British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920 (Officers)

From 1871 it was decided that officers in the British Army would no longer be able to purchase a commission. From this point in time a new system of maintaining officers' records was introduced to the War Office by the Military Secretary's Department. The records of an officer would be kept by the individual unit. These in turn were bound into Army Book 83.

In addition, a correspondence file was kept for each officer. The correspondence file would contain details of his pension, his medical records, whether he had died while serving, reports on repatriation if he had been a prisoner of war, and so on.

Information Contained in Officers' WW1 Service Records

The Service Records of officers who served in the First World War, and which have survived to date, number approximately 217,700. The records that survive are those which were kept as a supplementary file. The main files on each individual officer were destroyed by enemy bombing in the Second World War.

As these are supplementary files, the amount of information they contain may be varied. Some may be very limited but others may contain attestation papers, records of service, personal correspondence and date of death.

Access to Officers' WW1 Service Records

The records are held at the National Archives and classified as WO 339 and WO 374. They cover officers who served in all branches of the Army and the Royal Flying Corps. Officers who continued their service after 31st March 1922 are not included as the files for these individuals have not yet been released for public access.

Where to View Officers' Service Records

The surviving officers' records are available to view by the public for free at the National Archives in Kew.

Officers' Service Records in WO 339

The Service Records of 139,908 officers are included in this class of records held at the National Archives in Kew, London. They were individuals who ended their service with the Army before 1922, they were a regular British Army officer before 1914-1918 or they were commissioned into the Special Reserve of officers.

Index for Finding a WO 339 Officer's Service Record

An index of 23 volumes for all the officers' records in WO 339 is provided in a separate classification of WO 338. This index is in alphabetical order. When the individual is found there will be a “long number” identification for him. Also there will be the detail of his surname, initial(s), regiment, “long number” and rank.

This “long number” will be required to find him in the WO 339 class of records, which is arranged by “long number”.

The index at WO 338 can be viewed free of charge on microfilm at the National Archives.

Officers' Service Records in WO 374

The Service Records of 77,799 individuals include officers with a Territorial Army commission or a temporary commssion. These officers are listed in alphabetical order.

Related Links

British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920 (Soldiers)

For information about the surviving Service Records for British Army soldiers go to our page at:

British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920 (Soldiers)

British WW1 Medal Records 1914-1920

Every individual who served in a theatre of war was eligible to receive a campaign medal. For information about how to find medal records for British servicemen go to our page at:

British WW1 Medal Records 1914-1920

Related Reading

Cover of Army Service Records of the First World War PRO Readers Guide by Simon Fowler

Army Service Records of the First World War (Public Record Office Readers Guide) (Paperback)

by Simon Fowler, William Spencer and Stuart Tamblin

This book offers an introduction to the Service Records which survived damage in the Second World War for soldiers and non-commissioned officers. There is information about searching the Officers' Service Records which were released in 1998 and held at the National Archives. The book also explains how to search the Medal Rolls available at the National Archives and other sources available to help discover the service history of an individual. Published by PRO Publications, 2nd Revised edition (Feb 1998), 99 pages, ISBN-10: 1873162553 and ISBN-13: 978-1873162552

Cover of Army Service Records (PRO Readers Guide) by William Spencer

Army Service Records of the First World War (Public Record Office Readers Guide) (Paperback)

by William Spencer

Expert advice from William Spencer, a well-known author and archivist working at the National Archives. The guide offers advice for examining the Service Records available at the National Archives. Published by PRO Publications, 3rd Revised edition (31 Aug 2001), 128 pages, ISBN-10: 1903365236 and ISBN-13: 978-1903365236

Useful Links

The National Archives, Kew, Surrey

Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Ancestry.co.uk

Website: www.ancestry.co.uk

Findmypast.co.uk

Website: www.findmypast.co.uk

Forces War Records

Website: www.forces-war-records.co.uk

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