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Can anyone tell me how to find out someone's service history in WW2 please, where can I look?
The cost is £30 up front (non refundable) and it can take up to a year.
However from experience it is very good value for the details you get.
WW2 service records to be transferred to the National Archives
According to a recent article in Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, researchers who have ordered copies of their relative's service records from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are having to wait a year or more (by which time the cheque they've sent with their application is likely to be out of date). The article quotes an MoD spokesman as attributing the delay to the pandemic.
The good news is that plans are afoot to move the records to the National Archives (TNA), which should make them more accessible, though it is only when the records are online that most people are going to have access to them. There should be an announcement from TNA in the coming months about their plans.
If you can still order from the MoD then at minimum you will need to know which branch of the military you need (i.e. Army, Navy or Air Force), a service number or a date of birth, and a death certificate if the death did not occur during service.
While the pandemic makes a convenient scapegoat, a wait of up to 12 or 18 months is fairly normal for Army records. Navy and Air Force records are generally processed quicker, probably because there is less demand, but their records also contain less detail. My experience is that they will cash your cheque up front but if there is to be a significant delay then they will let you know and give you the option of cancelling.
As noted above, it seems that these records are in the process of being trasferred to the National Archives. Hopefully they will eventually be scanned and go online but that may be years away.
Considering the current restrictions with regard to next of kin and requirement for 25 yrs since death, it is hard to believe that any original documents will be online inside of 100 yrs from event.
Here's hoping the processing time improves.
I have within the last week received the Army Personnel Records I applied for 18 months ago.
The accompanying letter states
'Prior to the COVID lockdown this department was working with a backlog.' It then goes on to give the dates that the offices were closed due to COVID. Then it says 'The time lag has resulted in your cheque being out of date...' ' ...I would therefore ask that you send a replacement cheque'
The upshot is they sent me the records anyway and I have sent them another cheque.