Royal Navy First World War – Lives At Sea

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This unique free resource derived mainly from transcriptions of service records lets you search for information about Royal Navy officers and ratings who served during the First World War. You can also find out more about the crews on different ships and at different battles during the war.

Holder of the First Sea Lord's Digital Media Award certificate of merit, Maritime Media Awards, 2016.

About the project

About the First World War Royal Navy Lives at Sea Project

The National Archives (TNA), The National Maritime Museum (NMM) and the Crew List Index Project team (CLIP) building on their successful collaboration with the Merchant 1915 Crew List Index project have joined together again with the help of a team of e-volunteers from all over the world to create a free to search database resource relating to all the Royal Navy officers and ratings that served in the First World War based principally on service records held by TNA.

Why is this project important?

This project will create the most significant online data resource for the study of the Royal Navy personnel during the First World War. This unique resource also marks and commemorates the Royal Navy’s contribution to the First World War effort through the lives of those officers and ratings who served. Our hope is that it will allow and promote a wide and diverse variety of research into the composition and operations of the Royal Navy during the War. This could be specifically in relation to individual officers and ratings through their personal and service histories, to wider studies, for instance, where men were recruited from, from which trades and to enable the creation of crew lists for ships and submarines for given dates. Such lists do not survive for the First World War and so for the first time researchers will be able to place officers and ratings in naval battles of the War and study topics such as mortality rates, and causes of invalidity. In addition the information derived from the database can be used as a platform for accessing other Royal Navy records including ships’ logs (ADM 53), ships’ photographs (ADM 176) and wider naval First World War operational records in (ADM 1, ADM 116, ADM 137) all at TNA, and First World War logs and journals (JOD), ship plans (SP) and photographs (HP) all at NMM.

About the database what information is being captured

The aim is to capture personal and service details for every officer and rating who served in the First World War including:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Next of Kin
  • Service Number
  • Town/City of birth
  • County of birth
  • Country of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name of every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in (including from and to dates)
  • Rank or rating held on every ship/submarine/shore establishment served in
  • Which battle served in during the First World War, for example, (Heligoland Bight, Coronel, Falkland Islands 1914; Dogger Bank 1915; Jutland 1916; Otranto Straits, 1917).
  • Cause and date of discharge (for example, with regards to death, invalidity demobilisation).
  • Where buried or commemorated.
  • Medals awarded.

For some officers and ratings there may be more than one service record, sometimes with overlapping, duplicate and conflicting data. In such instances recourse will be made to published works, such as the Navy List, to verify information.


When was the project to be launched and by when is it scheduled to complete?

The website resource launched in June 2016 with some searchable content. We expect that the project will be completed by December 2024.

What progress has been made so far on this project?

All relevant service records have been transcribed by volunteers and these transcriptions are being checked for uploading. Currently 41000 service records can be searched in the database. As the project progresses more will be added on a regular basis up to December 2024

41,000 records

What is not included in the database?

The database does not include details of those who served in the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve or Royal Naval Air Service.

Why can’t I find someone who served in the Royal Navy during the First World War?

As mentioned above this project is on-going so please visit the website regularly to check whether the record of the person you’re interested in has been added.

Is it still worthwhile looking at the service records?

Yes it is - for this project much information is being extracted from the Royal Navy Officers’ and ratings’ service records held by the TNA in the series ADM 196 and ADM 188. However, information such as physical descriptions, disciplinary offences, qualifications etc are not being captured and so may be of interest to researchers. Digital scans of the service records can be downloaded from the National Archives website.

Some records show […] what does this mean?

The symbol […] is used in instances when writing in the documents cannot be deciphered.

Corrections, amendments and contributions

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this database. However, if you should spot an error, please let us know by contacting

If you would like to contribute information especially regarding next of kin, please contact

Taking research further

To find out what other records might be of interest to you please see the following research guides.

Alternatively, you can search the catalogues of the TNA (by an individual’s, ship’s or battle name) here, and the NMM here.

Use of Data

Data held in this database can be freely used for educational and research purposes but not for commercial purposes. Please acknowledge any use of the data.
You can download the data from this site in CSV format here.

With Many Thanks

We would like to highlight and acknowledge the significant contributions of Jan and Pete Owens at the Crew List Index Project without whose technical support and help this database would not have been possible, each and every one of our volunteer team, and our fellow project funding partners The Friends of the National Archives and the Society for Nautical Research. To learn more about our project partners please visit their respective websites.

Project Team Lead

Bruno Pappalardo (TNA)