For Those Wishing to Search for Merchant Seaman Records.
All surviving British Merchant Navy records from WWI & II are held at The National Archive in Kew. Depending on what year the person joined the M.N. will depend on which files their records are kept. If their service started before 1940 but carried on after 1941 they will of been transferred to the Fifth Register.
1913 to 1940 Fourth Register of Merchant Seaman's Service.
Classifications BT 364. Register of Seaman, Combined Numerical Index (CR1, CR2, & CR10). Microfiche of these three index series are held in the following classes BT 348: Register of Seaman, Central Index, Numerical Series (CR2), BT 349: Register of Seaman, Central Index, Alphabetical Series (CR1) and BT 350: Register of Seaman,Special Index, Alphabetical Series (CR10). (Source of ref. Records of Merchant Shipping & Seamen, PRO Readers Guide No. 20).
1941-1972 Fifth Register of Merchant Seaman's Service.
These records are held at the TNA in classification BT 382. These records are held in alphabetical surname order. (Source of ref. MCA Information Leaflet and Historical Records).
80% of crew lists between 1861 & 1938 are held in the Maritime History Archive in Canada. Only 10% are in the TNA at Kew in BT99. The remaining 10% all years ending in 5 are held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
Please note, the TNA will not search their files for you, if they are unable to attend in person, they will give the names of independent researchers who will do it for an hourly fee.
This information was kindly supplied by Billy McGee. As always our thanks to Billy.