DO YOU have a keen eye, a passion for naval history and are kicking your heels at present?

Then the guardians of the nation’s official records have just the job for you to help wider understanding of the Royal Navy’s role in World War 1.

The National Archives in Kew are looking for volunteers to transcribe contemporary handwritten records and help input them into a huge, free online database.

They have teamed up with the National Maritime Museum to create the website Royal Navy First World War: Lives at Sea – a fully-searchable online resource, which provides researchers with crew lists reconstructed from transcribed service records.

It will give naval historians a greater understanding of the social structure of the Great War Senior Service, where its men were recruited from, their working backgrounds, plus mortality and invalidity rates – not least as many official WW1 naval records were destroyed.

The team at Kew have digitised some 400,000 service records so far from the ADM 188 (seamen, marines, Royal Naval Air Service) and 196 (officers) series, but have only been able to transcribe one in 16 – 25,000 records – to date.

You can already view and search the database here:

Volunteers will be given unique log-in details for the transcription website, they’ll receive transcription instructions and assistance – and project managers are only at an end of an email if anyone needs help.

“All you need to be involved is a computer, internet connection and a willingness to learn – no prior historical knowledge or training is necessary,” said Clare Kelly of the National Archives. “Whether you can do a little or a lot, all contributions are welcome.”

For more information and to register your interest, please contact

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