National Archives release First World War airmen's records

Air Battalion officers pictured in an undated photograph.
Air Battalion officers pictured in an undated photograph. Credit: Crown Copyright/The National Archives

Nearly 450,000 service records of members of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force have been released by the National Archives, including 342,000 never seen before online.

Portrait of Albert Ball.
Portrait of Albert Ball. Credit: Paul Nixon/Findmypast/PA Wire

The records, recently digitised by family history website Findmypast, reveal the history of the Royal Air Force in the First World War - from the first aerial troops in 1899, through the war and into World War II.

Edgar Albert Nixon and his battalion pictured during the First World War.
Edgar Albert Nixon and his battalion pictured during the First World War. Credit: Paul Nixon/Findmypast/PA Wire

The records contain information about their peacetime and military career, as well as physical descriptions, religious denominations, family statuses and photographs.

A portrait of Edgar Albert Nixon.
A portrait of Edgar Albert Nixon. Credit: Paul Nixon/Findmypast/PA Wire

Quiz: How much do you know about the First World War?

An undated photograph of a chess tournament in Cottbus, Germany.
An undated photograph of a chess tournament in Cottbus, Germany. Credit: Crown Copyright/The National Archives

Many date from 1912 with the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and include men who continued to serve in the RAF until 1939.

Photograph dated circa 1916 of 24 Squardron from RFC and the RAF.
Photograph dated circa 1916 of 24 Squardron from Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force. Credit: Crown Copyright/The National Archives

More than 58 nationalities served in the RAF during the First World War, with men signing up from as far afield as India, Brazil, Japan, and Russia, the records show.

Soldiers experiment with carrying guns on airships in this photograph dated circa 1915.
Soldiers experiment with carrying guns on airships in this photograph dated circa 1915. Credit: Crown Copyright/The National Archives

The records have been unveiled to mark the centenary of the First World War.