Catalogue description War Office: Soldiers' Documents, First World War 'Burnt Documents' (Microfilm Copies)

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Details of WO 363
Reference: WO 363
Title: War Office: Soldiers' Documents, First World War 'Burnt Documents' (Microfilm Copies)

This series contains microfilm copies of the surviving records of service for non commissioned officers and other ranks who served in the 1914-1918 war and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of war in 1939.

In September 1940, as the result of a fire caused by an incendiary bomb at the War Office Record Store in Arnside Street, London, approximately two thirds of 6.5 million soldiers' documents for the First World War were destroyed. Those records which survived were mostly charred or water damaged and unfit for consultation and became known as the 'burnt documents'. Commencing in 1996 and with the aid of Lottery funding and volunteers from the Genealogical Society of Utah, the surviving records were the subject of a large microfilming programme designed to capture as much information as possible from these fragile documents and enable them to be permanently preserved.

The records were stored and filmed in alphabetical order of a soldier's surname although the usual caveats apply when seeking an individual such as misspellings or possible use of a false name upon enlistment. Some surnames overlap records and it may be necessary to look at more than one microfilm to find the service record required. Files discovered out of alphabetical sequence (after their correct place has been filmed) have been filmed and placed at the end of the series.

Electronic images of these records can be searched online through our partner website.

Date: 1914-1920

Work on providing a surname index to the mis-sorts in both WO 363 and WO 364 is being initiated. The pieces affected in WO 363 are WO 363/MISS 1 - MISS 159 and in WO 364; WO 364/4913-4915 and WO 364/5803-5804.

Related material:

Equivalent records for the Grenadier, Irish and Welsh Guards are held by the Ministry of Defence. Records for the Coldstream and Scots Guards are held by their respective Regimental Headquarters. See:

For soldiers' service records pre-1914 see WO 97

Further soldiers' records of World War 1 are in WO 364

Records of the soldiers of the Household Cavalry WO 400

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 29889 microform
Access conditions: Available in digital format only

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