Search the Royal Air Force Lists from 1919-1922 and 1938-1945 containing the names of warrant officers and commissioned personnel. The Air Force Lists will provide you with your ancestor’s rank and branch. It will tell you if your ancestor was given any awards or honours. The lists include the women’s branches of the military including the WRENs, WAAF, and Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.
The Royal Air Force Lists are presented as digitised copies of the original publications. You can search by your ancestor’s name and a keyword. For help with your search, we have provided more search tips below.
The lists may tell you your ancestor’s rank and branch. Initials next to your ancestor’s name will show if they received a military medal; for example, DSO means the officer received the Distinguished Service Order.
Most publications will have a table of contents and provide you with a list of symbols, abbreviations and letters denoting honours and awards.
The lists also include the names of those who had resigned and reasons such as ill-health.
The monthly Royal Air Force lists are held by the National Library of Scotland.
The collection includes lists from 1919 to 1922 and 1939 to 1945. The RAF was first formed in 1918.
The lists also include the women’s branches of military service. Within the lists from 1919 to 1922, you will find lists of the Women’s Royal Air Force (known as the WRENs). The lists from the Second World War also includes Women’s Army Auxiliary and Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service. You will also find lists of the Auxiliary Air Force and the Air Training Corps.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the oldest independent air force in the world – the first air force to become independent of army or navy control. It was formed on 1 April 1918 by merging the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service, as a response to the events of the First World War. The RAF was controlled by the British government Air Ministry, which had been founded three months earlier. The newly formed RAF had over 20,000 aircraft and more than 300,000 personnel. After the war, the RAF policed the British Empire from the air. During the Second World War, the RAF developed its doctrine of strategic bombing, which resulted in the construction of long-range bombers and became the fundamental philosophy of this war. During the Second World War, the RAF possibly prevented an invasion of Britain. Furthermore, it supported British armies in North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe, and the Far East; fought continuously over the seas around Britain, over the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and over the Indian Ocean; and the RAF played a significant role (together with the U.S. Army Air Force) in the strategic bombing offensive against Germany.
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 per cent 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 the 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.