War grave records – World War I and II

During World War I and II, more than 100,000 Australian men and women of the Commonwealth forces lost their lives. There are more than 66,000 Australian war dead in identified graves around the world, with another 35,000 whose remains were never found, cremated or lie in unidentified graves.

Information about war graves can be found via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Office of Australian War Graves:

  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates all Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars, cares for cemeteries and memorials around the world, and holds a register of all the war dead under the care of the Commission.
  • The Office of Australian War Graves is the agent of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Australian region, commemorates veterans who die post-war of causes relating to conflict, and establishes and maintains official Australian memorials overseas.

The National Archives of Australia holds a number of records and photographs relating to war graves for World War I and II servicemen and women. Listed below are the most relevant series of records.

War grave record series held by the National Archives of Australia

Records relating to servicemen and women

Series A8231

World War II war graves record cards
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1939–47

Index cards recording military personnel who were killed or died while on active service in World War II. The cards are in alphabetical order by the surname of the service person.

Series A8232

Cemeteries index, alphabetical series
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1939–471921–85

Index cards to official graves of, and memorials to, servicemen and women, and some civilians whose deaths were considered to be war-related.

Series A8233

Crematoriums index, alphabetical series
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1921–85

Index cards recording details of servicemen and women whose deaths were considered to be war related and who were cremated.

Series A8234

War graves registration sheets (includes overseas and prisoner of war cemeteries)
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1939–47

World War II graves registration sheets recording cemeteries, memorials, headstones and cremations of Australian servicemen and women killed in action or listed as missing in Australia and overseas. A minority of registrations relates to cemeteries, memorials and cremations of members of the Allied Forces. Others relate to internees and prisoners of war who died in Australian internment camps. A small section of the registrations refer to the reburial of World War I personnel and internees in World War II cemeteries, and some civilians who died in war-related incidents. The registrations are primarily organised by geographical location of burial or reburial, memorial, headstone, cremation or broadly by the area where the soldiers went missing.

Series A8235

Garden of Remembrance index (Sets 1 and 2)
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1921–85

Index cards recording veterans whose death was considered to be war related.

Series NTAC1970/7

Advices of deaths, reported by Directorate of War Graves Services
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1939–48

War grave photograph series held by the National Archives of Australia

Series A5424

Films illustrating the work of the Imperial and Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Location: Sydney
Date range: 1917–

Series A8027

Lantern slides illustrating the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1948

Slides providing a pictorial history of the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission, which cared for the graves of servicemen. The Imperial War Graves Commission was started by Fabian Ware and established under Royal Assent in 1917. The work includes locating World War I war graves of Australian, British and New Zealand servicemen and women.

Series A13951

Black and white photographs of war graves funerals of RAAF officers
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1942–45

The black and white photographic prints depict funerals of RAAF officers who died while serving with RAAF squadrons, RAF Operational Training Units, RAF Conversion Units and RAF Pathfinder squadrons in Europe and England during World War II.

Series MP1372/1

Black and white photographs depicting Australian World War I graves, cemeteries and memorials including at Jerusalem, Sailly-Le-Sec, Bellerglise, Polygon, Mt St Quentin, Pozieres and Amiens.
Location: Melbourne
c.1880–1942

This series consists of various black and white photographs relating mostly to World War I. The photographs have been grouped into categories including Amiens, Australian Memorials, Belgium/France, Port Said and Jerusalem War Cemetery. A small number of photographs are unidentified or in miscellaneous categories.

Correspondence files

Series A2909

Correspondence files, multiple number series, some with 'AGS' [Australian Graves Service] prefix
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1916–

This series deals with the provision, erection and maintenance of graves and memorials of members of the AIF killed in World War I.

Series A11849

Files relating to policy towards graves of Australian soldiers in Europe
Location: Canberra
Date range: 1915–17

Files dealing with the policy towards Australian soldiers buried in Europe in World War I.

External sources of information on Australian war graves

  • The Australian War Memorial also holds records relating to war graves including war graves registration cards for
    World War I, and Imperial War Graves Commission records for Australian servicemen in World War II (microfilms).
  • The Australian War Graves Photographic Archive is committed to procuring a digital photograph of every Australian war grave and memorial commemoration, worldwide.
    Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017