From the Findmypast Website comes this announcement:
"We have just published 1 million 20th century Merchant Navy Seamen records on findmypast.co.uk This is the first time ever that these records have been made available online and we are working in association with The National Archives to give you access to your merchant navy ancestors.
The records are index cards which the Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman used between the two world wars to produce a centralised index of merchant seamen serving on British merchant navy vessels. They cover the period 1918-1941.
The merchant navy consists of all seagoing
vessels with commercial interests and their crews. Research that findmypast.co.uk conducted has shown that a shocking 54% of the UK population have no idea who or what the merchant navy is. UK
The front of a card gives the basic biographical information about each seaman, for example, their name, their year and place of birth and their rank or rating. Initials were sometimes given rather than first names and sometimes a physical description is provided.
The front of a card may also give other information, such as discharge number, health insurance number, address of kin and so on.
The reverse of the card may be blank, or may contain a list of official vessel numbers and signing-on dates, and/or a photograph and/or signature of the seamen. Sometimes a photograph is not on the reverse of the card but on a separate attached card.
It is possible to find a photograph of your ancestor within these records. These rarely seen photos of the mariners mean you can see what your seafaring ancestor looked like for the first time – a real achievement for any family historian."