For details of the organisation and history of the Royal Naval Division, see 63rd (Royal Naval) Division
The RND was a formation that was created in 1914, which until 1916 was under the control of the Admiralty, despite being a land-based force. It transferred to the War Office and army control in 1916. This basic history led to its men having quite different sets of records to their army comrades, and to a large extent they all still exist. This page will help you find them. It focuses on the “other ranks”: that is, men who were not commissioned officers.
I will begin to illustrate this by reference to a project that I carried out for private clients in October 2023 and April 2022, respectively: Wilfred Manley and Alexander Strachan.
Both of the men referred to above had been enrolled into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve: Wilfred Manley with the Tyneside Division and Alexander Strachan with the Clyde Division. Note that these “divisions” were not the same thing as an operational formation.
For some divisions, the Fleet Air Arm Museum holds the engagement papers that men signed upon joining the RNVR. These can be useful if you need details about ratings whose records have not survived in series ADM337, and can sometimes provide information not given in the service records.
Royal Naval records
Records of the Royal Marines
The RND also included units of the Royal Marine Light Infantry.
Campaign medal records
The roll of issues of the campaign medals for the Great War is also held at the National Archives, in its collection ADM171. Each man has a single line entry which confirms his entitlement and the method of issue. ADM171 also includes a roll for the Royal Naval awards of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal..
Records that are the same type and location as those for the army
Many of the other types if useful record that may apply are in the same locations and style as army records, described elsewhere in this site. They include:
- Casualty lists
- Hospital admissions records
- Records of men who lost their lives*
- Records of prisoners of war
- Gallantry, bravery and other awards
*Ancestry and Findmypast also have what Ancestry calls “Royal Naval Division Casualties of The Great War, 1914-1924”, also known as the “Jack Clegg Database”. A most useful and diligently-compiled database and a website that contains much information about the RND.
The war diaries kept by the units and formation headquarters of the army can also be found in National Archives collections ADM137 and WO95, with some duplication and overlap. The latter generally covers mid-1916 onwards but also include the Royal Marine Brigade in 1914.