Catalogue description War Office: Soldiers' Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (Microfilm Copies and Medical Cards)

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Details of WO 364
Reference: WO 364
Title: War Office: Soldiers' Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (Microfilm Copies and Medical Cards)

This series consists mainly of microfilm copies of service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for war service between 1914 and 1920, and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The provenance of these records is important in understanding that they are unlikely to contain any papers for individuals who were either killed in action and had no dependants or who were discharged as part of the demobilisation at the end of the war and did not claim a pension.

The series also includes a sequence of papers ('medical cards') containing medical information about specific individuals, many of whom served in the armed forces after 1920.

Digital images of the microfilm can be searched online through our partner website. There are no current plans to digitise the paper cards.

Date: 1900-1994

Arranged in five sequences:

The following piece numbers were not used: 3462-3535, 4683, 4916-4999, 7115.

The first four sequences are arranged in alphabetical order by surname. Surnames beginning with the prefixes Mc and Mac have been arranged together at the start of the letter M. Many files were microfilmed out of order; significant discrepancies in the alphabetical sequences are noted in the individual catalogue entries.

Each reel of microfilm has a GS number which was allocated as part of the filming process and does not relate to the original files.

Related material:

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

For soldiers' service records pre-1914 see WO 97

Main collection of World War 1 soldiers' records WO 363

For soldiers in The Household Cavalry see WO 400

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Defence, 1947-

War Office, 1857-1964

Physical description: 7203 files and microform
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 2017 Ministry of Defence

Custodial history: The microfilms of the '1914-1920 collation' and the 'third collation' were produced by volunteers of the Genealogical Society of Utah under an agreement with the Ministry of Defence. The 'medical cards' were located in 2012 and incorporated into WO 364 in 2017.
Accruals: Series is accruing
Administrative / biographical background:

About six and a half million men served as soldiers in the British Army during the First World War and, after demobilisation, provided that they did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, copies of their records of service were stored centrally in the War Office Record Store in Arnside Street, Walworth, London SE17. During the night of 7/8th September 1940, there was a heavy German air raid on London and the repository was hit by incendiary bombs, destroying the greater part of the 1,400 tons of War Office records which were held there in the subsequent fire. Approximately two thirds of the soldiers' service records were completely destroyed and those which survived were partly charred or water damaged when the fire was extinguished. The surviving records became known as the 'burnt documents' or 'burnt collation'. Microfilm copies of these now comprise series WO 363.

In order to supplement the surviving records, non-active files from the Ministry of Pensions at Blackpool relating to Army disability pensions for the First World War were passed to the new War Record Office at Droitwich in 1943. These files concerned pensioners who had since died or claims which had been refused and they were intended to be pulped for paper salvage. These records, which were kept separate from the 'burnt collation', were known as the '1914-1920 collation'.

The 'third collation' was compiled by extracting service record material from Ministry of Pensions files for pensions which were still in payment after 1938. When the Ministry of Pension files were due for destruction, the service record material was returned to the Ministry of Defence.

The medical cards include papers that were refiled for administrative purposes prior to the Second World War. They either survived the 1940 fire or had been held in another storage facility that was not bombed. This set of records also includes papers from the Second World War and later periods.

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