Last month we explored how to conduct family history research when one’s relative is currently in the Merchant Navy. Today let us investigate the very same query but this time about an individual still serving in the Royal Navy.
Caird Library staff have written several research guides on various maritime related topics. The guide entitled ‘Research guide B3: The Royal Navy: Sources for enquiries’ may help you learn how to seek information on a person who is serving in the Royal Navy. The research guide can be found on our website at http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/the-royal-navy/research-guide-b3-the-royal-navy-sources-for-enquiries.
We have extensive collections of books, photographs, paintings, prints, drawings and manuscripts dealing with most aspects of the Royal Navy, thus it is always worth searching the Library Catalogue or the Archive Catalogue. However, it is important to stress that the service records of the Royal Navy for approximately the last 90 years are still deposited with the Ministry of Defence. These records should be transferred to The National Archives from the Ministry of Defence when they are 75 years old. So if your relative was in the Royal Navy, you might visit the Veterans UK website for information about how to request a summary of their service record from the Ministry of Defence. Bear in mind that these records are not available to members of the general public so you have to be the subject of the record or next of kin. It is also worth pointing out that before 1972 all Royal Navy personnel were given their records when they left the service. The surviving records until that date only contain basic service details and lists of postings.
The Royal Navy publishes an annual list of active and reserve officers, and a biennial list of retired officers. Editions of the Navy List date from 1814 to the present day. Although the amount of information shown in these lists changes with time, they record officers (retired and active) and ships, where ships were stationed, pay scales, uniform regulations, etc. Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) officers, including the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), were also included in the Navy List from 1862, so this is a ‘must check’ if one’s relative is a Royal Naval Officer of the 20th century. As The National Archives holds most Admiralty records – including official logs of warships, muster rolls, pay books and all personnel and service records of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, up to at least 1920 – you might be able to find information there too.
The National Archives
Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: +44 (0)20 8876 3444
The Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy) office controls all service records for the years approximately 1920 to at least 1955 which have not yet been passed to The National Archives (excluding Royal Marines). Please note as it was mentioned earlier that information can only be given to next of kin.
Ministry of Defence
Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy)
TNT Archive Services
William Nadin Way
Tel: (+44) 01283 227913
Fax: (+44) 01283 227942
The Ministry of Defence, NPP (Acs) AFPAA office controls service records for the period after approximately 1955. Please note that as always information can only be supplied to next of kin and unfortunately they can only be reached by mail.
Ministry of Defence
AFPAA (C) NPP (ACS) 1E
Hampshire PO13 9XA
Gregory (Assistant Librarian)