When can we expect WW2 Service Records to be open to the public?

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by AB64, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Just wondering when we can realistically expect these to be freely available? has anyone had any discussions or heard any rumours? WW1 records have been out for a long time, I think it was about 30 years ago I got a researcher to check the files for my Great Uncle (unfortunately his records were lost) so if they are using the same logic we should be seeing them.

    I did find a webpage from 2012 with a FOI request from the MOD where they suggested by the mid 2020's they expected them to be in the public domain Review of World War II Service Records - a Freedom of Information request to Ministry of Defence - WhatDoTheyKnow one key part below

    "The agreed policy between MOD and The National Archives is that service
    records will be transferred to The National Archives at the point that the
    majority of the subjects of the record have passed their 100th birthday
    as, until that point, the record relating to any one subject will be
    closed. Whilst MOD and The National Archives have not discussed in detail
    the transfer of Second World War service records it seems likely that the
    records will become publicly available in the mid-2020s given that an 18
    year who enlisted at the mid-point in the war would have been born around

    I know there would need to be discussion, consideration and agreement and that there would also be a bit of a bidding war with Ancestry, Findmypast etc trying to secure online access then the actual digitising (as I'm looking for around 2,000 individuals records it's the online rather than in archives point I'll be counting down til)

    I just thought this was a subject worth discussing as Service Records are such a key part in all our research and open access will move things on so much but I don't think I've seen it talked about

    Guy Hudson and 8RB like this.
  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Scots Guards appear to have kept to the 100 year rule in deciding for an end date of 1935 enlistments in their recent release of service records to FMP.

    Men who enlisted in 1935 would’ve been born in 1917/18 at the earliest albeit they also released some papers for “boys” born about 1921.

    If the material were to be released in the middle of this decade then ordinarily one would expect contractual negotiation with a “business partner” to be quite far advanced by now.

    That would've allowed time for a lengthy lead in period to facilitate digitisation of the records (and likely closure of the MOD archive to enquirers while digitisation is ongoing) prior to online release but I doubt anything will be done until the end of the pandemic at the earliest when a desire to generate some funds for HM Treasury may be an important consideration.

    Lindele, Tricky Dicky and AB64 like this.
  3. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    If the release is from the MOD to the National Archives would the business partner be with the NA, so they may be a bit limited in how far they can take negotiations until they have secured the initial release? plus would digitisation be done while the records were in the MOD's hands? I'd have thought it was only once they were handed over to the NA that they were technically available for digitisation so possibly more that the NA had to restrict access by stages as digitisation was carried out.
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I'd rather not have them available than that the Mormons should have them.
  5. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    I’ve found the Mormons stuff very useful in researching Airforce deaths in certain areas of Africa which I think would have been impossible to find otherwise, and it’s free
    Shiny 9th likes this.
  6. Debra Minhinnick

    Debra Minhinnick New Member

    Would my fathers' records be available. He was born in 1920. Passed away in 94. I would love to get them. I am new to the forum. Who would I contact. He was in the Navy and I have his enlistment paper and his discharge also. Skeena was his main ship. Thanks.
  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Careful. Skeena was a Royal Canadian Navy ship. If your father was RCN rather than RN then #7 will not apply. What exactly do you mean by enlistment and discharge papers? In the RN the Certificate of Service was handed to the Rating on discharge and this is the best record you will get. RCN records may be different - I don't know.

    Debra Minhinnick and CL1 like this.
  9. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    There were no minutes for the Kew User Forum held in February 2016 because " the session was led by the MOD" but the MOD presentation is still to be found at the link below, dealing with the subject of service records. Kew Directors brought an end to the User Forum in early 2019, claiming non-attendance by users, but it was a very informative place, and they gave out tea and biscuits. See this link:

    Debra Minhinnick and AB64 like this.
  10. Debra Minhinnick

    Debra Minhinnick New Member

    He started in the Cavalry, then moved on to the Navy. He was on the Athabaskan, Skeena, then Gatineau. I have the felt logo with the wolf eating a sub from the Gatineau and the pennant. I have attached his papers, I would think they are safe on this forum for me to do this. I noticed one person on these forums who did a great history of the Skeena in battle. Trying to find more info on it even and hoping to find pictures of the crews from back then. He was a trained deep sea diver (huge helmet diver). I have the mantle clock the dive team gave to him marked 1941 on the plaque and he told me horrific stories of recovery, and he was also injured in a blast when the Skeena came under attack. He still had the shrapnel in his legs.

    Attached Files:

  11. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Yiu need to apply to LAC in Ottawa for his personal file via this link -

    Requests for Military Service Files - Library and Archives Canada

    I’m not aware of the fee. They used to charge by the page rather than a flat fee.

    Good Luck

    Debra Minhinnick, timuk and 4jonboy like this.
  12. Debra Minhinnick

    Debra Minhinnick New Member

    Thank you, I appreciate it.
  13. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

    Believe they are free by that method. Heard this week from someone who recently ordered a file that they are currently processing requests from Sept 2018. PM me for contact info for an Ottawa researcher who should be able to get files this spring for a reasonable fee. He's widely recommended.
    Debra Minhinnick likes this.
  14. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    The link Steve (Tullybrone) has offered is the only way to go.....if you're a Canadian citizen. A $5.00 fee and within 30 days a CDR shows up in the mail.

    Now, with the pandemic 30 days is no longer guaranteed but it won't be two plus years like Kevin's example. These are two separate departments at the LAC.


  15. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

    30 days is not in the same galaxy as anything I've ever experienced or heard of, so I'd be happy to hear if you know a trick. When is the last time you got a file on that kind of turnaround?

    Here's how they are responding to requests via that link:
    ATIP response.JPG

Share This Page