Thousands of new British Army service and pension records to search
07 December 2012
We've just added thousands of new records to our British Army service and pension records collection.
British Army service records
In addition to the Militia service records 1806-1915 (WO96) and Chelsea Pensioners British Army service records 1760-1913 (WO97) already published on findmypast.co.uk, you can now search the following records as part of our British Army service records 1760-1915 collection:
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents 1760-1887 (WO121)
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners' discharge documents, foreign regiments 1816-1817 (WO122)
- War Office: Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers' documents, South African War 1899-1902 (WO128)
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: documents of soldiers awarded deferred pensions 1838-1896 (WO131)
The records are made up of soldiers' attestation forms (completed when the soldier joined the army) and discharge papers (filled in when the soldier left the army) and form part of the WO (War Office) series of records held at The National Archives in Kew. The War Office was the precursor of today's Ministry of Defence.
We have scanned and transcribed these records for the very first time for TNA.
These records provide rich information about your ancestors to a level that is difficult to find elsewhere. Each soldier usually has several pages of records – some even have hundreds of pages of records!
The records usually include a combination of the following information:
- Biographical information – e.g., name, age, occupation, next of kin details and information about marriage and children
- Appearance – including fascinating details, such as height, chest size, complexion, hair and eye colour and distinguishing features like tattoos and scars
- Service history – details of date the soldier joined and left the army, his regiment and rank (including a record of any promotions), campaigns fought, medals awarded, medical history and conduct and character observations
The image on the right is from the War Office: Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers' documents, South African War 1899-1902 (WO128) collection and is a brilliant example of the kind of detail the records hold.
Joseph Frederick Farley's physical description when he enlisted in 1900 tells us, among other things, that he had dark grey eyes, light brown hair, a medium complexion and a 'Serpent tattooed on right arm and on left wrist shamrock thistle + rose on left arm'.
The records include soldiers from other ranks, rather than officer class soldiers, unlike many other military resources of this period. This means that you're much more likely to be able to find your ancestors in this collection.Search the British Army service records now
British Army pensioners – Kilmainham, Ireland
We've also published Royal Hospital, Kilmainham: pensioners' discharge documents 1783-1822 (WO119).
These records contain 41,651 images of discharge documents for 19,109 men for the period 1783-1822 and provide similar information about your ancestor's life, appearance and service history as the British Army service records.
Included in the records are men discharged to pension from English, Scottish and Welsh units, as well as Irish regiments, even though the pensions were administered from the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham near Dublin, as opposed to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.Search the Kilmainham records now