Lists and records

This guide was last updated in 2009

Army doctors held commissions as officers and their careers can be traced through the annual official Army Lists, published since 1740, or the unofficial Hart’s Army List, published between 1839 and 1915.

However, you can save yourself a lot of work by consulting Commissioned Officers in the Medical Services of the British Army, 1660-1960 by Alfred Peterkin, William Johnston and William Robert Macfarlane Drew (2 volumes, Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 1968). A full set of Army Lists can be found at the AMS Museum.

If the officer was a regular army medical officer then the museum holds individual records from the early 19th century. These records were used to compile Commissioned Officers of the Medical Services of the British Army 1660-1960 but they contain a lot more information than that given in the two volumes, including extracts from annual reports, courses passed and also give sources for obituaries.

The museum also has a large collection of photographs of medical officers from the mid 19th century. Crimean War returns on army doctors can be found transcribed at the Genuki website. All the surviving personal records of medical officers who served in the First World War are deposited at the National Archives (WO 339 for regular officers and WO 374 for territorial officers).

Whereas most of the personal records of other ranks were destroyed or damaged by enemy action in the Second World War, more officers’ files including those of doctors, still exist. Unfortunately, none of the personal files on doctors who had temporary wartime commissions in the Royal Army Medical Corps have survived.

Records of military doctors serving later than 1922 are still held by the Army Personnel Centre. You can request access to these records online at the Ministry of Defence website but you need the consent of the Next of Kin.

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