WW2 British Army Casualty Lists

This article will look at WW2 Casualty Lists and will:

  • Explain what a British Army  Second World War Casualty List was
  • What information WW2 Casualty Lists contain
  • How to find and search British Army WW2 Casualty Lists

I offer a Second World War Soldier Research Service.

WW2 British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945

The daily British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 are a great resource to use if you are researching a soldier who served in the British Army during the Second World War. The lists contain casualty information for British Army officers, other ranks and nurses who became a casualty during the war. Those recorded in the lists were either killed, died, wounded, reported missing or became a prisoner of war.

What Information do British Army WW2 Casualty Lists Contain?

British Army Casualty Lists will contain the following information:

  • First Name: Initials only
  • Surname
  • Date of Casualty
  • Whether Killed, Wounded, Missing Believed Prisoner of War etc.
  • Army or Personal Number 
  • Rank
  • Regiment/unit: The exact unit a soldier was serving in was usually recorded.
  • Theatre of War

I’ve written a list of British Army abbreviations and acronyms which will help you to understand the information contained on the pages: British Army WW2 Abbreviations and Acronyms. If you are using FindmyPast (see below) then the abbreviations and acronyms have already been written out in full.

How to Find and Search British Army Second World War Casualty Lists

The original Second World War Casualty Lists are held at the National Archives in London and can be viewed there but you will need a Reader’s Ticket. The Reference for the Casualty Lists is WO 417 and in total there are 102 files. The files run chronologically and are divided into files containing casualty information for officers and nurses and files containing information for other ranks.

This series of files has been digitized and is available to view on the subscription website FindmyPast which usually has a free 14 day trial period enabling you to search these records for free. If you click on the link below you will be taken to FindmyPastwhich has catalogued these records under “British Army Casualty Lists 1939-45”.

To search for a soldier on FindmyPast I would recommend just searching their surname and army or personal number (referred to as a service number on the site). If you don’t know their number then search their initials and surname. There are no first names on the casualty lists so if you are searching for a soldier with a common surname, you’ll need to know other information such as what unit they were serving in, where and an approximate date regarding they became a casualty to find the correct soldier.

Casualty lists can be useful for finding an officer’s personal number or other ranks army number if you wish to order their service record from the Ministry of Defence. However, make sure you have the correct soldier. I would only recommend using casualty list as your sole source of information regarding a soldier’s number if they have an unusual surname or you already have additional information e.g. you know the unit and date they became a casualty.