Researching Australian military service: Second World War, Royal Australian Navy (RAN)
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs World War 2 Nominal Roll
- Ships’ ledgers: The National Archives of Australia holds ships’ ledgers, which contain some details about ships’ crew members. For more information see their Fact Sheet 31 – Navy crew and ships records.
Navy service cards for the Second World War are held by the National Archives of Australia. These have been digitised and can be viewed online. Please refer to their Fact Sheet 30 - Navy service records.
The Roll of Honour records the names of servicemen and women who died during or as a result of service with Australian military forces.
The Commemorative Roll commemorates Australians who died during or as a result of wars or warlike operations in which Australians have been on active service but who were not eligible for inclusion on the Roll of Honour.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission's casualty database lists all British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First and Second World wars only. The register provides details about where the individual is buried or commemorated, and includes plans and photographs of the cemetery or memorial.
The following books provide information about RAN ships and personnel who died on RAN operations during war:
- Vic Cassells, The capital ships: their battles and their badges (East Roseville: Simon & Schuster, 2000).
- Vic Cassells, The destroyers: their battles and their badges (East Roseville: Kangaroo Press, 2000).
- Vic Cassells, For those in peril: a comprehensive listing of the ships and men of the Royal Australian Navy who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the wars of the twentieth century (Kenthurst: Kangaroo Press, 1995).
- Eric Dermott-Powell, Royal Australian Navy, 1939-1946: Plymouth Naval Memorial: dedicated to the sacred memory of Australian naval personnel lost at sea 1939-1946 (Mortdale: E. Dermott-Powell, 1991).
- Allen Lyne, Lost: the stories of all ships lost by the Royal Australian Navy (Moana Heights: Allen Lyne, 2013).
Check with your local library for availability of these books.
Navy service cards show which ship(s) an individual served with and when, but not where the ship went. You can use official records and other sources to locate where the ship served while the individual was with that ship.
Reports of Proceedings (ROPs) are summaries of the activities of a ship or shore base. Commanding officers submitted these reports to the Chief of Naval Staff. The Memorial is in the process of digitising the ROPs that are open for public access and making them available on the website.ROPs which have not been digitised are available for viewing in the Research Centre.
AWM188 contains Naval Historical Section research files compiled for the Official Naval Historian, G H Gill. These contain information about a range of topics relating to Navy operations, and may be viewed in the Reading Room.
The National Archives of Australia also holds some ROPs, ships logs, ships books and other Navy operational records. For more information see the Archives’ Fact Sheet 31 – Navy crew and ships records.
The Royal Australian Navy website has published histories for many HMA ships.
- John Bastock, Australia's ships of war (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1975). Contains specifications, illustration and history of each ship.
- G. Hermon Gill, The Royal Australian Navy, 1939-1942 Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 2 (Navy), vol. I (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1957).
- G. Hermon Gill, The Royal Australian Navy, 1942-1945 Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 2 (Navy), vol. II (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1968).
You may also find information by searching library catalogues for books on individual ships or campaigns.
Official histories are a detailed chronological record of all services and all theatres of conflict. The official histories for the Second World War, Australia in the War of 1939–1945 have been digitised and are available for viewing on the Memorial's website.
See also our information sheet Researching the history of a unit.
James J. Atkinson, By skill and valour: honours and awards to the Royal Australian Navy for the First and Second World Wars (Sydney: Spink and Son Australia, 1986).
For more information refer to our information sheets
- Collections Search provides access to digitised images of photographs held by the Memorial.
- Trove can search photographs and other images held by a range of major Australian libraries, archives and other cultural institutions.