

In November 2017, Ancestry introduced a database "UK, Absent Voter Lists, 1918-1925, 1939"[97] located in Census & Electoral Rolls, and also in Military/Soldier, Veteran & Prisoner Rolls & Lists, the source being “Absent Voter Lists taken from various Electoral Register collections”, but otherwise unspecified. To see the coverage, look under “Browse this collection” on the Ancestry webpage for the collection. Includes some areas of England and Scotland. It is believed the London records are from the London Metropolitan Archives. There is an additional Ancestry database “Midlands, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1955” (located in Census & Electoral Rolls) which specifically includes AVLs (Birmingham and some of north Warwickshire). Other Electoral Registers, details of which may be found by entering the keyword electoral in the Card Catalogue Search, (accessible from the Search tab at the top of Ancestry webpages) perhaps may also contain unspecified AVLs.

Other online Lists, additional to those mentioned in the guides above: Glasgow 1920; FamilySearch images for Swansea West Division (Wales, West Glamorgan).

Details of some AVLs for Wales,[98] (not online).

Attestation, or Enlistment books (Army Book 358) from 1920

Following the restructure of the Army in 1920, new Attestation, or Enlistment books (Army Book 358) were introduced, the originals of which were sent to various Regimental Museums in the early 2000s [99] Some of these records are now in regional Record Offices and Archives. The National Army Museum holds these records for some regiments, including the five Irish Regiments disbanded in 1922 - the latter may be Searched online, and images viewed, on the NAM website for free (released online c 2016/9). The index records from the NAM also are in a findmypast dataset "British Army, Irish Regimental Enlistment Registers 1877-1924", (released 2017/11) but the images are only on the NAM website.

The enlistment records for the Royal Artillery and the Tank Corps[100]are available from 1919 online on the pay website Findmypast, located in the category Armed forces & conflict/Regimental & service records. Records for the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards are also on Findmypast as part of the database "British Army Service Records", see above.

Ancestry (pay website) contains the database "Surrey, England, Regimental Rolls and Recruitment Registers, 1914-1947" from records at the Surrey History Centre, consisting of records from the Queen's Royal West Surrey and East Surrey Regiments, together with some from 21st-24th Battalions, the London Regiment.[101] Details of some records found, and the London Regiment.[51][52]

Enlistment book records for the Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Army Ordnance Corps are available on the pay website RLC Digital Library, see Royal Army Service Corps

As a consequence of the 1920 restructure, a new seven-digit number was issued in 1920 to all men then serving in regular or Territorial units. For details, see External links, below. These new numbers will be found in the enlistment book records.

Regimental histories

Regimental histories which have been published, may be found in many libraries, including the British Library, the National Army Museum, the Imperial War Museums, Oxford University Library, the Prince Consort's Library and libraries of Regimental Museums and Archives.


  • A Bibliography of Regimental Histories of the British Army compiled by Arthur S. White 1988 edition. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. First published 1965 by Society for Army Historical Research in conjunction with the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, reprinted 1988 and 1992. The 1992 editions is available at the British UIN: BLL01012358760 . The 1965 edition is Searchable but not viewable on the HathiTrust Digital Library. Also currently available in a reprint 1992 edition, which in turn is available online on the Ancestry owned pay website, see Historical books online below. Some sample pages from Google Books for the 1992 reprint edition are also available online.
  • Regiments : Regiments and Corps of the British Empire and Commonwealth, 1758-1993 : a critical bibliography of their published histories by Roger Perkins. 1994. Available at the BL UIN: BLL01009529783. Also Searchable, but not viewable on Google Books and with the same restrictions on HathiTrust Digital Library. Originally published 1989 as Regiments of the Empire: A Bibliography of their published histories.
These two publications are available on one CD-ROM which is searchable.[102]
  • "Regiments" page 371 A Bibliography of British History 1914-1989 by Keith Robbins 1996 Books to Borrow/Lending Library.

Regimental Journals

Some regiments published a regular regimental journal which can be a valuable source of information. Examples are St George’s Gazette, journal of the Northumberland Fusiliers,(previously 5th Regiment of Foot) published from 1883 to 1968, and The Highland Light Infantry Chronicle, journal of the Highland Light Infantry (previously 71st Regiment of Foot), published quarterly from 1893 to 1958.
Whether a journal existed may be included in the regimental information available on the website (refer below).
For possible library sources, see Regimental histories, above.
A limited number of journals are available online, including a broken range of editions of The Rifle Brigade Chronicle for the years 1890 to 1905 on, and additional editions to 1920 on the pay website Findmypast, and some editions of the Highland Light Infantry Chronicle. The King’s Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle 1900-1920 is also available on Findmypast.


A number of newspapers in the United Kingdom from 1824 into the 1860s contained a Monthly Military Obituary, being a list of names of officers. Includes deaths overseas or in transit (for example on board ship). Available in online newspaper collections including findmypast.[103]

Miscellaneous online sources

Many online sources are mentioned in other sections. Other miscellaneous sources may be found by searching the database information of websites such as Findmypast and Ancestry.

  • See Findmypast. Under the tab "Search records" is a category "A-Z of record sets" which is a listing of all the record databases.
    • For Military records from the Search at the top of the webpage, select Military, armed forces & conflict, and scroll the sub categories on the left hand side of the webpage.
    • Includes the category Military, armed forces & conflict/Medal Rolls and Honours which includes the databases
      • Britain, Campaign, Gallantry & Long Service Medals & Awards. This database includes India General Service Medal Pegu (Army) and (Navy) 1852-53 (added c 2022/06/03).
      • British Army, Recommendations For Military Honours and Awards 1935-1990 (added c 2022/06/03)
    • Includes the category Military, armed forces & conflict/Regimental & service records which includes the databases
      • "Prisoners Of War 1715-1945" which appears to contain some records from the National Archives records FO 383, including some for Indian Army soldiers.
      • "British Army, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps 1917-1920". These records are only a small percentage of the originals due to later war damage in September 1940. From a FMP article, the records are from The National Archives' WO 162 and WO 368 series, including WO 162/54, WO 162/58, WO 162/62, WO 162/65. (Introduced c 2020/03/06).
    • Includes the category Military, armed forces & conflict/First World War which includes the databases
      • "Britain, First World War Campaign Medals" Transcriptions only, no images. Images are available on Ancestry, see Medal Rolls. The National Archives, Kew record series WO 329.
      • "Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920" Transcriptions only, no images. Images are available on Ancestry, see Medal Rolls.
      • "British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers' Medical Records", and a related Browse database. Images. This collection comprises The National Archives’ series, MH 106, War Office: First World War Representative Medical Records of Servicemen. Due to data protection, Findmypast has only published records where the admission year is dated back 100 years. For this reason, more records will be released in the coming years. Transcriptions of this record series are available on Forces War Records, see details below. Currently (2018/12/23) Findmypast appears to have more records. List of Classification of wounds used in MH 106 records. Some RAMC medical abbreviations.[104]
      • "Wiltshire WW1 Hospital Records" from 3 hospitals for British and ANZAC service personnel 1914-1919 and one hospital up to 1936. From records at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. Indexes only, there are no images. (Introduced c 2022/05/21).
      • "British Armed Forces, First World War Disability & Retirement Payments For Officers & Nurses". The National Archives record series Ministry of Pensions PMG 42- 47 (six series). (Introduced c 2020/03/06).
      • "Royal Naval Division Records 1914-1919" and "Royal Naval Division Service Records 1914-1920". The Royal Naval Division transferred from the authority of the Admiralty to the War Office on 29 April 1916.
      • Databases based on the publications The Bond of Sacrifice: a Biographical Record of all British officers who fell in the Great War (2 Volumes); Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19 (80 Volumes, HMSO, see titles of the Volumes[105]) and Officers Died in the Great War 1914-19 (the latter two, one database); The Roll of Honour. A biographical record of all members of His Majesty's naval and military forces who have fallen in the war by the Marquis De Ruvigny (5 Volumes). Databases 2 and 3 are also available on Ancestry. Some of these publications are available as (free) online books, see First World War-Historical books online-Those who died.
      • Database based on the publication The National Roll of the Great War, 1914-1918, (14 Volumes), published c 1920. The vast majority of entries refer to combatants who survived the Great War, but also covers support staff and people such as nurses, war workers and other civilians. Entries were compiled by subscription, submitted by individuals or families. This database is available on Ancestry as "England, The National Roll of the Great War, 1914-1918" which however contains only 11 of the 14 volumes.
      • Database based on the publication Ireland's Memorial Records, 1914-1918: being the names of Irishmen who fell in the Great European War (8 Volumes). The Findmypast database is "Ireland's Memorial Record: World War 1: 1914-1918", and there is a similar database on Ancestry "Ireland, Casualties of World War I, 1914-1922".
      Database "Irish Officers Died In The Great War, 1914-1919" based on the book Our Heroes which covered the period August 1914 to July 1916. (Introduced 2018/08/10). This database is also available for free from Our Heros
      • "British Rolls Of Honour and Nominal Rolls, First World War". From miscellaneous published books, including what was previously a separate database based on the book Activities of the British Community in Argentina During the Great War 1914-1919, published in 1920, also available (free) and for photos
      • "British Jewry Book Of Honour, 1914-1920", a database from the book British Jewry Book Of Honour published in 1922, with individual images, (but seemingly not the entire book) available. There is similar database on Ancestry (released 2016/10), consisting of index records only, with the book available on the associated pay site Fold3, located in World War I. Also available to search or read online for free at
      • "British Army, Deserters and Absentees In Police Gazette 1914-1919". Selected dates only, not a complete range.[106], Note that Findmypast/category Newspapers, and British Newspaper Archive include a database "Police Gazette" with available years (at 10 January 2021) 1773-1776, 1829, 1858, 1880, 1898, 1916-1918 with details on a BNA page. Appears to be selected dates only, not a complete range.
    • Includes the category Military, armed forces & conflict/Second World War which includes the database
      • "Royal Artillery Other Ranks: Casualty Cards 1939-1947". These casualty cards (Form RH) were used to record deaths.
    • Includes a database "British Army Schoolchildren and Schoolmasters 1803-1932" (located in Education & work/Schools & education)
    • Includes a database "Britain, Royal and Imperial Calendars 1767-1973" (located in Directories & Social History/Directories & Almanacs) which includes at least some military records. See Findmypast.
  • Ancestry Card Catalogue of all Record Databases (located as an option under the Search tab). Select the Military filter on the left hand side of the page. Some datasets may unexpectedly provide information relating to India. A researcher, who found some relevant records, found the title of "Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900", to be misleading, as they are actually records of enlistment and any subsequent notable events, based on WO 25 records for a selection of regiments[107]. The databases Include "UK, British Army Lists, 1882-1962" (released 2016/10) consisting of a broken range of unspecified Lists, but these are index records only. However images of most of the pages are available on the associated website Fold3.
Also see Ancestry databases mentioned under Findmypast above (in this section).
Ancestry includes databases for Medal Rolls, see Medal Rolls.
Another database is "UK, Naval and Military Courts Martial Registers, 1806-1930", index records only with images on Fold3 under the title UK, Courts Martial Registers.
  • Forces War Records, a pay website, (owned by Ancestry since c May 2021) includes the database "Military Hospitals Admissions and Discharge Registers WW1 Collection",[108]consisting of transcriptions taken from TNA records MH 106: War Office: First World War Representative Medical Records of Servicemen. It is possible that the FWR database is only a selection of records from MH 106, which in turn is only a sample.[109]. Images from this record series are available on Findmypast, refer above, which also appears to have more records (as at 2018/12/23).
  • Previously The Museum of Army Chaplaincy contained an online Search facility for Chaplain Interview Record cards for Anglican (Church of England) clergy who applied to become Temporary Chaplains to the Forces (T.C.F.) between late October 1914 and November 1918. Now known as the Royal Army Chaplains’ Museum, with a new website, this feature is not currently available (at 12 November 2023) but perhaps may return.

Army personnel serving after January 1921

The Army Personnel Centre Historical Disclosures Section holds Army Service records for officers whose service ended after April 1922 and soldiers whose service ended after January 1921. (Note, some documentation has been seen which gives the holding from April 1922, and from January 1921, respectively.)

Update: 2018, May. Foot Guards Regiments service records are a separate category and all, (including pre 1921 records), were moved from regimental archives to the Ministry of Defence, August 2017-May 2018, except for Scots Guards service records, which remain in the regimental archives. (Pre 1921 Scots Guards service records are thought to eventually be going to National Records of Scotland, in Edinburgh).
Update: In February 2021, the MOD began transferring 9.7 million military records for individuals with a discharge date before 31 December 1963 to The National Archives, so the records may be accessible there in the future.[110]
Update 17 August 2021. The National Archives News release. The records included in this collection cover personnel in all three services, Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, where the individual has a date of birth prior to or up to 1939, and closure will apply until 115 years past the date of birth of the individual. The records will be transferred to Kew in batches over the next 6 years.[111]
Update 5 April 2022. The first MOD Service Records are now available, which are Second World War records in the National Archives series WO 420[112], aspects are set out in The MOD Service Records Collection (TNA). Also available WO 421[113] from 22 June 2022, and WO 422 [114] from October 2022.
Update 2 March 2023. The National Archives announced on Twitter that the contract to digitise the first tranche of (MOD) service personnel records had been awarded to Ancestry UK. "Ministry of Defence service records project" TNA, undated, accessed 24 March 2023, now archived 29 Jul 2023 at The first record series to be digitised are WO 419-422.

Note however that some records may not have survived, such as some records for those who were awarded a disability pension,[115] or due to 'weeding'.

The service records of Army personnel serving after these dates remain closed to the public. To obtain details from such records you will often have to prove kinship. Charges may apply. Application forms should be sent to

The Army Personnel Centre
MS Support Unit, P & D Branch
Historical Disclosures, MP555
Kentigern House,
65 Brown Street, GLASGOW G2 8EX
Telephone 0845 600 9663

See the web pages: Get a copy of military service records with a link to Requests for personal data and Service records: a detailed guide ( for forms to download. Previous fact sheet from Veterans-UK : Army Personnel Records And Family Interest Enquiries UK Government Web Archive.

The Ministry of Defence has released an aid for the files they hold for service personnel with a birth date prior to 1901, which contains name, date of birth and service number. Numbers with a P prefix are believed to designate officers.[116] The aid is in the form of a letter of advice and eight attachments in MS Excel Spreadsheet format, which may be found in FOI responses released by MOD: week commencing 1 December 2014.
Update: 2017, April. This MOD database is now available on Ancestry as UK, Military Discharge Indexes, 1920-1971, although Ancestry only implies the source source. (Located in the Military category, and otherwise appears unclassified. If locating through Ancestry Search, use the card catalogue with search term Discharge). Also available as a free dataset on Forces War Records as Service records index of those who served both in WWI and after 1921.
Note: It appears that this database aid is not 100% accurate, as there is a known instance of a file which the MOD subsequently located, which was not included in the provided database.[117] The release (in January 2022) of the 1921 England and Wales Census has also revealed some discrepancies.

Hints, mainly from WW2Talk Forum. Note however, release of record conditions appear to have changed during 2021, and it is unclear just what currently applies.

  • "You want to get next of kin FULL records (make a note on the application for FULL records)"[118]
Note, to receive full records, either 25 years must have elapsed after death, or within 25 years of death, the consent of the immediate next of kin must be been given. Update: It may not be possible to obtain full records (as at 2021/10/19). In July 2021 the MOD advised "Currently under the MOD Publication Scheme all we are releasing is a copy of the AFB200 & attestation papers (if held). These documents meet all our obligations of disclosure".[119]. Comments/complaints have been seen about the small number of pages of records received.
  • Generally a death certificate is needed (as at 2021/10/19). Previously it was said "They will accept anything that is proof of death, even a undertakers receipt or a photograph of a post war civilian headstone”. [120], however this may not currently apply. However, you do not have to supply a death certificate when the date of birth of the individual was more than 116 years ago.[121] [122]
  • The next of kin hierarchy is explained on a WW2Talk Forum topic which also advises that “There is currently about a 12 month wait to receive the records once you apply”.[123] Currently 2021/05/28 it appears that very few, if any, applications have been processed since Corona Virus restrictions were introduced, so there is a growing backlog of unprocessed applications.
  • Currently (2022/04/30) RAF and Royal Navy records may be requested online, using a credit or debit card, but this facility is not available for Army records requests.[122] However, it is understood this facility will become available in the future for Army records.
  • For help in interpreting the records, the Ministry of Defence archived webpage, Army Personnel Centre contains a link (on the right hand side of the webpage, towards the top) to a list of Useful Abbreviations. The link is to a Document download, which depending on your browser, you may to locate in your downloads folder. (Note, this download remains accessible, even though it is reached through an archived webpage). Other list of abbreviations, from Armed and from MOD Acronyms and Abbreviations. Definitions for terms and acronyms used throughout MOD documents. Glossary:

Died in military service from 1948

  • Online Roll of Honour contains the names of members of the Armed Forces who died in military service, on or after 1 January 1948 (and Palestine 1945-47), who are commemorated on the official single service rolls of honour. Ministry of Defence: Veterans UK. Elsewhere[124] it is advised that this a listing of names of servicemen and women killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action, as recorded at the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire.

FIBIS resources

  • Margaret Mulvihill, "'Peculiar Circumstances': Catholic Chaplains of the Victorian British Army in India" FIBIS Journal No 24 (Autumn 2010), pages 26-28. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
  • Ainslie Sharpe, "Boy Soldier to Lancer: John Arnfield in the Anglo -Sikh Wars" FIBIS Journal No 26 Autumn 2011, pages 31-40. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
John Arnfield joined his father's regiment, the 3rd Regiment of Foot, the Buffs in India in 1833, as a Boy soldier, aged 14 years and became a Private on his 18th birthday.
He went on to serve with the 16th Lancers in the Gwalior Campaign and the 1st Sikh War, and with the 9th Lancers in the 2nd Sikh War.
He resigned in 1853 having spent 20 years in the British Army, all in India. However, his years as a Boy were not counted as years of service, so he was not entitled to any pension.

Conditions and activities

Enlistment term

From the end of the Napoleonic Wars until 1847, men were enlisted for twenty-one years, practically for life. From 1847 enlistment was for ten years, later increased to twelve; with a pension after twenty one years for extended service. From 1870, as part of the Caldwell Reforms, “short service” was introduced, where men enlisted for a period of time in the Army, the balance of time in the reserves (total twelve years). The standard term varied over time, including six and six, seven and five, three and nine, nine and three years, [125] but terms may have been modified for regiments going to India.[126]

Article "Short Service for the English soldier in India" by Dr G I H Evatt Army Medical Department, page 79, Volume 5 1876 Journal of the United Service Institution of India

Wives and families travelling to India

For soldiers deployed from Britain to overseas garrisons only a proportion of men were allowed to be accompanied by their wives. For most countries the proportion was six wives per one hundred soldiers. However for India, and Australia, the ratio was twelve wives per one hundred men, including NCOs. The number of children was unlimited.[127] These wives and children were provided with food, accomodation and transportation by the Army and were classified as "on the strength". There are thought to be very few soldiers' wives in India who were "off the strength", however, for one marriage in India (76th Regiment) see External links below. An 1870 Cork newspaper advertisement sought a passage to India for a soldier's wife.[128]


  • Harrington Prayer Rooms were set up in all the major cantonments for use as a 'Soldiers' Scripture Reading and Prayer Room'. [129]
  • Moustaches and beards. An Army Order was issued 6 October 1916 which meant that moustaches were no longer compulsory in the Army.[130]
Circa the WW1 period, beards were forbidden unless you were a Pioneer-Sergeant. Exceptions could be allowed for medical reasons, and the regulation did not apply to chaplains.[131]

See also

External links

Encyclopedia articles


Locate a local archives England and Wales only. Some regimental archives are located in local archives, not at the regimental museum.
Historical Orders of Battle and TOEs 1939-1945, Includes British Army and Indian Army., now archived.
Scarlet into Khaki: Woven & Brass Shoulder Titles worn by British Infantry Regiments 1896-1907 (Incl helmet flash). Multiple pages of high quality images.
  • Uniforms. Great War Forum topic "British uniforms India 1914", 10 pages, with many photographs. (Details.[134])
Uniform items: "British Puggarees 2, 3, 4 and 6 Folds" by Stuart Bates. May 22, 2012. "Helmet Flashes in the British Army" by Benny Bough July 30, 2012. Includes details of two series of reference articles by John Mollo, and by Ron Kidd in The Formation Sign, Journal of The Military Heraldry Society. (Availability.[135]) Alternative terminology is tactical recognition flash, pagri (puggaree) badge, Foreign Service Helmet (F S H) badge, or formation badge. "British Army Spine Pads" by Stuart Bates , April 27, 2012 Photograph: Wolseley helmet. Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), 1916 (c). National Army Museum
Puttee Wikipedia. Puttee tying tutorial Includes Puttee [How to put on a puttee] YouTube video. Includes a few turns in the herringbone style, to help keep a firm fit, using the principles of reverse spiral or looped bandaging.[136] "Puttees and How to Wrap Them" May 31, 2011. How to wrap puttees, with crossing turns by James Heath Jul 9, 2014 YouTube video. Mike's guide to WW1 British and Commonwealth puttees by Mike Everest Sep 12, 2017 YouTube video. Photograph showing puttees with hose tops, 1935 When worn with shorts, puttees were worn over hose tops, often in regimental colours. (Hose tops were essentially knee socks without the feet in them, issued as a cost saving measure. Short socks were also worn, but hidden).
Karkee Web: British & Empire Accoutrements and Personal Equipment of the Twentieth Century

Historical books online

The Empire and the Army by John Fortescue 1928 Written as a text book for those soldiers in the ranks studying for the highest certificate of education.
The Victoria Cross in the Colonies and Gallant Sepoys and Sowars by William Wallingford Knollys. Catalogued 1880. (Note: catalogued title includes Soward.) mirror from PAHAR Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset. Part of the series Deeds of Daring Library. Includes details of the Victoria Cross awarded in India after the Indian Mutiny. First part to page 85, 2nd part to page 176.
The Victoria Cross in Afghanistan and on the frontiers of India during the years 1877, 1878, 1879 & 1880 : how it was won related by W.J. Elliott 1882. Part of the series Deeds of Daring Library. version, missing map, mirror from Digital Library of India.
Volume I; Volume II includes Volunteer regiments, 2nd file, Vol II; Volume III Indian And Colonial Forces, 2nd file, Vol III
The British Army and Auxiliary Forces by Colonel C. Cooper-King, late Professor of Tactics, Royal Military College 1893. Volume I, Volume II With 132 Illustrations. Gallica Catalogued with the subject category "costume militaire", military uniforms.
A History of the Uniforms of the British Army by by Cecil C P Lawson
Volume I From the beginnings to 1760 1962 reprint, first published 1940. Volume II From the beginnings to 1760 1963 reprint, first published 1941. Volume IV 1966 Volume V 1967. All Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
British Military Uniforms by James Laver 1948. A short general history with 24 coloured plates, 20 of which are dated before 1850. James Laver was Keeper of the Departments of Prints and Drawings and of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1938 until 1959. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
British Military Uniforms from Contemporary Pictures: Henry VII to the present day by W Y Carman 1957. Books to Borrow/Lending Library
Richard Simkin's Uniforms of the British Army. Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and other Corps by W. Y. Carman. From the collection of Captain K J Douglas-Morris RN. 1985. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. Richard Simkin (1850–1926) Wikipedia
Cavalry uniforms; including other mounted troops of Britain and the Commonwealth in colour by Robert and Christopher Wilkinson-Latham 1969 Books to Borrow/Lending Library. Also includes some Indian Army uniforms.
British Infantry Uniforms since 1660 by Michael Barthorp, Illustrated by Pierre Turner 1982. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. Barthorp was also the author of British Cavalry Uniforms since 1660, 1984, available at the British Library UIN: BLL01008081465 .
The British Army : its regimental records, badges, devices, etc. by Major J.H. Lawrence-Archer 1888. version, mirror from Digital Library of India.
The Regimental Records of the British Army. A Historical Résumé Chronologically Arranged of Titles, Campaigns, Honours, Uniforms, Facings, Badges, Nicknames, etc. by John S. Farmer 1901
Rank at a Glance in the Army and Navy New and revised edition. Catalogued 1915. Published by George Philip. 48 pages. File is a series of images.
Badges and their meaning : a companion to "Rank at a Glance" : Army & Navy, the R.N.A.S., R.N.D., R.N.R., R.N.V.R., the Royal Marines, Forces of the Overseas Dominions, British Red Cross Society, miscellaneous badges, etc., etc., with descriptive notes. Published by George Philip. Catalogued 1916.
The Flags of our Fighting Army, including Standards, Guidons, Colours and Drum Banners by Stanley C Johnson 1918 version where the images have been enlarged. The Preface refers to a previous book whose full title is The Standards and Colours of the Army from the Restoration, 1661, to the introduction of the Territorial System, 1881 by SM Milne 1893 (available at the British Library UIN: BLL01002500364 ) stating "Students of Army Flags should consult this book whenever possible"; also Rank and Badges, precedence, salutes, colours, and small arms, in Her Majesty's Army and Navy and Auxiliary Forces by Ottley Lane Perry 1887, (available at the BL UIN: BLL01002877261). For the latter publication, Limited pages only, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, 1888 (title differs) File consists of a series of images.
The Badges of Warrant and Non-commissioned Rank in the British Army by Major N.P. Dawnay 1949. File is a series of images. Note: At least one page appears to be out of order, and some pages, 12, 14, 18 and 3 probable pages of illustrations, appear to be missing. (Numbered pages, 64).
Military Badge Collecting by John Gaylor 1977. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
British Army Cloth Insignia 1940 to the present : an illustrated reference guide for collectors by Brian L Davis 1988. Images are unfortunately only in black and white, although colour descriptions are included. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
The History of Scotland, its Highlands, Regiments and Clans, Volume VIII by James Browne 1909 This volume includes the regiments.
Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force, 1859-1908 by Major-General J M Grierson 1909. With coloured plates of uniforms.
The British Soldier: An Anecdotal History of the British Army from Its Earliest Formation to the Present Time by J.H Stocqueler 1857 Google Books
For additional volumes, see Public health - Historical books online
This book was based on an earlier PhD thesis: Terms and conditions of service and recruitment of the rank and file of the British regular home army, 1856 – 1899 by Alan Ramsay Skelley 1975. History and Classics PhD thesis collection, Edinburgh Research Archive. Link to a pdf download which you may need to locate in your downloads folder.
“Army Recruiting” Hansard. British Parliament 19 February 1891. Poor Army conditions.
For editions of Manual of Military Law, a War Office publication, published by Her/His Majesty's Stationery Office, see Military periodicals online - Army Regulations, Equipment, Manuals etc/Army Regulations/General
The Cutter’s Practical Guide to Cutting Every kind of Garment made by Tailors. Part 2. Body Coats of every description, embracing Morning, ... Naval, Military, ... Garments by W D F Vincent 1893. Military and Naval Garments pages 45-49.
The Cutters’ Practical Guide to Cutting Every Kind of Garment Made by Tailors…Part One. Young Men’s, Youths’ and Juvenile Garments, Embracing also Treatise on Trousers, Vests, Military Garments, Liveries etc by W D F Vincent 3rd edition 1898
The Cutters’ Practical Guide to Cutting and Making all kinds of Waistcoats for Gentlemen ... Military & Naval Officers ... Part Ten. Third Edition by W D F Vincent c 1902.
The Cutters’ Practical Guide to the Cutting and Making of all kinds of Trousers, Breeches and Knickers, to which is added chapters dealing with The Cutting and Making of Highland Kilts, Leggings, Gaiters, etc. Eight Edition by W D F Vincent c 1905 Includes Military Trousers pages 34-38; Military Pantaloons pages 94-97.
Vincent's Systems of Cutting all kinds of Tailor-Made Garments [in five Parts] by W D F Vincent 1903. The five Parts are at digital pages 6, 55, 143, 191 and 239.
Pocket Edition of the Cutters' Practical Guide to the cutting of all styles of men’s garments. Coats. Waistcoats. Trousers. Breeches. Overcoats and Sports and Military garments by F R Morris, with chapters on Service uniforms by A A Whife. 17th edition c 1930s. Military from page 106 including Naval and RAF.
"Great Britain and the British Empire" page 72,1924 First Year, 2nd Edition; "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" page 112 1937 edition; "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" page 45, 1940 edition; HathiTrust/Google Books/
For general information about the British Army in India 1924-1940, see Indian Army-Historical books online, item Armaments Year-Book : General and Statistical Information. This item also includes a link to the full series Volumes 1-15, 1924-1940.
"Cardwell's Army Reforms 1870--1881" by Marjie Bloy.
  • The War Office by Hampden Gordon, Assistant Secretary at the War Office 1935 A volume in the Whitehall Series.
The War Office List 1914. 45th Publication. The publication War Office List [of employees], full title varied including The War Office List and Directory for the Civil Departments of the British Army, and The War Office List, and Administrative Directory for the British Army, published for years to 1937, is available at The National Archives WO 346 and STAT 14/1027, and the British Library, the latter has a number of catalogue entries including UIN: BLL01001121472. TheGenealogist pay website, in the Diamond subscription, under Military/Defence Staff Lists has access to "War Office List 1914-1921". FamilySearch catalogue entry for a series of microfiche, currently only available at the Family History Library Salt Lake City, which possibly may become more widely available after digitisation.
Call to Arms : the British Army 1914-18 by Charles Messenger 2006, first published 2005. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
Gentlemen in Khaki and Camouflage : the British Army 1890-2008 by John Strawson 2009 (updated), first published 1989. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
The Oxford History of the British Army General editor David Chandler 1996. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
Sahib : the British soldier in India, 1750-1914 by Richard Holmes 2005. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
Soldiers : Army Lives and Loyalties from Redcoats to Dusty Warriors by Richard Holmes 2011. Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
Reports include Report of the Discipline and Management of the Military Prisons 1855 by Colonel Jebb, published 1856.


  1. Page 3 The world war; a short account of the principal land operations on the Belgian, French, Russian, Italian, Greek and Turkish fronts by Colonel G J Fiebeger 1921
  2. Page 4 The Regimental Companion: Containing the Pay, Allowances and Relative Duties of Every Officer in the British Service, Volume 3 by Charles James 7th edition, considerably enlarged 1811 Google Books
  3. From England to the Antipodes & India - 1846 to 1902, with startling revelations, or 56 years of my life in the Indian Mutiny, Police & Jails, page 36 by Isaac Tyrell (1904)
  4. From England to the Antipodes & India - 1846 to 1902, with startling revelations or 56 years of my life in the Indian Mutiny, Police & Jails, page 38 by Isaac Tyrell (1904)
  5. sotonmate. Troop transports Great War Forum 30 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  6. pjwmacro. 22nd Battery Machine Gun Corps (Motors) Great War Forum 22 April 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  7. Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900 Ancestry. Contains WO 25/266–558, 632–634, 677–683, 686–688, 3913–3914, 5411-5516.
  8. Keith_history_buff. Distribution of the army - monthly returns Great War Forum 11 September 2021. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  9. Loyalty, Parity, and Social Control-The Competing Visions on the Creation of an ‘Eurasian’ Military Regiment in late British India by Satoshi Mizutani The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies Volume 10, No. 1, 2010
  10. "Black Soldiers in Northamptonshire Regiments of the British Army" by John Ellis , now archived.
  11. Pages 122-123, Pick up your Parrots and Monkeys: The Life of a Boy Soldier in India by William Pennington 2003. Now available online Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
  12. Rootsweb Australia Message Board 19 October 2004 post Chelsea Pensioners - soldiers with an Australian connection It includes details of two men who were born in Australia and served in the Madras Artillery
  13. Page 182 The Armies of India described by Major G F MacMunn (Painted by Major Lovett) 1911
  14. 14.0 14.1 capricorn. Indian Platoon, British Army Regiment (in India) Great War Forum 15 July 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  15. Item 97 (8345 Qmr. Hav. Basant Singh, Support Coy. 2-Welch R.) Tuesday 27th September 2016.
  16. rflory Army List - copies at Kew? Great War Forum 28 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  17. rflory. Army List lookup, posts 4 and 10. Great War Forum 26 February 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  18. From a comment in the British Library catalogue UIN: BLL01001094682 .
  19. Guest (previously QGE and Martin G) et al. London Gazette Black Belts Great War Forum 19 February 2016 et al. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  20. Matlock1418 Mention in dispatches - London Gazette search request Great War Forum 2 October 2023. Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  21. Wade, Andy. Best Research Website Great War Forum 17 October 2017. Scroll down for comparative images. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  22. ss002d6252 [Craig] 9th Lancers Great War Forum 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  23. "Online information service providers for researching British soldiers – which is best?" by Chris Baker 6th December 2019
  24. British Army Service Records Findmypast.
  25. "Fridays" 14 May 2021. Findmypast blog.
  26. British Army Service Records Image Browse Findmypast
  27. British Army, Coldstream Guards 1800-1947 Findmypast.
  28. Coldstreamer. Coldstream Gds records now on line FMP Great War Forum 6 May 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020
  29. British Army, Coldstream Guards 1800-1947 Image Browse Findmypast.
  30. British Army Officers' Widows' Pension Forms 1755-1908 Findmypast.
  31. British Army Pensioners - Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Ireland, 1783-1822 Findmypast.
  32. Surrey Recruitment Registers 1908-1933 Findmypast.
  33. British Army, Royal Engineers 1900-1949 Findmypast.
  34. British Army, Royal Engineers Other Ranks: Casualty Cards Findmypast.
  35. British Army, Honourable Artillery Company Findmypast.
  36. British Army, Honourable Artillery Company, Cardew-Rendle Roll Of Members 1537-1908 Findmypast.
  37. FindMyPast blogs "Behind the scenes":The Chelsea Pensioners records with Paul Nixon, content licensing manager 15 Sep 2010 and Our expert, Stephen Rigden, on spelling variations 29 Oct 2010, both pages now archived.
  38. Chris_Baker. "Of no occupation. An Army Pensioner" Long, Long Trail Forum 20 June 2016, now no longer accessible.
  39. Victorian Wars Forum thread Pension? (now no longer available) quoting from The Victorian Army at Home by AR Skelley. This book includes general information about pensions. Full title: The Victorian Army at Home: the recruitment and terms and conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899 by Alan Ramsay Skelley 1977, now available online, see above.
  40. There are WO 97 records for a few men who died in the Anglo- Boer War (and papers in the Ancestry "WWI" series for men who died during the Anglo-Boer War) according to this Victorian Wars Forum post dated 1 October 2011 by Meurig, now archived. This further Victorian Wars Forum post, now archived, dated 30 May 2012 by Mark A Reid also mentions a few other deaths. George Francis died in the Tochi Valley in 1897, yet his papers appear in the WO 363 WW1 records on findmypast.
  41. My Ancestor was in the British Army, page 63 by Michael Watts and Christopher Watts 2009
  42. My Ancestor was in the British Army, page 64 by Michael Watts and Christopher Watts 2009 and Sly, John. Chelsea Pensioners Rootsweb Devon Mailing List 20 March 2010, archived.
  43. List user. Frederick PAGE And WO 97 records Rootsweb India Mailing List 20 June 2011, archived.
  44. The National Archives record description Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers Service Documents
  45. Murphy, Sylvia. ThomaSs Pittmans pension record Rootsweb India Mailing List 22 April 2011, archived.
  46. Chelsea Pensioners - Out Pensions by Grahame Thom, archived.
  47. Scroll to post of Buisman, Loes 29 March 2012. British soldier returning home from India 1870's Ancestry British Army Message Board, archived.
  48. Victorian Wars Forum post (now archived ) dated 17 July 2012 by Meurig. Other examples have been seen.
  49. See National Archives webinar "Army musters – more than just accounts", around 14:30 min., above in National Archives Guides
  50. Tilley, Megan Troopships Rootsweb India Mailing List 3 July 2017, archived.
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  52. 52.0 52.1 London Regiment
  53. Findmypast entry for Christopher Dowdall, 2249, 106th Foot (Bombay Light Infantry)
  54. Scroll down to MrSwan. Difference between Army Council Instructions and Army Orders? Great War Forum 6 August 2014, Google cache version, archived.
  55. 55.0 55.1 themonsstar. Formation Motor Machine Gun Service - Army Order 480 Great War Forum 21 August 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  56. Campbell, Jeffrey. Deserters from the British Army in the 1800s Ancestry British Army Message Board Scroll down to 21 October 2016. Mention of the book Deserted (Volume 1) by Jeffrey Campbell, available on Amazon. Further title on cover Military Deserters in Eighteenth Century Great Britain 1726-1759. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  57. British Army Embarkation Lists, 1871-1889 Findmypast database.
  58. Probate Calendars to be Online Soon from Geoff Swinfield’s and News from FFHS.
  59. "British Armed Forces Soldiers' Wills 1850-1986" Findmypast database of Index records.
  60. National Army Museum Information Sheet 5: Researching Family History at the NAM page 2, now archived.
  61. UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
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  63. "UK, WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923" Ancestry.
  64. "UK, WWI Pension Ledgers, 1914-1923" fold3.
  65. Scottish WW1 Pensions Appeal records update 13 January 2018. The GENES Blog. Also see Home From The Front 12 February 2018.
  66. Casualty: definition Australian War Memorial website.
  67. Was your ancestor wounded in the First World War?
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  71. TEW Casualty Records FMP/ FWR/ Genealogist Great War Forum 3 December 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  72. Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry) British Newspaper Archive.
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  74. British Army, First World War Casualty Lists and British Army, First World War Casualty Lists Image Browse findmypast.
  75. 75.0 75.1 Weekly Casualty Lists National Library of Scotland.
    As an example, Page 1, Weekly List 55, August 20th, 1918 from this NLS database showing omitted names due to cropped margin.
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  77. charlie962. Weekly Casualty List for Indian Forces? Great War Forum 29 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
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  85. Findmypast Friday May 24th [2019], now archived.
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    1921 Census - British armed forces overseas Articles/World Records. Findmypast.
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  95. Parliamentary Constituencies And Their Registers Since 1832 British Library
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  99. Great War Forum thread Attestation books - where they were sent by the MOD/Nat Archives started by Justin 11 July 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  100. Royal Artillery Attestations 1883-1942. This is a misleading title. Records have been seen from 1919, and possibly there may be some for 1918, but not before. Royal Tank Corps Enlistment Records, 1919-1934 findmypast.
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  107. Email to User:Maureene 15-16 April 2016.
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    Norfolk Nan et al. Military Service Records - Any Progress? Who When Where Board from 8 October 2021."RAF records will be sent in first".
  112. First MOD Service Personnel Records Now Available 5 April 2022.
    WO 420 The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Other Ranks: Service Records 1942-1963
  113. WO 421 Selected Smaller Corps Other Ranks: Service Records 1939-1963
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  117. Dragoon Soldiers Records after 1918? Great War Forum 20 November 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
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    Guest (previously QGE). Cavalry: Terms of Engagement 1902-1914 Great War Forum 27 September 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
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  128. "James and Laura Mackie, Part 1" Scroll down.
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  132. Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 - Index
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  134. Muerrisch et al. British uniforms India 1914 Great War Forum 24 June 2011 et al. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  135. From its catalogue Imperial War Museums, London holds a good, but not complete collection of The Formation Sign from Issue No 1 Jan. 1951 to a current date catalogue number LBY E. 5/115, and the British Library holds issues from No 226, April 2007 UIN: BLL01014882149 . Possibly the Society can also supply past journals , or reprints of articles.
  136. Page 42 A Practical Manual of Bandaging by Duncan C L Fitzwilliams Capt. RAMCT 1915
  137. Originally published in The Redan, journal of The Palmerston Forts Society, three articles by Duncan Williams , (originally published in 1999-2001 (issues 46, 50, 53)) and two articles by David Moore (issues 72,74). From the website Victorian Forts and Artillery.
  138. "A Lost Heritage: The Connaught Rangers and Multivocal Irishness" by John Morrissey, 2005 , Chapter 3 of Ireland’s Heritages: Critical Perspectives on Memory and Identity edited by M Mc Carthy 2005. pdf Website: ARAN, National University of Ireland, Galway.
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  140. Naval and Military Press
  141. Frogsmile Where can I buy a sewing pattern for officer's tunic? Great War Forum 20 March 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2018.