24 Squadron, RFC and RAF, 1916 (catalogue reference AIR 1/169/15/160/5)

30 June 2014

In partnership with The National Archives, Findmypast.co.uk has today released online 342,000 airmen's service records of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, dating from 1899 through to 1939. 

The records from the series AIR 79 (Airmen's records) contain information about an individual's peacetime and military career, as well as a physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are often mentioned and this too has been fully indexed and is easily searchable.

The majority of records in this collection cover the First World War and date from 1912 with the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Also included in the collection are records from 1899 on the Royal Engineers Balloon Service which served in the Boer War, providing insight into the lives of Britain's earliest airmen.

Drawn from across the world

The records reveal how the First World War brought together men from across the globe to serve alongside each other. Over 58 nationalities served in the RAF during First World War, with men signing up from as far afield as India, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Romania and Germany.

Included in the records is the first Indian to fly into combat, Hardutt Singh Malik (AIR 79/634/68661), who became the only Indian aviator to survive the war, despite coming under significant attack and ending up with bullet wounds to his legs that required several months' treatment in hospital. After the war, Malik joined the Indian Civil Service, serving as the Indian ambassador to France. Following his retirement became India's finest golf player, even with two German bullets still embedded in his leg.

William Spencer, author and principal military records specialist at The National Archives said: 'These records reveal the many nationalities of airmen that joined forces to fight in the First World War. Now these records are online, people can discover the history of their ancestors, with everything from their physical appearance right through to their conduct and the brave acts they carried out which helped to win the war.'

View the records online or visit The National Archives, Kew, to view a copy of the original records for free.

Sharing will require cookies. Show details