Thursday 7 January 2010 by Craig Berelle. 2 comments
News, New acquisitions

Official Records is pleased to announce the acquisition of original nominal roll cards of the 2/8th Australian Infantry Battalion into the National Collection. The nominal roll has been catalogued as AWM359 on the RecordSearch database.

Card of Lt-Col John Mitchell DSO*, first CO of the 2/8th Battalion Card of Lt-Col John Mitchell DSO*, first CO of the 2/8th Battalion



Each card presents a record of service for an individual unit member. Their creation during the Second World War appears to have been an initiative of the battalion itself; i.e. they were not required to keep them, nor are they on official forms. Responsibility fell to each of the four company clerks of the battalion to create, manage and safeguard the cards. At the end of the war, the cards were transferred to Secretary of the 2/8th Association. The collection was managed as a membership database of the Association until they ceased activity in 2007.  Later that year the cards were offered to the Memorial.


AWM359 consists of index cards, one for each individual of the battalion, upon which detailed service information is entered. The top section identifies the soldier’s regimental number, name and rank. The middle section (‘Remarks’) records the date and nature of his service. Typically, these consisted of routing, embarkation, battles and operations, injury, evacuation, promotion and home leave. The bottom of the card lists next of kin (relationship and address), date of birth, religion, civil occupation, date of enlistment, date of joining battalion and previous unit or regiment (if applicable).

Men of 2/8th Battalion at Wewak in June 1945 Men of 2/8th Battalion at Wewak in June 1945


The nominal roll is arranged alphabetically, reflecting the way the cards were used by the association secretary.  They were subdivided as follows:

  • Main roll (Items 1-8)
  • Soldiers as members of the battalion for only a short time (9-10)
  • Officers (11)
  • Members killed in action (12)
  • Members taken prisoner of war (13)

In order to safeguard the handling of the collection, the cards have now been divided into manageable quantities and housed in archival quality containers.

These records form an additional valuable source of information useful to researchers of individual soldiers or those researching the battalion as a whole.  They should be used in conjunction with the official service records held by the National Archives of Australia and the 2/8th unit war diaries held by the Memorial.


Geoff Swallow

Fantastic pick up. My father Frederick Edwin Swallow VX29429 was with the 2/8th "C" Company and was critically wounded on the attack on Tobruk 21st January 1941 but pulled through. He spent quite a few months at El Kantara Hospital in Egypt and was discharged in January 1942. He passed away aged 69 in 1982. Are the cards digitised? Cheers Geoff Swallow Melbourne

Craig Berelle says:

Hi Geoff, Our current program to digistise records do not include these. However, the Memorial is committed to providing access to records and offers the use of our Reading Room to inspect the actual cards or accessing our information request service to acquire copies (fees apply). To obtain a copy cost estimate, please go here. Kind regards Craig Berelle Assistant Curator, Official Records.