A comparison of the sections on the ‘Disposal of [soldiers] Documents’, meaning service records in King’s Regulations 1912 amended up to 1914, King’s Regulations 1923 and King’s Regulations 1940.
Adapted from one of my posts in the Great War Forum.
I looked at the post WW1 volumes as the instructions set out for the retention of records applied to WW1 service records up to the Arnside fire in 1940. Details showing how service records of those men still in service/deserters in addition to the retention of the first and second copies of attestations etc can be found by reading through the attached. My interest was in the submission of records by regiments/corps/regional offices to the War Office/Chelsea.
Aside from the records retained for pension purposes (submitted to the Royal Hospital Chelsea) after discharge due to sickness or wounding (this had long been in place before WW1) the main change I found was in the attitude to files of those servicemen who had been discharged with the end of their service. Whereas in 1914 such files were to be kept by the officer i/c records for an unspecified date (the full procedure is set out in A.F. B268, a transcript of the instruction page to officers i/c records is included at the end of the file King’s Regulations 1912 Amended to 1914, attached), presumably residing during WW1 with one of the regional record offices by 1923 this had changed. Now the relevant parts of service records (barring those of soldiers who had died, presumably as a result of their duties, which were to be retained by the i/c records for 50 years after their deaths) were to be sent to Chelsea, with pensioners records to be retained indefinitely and non-pensioners’ records to be disposed of 50 years after discharge. By 1940 there is a further change, with records of all soldiers (including those of deceased soldiers as mentioned earlier) to be forwarded to Chelsea with no mention of the length (or limit) of retention.
It is also interesting to see in the disposal of documents table for 1923 mention of the detail required (but no longer maintained after the 1920s) in the Enlistment and Discharge Books (A.B. 358). A link to the thread on the locations of surviving A.B. 358s can be found here: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=214248.
Here are the links to the transcriptions:
King’s Regulations 1912 as amended to 1914 and page 4 A.F. B268, click here.
King’s Regulations 1923, click here.
King’s Regulations 1940, click here.