World War I repatriation records

The National Archives holds all service dossiers of the 376,000 Australians who served overseas with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Of those who returned, we hold extensive records relating to their post-war rehabilitation, pensions and medical care.

The large collection of records document health care, welfare services and pensions provided by the Repatriation Department (later the Department of Veterans' Affairs) to eligible people who returned to Australia after the war. 'Repatriation' in this context means the return and resettlement into civilian life of Australian servicemen and women who served overseas. There are approximately 600,000 individual records, but until now only a few of these have been made accessible to the public.

In the five years of the Centenary of Anzac, the National Archives will describe as many records as possible in our collection database, RecordSearch, and digitise a selection of records of those who left Australia with the first convoy, departing Albany in Western Australia on 1 November 1914. Nearly all of these people would have served at Gallipoli.

Together, service records and repatriation records can provide a rich resource of the service and post-war lives of many Australians.

Background to the repatriation system

Once discharged from the AIF, rehabilitation and re-establishment into civilian life were the responsibility of the Repatriation Department. Servicemen and women were eligible for pensions, medical treatment, disability benefits, various training schemes, and education for themselves and their dependants. In addition the Repatriation Department took over the major military hospitals, administered a war service homes scheme, and set the funding and policy framework for soldier settlement schemes administrated by the states.

Offices of the Repatriation Department were established in all states to administer benefits to the ex-servicemen, women and families residing in those states. The recordkeeping system changed over the years, and varied from state to state. Repatriation files were, and can be, identified by prefix:

'R' – Registration – details were completed on the return of the service person to Australia.

'M' – Medical – details of service, disability and medical history, treatment, dependants, correspondence regarding claims and entitlements.

'C' – Pension – details of entitlements and claims, appeals and records of evidence, review of pensions, medical reports and correspondence.

'H' – Hospital – contains information on the treatment of the patient. The file was maintained by the institution where treatment was given, and returned to the repatriation general hospital registry when treatment was completed. On the death of the person, the file is, amalgamated with other files.

'B' – Beneficiary – a B within the file control symbol indicates the person is a beneficiary, that is a widow or child of a veteran.

The table below lists the relevant series comprising repatriation records by location of the records.

New South Wales

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
Personal case files, single number series with ‘R’ prefix1918–55C137
Personal case files1920–C138
Personal case files, single number series with ‘M’ (medical), ‘C’ (pension) and ‘H’ (hospital) prefix1956–D363
Personal case files, single number series with ‘M’ (medical), ‘C’ (pension) and ‘H’ (hospital) prefix1956–P107

Queensland

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
Medical case files for First World War ex-servicemen (deceased members only)1918–81BP830/1
First World War deceased ex-servicemen’s medical case files1918–81BP1015/1
Deceased World War I ex-servicemen's personal medical case files1918–82BP873/1
Personal case files for deceased First World War veterans1918–82BP892/1
World War I deceased ex-servicemen's personal medical case files1918–82BP919/4
Medical case files, single number series with ‘M’ (First World War ex-servicemen) prefix1918–91J26
Pension case files, single number series with ‘C’ (First World War ex-servicemen) prefix1918–91J34
Medical case files for First World War ex-servicemen (deceased members only)1920–80BP709/1

Victoria

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
Personal case files, World War I1920–B73
Personal case files, World War I1914–B6691

Western Australia

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
Personal case files1913–2006PP866/1
Medical and hospital files of veterans who served with Australian forces in 1914–18 war and 1950–56 Korean Malayan war1914–78PP645/1
Personal case files1914–80PP863/1
Pensions files, 1914–18 and Boer wars1915–55PP13/1
Personal case files1916–65PP865/1
Personal case files1918–62PP864/1
Personal case files1918–70PP893/1
Assistance and medical files, 1914–18 war1920–54PP2/8
Personal case files1956–74PP847/1
Personal case files1956–76PP849/1
Personal case files1956–78PP681/1
Personal case files1956–81PP809/1
Personal case files1956–PP870/1
Personal case files1956–PP872/1
Personal case files1956–K60

Australian Capital Territory

Personal case files raised for applications made for war pensions by Australian ex-servicemen (or their dependants) who served in the 1914–18 war. Files within the following series have been referred from Repatriation state offices and cover payments made to pensioners living overseas, payment made to service personnel from other Commonwealth dominions residing in Australia or unsuccessful claims for pensions.

Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
Personal case files, Australian pensions, 1914–1918 (old) War1914–86A2423
Personal case files, British pensions1923–A2808
Personal case files, New Zealand pensions1923–A2817
Personal case files, South African pensions1827–A2821

Additional resources

Fact sheets

Mementoarticles

Snapshots of the collection

Speeches

    Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017