United Kingdom annual armed forces operational deaths 1945-2019

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 144 thousand personnel in 2019

  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 32.8 thousand personnel, the Navy 25.7 thousand, and the Marines 6.8 thousand amounting to 144 thousand overall.  

 Is the Army getting smaller?  

  In 2019 there were 35 thousand fewer personnel in the armed forces than there were in 2012. The main branch of the armed forces, the British Army, saw a reduction of over 25 thousand, and was less than 80 thousand strong by 2019.

United Kingdom (UK) annual armed forces operational deaths post World War II 1945 to 2019

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Release date

March 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period

September 3, 1945 to February 28, 2019

Supplementary notes

* 2019 figure is only for January to February of that year

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Statistics on "Armed Forces of the United Kingdom"

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