Service and ex-service periodicals and newspapers can provide background information and may mention individuals:

  • Current and archive editions back to the 1950s of the monthly newspaper Navy News
  • IWM has an extensive collection of ship's newspapers and journals – search our online catalogue

Information on the organisation and units of the Royal Navy and naval forces:

  • Royal Navy website covers the structure and heritage of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm, Submarine Service and Royal Fleet Auxiliary
  • Naval History website covers all aspects of naval history from 1815 to the 1980s
  • provides details of both German U-boats from the First and Second World Wars, as well as information on the Allied ships that opposed them. The site also includes lists of naval personnel and the names of casualties.
  • The Royal Navy Research Archive gives access to online material related to Royal Navy ships, establishments, units, and personnel from the First World War to the present day. Content includes articles, short histories and the reminiscences of the men and women who served.
  • Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Correspondence and Papers (ADM 1) at The National Archives (TNA)

Information on specific campaigns:

Other helpful sources:

  • IWM's Lives of the First World War is a digital initiative to create the permanent digital memorial to those who served in uniform and worked on the home front
  • A Guide to Naval Records in The National Archives of the UK by Randolph Cock and NAM Rodger, 2nd edition (London: Institute of Historical Research, 2008)
  • Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen and Sword, 2011)
  • Tracing Your Naval Ancestors by Bruno Pappalardo (Richmond, Surrey: PRO, 2003)
  • The National Archives' 'Help with your research' guides cover a range of topics, explain how to find and use their records and signpost to other sources. For further areas of naval research see:

For general information on government records for family history see

Other things to look for:

Download our guide to tracing your Royal Navy ancestry.