Created: 15 November 2014
How to Research Your WW2 Family
This information is taken from the Governments Ministry of Defence Website and is used here in an informative aspect
Service records of deceased service personnel
The MOD is the custodian of the records of service of service personnel and Home Guard records until they are opened to general public access at the National Archives. Subject to the payment of an administration fee of £30 per record and provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service), certain information can be provided from the records of service of service personnel on request under the publication scheme.
All information contained in the Home Guard records will normally be provided in full. The scheme allows for information in these records to be exempt from the general provisions of the Freedom of Information Act by virtue of section 21(1) of the Act (information accessible to an applicant by other means).
Request for service records of deceased service personnel
Under the scheme, and in recognition of the duty of care owed to the family of the deceased subject, for a period of 25 years following the date of death of the subject and without the consent of the next of kin, MOD will disclose only:
- service number
- place of birth
- date of birth
- date of death where this occurred in service
- the date an individual joined the service
- the date of leaving
- good conduct medals (for example, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette
After this period, and if it is held, in addition MOD will disclose without the requirement for next of kin consent:
- the units in which he/she served
- the dates of this service and the locations of those units
- the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of campaign medals awarded
The administration fee of £30 will be waived for requests from those who were the spouse or civil partner of the subject at the time of death (or parent if there was no spouse or civil partner).
Where the consent of the immediate next of kin has been given for its release to a third party, the 25 year threshold will not apply allowing the release of all the information available under the publication scheme at any time, subject to the payment of an administration fee of £30 per record and the provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service).
Before requesting information you are advised to carry out searches from sources that provide access to the details of deceased service personnel at no cost, such as the Common Welath Graves Commission or the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM) Roll of Honour.
The principal function of the CWGC is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration of Commonwealth military service members who died in the two World Wars. The AFM is dedicated to members of the UK armed forces (Regular and Reserves) killed on duty, or as a result of terrorist action, since World War 2.
While MOD aims generally to provide information where the above conditions are met, it will not disclose any information under the publication scheme where this could prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of its forces. In the very rare case where release of information from a record might be prejudicial, the applicant will be advised of the relevant Freedom of Information Act statutory exemption that applies to its non disclosure.
The information that is held on individuals varies depending on which service they served with, when they served and the length of their service. In a small number of cases little or no information may be held. Applicants should be aware that the £30 administration fee is non-refundable whatever the outcome of the search.
How to apply for service personnel records
If you wish to apply for a search you should download, complete and send to MOD the following forms:
For those who are not the immediate next of kin, and who are applying without the consent of the immediate next of kin, download and complete the ‘Application part 1: general enquirer’s form’ and the ‘Application part 2 form’ for the appropriate service (Royal Navy, British Army or RAF).
All Forms can be found at this site https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records
How to apply for Home Guard service records
Information contained within the Home Guard records is very limited. With a few exceptions it normally consists of one double sided A4 sheet of paper (Army Form W3066) containing personal details on enlistment and very little else. No details are held of the duties performed by an individual during his service.
As required for requests for the records of service of service personnel, there is also a non-refundable administration charge of £30 and it should be noted that a considerable proportion of searches for Home Guard records prove to be unsuccessful. The sparse information contained in the Home Guard records is normally provided in full.
The Home Guard application form (part 1) and Home Guard search form (part 2) must be completed by enquirers requesting the records of deceased former members of the Home Guard.
If you are a former member of the Home Guard and seek your own record, please complete the DPA SAR form 1694:
Again all Forms can be found at this site: https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records
Further information about service records held by MOD
Information held by MOD on Royal Navy (RN), Royal Marines (RM), British Army, Royal Air Force (RAF) service records and Home Guard records.
Royal Navy and Royal Marine service records
The RN Disclosure Cell holds service records for Commissioned and non-commissioned officers (both RN and RM) from 1924 onwards. Information from these records can be requested under the MOD Publication Scheme.
Please see the Royal Navy website for further details about other service records that are held by the National Archives.
British Army service records
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. Information from these records can be requested under the MODPublication Scheme.
RAF service records
The RAF Disclosures section holds service records for non-commissioned and commissioned RAF personnel dating back to 1920. Information from these records can be requested under the MOD Publication Scheme.
Service records that reflect World War 1 service only are held by the National Archives.