War Memorial

British Army WW1 Service Records 1914 - 1918

This text gives an explanation as to why some of the records,
may be sparce or even missing.


When war broke out in August 1914, the British army numbered just over 730,000 men. Unlike the other major European states, where conscription allowed huge numbers of men to be rapidly brought under arms, Britain relied on a small, professional defence force. But the scale of the conflict between the Allies and the Central Powers demanded massive increases in Britain's military manpower resources.

By the end of the war in 1918, more than seven million men and women had seen service in the British army.

Unfortunately, more than half of their service records were destroyed in September 1940, when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London.

This means that there is only a 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who was enlisted between 1914 and 1920.

Courtesy of National Archives