First World War

The digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service files is underway and a substantial number of digitized files have been added to our website as part of the Government of Canada First World War commemoration activities.

We will add new files every two weeks, as the CEF digitization initiative is a priority for us. LAC will ensure that Canadians have access to the files throughout the digitization process, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

Every month, we publish a progress report on the blog.

Image of Recruitment poster. First World War - Enlist! New Names in Canadian History : recruitment campaign.

Enlist!
New Names in Canadian History.
Source

Army

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)

Library and Archives Canada holds the personnel files of the soldiers, nurses and chaplains who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Record Group 150). The digitization of the CEF files is in progress. The original paper documents can no longer be consulted. However, digital reprography is available for those files that have not yet been prepared for digitization. Newly digitized files are added to the Personnel Records of the First World War database, every two weeks until the project’s completion.

Please check the database regularly for new additions. If you still have questions after having checked the database, you may contact us at 1-866-578-7777 (option 8).

Making these records available in digital format will ensure:

  • Clients can easily and quickly download high-quality digital copies of these service files, free of charge.
  • The long-term preservation of these unique and fragile paper documents.

When ordering a copy of a file, the following information pages will help you interpret the documents:

See also Other Records.

Early in the war, some volunteers were rejected at the Val Cartier training camp, mostly for medical reasons.  Those files usually contain only an attestation paper (RG9-II-B-13, volumes 6087 to 6104).  These records are indexed in our Personnel Records of the First World War database.

Aboriginal Soldiers

Other references to aboriginal soldiers can be found in the records of the Department of Indian Affairs (Record Group 10). Files can be identified using Archives Search and entering keywords such as the surname of a person and "soldier" and RG10.

For the files listed below, microfilm reels C-8510 to C-8515 have been digitized on our partner website Héritage.  You can browse through the page images; the contents are not searchable. The files on microfilm C-11335 are linked below to the digitized images on our website.

File title Archival reference

Lists of Indians killed and wounded overseas

RG10, volume 6765, file 452-9, microfilm C-8510

Reports and correspondence regarding recruits and enlisted Indians

RG10, volume 6766, file 452-13, microfilm C-8511

Applications made by Indians for discharges from the Armed Forces

RG10, volume 6767, file 452-15, microfilm C-8512

Correspondence regarding lists of returned Indian soldiers

RG10, volume 6771, file 452-30, microfilm C-8515

Enlistments and war activities of Indians (includes some photographs)

RG10, volume 6771, file 452-29, microfilm C-8514 and continued on C-8515

Lists of Indian volunteers in the War of 1914 (includes some photographs)

RG10, volume 3182, file 452,124-6, microfilm C-11335
MIKAN 2075807

Correspondence and Canada Gazette regarding the involvement of Native Peoples in the War of 1914

RG10, volume 3180, file 452,124-1, microfilm C-11335
MIKAN 2075805 (includes newspaper clippings)

Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps

Library and Archives Canada holds original and microfilm copies of the military personnel files of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps (Record Group 38). These records are indexed in our Personnel Records of the First World War database.

Microfilms are also available for consultation at The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland. That archives has also digitized some of the files on their website in the Newfoundland Regiment and the Great War database.

The Family History Library also has a copy of these microfilms.

Imperial War Service Gratuity Files

Some Canadian residents who served with the British Imperial Forces during the First World War received a gratuity from the Canadian government. Those Imperial War Service Gratuity files are found in our Department of Militia and Defence fonds (RG9 II F10). These records are indexed in our Personnel Records of the First World War database.

Those files are digitized on www.ancestry.ca. That subscription website is available free at many public libraries.

Non-Permanent Active Militia

There are no service files for the militia in Canada during the war, with the exception of this group of service files for some members of the NPAM (RG9-II-B-7). Those units performed a variety of military tasks in Canada, mainly guarding strategic sites such as armouries, bridges and canals. This series also contains a few files for some members of other units that served in Canada during the war. These records are indexed in our Personnel Records of the First World War database.

Air

The Royal Canadian Air Force did not exist at that time and those wishing to enlist in the Air service would have joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Royal Air Force (RAF) or the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Personnel files for those British units are in the custody of the National Archives in England. Library and Archives Canada does not hold copies of those records.

Library and Archives Canada does hold some nominal rolls of Canadians who served with the RFC, RAF and RNAS in the following series. These lists must be consulted on site.

Nominal Roll of Canadian airmen serving in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force

  • RG24, vol. 23195: E to H and I to M
  • RG24, vol. 23196: A to D and N to W

Ledgers of CEF Officers attesting to the Royal Flying Corps

  • RG24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 1: Acland to Luxton
  • RG24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 2: Macaskill to Zieman
    Those two boxes of ledgers have been digitized and indexed on www.ancestry.ca, which is available free at many public libraries.

Log of the Toronto Curtiss Flying School

See also: Royal Flying Corps

Navy

Library and Archives Canada holds the following records:

  • Service Ledger Sheets for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Naval Reserve (RG150, 1992-93/170)
    The ledger sheets consist of single over-size pages that summarize each individual's service, including the names of ships and shore bases. These records have been indexed in our Service Files of the Royal Canadian Navy, 1910-1941 - Ledger Sheets database. Consult the database for information about the records, how to obtain copies and other sources for naval personnel records.

  • Service Files (RG24, 1992-93/169)
    These files are more administrative and financial in nature than the service ledger sheets. Most files contain a variety of documents, which may include enrollment applications, discharge or demobilization forms and separation allowances. They usually average from 25 to 50 pages. Some files relate to enrollment in the Royal Naval Air Service. The files are indexed in Finding Aid 24-167. They can be identified using Archives Search. In the search box enter 24-167 and the name. You can order a copy of a file or view it on site.

If the individual continued his naval service after the war, his First World World records may be in his post-1918 file. See How to Obtain Copies of Military Service Files.

The National Archives in England holds records for those who served in the Royal Navy, Royal Navy Reserve, Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Naval Reserve, which included volunteers from Newfoundland.

Some records of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve are held at the Provincial Archives in Newfoundland (The Rooms). Some of those are available on microfilm through the Family History Library.

Nurses

The files of nurses who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) can be searched in our Personnel Records of the First World War database.

For information about other sources held by LAC and links for sources relating to nurses who did not serve with the CEF, see The Call to Duty: Canada's Nursing Sisters.

Other Records

Library and Archives Canada holds the following records:

  • Canadian Expeditionary Force: Sailing Lists (RG9-II-B-3, volumes 79 and 80, Finding Aid 9-24)
    These nominal lists are arranged by battalion or unit. They are digitized in Archives Search. In the Keyword box enter RG9 9-24 nominal.
    Tip: Do not enter the battalion/unit name or number because the file titles include a range of numbers, not an entry for every battalion, e.g. 164th to 198th.

The following records are not available online on our website.  Consult How to Access our records.

  • Hospital admission and discharge books of the Canadian Army Medical Corps Overseas (RG150, Finding Aid 150-7). See MIKAN 212455 for a description of these records. To search for a particular file, use Archives Search. In the Keyword box, enter the finding aid number and unit or place, e.g. 150-7 General Hospital Bramshott.
  • Queen's Canadian Military Hospital RG25-B-1-i (MIKAN 136581)
    These records are indexed and digitized on www.ancestry.ca, which is available free at many public libraries.

A variety of other records can be found in the collections of the Department of Militia and Defence (RG9), National Defence (RG24), Veterans Affairs (RG38) and the Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (RG150). In Archives Search try keywords such as a surname or regiment and a record group, e.g. RG24 144th Battalion. For photographs from the National Defence collection, use Finding Aid number 1964-114 as a keyword, e.g. 1964-114 Vimy. See also Image Search.

Published Sources

  • Official Histories are available on the website of Directorate of History and Heritage. Those digitized publications include:
    • Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Candian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, by G. W. L. Nicholson (includes maps of battles)
    • Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War, 1914-1919, by A. F. Duguid
    • The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History. Vol 1, Origins and Early Years, by Gilbert Tucker
    • The C.A.M.C. with the Canadian Corps during the Last Hundred Days of the Great War, by A. E. Snell
    • Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War: The Medical Services, by Sir Andrew Macphail
    • Report of the Ministry Overseas Military Forces of Canada, 1918, by the Ministry of Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
  • A call to arms: the organization and administration of Canada's military in World War One, by David W. Love (AMICUS 20189318)

  • Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918-19, and the Part Canada Played by Canada, by John Swettenham. (AMICUS 4288935)

  • Amid the Guns Below: The Story of the Canadian Corps, 1914-1919, by Larry Worthington. (AMICUS 4266835)

  • Beyond Courage: The Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres, by George Cassar. (AMICUS 5945525)

  • Briser les ailes de l’ange : Les infirmières militaires canadiennes (1914-1918) by Mélanie Morin-Pelletier (AMICUS 33043293) [French only]
  • Canada and the Battle of Vimy Ridge 9 - 12 April 1917, by Brereton Greenhousand Stephen J. Harris. (AMICUS 11323127) PDF 750 MB

  • Canada's Hundred Days: With the Canadian Corps from Amiens to Mons. Aug 8 - Nov 11, 1918, by John Frederick Bligh Livesay. (AMICUS 3440322)

  • Canada's nursing sisters, by G. W. L. Nicholson (AMICUS 84751)

  • Canadians at war, 1914-1919: a research guide to World War I service records, by Glenn Wright (AMICUS 38179077)

  • Canadians in Russia, 1918-1919, by Roy MacLaren. (AMICUS 47998)

  • The C.E.F. roll of honour: members and former members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who died as a result of service in the Great War, 1914-1919, by Edward H. Wigney (AMICUS 16536091)

  • CSEF : Canada's soldiers in Siberia, 1918-1919 / J.E.Skuce, by John Ernest Skuce. (AMICUS 10466394)

  • Fight or pay: soldiers' families in the Great War, by Desmond Morton (AMICUS 30535094)

  • Gas!: The Battle for Ypres, 1915, by James L. McWilliams and R. James Steel. (AMICUS 5092878)

  • Khaki: uniforms of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, by Clive M. Law (AMICUS 19173140)

  • Legacy of Valour: The Canadians at Passchendaele, by Daniel G. Dancocks. (AMICUS 6355212)

  • Marching to Armageddon: Canadians and the Great War, by Desmond Morton and J. L. Granatstein. (AMICUS 8163237)

  • Overseas: The Lineages and Insignia of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, by Charles H. Stewart. (AMICUS 2505408)

  • Padres in no man's land: Canadian chaplains and the Great War, by Duff Crerar (AMICUS 13944771)

  • Silent Battle: Canadian Prisoners of War in Germany, 1914-1919, by Desmond Morton. (AMICUS 11399591)

  • Spearhead to Victory: Canada and the Great War, by Daniel G. Dancocks. (AMICUS 12092671)

  • The Distinguished Conduct Medal to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1920, by David K. Riddle and Donald G. Mitchell. (AMICUS 10304668)

  • The Distinguished Service Order to the Canadian Expeditionary Force and Canadians in the Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force, 1915-1920, by David K. Riddle and Donald G. Mitchell. (AMICUS 10896915)

  • The Military Cross Awarded to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915-1921, by David K. Riddle and Donald G. Mitchell. (AMICUS 10304877)

  • The Military Medal; Canadian Recipients, 1916-1922, by Harry and Cindy Abbink. (AMICUS 7642266)

  • The Road Past Vimy: The Canadian Corps 1914-1918, by D. J. Goodspeed. (AMICUS 3583560)

  • The Somme, by Anthony H. Farrar-Hockley. (AMICUS 2541643)

  • They Called It Passchendale: The Story of the Third Battle of Ypres and of the Men Who Fought in it, by Lyn Macdonald. (AMICUS 936923)

  • To Seize the Victory: The Canadian Corps in World War I, by John Swettenham. (AMICUS 3444050)

  • Vimy, by Pierre Berton. (AMICUS 6275646)

  • Welcome to Flanders Fields: The First Canadian Battle of the Great War: Ypres, 1915, by Daniel G. Dancocks. (AMICUS 7987472)

  • When Your Number's Up: The Canadian Soldier in the First World War, by Desmond Morton. (AMICUS 12620304)

You can use Library Search to find other publications. Select Title Keyword or Subject Keyword, and search by regiment, place, battle, etc.

External Links to Other Institutions

Use AVITUS to find other Web sites about records for the First World War. Try the keyword War


Biographies

Databases

Digitized Microforms

Open Data

Research Aids

Thematic Guides

Virtual Exhibitions

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