Records of Service
The Air Historical Branch does not hold Records of Service although we can assist members of the public with understanding of the content of RAF Records of Service.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is the custodian of the Records of Service of Service personnel until they are opened to general public access at The National Archives. Subject to the payment of a search fee of £30 per record and provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service), certain information can be provided from these records on request under the MOD’s publication scheme. 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).
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
- Date an individual joined the Service
- Date of leaving the Service
- Good conduct medals (i.e. 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 WWII campaign medals.
The search 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 a search 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 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) or the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM) Roll of Honour. The principle 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 WWII.
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 search fee is non-refundable whatever the outcome of the search.
Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Flying Corps & RAF Records of Service in the public domain
The RAF came into being on 1 April 1918 when the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were amalgamated. Personnel from both Services transferred to the newly formed RAF and others joined the RAF directly after 1 April 1918. Many of the records are held by The National Archives (TNA).
Records of Service of RNAS officers 1914-1918 are in TNA ADM 273 series. Those of RNAS personnel serving after March 1918 are in AIR 76. Records of service of RNAS ratings who served up to 31 March 1918 are in ADM 188. Records of Service for RNAS ratings transferred to the RAF are in AIR 76.
The Records of Service for RFC officers who transferred to the RAF are held in the TNA AIR 76 series. RFC other ranks Records of Service who died or were discharged before 1 April 1918 are held in WO 363 and WO 364. Records of Service of other ranks of the RFC who served after 1 April 1918 are in AIR 76. Where a person remained in the RAF to the outbreak of 2nd World War the Records of Service are retained by the RAF.
Records of Service of RAF personnel who joined after 1 April 1918 are split. Some remain in the TNA. Those with Service Numbers in the range 1-329000 who continued to serve after the end of the War and those with Service numbers higher that 329000 are retained by the RAF.
To apply for an RAF Record of Service which is not in the public domain contact:
ACOS Manning (RAF Disclosures)
Or follow the link through to the Veterans Agency website.