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First World War soldiers' pension records online

First World War soldiers' pension records online

08 August 2007

The pension records of almost one million soldiers who fought in the First World War are now available to search and download from Ancestry.co.uk

The collection (catalogue reference WO 364) comprises the records of many British Army soldiers discharged because of illness or injury sustained during the War.

This is a major milestone in the partnership project between Ancestry.co.uk and The National Archives. The remaining service records of soldiers who killed, died or who survived the war (catalogue reference WO 363) will be available online by the end of 2008.

Detailed information

Known as the 'Unburnt Documents', the pension records were recovered by the War Office from the Ministry of Pensions and other government departments after the Second World War.

On average each records contains ten pages of information, although the records vary in detail. You may be able to find out:

physical description of the soldier

regimental number, service history, location served and any promotions

date and place of birth

previous occupation

next of kin

medical information relating to the disability for which a pension was granted.

You can search the name index free of charge, and view pages from the original files with a subscription or using 'pay per view'.

'Burnt records'

Although five million soldiers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales fought in the First World War, around 60 per cent of the service records for these soldiers were destroyed during a German bombing raid on the War Office in London in September 1940. The originals for all surviving records - many of which were badly damaged during the bombing raid - have been conserved by The National Archives.

Visit the First World War pension records on Ancestry.co.uk

Related links

'First World War - sources for history' online exhibition
First World War Medal Index Cards online
British Army soldiers' records, First World War research guide