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The RAF is the oldest independent air force in the world, the first to become independent of army or navy control. It was formed on 1 April 1918 by merging the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), as a response to the events of World War One. At the time, it was the largest air force in the world.

The British Royal Air Force, Officers’ Service Records 1912-1920 are records held at The National Archives in London and include around 101,000 records of Commonwealth Airmen. Some records include images of over 50 pages, and contain retrospective details of earlier service in the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service during World War One. They contain the details of an individual’s peacetime and military career, as well as a physical description, religious denomination and family status. Next of kin are also often mentioned, and this too has been fully indexed and is easily searchable. These records contain many of the top flying aces of World War One.