3 top digital resources for researching your RAF ancestors
From the fictional exploits of Biggles, to the all-too-real role of the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, in its century of service the RAF has gained a place in both the hearts and the history of the nation. Over the decades hundreds of thousands of our ancestors will have had connections to the organisation.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RAF in the April 2018 issue of Family Tree, Editor Helen Tovey has selected the main websites and archival resources to help you ace your family history research.
The RAF is the oldest independent air force in the world (of army or naval forces) and, when it was formed on 1 April 1918 by an amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), it was also the largest.
From its fledgling role in the Great War the air force saved the day and went on to alter the fortunes of British history on numerous occasions in the Second World War. The innovative inter-war period and international post-war role were no less important to the development of the RAF.
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There are numerous ways you can start tracing your RAF ancestors. Using a combination of records at The National Archives (TNA) – many of which have been digitised and are available as paid downloads from TNA’s Discovery catalogue, and/or on genealogy subscription websites Ancestry and Findmypast – plus obtaining service records for family members who served post-1920 from the Ministry of Defence, you should be able to piece together your ancestor’s time in the RFC, RNAS and RAF.
If you have your relative’s log book, then you are even luckier!
Other articles that may interest you:
Here’s our top three picks from Helen’s selection of fantastic family history resources to help you research your RAF ancestors who served up to 100 years ago.
1 The service records of RFC airmen who served after April 1918 up to 1939 are in AIR 79 at TNA and online at Findmypast. Findmypast’s collection has coverage back to 1912 for those airmen who transferred from the RFC to the RAF
2 ADM 188 RNAS service records are available as a paid download from TNA's Discovery website
3 For those who served in the Second World War onwards, apply via the Ministry of Defence for their service records (you will be directed to write to RAF Disclosures).
Image © Helen Tovey.