NEWSSpotlight – Records of Service

Records of Service, as their name states, record the service of all personnel serving in a corps or regiment during specific time periods. These documents are incredibly important in tracing the individual histories of service personnel and often used by the Museum when fulfilling research enquiries.

The Museum NEWS holds numerous Records of Service, though most prominently from the RAPC and its antecedents from 1800 to 1920, and the RAEC and its antecedents from c.1920s to c.1940s. The very first service records were recorded in large ledgers.

Records of Service for the Army Pay Department, c.1840s-1880s and c.1900-1920s.

One double-page spread can hold the records of up to 4 service personnel. On the left-hand side details of postings and promotions are listed, alongside personal details such as date of birth and date of attestation. The right-hand side of each spread was reserved for additional details such as marriages, mentions in despatches, hospitalisations, and any changes to postings. The picture below shows a sample of this from the Army Pay Department Records of Service.

Record of Service for the APD showing the service of Lt. Col. James Scott from 1841-1881 and Lt. Col. John Baylis Thompson from 1859-1884.

The Records of Service surviving for the RAEC look slightly different. Unfortunately, the Museum NEWS only holds two ledgers for this corps, recording those who served in the AEC and early RAEC. These ledgers include much of the same information as those of the APD, but this is tabled in a slightly different way. On the right-hand side, there are tabled sections to note the location and date of any marriage that took place during service, along with the birth of any children. This detail provides a fascinating insight into the familial experiences of serving personnel during the record’s creation.

Records of Service for six members of Army Educational Corps, c.1920-1940s.

These Records of Service, whilst incredibly useful, were, due to their size, difficult to store and continuously move around. By the 1950s, service records had adapted into Tracer Cards, documents smaller than a A5 card, that recorded only the strictly necessary service details – date of attestation, and all postings and promotions.

If you wish to access any of these records for your research, they are viewable by appointment only. Please contact the Museum’s Assistant Curator (NEWSs) on and we will arrange this for you. A more detailed list of the records held in the Museum NEWS can be found under the research tab of this website.