Thousands of Royal Navy service records from the First World War has been launched online. Unveiled on Wednesday 15 June, the First World War: Lives at Sea website provides details of more than 3,500 naval officers and ratings who served during the conflict. Fully searchable, the material represents just a small portion of the total service records from the First World War period which are gradually being transcribed and uploaded to the database.
A lack of Royal Navy crew lists after the late 19th century means it has previously been difficult for researchers to determine who was on which ship at the same time. However, the presence of transcribed records within the database means users will quickly be able to see connections between records and view ‘virtual crew lists’ for different battles and campaigns. The transcription will also enable users to find Royal Navy personnel by details that have previously not been made searchable, including occupation, next of kin and medals.
The website is the result of a joint partnership between The National Archives, the National Maritime Museum and the Crew Lists Index Project. All three partners previously collaborated to create a similar resource last year, providing free access to Merchant Navy records from 1915.
The project team aims to have uploaded the full collection of transcribed Royal Navy service records to the database by November 2018, in time for the end of the First World War Centenary.