Discover your ancestors who were officers in the Royal Air Force (RAF) between 1912 and 1920 and who served in World War 1. The record set contains records of 101,266 RAF officers. You may be able to discover your relative’s birth year, civilian occupation, military awards and decorations, and next of kin details, which will allow you to delve further back into your family tree. Included in these records are those of U.S. Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, and W.E. Johns, creator of the fictional flying ace, Biggles.

Transcript

Each record comprises a transcript and several black and white images of the original register. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Birth year
  • Birth date

Images

The images may contain additional information about your ancestor. These further details may include:
  • Address
  • Next of kin details
  • Occupation
  • Unit
  • Discharge date
  • Reasons for discharge
  • Appointments and promotions
  • Special qualifications
  • Medical results
  • Death year
  • Death date
  • Cause of death
  • Awards and decorations

The record set comprises 101,266 records.

The records began with the inception of the RAF on 1 April, 1918, but they include retrospective details of earlier service in the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service.

Airman is a generic term for anybody in the RAF, whether they flew or not.

Flying Aces

The First World War introduced the systematic use of true single-seat fighter aircraft, with sufficient speed and agility to catch and maintain contact with targets in the air, combined with weaponry powerful enough to destroy the targets. Around 5 percent of combat pilots account for the majority of air-to-air victories, and these pilots came to be known as aces during World War One, after newspapers in France described Adolphe Pégoud as “l’As,” the ace, when he became the first pilot to shoot down five German aircraft. The British originally used the phrase “star-turns,” a show-business expression, while the Germans named their elite fighter pilots “Uberkanonen,” which translates loosely as “top guns.” The British high command regarded praise of fighter pilots to be detrimental to equally brave bomber and reconnaissance aircrew, so the British air services didn’t publish official statistics on the successes of individuals. Nevertheless, some pilots became famous through media coverage, which made the British system for the recognition of successful fighter pilots informal and inconsistent. A number of flying aces are included in these records.

Search Tips

A year of birth was not always recorded, so try leaving this out if you don't get any results. Where there is no date of birth, the record description will say '1918-1919.' Some officers’ first names are recorded with an initial or a diminutive instead of a full first name, so you should be aware of possible alternatives when searching for your ancestor’s first name. Your download might contain the records of several individuals with the same name. This is because the nature of these documents sometimes makes it hard to distinguish between the records of officers with the same name. In the case of aircrew, the record will note any Royal Aero Club certificate numbers and the dates they were granted.