Roll of Honour circulars, 1914-1918 War, supplementary series

Accession Number AWM164
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use, permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use

In July 1919, the Australian War Museum Committee decided that the permanent building should include a main hall containing an Honour Roll with the names of Australians who, to use Dr C. E. W. Bean's phrase, "died through the war". Printed circulars were distributed to next of kin the same year seeking information for the Official Historian, the Roll of Honour and inscriptions for war graves. It was estimated that the Roll would include some 70,000 names but, by May 1921, only about 35,000 completed forms had been received.

In some cases, forms had been completed for men whose deaths were not connected with the war. The question of eligibility was complex and, indeed, continued to be discussed throughout the compilation of the Roll (into the 1950's). The question of a further distribution of circulars was considered as early as 1924, but put aside until nearer the erection of the permanent building. Other suggestions made towards obtaining public cooperation in compiling the Roll (as distinct from using official sources) included obtaining information through the 1933 census and an appeal broadcast through the press on Armistice Day 1936. The former did not eventuate, and the return from the latter was very disappointing.

The original circulars (AWM131) were forwarded to the Australian War Memorial for permanent retention in May 1939. Unfortunately, a gap in the AWM registry file (746/2/1) at this point precludes verifying the exact circumstances in which this series of circulars (AWM164) was deemed necessary. Perhaps it was a combination of factors - the incompleteness of the original set, discrepancies in the Roll of Honour lists being prepared by the Memorial, and concern for recording the names of those whose death was taken as being due to war service, but occurred after the official cut-off date (1 April 1921) for inclusion in the bronze Roll of Honour. Certainly AWM164 is a record of the latter.


The series comprises printed forms completed in the period 1940-1944 by next-of-kin (or another) for AIF, ANMEF, RAN, etc. personnel whose death (mainly after 1921) was war-related but who were not eligible for inclusion in the Memorial's bronze Roll of Honour. Personal particulars include name, rank, unit, town or district of association, birthplace, parents' names, date and place of death, age at time of death, burial particulars, name and address of relative or other person completing the form.

Like its counterpart (AWM131), from which it was separated in early 1987 in the course of microfilming preparations, the forms (21 x 22 cm) are blue in colour, and headed "Particulars required for the National Roll of Honour in the Australian War Memorial". The forms were distributed to next of kin for completion with a roneoed letter (Attachment A) from about May 1940. The Memorial date-stamped completed forms as they were returned. The earliest (June 1940) and latest (October 1944) receipt dates have been taken as the series' opening and closing dates. Most of the forms were in fact received between mid 1940 and early 1942.

The data sought was under the following headings:

1.Christian and surnames (according to official records, and typed on the form prior to distribution)
2.Corrections to 1 (above) (including assumed names)
3.Regimental number, rank, unit
4.Town or district in Australia with which chiefly associated (this question was in connection with the original geographically arranged concept of the Roll, and many respondents comment on it)
6.Parents' names (may include mother's maiden name)
7.Date and place of death (may include the name of a hospital)
8.Age at time of death (may include date of birth)
9.Particulars of burial - cemetery, grave number (may indicate denominational affiliation)
10.Name and address of relative or other person giving information (Note: these are 1940's addresses, many from the United Kingdom, and usually clearly establish relationship with the deceased)
11.Names and addresses of other persons to whom reference could be made for further information.

Correspondence attached to several forms (including funeral notices, newspaper clippings, etc) frequently provides additional information, eg references to other members of the family killed during the 1914-18 War, family circumstances at the time the form was completed, changes of address. There would appear to have been a better response from some states (eg Tasmania) than others (eg South Australia) in completing the forms. However, the series is representative of officers, non-commissioned officers, and other ranks who served with the Australian Imperial Force (including the Australian Flying Corps, Australian Army Nursing Service, Australian Army Medical Corps), Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to New Guinea, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, some British units and, to a minor extent, the Second Australian Imperial Force.

System of arrangement and control:

The circulars have been arranged in alphabetical order and placed in 294 folders, each containing ten to twelve circulars. The final two folders, numbers [293] and [294] contain those which for whatever reason missed inclusion in normal alphabetical run. Full names of all individuals described on the circulars have been entered on the RecordSearch database, so a keyword search by name is the best method of investigation.

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