Official Histories, Rolls & Unit Diaries

Within the Memorial's collection, there are a number of standout items which hold a wealth of useful information for all types of research. These records hold in depth, often first-hand, accounts of the operations in which Australian have been involved.

Individual chapters and pages of these documents can be accessed via our search. Additionally, we have placed direct access to these documents here for those who wish to view the full document:

The Official Histories

Official Histories are commissioned by government as the national record of Australia’s involvement in particular conflicts. Often compiled from first hand accounts, unit diaries and a range of other reference data,  they are a detailed, chronological record of all services and theatres of conflict.

Unit & Commanders' War Diaries

Maintained by units on operations, these diaries contain detailed information on the activities in which a unit was engaged on a given date. If you are researching a person and you know which unit they served in, these diaries can potentially give you some insight into the nature of the service an individual undertook.

First World War Embarkation Rolls

This series comprises printed nominal rolls of individual Australian Imperial Force units and reinforcements as they embarked from Australia during the First World War. The rolls are usually referred to as embarkation rolls, or nominal rolls as at embarkation.

First World War Nominal Rolls

The nominal roll was compiled in London in 1919. It shows regimental number, last rank, name (including honours), unit at the end of the war, date of enlistment, non-effective entry (killed in action, died of wounds, date of discharge or return to Australia). Some post 1919 handwritten annotations (to 1943) give date of subsequent death.

Navy Reports of Proceedings

These are the official record of activities of the Royal Australian Navy's commands, vessels, shore establishments, administrative authorities and installations.

Records of Charles Bean

Charles Bean was Australia's Official War Correspondent and later Official Historian for the First World War. Many of the items in these papers were written or maintained by Bean in his role as war correspondent, reporting events for the Australian public at the time. These papers were also referenced by Bean during development of the Official History of the First World War.


Additional to the above, the Roll of Honour and Red Cross Wounded and Missing records can be accessed directly by using the powerful search tool on this site. For information about how to use this tool, see the quick guide we have written on the Researching a Person page.