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Researching Family History has become a popular pastime in recent years as a direct result of the internet.   To enable your successors to view a part of your personal family history in the future, why not obtain your own personal RAF Service Record?  Past living members of the Armed Forces may now obtain their military service records free of charge.


World War 2 Records and Research 


At least until the 1950s, the service numbers of RFC and RAF personnel indicated the date and manner of joining the service.

The RFC numbering system began at 1 in 1912, the initial allocations being to men who had transferred in from the Royal Engineers and subsequent ones to civilian recruits.

The RNAS commenced its own numbering system when it became a separate entity in July 1914 - again commencing with 1, but prefixed by the letter F.

When the RAF was formed on 1 April 1918, RFC men kept their original service numbers. However, as the RNAS numbering system had also begun at 1, all RNAS men inherited by the RAF had 200000 added to their original numbers, and the prefix F was dropped. All RNAS personnel were renumbered in 1918, including the dead.  RNAS squadrons also had 200 added to their numbers.

The 70,000 series of Service Numbers for officers was initially allocated to the Reserve of Air Force Officers (RAFO) but some officers who transferred to the RAFVR in Jan 1938 retained their 70,000 service numbers.

Officers’  service numbers were from blocks allocated to RAF, SR, RAFO, AAF, RAFVR. Within these blocks it was in alphabetical order with the next intake starting numerically on from the previous.

Usually, but not always, a transfer between say RAF to RAFVR entailed a change of service number.

Depending on date, the London Gazette and/or Air Force List can be used to give a service number.

NCOs who were commissioned received new service numbers, although Commonwealth Air Forces tended not to follow this practice.

FOR FURTHER INFO with Service No & place of joining for non-commissioned ranks,


Additional information may be available at this external link: 



Abbreviations  -   A guide to most abbreviations used during WW2 may be found listed on the website below.




For living, retired service officers  wishing to obtain their RAF Service Records,·you will need to complete  a·Subject Access Request Form, (SAR)  and the easiest way to obtain this in order to start the procedure is via the·Veterans - UK  website .

http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html· This same site will also explain the procedure and costs involved should you wish to obtain a deceased family member's record.

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FreedomOfInformation/FOIContact/RequestsForAccessToPersonalDataHeldByTheMinistryOfDefence.htm·is the section of the MoD website which also deals with requests for other ranks and Army & Navy records and should give you enough leads to be successful.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/officerroyalairforce.htm· is the address of the National Archives , Kew, London .



The Personnel Management Agency (PMA) at HQ RAF Personnel and Training Command, RAF Innsworth, holds the personal files of officers and airmen dating from the inter-war years.  Personal files from the First World War are now located at the Public Record Office.  

The PMA is not a public record repository, and can only release records of service to the RAF officer or airman concerned, or to next-of-kin.  Anyone else must obtain written permission from the person about whom they are enquiring before approaching PMA.  A fee of £30 is levied for each record researched.

Enquiries about officers' records of service:

RAF Disclosures, Rm 221b Trenchard Hall, RAF Cranwell, SLEAFORD, Lincs, NG34 8HB

Enquiries about airmen's records of service:

RAF DPA, Rm 220 Trenchard Hall, RAF Cranwell, SLEAFORD, Lincs, NG34 8HB

For records of decorations and citations:

MOD Medal Office, Building 250, AFPAA, RAF Innsworth, Gloucester, GL3 1EZ