Instructions for Compiling Lists of War Dead for the Registrar General for the End of the War

Please note all War Office Instructions and Army Council Instructions (A.C.I) come from National Archives (TNA) WO 293 War Office: Army Council: Instructions

1) War Office Instruction 234/November 1915

‘…234 Record of Deaths of Soldiers Abroad.

The Registrar General has intimated that is very desirable that a record of the deaths of soldiers who have been killed in action or who have died whilst on service abroad during the present war, should be compiled and sent to him for custody. The information that he desires to have for registration purposes, is as follows:-

(1) Date and place of death.

(2) Full Christian names and surname.

(3) Age, or approximate age.

(4) Regiment, rank and regimental number.

(5) National, i.e. English or Welsh, Scottish or Irish.

(6) Cause of death: briefly stated as – Killed in action, died of wounds, accidentally killed, dysentery, pneumonia, &c.

In view of the magnitude of the work involved, it has been decided that the compilation of the returns should be deferred until after the end of the war…


….45/E.F./1678, C2. Cas….’


2) A.C.I.  323/February 1916

323. Lists of deaths on active service for Registrar General.

  1. With reference to W.O. letter 45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas). Of 20th Nov. 1915, it is notified that an Army Form (W. 3231) has now been approved on which Officers i/c Records will compile their lists of deaths of soldiers (warrant officers, N.C.Os and men) who have been killed in action or who have died whilst on service abroad or on board ship during the present war.
  2. The Form will be a separate sheet, not a book, and will be issued to Record Offices, as required, by

The Registrar General,

General Register Office,

Somerset House,

London, W.C.

A preliminary supply will be issued by the Registrar General about the 15th of February, and demands for further copies (not exceeding the estimated requirements for about 3 months at a time) should subsequently be addressed to him as above.

  1. The returns will not be required to be rendered till the end of the war, but it may be possible to proceed with the compilation at times when the casualties reported are not heavy and this should be arranged as far as possible.
  2. Careful attention should be paid to the following points: –

(a) Separate sheets should be used for separate units.

(b) The particulars required should be typed on the Form, if possible, not written.

(c) The margin on the left-hand side should be left blank, as the Forms will ultimately be bound.

(d) Each sheet should bear the official stamp of the Record Office compiling it in the bottom left-hand corner.

(e) When all the sheets relating to any particular unit have been completed, they should be fastened together, and on the last sheet, it should be stated how many sheets are in the file. The last sheet (only) should be certified and signed by the Officer i/c Records himself.

(f) 15 names should be typed on each sheet.

(g) Alphabetical order of names need not be observed. The names may be entered in the order in which the notifications of death have been received.

(h) Where the actual place of death cannot be given it should be stated as nearly as possible, e.g. “in France or Belgium.”

(i) Where the date of death is a presumed date, the word “presumed” should be added after it.

(J) Men who have died in the country after return from the Expeditionary Forces should not be included, but all men dying overseas or on board ship should be shown, whatever the cause of death, and whether they were serving with an Expeditionary Force or not.

(K) When the Forms are complete (i.e. after the end of the war) they will be sent with a covering letter to The Secretary, War Office (C.2. Cas).

45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas.).’


3) A.C.I. 762/1916 April 1916

‘…763.Lists of death on active service for Registrar General.


  1. With reference to A.C.I. 323 of 1916, it is notified that when Officers i/c Records are unable to state the country of birth in A.F.W. 3231, the place of enlistment should be given instead and should be shown as such.
  2. If Officers i/c Records desire to retain duplicates of the completed forms for office purposes they should be taken on plain paper and not on copies of the Army Form. Demands on the Registrar General for additional copies of A.F. W. 3231 for the purpose of securing duplicates will not, therefore, be made.

45/E.F./1678 (C. 2 Cas.).’


4) A.C.I. 167/1920 March

Returns of deaths on Active Service.

  1. With reference to W.O. Letter 45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas.) of 22nd December, 1919, a copy of which is printed as an Appendix to this A.C.I., it is notified that the Registrar-General now wishes that the returns of deaths on active service on A.F.W.3231, shall be closed from 10th January, 1920, the date of the ratification of peace with Germany.
  2. The returns should, therefore, be completed as far as possible up to the date mentioned, and the lists forwarded, securely packed, direct to the Registrar-General, Marttlet House, Marttlet Court, Bow Street, London, W.C.2. as far as may be possible conveniently by 31st March, 1920. A list of the contents of each parcel should be indicated outside, together with the name of the Record Office whence despatched. The covering letter should state in full the Corps to which the sheets transmitted relate, being sent in a separate envelope similarly addressed.
  3. In addition the Registrar-General desires that a supplementary return may be furnished on the 31st December, 1920, containing the names of soldiers missing before the 10th January, 1920, whose deaths may have been presumed in the interval, and also of soldiers who may die on service abroad or on board ship in the interval.
  4. Officers i/c Records are reminded that it is essential that the returns should be stamped and certified before despatch, in accordance with the instructions in sub-paras. (d) and (e) of para 4, A.C.I. 323 of 1916.
  5. Sub-para. (k) of para. 4, A.C.I. 323 of 1916 is hereby cancelled.

45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas)

APPENDIX to A.C.I. 167.

[Copy of W.O. Letter 45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas) of the 22nd December, 1919, addressed to Officers i/c Records.]

With reference to W.O. letter 45/E.F./1678 (C2. Cas.) of 21st November, 1919, Officers i/c Records are notified that it has been agreed with the Registrar-General that the date up to which the lists of death on active service shall run should be the date fixed by Order in Council for the “end of the War.”

This will enable almost all cases of missing men or unrepatriated prisoners of war to be cleared before the returns are rendered. It will also have the effect of making the completion and rendering of the returns later than was anticipated. In the meantime Officers i/c Records should retain the returns and complete them so far as possible pending the issuing of instructions to send them in.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding it may be mentioned that all presumed dead should be included in the returns, it is believed that in most offices this has been done.

Men still reported missing only should not be included. In view of the later date of these returns the number of such missing cases will be very small.”


5) A.C.I. 419/1921 June

‘…419. Returns of deaths on active service.

  1. With reference to W.O. letter 45/E.F./1678 (C.2. Cas) of 25th December, 1919, and A.C.Is. 323 of 1916 and 167 of 1920, the Registrar-General wishes that the returns of deaths on active service shall be completed by the notification to him, on A.F. W3231, of the names of those soldiers missing during the period 4th August, 1914, to 10th January, 1920, whose deaths are presumed during the current year.
  2. The returns should be sent direct to the Registrar-General, Martlett House, Martlett Court, Bow Street, London, W.C.2., on 1st January, 1922, with a covering letter stating in full the corps to which the enclosure relates.
  3. In addition, the Registrar-General desires that a copy of A.F.W. 3231 may be sent to him in respect of any corps in which there may be no additional death to record, the word “Nil” being written thereon. He will then understand that the record for the corps has been finally completed.
  4. Officers i/c records are reminded that it is essential that all returns, including “Nil” returns should be stamped and certified before dispatch in accordance with the instructions contained in sub-paras. (d) and (e) of para. 4 of A.C.I. 323 of 1916.

45/E.F./1678 (C.2. Cas)