Australian Red Cross Society (ARCS)

Accession Number 1DRL/0428
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 584 boxes: 116.8 shelf metres
Object type Papers
Maker Australian Red Cross Society
Place made Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1915-1919
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM371 95/1316
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Copyright expired. Copying permitted subject to physical condition. Permission for reproduction not required.

This collection of Australian Red Cross Society (ARCS) files consists of three main subseries: general correspondence and administration files; records of the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau; and records of the Australian Red Cross Prisoner of War Department.

The general correspondence and administration files relate to the general administration of the bureau and the procedures involved in locating wounded and missing men. Included in this series are lists, reports, summaries papers and correspondence between the bureau and its official searchers and those enquiring on behalf of a wounded or missing man, plus correspondence with other enquiry bureaux and organisations. These files are arranged chronologically within subject area.

The Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files contain approximately 32,000 case files where the bureau sought to identify, investigate and respond to enquiries made regarding the fate of Australian personnel. Most files contain the ARCS searchers' report, eye-witness accounts by men who knew the soldier concerned or statements by men who served in the same unit or the same action as that soldier. These statements may include such information as: the circumstances of the death or wounding, a physical description of the soldier and the place of burial. The truth and accuracy of this information was dependent on the memory and reliability of the soldier giving the statement. Also included may be letters sent to the Bureau by relatives or friends, the Bureau's replies to enquiries, and correspondence between the Bureau and the wounded or missing man. This subseries has been digitised and is available to search for particular names on the Memorial's website under the ‘People’ tab.

The Prisoner of War Department files contain lists of British and Australian prisoners of war in Germany. The lists are in German an appear to be lists forwarded by the German Red Cross Society to the British Red Cross Society, via Geneva, Switzerland. The lists are chronologically arranged within each list and usually include: the name of the prisoner, date and place of birth, date and place of imprisonment, rank and sometimes the address of a contact relative. Also included in this subseries are individual case files of correspondence that relate to the administration of Red Cross parcels and other amenities to prisoners. Included are officers, non commissioned officers, other ranks and merchant marine servicemen. The files on prisoners of war cover the dispatch and acknowledgement of parcels, descriptions of imprisonment and information on repatriation. The bulk of each file consists of cards which record the content and parcel number and date of dispatch to that prisoner and the acknowledgement card included in the parcel and returned by the prisoner. The postcards also record any special requests for kit, books or supplies from the prisoner. The files often record the eventual fate of each prisoner - escape, repatriation and training on release, or death. They are arranged alphabetically by surname.