About the Naval Casualties records
These records give details of naval other ranks deaths in service during the First World War. The original records are held by The National Archives and are in a perilously damaged state.
Almost 45,000 Royal Navy sailors lost their lives in the Great War and sadly, for most, the sea is their last resting place. Those without graves are mostly commemorated on the huge naval memorials at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Despite the number remaining at sea, about 36 per cent are buried ashore, in mostly named graves, and all over the world. Many sailors fought alongside their chums in the army on battlefields as diverse as Gallipoli, Russia and the Western Front. Many others died in the United Kingdom and that is where they were buried.
Aside from their full names, rating, number, branch of service, name of ship or unit, decorations etc., other valuable information is usually available. The date and cause of death, location of their cemetery and reference of grave (where applicable) is shown together with the name and address of the relative notified of the death. This last item will be especially useful to genealogists. There are many surprises, such as submariners buried in Baghdad and men in the Armoured Car Division buried in Russia.
One gem, noticed among the records describing a grave, is 'Buried [in] East Africa on a small knoll marked by blazed tree, R. bank Kaibiga River, 100 yards W. of Ndyimbwa-Ungwara.' For those lost at Gallipoli there are often detailed descriptions rather than traditional locations for the grave.
- As always with database searching, less is more: begin by entering limited information and then, if necessary, refine your search by adding extra information.
- These are generally recorded as town, county.
- County names (as at the time of the Great War) may appear in one or more abbreviated forms.
- Bedfordshire may appear as Bedford or Beds.
- Cheshire may appear as Ches.
- Middlesex often appears as Middx.
- Northumberland may appear as North'd.
- Shropshire may appear as Salop
- Wiltshire often appears as Wilts.
Within your search you can use asterisks (*) in place of any character or string of characters to widen your search. In some search fields we have included automatic wildcards to help your search, as detailed below.
- Last name There is no automatic wildcard for this field. In other words, if you search for Smith, you will not be returned entries for the last names Sixsmith or Smithers. You can of course add your own leading (*smith) and/or trailing (Smith* or *smith*) wildcard, if you wish, to obtain these names. This can be useful when looking for hyphenated or unhyphenated double-barrelled last names.
- First name/Middle name Again there is no automatic wildcard for these fields. You can enter wildcards in any part of the first name fields. For example, entry of *bert would return results with forenames like 'Albert' and 'Hubert'.
- Birthplace This has automatic leading and trailing wildcards. For example, this means that if you type in "Dover", you will be returned results for plain "Dover", plus for "Buckland, Dover", "Dover, Kent" and "St Mary"s, Dover, Kent".