Catalogue description War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, Long Number Papers (numerical)

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Details of WO 339
Reference: WO 339
Title: War Office: Officers' Services, First World War, Long Number Papers (numerical)

This series contains records and correspondence for Regular Army and Emergency Reserve officers who served in the First World War.

The content of the files varies enormously, from a note supplying date of death, to a file of several parts containing attestation papers, record of service, personal correspondence and various other information. For the majority of the series there is no correspondence date range.

Records of British reserve officers who were commissioned into the Indian Army were originally held separately, but later added to this series.

The entire series has been made available 75 years after the notional end of the series (1922). Due to War Office filing practices, later material has occasionally been added to files, potentially delaying their opening, but the whole series was released together.

Note: Catalogue entries for this series have been enhanced as part of a project supported by Volunteers, including the Friends of The National Archives; completed in July 2014.
Date: 1914-1939

The series is arranged in numerical order by Long Number

Related material:

For other records of officers' services see WO 76

For nominal indexes which provide the Long Number for each officer in this series see WO 338

For registers of officers' services (including civilian dependants and civilian and military staff appointments) see WO 340

For related personal files see WO 374

Separated material:

A few selected personal files for notable individuals were transferred before the decision was made to preserve all the remaining files from the series, see WO 138

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 139914 file(s)
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

from 1997 to 2002 Ministry of Defence

Selection and destruction information: The bulk of the forms which recorded service up to 1939 were destroyed in September 1940, when the War Office Record Office in Arnside Street was damaged by enemy bombing. With their loss, it was decided to keep the personnel records now found in this series and WO 374 (supplementary alphabetical series) as together these records provided the only remaining service record for First World War officers. Not all Long Numbers are present as the files were extensively weeded in the 1930s, presumably to remove files where no administratively useful information existed.
Publication note:

The Army Lists, which give brief details about each officer, are available in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew.

Administrative / biographical background:

Officers were allocated a Long Number. This was a registry number introduced in 1857 to cover personal records and correspondence relating to Regular and Emergency Reserve officers and it continued to be used throughout the First World War until it was replaced in 1922 by the Personal Number (P number) system. British reserve officers who were commissioned into the Indian Army were, belatedly, also allocated Long Numbers.

Army Order 40 of 1914 introduced a new form (Army Form B 199) for recording officers' service; it was to replace the registers of officers' returns (Army Book 83) which are held in WO 76

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