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Army Records

This page contains information about army records for family history in Durham County Record Office.

The Durham Light Infantry collection (ref. D/DLI) is the main source of army records for family history in Durham County Record Office. Find out more about this collection on our Durham Light Infantry page or Contact Us for advice.

Army Service Records

There are no official army service records for individual Durham Light Infantry soldiers in Durham County Record Office.  These records were kept centrally and not by the regiment so that the War Office, and later the Ministry of Defence, could calculate pay and pensions.

In a few cases we have the soldier’s own copy of his service records, given to the regimental collection by the soldier or his family.

Service Records Before 1920

The National Archives keeps service records before 1920. Look under ‘British Army’ in The National Archives In-depth research guides for more information.

Surviving WW1 army service records are now available on the Ancestry website. There are six PCs with free access to Ancestry in our Search Room.  All the PCs are now linked to a printer.

Service Records from 1920 Onwards

Individual service records are held by the Ministry of Defence. The Veterans UK website has information about Service records and how to apply for copies.

Enlistment and Discharge Books from 1920 Onwards

  • These were transferred to the DLI Museum from the Ministry of Defence and are now in Durham County Record Office, where they have been microfilmed and indexed.
  • They give a soldier’s army service number.
  • They do not contain as much information as individual service records held by the Ministry of Defence.
  • They do not include officers.

Enlistment books, 1920-1945 record soldiers who enlisted or transferred in to the Durham Light Infantry. Up to the mid 1920s these enlistment books include details of any previous army service. After that the information they contain is quite brief.

Discharge books, 1920-1958 record soldiers who were discharged from or transferred out of the regiment. Information is usually brief, recorded in a single line entry.

The enlistment and discharge books are on microfilm and to see them you must Make an Appointment and book a microfilm reader.

You can ask us to make a specific search for a single, named individual and order a copy from the records.

Other Records Which Mention Individual Soldiers

The Durham Light Infantry collection includes:

  • Army Lists (officers)
  • War diaries (for some battalions, WW1 and WW2)
  • Digests of service (the peace-time equivalent of a war diary)
  • Regimental and battalion histories (in the Record Office library and in the regimental collection)
  • Scrapbooks (compiled by the regiment, battalions and individuals)
  • Photograph albums and photographs (kept by the regiment, battalions and individuals)
  • Muster rolls (for very few battalions or a company within a battalion)
  • Regimental journals and newsletters
  • Order books

You will also find the records of individual soldiers which were presented to the regiment and the regimental museum by servicemen, ex-servicemen and their families or executors, and by collectors of militaria. You will find full details of our holdings for each battalion online.

The collection also includes records of the following:

  • Volunteer Forces before 1860
  • Durham County Volunteer Corps
  • Durham Home Guard
  • The Royal Artillery
  • Durham Light Infantry Museum and Trustees
  • The Durham Light Infantry Association
  • The Light Infantry
  • Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve Association of County Durham
  • British Army

The Record Office also has:

  • Absent Voters’ lists, 1918 (soldiers aged 21 and over)
  • Durham Advertiser newspaper index of all military personnel mentioned, 1914-1918
  • Timelines for each battalion

How to Search Our Catalogue

To see all catalogues in the Durham Light Infantry collection go to Catalogue Search and select Durham Light Infantry Records from the Catalogue title drop-down list.

To see all references to the Durham Light Infantry in any of our collections type Durham Light Infantry in the Keywords box.

Information about tracing soldiers

You will find lots of advice on tracing soldiers on The Long, Long Trail website about the British Army in the Great War.

You can use our Research Service to check the records and indexes we keep.