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Number of armed forces operational deaths in the UK armed forces1945-2020

Since 1945, the deadliest year for British Armed forces was 1951, when there were 851 operational deaths. This was due to three separate conflicts: the Malayan Emergency, the 1951 Anglo-Egyptian War and the Korean War. Between 1959 and 2009 there were only three years that had more than 100 operational deaths: 1972, 1973 and 1982. The spike in deaths in the early 1970s were the result of the political violence in Northern Ireland at the time, and 237 of the 297 deaths in 1982 happened during the Falklands War. Over this 74-year period there have been a total of 7,187 British military deaths in conflicts.

 Over 145 thousand personnel in 2020

  The British Armed Forces are composed of four separate branches, the British Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Marines. Of these branches, the British Army has more personnel than the other three combined at over 79 thousand. The Royal Air Force had around 32.9 thousand personnel, the Navy at over 26 thousand, and the Marines 6.6 thousand amounting to 145 thousand overall.

 Long-term defense cuts  

  Since the end of the cold war in the early 1990s, the British government has cut it's defense spending in half. In 1984, defense spending was even as high as 5.5 percent of gross domestic product, but as Britain's overseas commitments have declined, so too has defense spending. The 2.1 percent spent on GDP in 2018 was just in line with the spending requirements of NATO which is two percent of GDP.

Number of armed forces operational deaths in the United Kingdom (UK) armed forces from 1945 to 2020

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Release date

March 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

September 3, 1945 to February 29, 2020

Supplementary notes

* As of February 29, 2020

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Statistics on "UK armed forces"

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