Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are answers to some of the questions I get frequently asked.

1) My relative served in World War 2. Where can I get his personnel record?
Personnel Records for individuals who served after about 1920 remain with the Ministry of Defence. The individual and / or their next-of-kin can apply to the appropriate part of the Ministry (see Post 1921 Service). If the person being researched was an officer, then it is possible to get an outline of their career through means other than their personnel record.

2) I would like to trace an aircraft belonging to the Royal Air Force which had an accident. Is this possible?
Yes, it is possible to trace Royal Air Force aircraft and whether they had an accident. The starting point can be either (1) a RAF aircraft serial number or (2) the squadron and a date. If either of these are known then it is possible to identify a specific aircraft or a few candidate aircraft.

3) I am trying to get the Personnel Papers for a soldier who served in the 19th century. I can't find his personnel record. Is there any other way we can research his career?
The personnel records for soldiers in the 19th century may have been destroyed due to a variety of reasons. If you know the unit or regiment in which the soldier served or a specific location and date then it is feasible to check regimental records. These are likely to give name, rank, details of pay, station and dates.

4) I want to trace a deserter. Is this possible?
Yes, it is generally possible to trace the date when a deserter deserted. There are records of deserters dating from around 1850 until about 1930.

5) I want to trace where a Royal Naval ship went. Can you supply details?
The Ships' Logs for RN ships generally give a date and location. Often the location may be given as a longitude & latitude which would need to be translated into ports & areas.