Large-scale effort sees 1 million Second World War records digitised

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

National Archives of Australia is proud to announce that over 1 million Second World War service records have now been digitised as part of a large-scale digitisation effort. These records are now progressively being made available online free-of-charge.

Records digitised include all of Royal Australian Navy series A6769 and A6770, Army series B883 and B884, and Royal Australian Air Force series A9300. A significant portion of Royal Australian Air Force series A9301 has also been completed.

National Archives of Australia Director-General Mr Simon Froude explains that these service records are a valuable resource, not just for those interested in the military, but for family history researchers and anyone interested in the involvement of Australians in our wartime history.

‘These records will help the nation to better understand, remember and reflect on the service and sacrifice of each man and woman who served.’ said Mr Froude.

‘Each record documents a service person’s enlistment, movements, transfers, promotions and ultimate fate, offering a fascinating glimpse into the lives of WWII veterans.’

Access to these records continues to be one of the most popular requests made to National Archives, as more Australians seek to discover the untold stories of their own relatives and their role in defending the nation.

‘Our priority first and foremost was to preserve these iconic at-risk paper records. The next step is to make sure every one of these records is available to anyone in the world for free.’

National Archives funds digitisation through a combination of an annual budget allocation, project-specific funding received from Government, partnership arrangements and through the generosity of our members and benefactors. 

In 2019, the Australian Government provided $10 million in funding to help National Archives digitise the remaining 852,000 Second World War service records. At the time, 200,000 had already been preserved and made available through annual budget allocations.

As of 30 June, there are approximately 45,000 Second World War service records awaiting digitisation, which will be prioritised over the next 12 months and ultimately made available to view online. 

In addition to government funding, $1 million was donated by long-time supporter and philanthropist Ms Barbara Mason. This donation is being used to digitise the photographic portraits stored on the Second World War service files, helping National Archives to put a face to the name.

Digitisation Project Manager Rebecca Penna said ‘digitising these fragile negatives alongside the paper records ensures that more faces can be put to the names of those who served during the Second World War. 

‘This has been an enormous effort over a number of years. Reaching a milestone of 1 million records digitised is something our teams are incredibly proud of.’ said Ms Penna.

Once digitised, records are progressively made available free-of-charge via National Archives’ website. 

To learn more about the World War II Digitisation Project, visit: Digitising World War II service records.

For more information on war records in the national archival collection, visit: Defence and war service records.


Contact information

National Archives of Australia Media Team

Phone: 0417 247 157


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