Royal Australian Navy from 1911

Navy service records

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was established in 1911. The main records are service cards. In addition to the service records the Archives holds Naval Officers' confidential reports and ships' ledgers for Her Majesty's Australian (HMA) ships.

Another useful series is held at the Australian War Memorial – the Naval Force (ANF) Engagement and Service records (1903–11).

The table below outlines the records held at the National Archives. They are listed in chronological order.

Collection references

* Main records of service

What’s in Navy service records?

The Royal Australian Navy kept service records from 1911 to 1970 in the form of double-sided cardboard index cards. These service cards contain information about:

  • personal particulars including surname and given names, personal number, date and place of birth, religion, occupation, home port, address on entry/re-entry and on discharge, and details of next of kin
  • postings
  • awards

There are usually one or two cards for each person.

Find and view a Navy service record online

All Navy record of service cards (series A6769 and A6770) have been digitised and are available to view online.

  1. Go to NameSearch.
  2. Enter the family name of the service person – make sure it is the name used at enlistment.
  3. Select 'Navy personnel records 1911–1976' 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'.

View an original record

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

Other contacts


Inquiries about medal entitlements for service in the Australian Defence forces are handled by Defence Honours and Awards. They can be contacted by phone on 1800 333 362. Alternatively, complete the Defence Medals - Online Application.

Pension information and entitlements

Veterans' Affairs Network
Tel: 133 254

Further information

For more information on Navy records see:

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

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019