Tracing Royal Navy Ancestry - Imperial War Museum

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Tracing Royal Navy Ancestry - Imperial War Museum

Family History Notes from the Imperial War MuseumTracing Royal Navy AncestryThe purpose of this information sheet is to provide guidance on tracing Royal Navypersonnel. More detailed information can be found in our publication Tracing yourFamily History: Royal Navy – this can be purchased from the Imperial War Museumfor £5.50. The Museum does not hold any personal service records or officialdocumentation, but can help the enquirer as long as some basic facts are known.The Department of Printed Books welcomes visitors by appointment and is able toprovide useful reading material and advice for finding out more about those whoserved. Other reference departments in the Museum – Art, Documents, Exhibits andFirearms, Film and Photograph Archives, and the Sound Archive – may also be ableto assist.Department of Printed Books, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE16HZTel: (+44) 020 7416 5342Fax: (+44) 020 7416 5246Website: www.iwm.org.ukEmail: books@iwm.org.ukWhere to find Royal Navy Service RecordsThe Imperial War Museum only covers the period from the First World War onwards.Most of the relevant records relating to naval genealogical research are either stillheld by Ministry of Defence agencies or the National Archives (formerly the PublicRecord Office). Genealogical enquiries to the various Ministry of Defence agenciesmust be made in writing, but do not receive priority as their principal concern is torespond to official enquiries concerning welfare, pensions and other legal matters.The basic search fee, if levied, is currently £25.Personnel records available to the public are now held by the National Archives,Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU (Tel: 020 8392 5200 Website:www.nationalarchives.gov.uk). Please note that The National Archives (TNA)does not undertake research on behalf of the public; it is necessary to either visit inperson or employ a professional researcher, details of which are available direct fromReaders’ Services at the National Archives. For anyone intending to do their ownresearch TNA has produced invaluable guides to their holdings; of particularimportance are Tracing your Ancestors in the Public Record Office, 6 th revised editionedited by Amanda Bevan (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 2002), Naval Records forGenealogists by N.A.M. Rodger (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 1998) and Tracing yourNaval Ancestors by Bruno Pappalardo (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 2003).Pre-First World War service records, and ratings’ personnel files and officers’ recordsdating to 1923, are now held at TNA. For service records dating from 1924 to 1939please write to the Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy),(Hayes), Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 1RF (subsequently referred to asDPS Hayes).For records of officers and ratings who saw service from 1939 (including ‘HostilitiesOnly’ service in the Second World War and Korea), write to the Directorate of Naval


Pay and Pensions, NPP(Acs)1E Centurion Building, Grange Road, Gosport,Hampshire PO13 9XA (subsequently referred to as DNPP Gosport).Service records for officers of the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) and Royal NavalVolunteer Reserve (RNVR) for the First World War have now been transferred toTNA. Officers’ records for the Second World War and Korea are held at DPS Hayes,thereafter at DNPP Gosport. Records of RNR ratings for the First World War arealso at TNA, and Second World War records have recently been transferred there;later records are held at DNPP Gosport. Records of RNVR ratings for the First WorldWar are at TNA, Second World War records are still held at DPS Hayes, while post-1945 records are held at DNPP Gosport.First World War Royal Naval Division records of service are now at TNA.Records of Royal Marines officers and men in service up to 1924 are at TNA.Subsequent records are still held by the Royal Marines Drafting and RecordOffice, Centurion Building, Grange Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 9XA.Records of those who served in the Royal Naval Air Service can be found at TNA.Fleet Air Arm records are held at DNPP Gosport.The NA holds the records for the Women’s Royal Naval Service, 1917-1919.Records of WRNS who entered service before 1955 are at DPS Hayes, thereafter atDNPP Gosport.Pre-1929 Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service records are held atTNA. Records of those who entered service up to 1956 are at DPS Hayes, withsubsequent records at DNPP Gosport.The careers of naval officers can be traced through the Navy List, a regular officialpublication. (No such listing exists for other ranks.) These contain seniority lists of allofficers, cross referred to individual ships. A full set is held by TNA but theDepartment of Printed Books (DPB) holds a near complete run from 1914 to date.Casualty RecordsCasualty records are available for consultation at TNA. In addition, theCommonwealth War Graves Commission, 2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead,Berkshire SL6 7DX (Tel: 01628 507200 Website: www.cwgc.org) holds details ofthe burial place or commemoration site for all those who died in service during theperiod 1914-1921 and 1939-1947. A search fee may be levied but their websiteprovides free access to the Debt of Honour database. Details of naval personnelwho were buried at sea are contained in memorial registers produced by theCommission. The DPB holds a complete set of memorial and cemetery registers,together with various operational and unit histories, some of which may makereference to casualties, and many published rolls of honour.Details of service personnel buried in ‘non-World War’ graves are available from theMinistry of Defence, NP-Sec2(b), Room 222 Victory Building, HM Naval Base,Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 3LS.

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