All at Sea – WWI naval database launched

With the sea all around us it is no surprise that so many of our ancestors became sailors.

With the anniversary of the First World War has seen the launch online of a new database offering free access to thousands of service records for the Royal Navy.

Royal Navy First World War – Lives at Sea can be found at:

With more than three and a half thousand naval officers and ratings who served in the Great War, this fully searchable collection represents a small percentage of the total number of service records to be found at The National Archives in ADM 188 and ADM 196. The work of transcribing and then uploading them to the site is an ongoing project.

Scanned copies of the naval service records are available online by going to

From their website we can see the argument for the importance of this project…

“This project will create the most significant online data resource for the study of the Royal Navy during the First World War. This unique resource also marks and commemorates the Royal Navy’s contribution to the First World War effort through the lives of those officers and ratings who served.

Our hope is that it will allow and promote a wide and diverse variety of research into the composition and operations of the Royal Navy during the War. This could be specifically in relation to individual officers and ratings through their personal and service histories, to wider studies, for instance, where men were recruited from, from which trades and to enable the creation of crew lists for ships and submarines for given dates.

Such lists do not survive for the First World War and so for the first time researchers will be able to place officers and ratings in naval battles of the War and study topics such as mortality rates, invalidity and its causes.

In addition the information derived from the database can be used as a platform for accessing other Royal Navy records including ships’ logs (ADM 53), ships’ photographs (ADM 176) and wider naval First World War operational records in (ADM 1, ADM 116, ADM 137) all at TNA, and First World War logs and journals (JOD), ship plans (SP) and photographs (HP) all at NMM.”

About the database  – what information is being captured

Personal and service details for every officer and rating who served in the First World War including:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Next of Kin
  • Service Number
  • Town/City of birth
  • County of birth
  • Country of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name of every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in (including from and to dates)
  • Rank or rating held on every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in
  • Which battle served in during the First World War, for example, (Heligoland Bight, Coronel, Falkland Islands 1914; Dogger Bank 1915; Jutland 1916; Otranto Straits, 1917).
  • Cause and date of discharge (for example, with regards to death, invalidity demobilisation).
  • Where buried or commemorated.
  • Medals awarded.

For some officers and ratings there may be more than one service record, sometimes with overlapping, duplicate and conflicting data. In such instances recourse will be made to published works, such as the Navy List, to verify information.





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