Army – World War I: 1914–18

Discovering Anzacs website
Discovering Anzacs – The National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand celebrate the Centenary of Anzac.

Records of Australian servicemen and women who served in World War I in the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF) are preserved in the National Archives. The collection of first AIF personnel dossiers includes records of service in the:

  • First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF)
  • Australian Flying Corps (AFC) – the predecessor of the RAAF
  • Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) – the combined force despatched in August 1914 to neutralise German New Guinea
  • Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT) – formed to assist the landing of men and equipment from RAN vessels
  • Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS)
  • Home or Depot units for personnel who served within Australia
  • non-combatants such as artists, photographers, chaplains and historians

Service dossiers and enlistment applications

The service personnel dossiers of men and women who served during World War I are held in series B2455. The table below lists this series as well as another useful series containing applications to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force.

Collection references

What’s in World War I service records?

World War I service records usually contain the following documents:

  • attestation paper – the attestation paper was completed by the person on enlistment and normally gives next-of-kin, employment details, marital status, age, place of birth and physical description
  • service and casualty form – this form, known as ‘Form B103’, shows movements and transfers between units, promotions, when and how the soldier was injured and where treatment was received 
  • military correspondence – correspondence between the Department of Defence and the soldier’s next-of-kin may include notification of wounds or death, awards and medals and questions about the whereabouts of the serviceman or woman

Defence service records do not contain detailed information about the actions and battles the person was involved in, nor do they contain a day-by-day account of their life in the services. To find more records about a person’s service, refer to our fact sheet on World War I and World War II service records.

Find and view a World War I service record online

All World War I service records (series B2455) have been digitised and are available to view online. Using NameSearch you can quickly find the service records of particular individuals. You can also browse service records by place of birth or enlistment through Mapping our Anzacs.

As part of the Centenary of Anzac celebrations, the National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand are working together to build a new website, Discovering Anzacs. This website will have a unique profile of Anzacs who enlisted in World War I, linked to their service record. Like Mapping our Anzacs, users will be able to browser records by location maps and explore events via an interactive timeline. Visitors to the website will easily be able to contribute images, stories and link connected records. This new website will replace Mapping our Anzacs and be available in 2014. A preview site is available now.

NameSearch

  1. Go to NameSearch.
  2. Enter the family name of the service person – make sure it is the name used at enlistment.
  3. Select ‘World War I’ from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Search.
  5. Display the results of your search. If there are too many, you can refine this search result, and then enter the person’s given names and/or service number. 
  6. Use the link to ‘View digital copy’. You can also print a copy of the record.

Mapping our Anzacs

  1. Go to Mapping our Anzacs.
  2. Using the maps, or one of the other search options, find an individual's details.
  3. Click on the thumbnail image of the file to view the complete service record.
  4. Use the 'print' button to print the entire file.
  5. For detailed instructions click on the question mark to view the help page.

Purchase a colour print copy

To purchase a colour print copy of a World War I service record:

  • first locate the item using NameSearch (see above)
  • use the ‘Request copy’ button
  • complete your order using our secure eCommerce facility. Copying charges will apply.

View an original record

If you would like to view a World War I service record in the National Archives Canberra reading room, please submit an advance request to view records form or contact the National Reference Service.

Medals

Information about medal entitlements is available from Defence Honours and Awards; tel: 1800 111 321.

Further information

For more information on Army records see:

You can also browse one of our other fact sheets on defence, armed services and war.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2014