AWM31 - Troopship passenger lists, 1914-18 War

Accession Number AWM31
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Maker Department of Defence
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright

Item copyright: Commonwealth of Australia copyright

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

The series comprises nominal rolls of Australian Imperial Force members returning to Australia from the United Kingdom and Middle East during or at the end of the 1914-18 War.

In most cases, one roll relates to a particular troopship's voyage. The names on each roll are listed by military district of enlistment, ie 1st Military District (Queensland), 2nd Military District (New South Wales), 3rd Military District (Victoria), 4th Military District (South Australia), 5th Military District (Western Australia), 6th Military District (Tasmania). A few rolls include addenda or supplemental lists, newspaper cuttings, covering correspondence.

Passengers per military district are further grouped into categories - sick and wounded, returning on duty (eg transport duty, escort, mess orderlies), medical officers, nursing staff, completion of service, disciplinary cases, returning under age, special leave, or returning for other reasons. Non AIF members returning, in particular wives and children, are not usually named.

For AIF members, early rolls (1-78) indicate regimental number, rank, name and unit. Rolls 79-158 include place of birth, date of attestation, age, trade and religion. Later rolls (from 159) usually show only regimental number, rank, name, unit and next of kin's place of residence.

The lists were cabled to Australia prior to a ship's arrival, and were "open to correction". In addition, during war-time, the "name of transport and date of arrival was not to be communicated to the press". This accounts for the number of unnamed troopships, or rolls where the name has been blackened out (eg numbers 77-160). In some cases, it has been possible to identify a ship from its number (C E W Bean (ed) "The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18", Vol IX, Appendix 6 "Merchant ships employed in Government war service"). However, some boats' names appear to have been coded, ie identified by a letter of the alphabet. Details of the code have not been located. Obviously, the secrecy no longer applied to troopships returning after the war.

Some of the rolls missing from the series, as listed at the end of the index accompanying the inventory of items, may be located in AWM7, Troopship records. This latter series also includes nominal rolls, but they are usually arranged by unit of final service, not military district of enlistment, and the personal detail differs.

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