How to Confirm Someone's Service in H.M.S. Hood
Updated 18-Dec-2014

We get a lot of enquiries asking us to confirm whether a particular man ever served in Hood. The following guidelines are intended to help people take the right steps in researching someone's military service history.

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If you suspect someone of having served in Hood, the first thing to do is to check our Crew Lists. If you do not see him listed there, then we do not have any information. Remember that any information we have is limited to that which has been passed to us by members of the public – we do not have any official archive of service records.

If the man that you are interested in is not listed, it simply means that no one has contacted us about him before. He may well have served in the ship but to verify this you will need to search the various official archives. Whether you are able to access these depends on a number of factors:

Not all of the above are relevant to each case. Please read below to see how best to continue your enquiries.

Archives in the Public Domain

Some archives are in the public domain and, as such, are available to anyone. In these cases when the man died and whether you are related to him are irrelevant – anyone can access the data, although there may be a charge to do so. The individual archives in the public domain are listed below:

Officers

Service records for Officers who joined the Royal Navy before May 1917.
This archive contains records relating to a number of officers who served in the ship in her early years. Officers who served from the mid 1930s onwards are likely to have joined later than May 1917 and their service records will be stored in a different archive – see below.
The pre-1917 service records for Royal Navy Officers are available in pdf format from through the National Archives web site. The following links may be useful to you:

The first of these links outlines what is available – both in the service record itself and other sources that you might want to consider using. You can use the second link to find the man you are interested in. If the name is common you will get a list and will need to narrow down the one that you are interested in through the date of birth. Once you have found ‘your man’ you can download the pdf copy of the service record at a cost of £3.50 each.

Navy Lists
The Navy list is a book which was put together on about a quarterly basis and listed all Commissioned and Warrant Officers in the Royal Navy. Each volume contains an alphabetical listing of surnames as well as the complements of all commissioned warships. By trawling through a number of successive volumes of the Navy List one is able to build up a fairly complete picture of a man’s service.

The advantage of the Navy Lists are that they are available pretty much to date so certainly for Hood the complete life of the ship is available. The difficulty is in getting access to copies. There are complete sets on open shelves at The National Archives at Kew, the National Museum of the Royal Navy Library in Portsmouth and The National Maritime Museum. There are also sets of varying completeness in public libraries throughout the UK. NB Some of these institutions will need you to book or to obtain a readers ticket before consulting their collections. Also, although some sets are on open shelves, at other places you may need to enquire what they have. It’s always best to look on the relevant institution’s web site before a visit and contact them in advance by e-mail or phone.

Ratings

As with Officers, the older records for Royal Navy Ratings (other ranks) are available to anyone. With ratings the relevant date is 1923. Records for men who joined before this date are available without restriction through the National Archives’ web site. Here are the links:

The system is similar to that described above for officers – you narrow down the list until you have isolated the man that you are interested in and then download the record in pdf format at a cost of £3.50 a go. The only problem with rating records is that a new system was brought in during the late 1920s so the information about individual men is often split across the two systems, the earlier part being available on line as described above but the latter half being subject to the “Non public domain records” system described below.

 

Archives NOT in the Public Domain

In many cases for men who served in Hood, the records are still not in the public domain, nor is there any plans for them to be so – these records are not subject to the “30 year” rule where a year’s worth is released at the beginning of every calendar year. Records not in the public domain are:

Who is able to access non public domain records?

This depends on whether the person is still alive, if not how long they have been dead and your relationship with them.

Subject of record still alive

If the person to which the records refer is still alive, then only they can request the records. They should do so by completing the DPA SAR form 1694.

Subject of record dead less than 25 years

If the person has been dead for less than 25 years, although anyone can request the record, the application process differs as does the amount of information released.

Applications from next of kin or with their permission

 You will need to complete the forms listed on the following forms as below:

The completed forms need to be posted to the following address:

Navy (including Royal Marines):
RN Disclosure Cell
Room 107
Victory Building
HM Naval Base
Portsmouth PO2 8BY

If by completing the second form above it transpires that you are not the next of kin then you must enclose a letter of permission from whoever is. If you cannot do so you will have to apply under the “Applications from others” process in the next section. Additionally, if the person to whom the service records relate did not die while still in the Royal Navy, you must obtain a copy of their death certificate and include that with you application.

There is a £30 charge for the service (except for widows to whom the service is free). This fee charged to defray the cost of searching, retrieving and copying the record – and additionally, to extract data from Establishment or Ship Pay & Victualling ledgers to ‘fill-in’ data omitted from the service record – a frequent problem with rating records in WWII.

What is provided?

Applications from others (not next of kin / without permission of next of kin)

You will need to complete the specified forms listed at https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records#how-to-apply-for-service-personnel-records.

The completed forms need to be posted to the following address:

Navy (including Royal Marines):
RN Disclosure Cell
Room 107
Victory Building
HM Naval Base
Portsmouth PO2 8BY

Additionally, if the person to whom the service records relate did not die while still in the Royal Navy, you must obtain a copy of their death certificate and include that with you application.

There is a £30 charge for the service. This fee charged to defray the cost of searching, retrieving and copying the record – and additionally, to extract data from Establishment or Ship Pay & Victualling ledgers to ‘fill-in’ data omitted from the service record – a frequent problem with rating records in WWII.

What is available?
Surname, Forename, Rank, Service, Service Number, Regiment/Corps, Place of Birth, Age, Date of Death, the date an individual joined the service and the date of leaving.

 

Subject of record dead more than 25 years

If the person has been dead for more than 25 years then anyone can access the record as follows:
You will need to complete the specified forms listed at https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records#how-to-apply-for-service-personnel-records.

The completed forms need to be posted to the following address:

Navy (including Royal Marines):
RN Disclosure Cell
Room 107
Victory Building
HM Naval Base
Portsmouth PO2 8BY

Additionally, if the person to whom the service records relate did not die while still in the Royal Navy, you must obtain a copy of their death certificate and include that with you application.

There is a £30 charge for the service. This fee charged to defray the cost of searching, retrieving and copying the record – and additionally, to extract data from Establishment or Ship Pay & Victualling ledgers to ‘fill-in’ data omitted from the service record – a frequent problem with rating records in WWII.

What is provided?