Forged in the crucible of the First World War, the Royal Air Force was officially formed on 1 April, 1918. The story of the RAF has shaped the modern world.
By inspiring technological development, pioneering cultural change and pushing the boundaries of human achievement, the RAF has touched the lives of millions around the globe.
RAF Museum Storyvault will allow us to capture and share these extraordinary stories – stories of ordinary men and women whose spirit and values have upheld the RAF motto: Per ardua ad astra ( which is generally translated as 'Through adversity to the stars') both through the theatre of war and maintaining peace.
As part of our ‘First World War in the Air’ programme, we have started by sharing First World War Casualty Cards, the 1918 Muster Roll and 1918 Air Force List, detailed below. Exhibitions about the First World War in the air will be opening to the public at both London and Cosford in late 2014. The programme is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and BAE Systems.
As RAF Storyvault develops further over the coming years leading to the RAF Centenary in 2018, we will also be looking for contributors to add personal and family stories and anecdotes about serving in the Royal Air Force, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and associated services.
The Royal Flying Corps (and from April 1918 the Royal Air Force) kept detailed records of men who were killed, wounded or reported missing. Our collection of casualty cards seems to start around 1915 and runs into the 1920s. They deal primarily with officers, although there are some cards for Non-Commissioned Officers and Men.
The cards are in two series. The first series (Casualty card - Incident) gives details of the circumstances in which the person became a casualty, which may be an accident or enemy action. Some cards give the findings of Courts of Inquiry into accidents.
The second series (Casualty card - Person) records subsequent developments, such as admission to hospital, a report that the man is a Prisoner of War – and his subsequent movement from one camp to another and then back to the UK – or the decision to accept that he must have died.
There are also cards that give details of next-of-kin.
All of these cards were evidently compiled by staff in a headquarters unit, probably in the UK.
The Muster Roll was compiled in 1918, and lists the men who transferred into the ranks of the Royal Air Force from the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. It is arranged by their service number, but can also be searched by name.
Each entry gives the man’s trade – the three services often had different names for the same trade, and both the old and new designations are given – his old and new rank, the dates of joining and last promotion and his daily pay.
The three volumes of the Muster Roll are supplemented by various Appendices, which add to or correct information given in the main list.
Air Force List
The names of officers of the Army and Navy have been published in the Army List and Navy List for over 200 years, so it was inevitable that an Air Force List would be compiled for the formation of the Royal Air Force. This website contains information from the first Air Force List, which contains information corrected to 1st February 1918. Each officer appears in the List twice – firstly in the Gradation List, which is arranged by rank, and then in lists based on their specialism. These are: • Staff Officers • Aeroplane and Seaplane Officers [pilots] • Dirigible Officers [airship pilots] • Kite Balloon Officers • Observer Officers • Administrative Officers • Technical Officers • Unclassified Officers • Technical Officers – they seem to be men working in research establishments