Personal service records: Australian service
Documents included in service records
South African War (Boer War), 1899–1902
Australian Naval Force records, 1903-1911
First World War, 1914–18
Second World War, 1939–45
Post–Second World War conflicts
Copies of personal service records can be requested via the National Archives of Australia's (NAA) RecordSearch database. Locate the details of the service record by searching the database using the individual's name and service number, and follow the grey request buttons.
If you are having difficulty understanding abbreviations used in the service record, consult our Glossary for assistance.
Each service record usually consists of:
- an attestation paper showing:
- employment / trade details
- marital status
- place of birth
- physical description
- prior military service
- a service and casualty form "Form B103" listing:
- when and how a soldier was injured
- where treatment was received
- movements and transfers between units
- military correspondence
As a general guide, the colonial period records are held in state government archives, and post-Federation records are held by NAA, although there may be exceptions to this.
The Memorial holds Australian Naval Force engagement and service records, 1903-1911 (AWM266). Information includes:
- full name
- date and place of birth
- occupation prior to engagement, some physical characteristics
- names of ships served in, dates of service on these ships and rating
- some notes on discipline and reasons for discharge
First World War service records are held by NAA.
The service records relate primarily to members of the First Australian Imperial Force. They include records of members of the:
- Australian Flying Corps
- Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
- Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
- Australian Army Nursing Service
The National Archives has digitised Navy service cards for 1911-1970 and Army service records for the First World War. These can be viewed online on RecordSearch.
For information regarding viewing or obtaining copies of these records please visit the National Archives Service Records page.
If a soldier saw service in both the First and the Second World Wars, the record has usually been amalgamated in the Second World War service record.
Second World War service records are held by NAA. For information regarding viewing or obtaining copies of these records please visit the National Archives Service Records page.
You can apply for post–Second World War service records through the National Archives.
Merchant Navy Record of Service cards for people who served on Australian merchant vessels are held on microfilm in the NAA Canberra office. The cards are arranged by family name and give some personal information, the name of ships, and dates of service.
National Archives of Australia
PO Box 7425
Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610