Request information held on the RAF Casualty Files

Information and forms for requesting information held on the Royal Air Force Casualty Files.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) Air Historical Branch (AHB) is the custodian of the RAF Casualty Files. These historical records include details of aircraft losses from 1940 to the present day and are held in MOD archives until they are transferred and opened to general public at the National Archives as historical records under the Public Records Act.

What is held

RAF casualty files contain varying amounts of information, depending on the incident and the amount of detail collected at the time. Generally the record may contain some of the following information:

  • aircraft type
  • squadron
  • take off time and date
  • target
  • bomb load
  • special equipment carried (if any)
  • names of crew members
  • details of burial(s) (if not in a field grave)
  • cause of loss where known
  • crash location where known

Some of this information will already be in the public domain.

Details of Second World War burials relating to air crew losses may be held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Their website address is:

Limitations on disclosure

In the absence of a death certificate or other legal declaration of death, the MOD adopts a policy of assuming that a person is alive until the age of 116. To avoid your request being refused on this basis, it would be useful to provide the following:

  • death certificate
  • If you’re applying online, the death certificate needs to be in digital format (PDF, PNG, or JPEG).

You do not need a copy of the death certificate if the person died in service or was born more than 116 years ago.

Unless an individual’s death occurred in the incident, it should be noted that personal information contained within a Casualty file may not be disclosed, although other non-personal data will normally be releasable.

MOD will not disclose any information where this could prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of its forces.

In the case where release of information from a service record might be prejudicial or cannot be released for other reasons, the applicant will be advised of the relevant FOIA statutory exemption that applies to its non-disclosure.

Reproduction of information

It should be noted that, for conservation reasons, the AHB do not routinely provide photocopies of information held on the casualty records where the original copies are fragile or in a very poor condition. Information about 2nd World War losses is recorded on poor quality wartime paper and may be partially or wholly illegible. The original copies are susceptible to damage by modern reproduction processes such as photocopying. Information in these cases will be extracted from the files and provided to the requester. Should you wish to use this service to obtain information held on the RAF Casualty Files, please complete the Application and Search form.

Administration fee

Until the search has been undertaken there is no way of knowing what information is held. In some cases little or no information will be held. There is no charge for this service.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a search you should download, complete and send to MOD the following forms:

RAF casualty file form (application part 1) (ODT, 31.8 KB) or
RAF casualty search form (application part 2) (ODT, 35.2 KB)

Published 9 November 2016
Last updated 3 April 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated information under 'Limitations on disclosure' and 'Administration fee' sections, and added 'RAF casualty file form (application part 1)' and 'RAF casualty search form (application part 2)'.

  2. Added updated information on administration fees.

  3. Updated all forms in line with the new GDPR regulations that come into force on the 25 May 2018.

  4. First published.