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.
For statistics and information about this digitization project, please consult our monthly updates on the Discover blog.
New Names in Canadian History.
Important Note: Resources described on this page cover the years from 1914 to 1918. All the records described below are open; access restrictions do not apply.
Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
The digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) personnel service 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 Soldiers of the First World War database, every two weeks until the project’s completion in 2016.
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.
Project updates will also be shared via the Library and Archives Canada Blog on the 15th of every month.
For more information on this initiative, please consult the Fact Sheet: Digitization of Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files.
When ordering a copy of a file, the following information pages will help you interpret the documents:
Other references to aboriginal soldiers can be identified using Archives Search and entering keywords such as the surname of a person and "soldier" and RG10.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps
Library and Archives Canada holds microfilm copies of the military personnel files of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps. References to those files can be identified using Archives Search and entering keywords such as the surname of the person and "Newfoundland" and RG38.
The Family History Library also has a copy of these microfilms. 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.
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). References to those files can be identified using Archives Search and entering keywords such as a name and 9-56.
The Royal Canadian Air Force did not exist at this time and those wishing to serve in the Air Forces would have joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Air Force (RAF). Library and Archives Canada does not hold personnel records for those individuals.
Library and Archives Canada does hold some nominal rolls of Canadians who served with the RFC and RAF in the following series. Those lists are not available on microfilm; they must be consulted onsite.
- RG24, vol. 23195: E to H and I to M
- RG24, vol. 23196: A to D and N to W
- RG24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 1: Acland to Luxton
- RG24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 2: Macaskill to Zieman
Personnel files for the RAF and RFC are in the custody of the National Archives in England.
Library and Archives Canada holds the following records for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Naval Reserve.
The service ledger sheets consist of single over-size pages that summarize each individual's service, including the names of ships and shore bases. They are arranged by service number in 27 volumes.
These ledger sheets have been indexed by name in a 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. First World War files are open to the public without access restrictions.
References to the service files are found in Finding Aid 24-167. The references can be identified using Archives Search. In the search box enter the Finding Aid number and the name such as “24-167 William Smith” or “24-167 Jean Simard”.
If the individual continued his service after the war, his First World World records may be in his post-1918 file. The National Archives in England holds service records for those who served in the Royal Navy and can be searched online.
- 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)
- Canada and the Battle of Vimy Ridge 9 - 12 April 1917, by Brereton Greenhousand Stephen J. Harris. (AMICUS 11323127) Also available online
- Canada's Hundred Days: With the Canadian Corps from Amiens to Mons. Aug 8 - Nov 11, 1918, by John Frederick Bligh Livesay. (AMICUS 3440322)
- Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, by G. W. L. Nicholson. (AMICUS 612873) Also available online
- Canadians in Russia, 1918-1919, by Roy MacLaren. (AMICUS 47998)
- CSEF: Canada's Soldiers in Siberia, 1918-1919, by John Ernest Skuce. (AMICUS 10466394)
- Gas!: The Battle for Ypres, 1915, by James L. McWilliams and R. James Steel. (AMICUS 5092878)
- 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)
- Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-1919, by A. Fortescue Duguid. (AMICUS 3590519)
- Overseas: The Lineages and Insignia of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, by Charles H. Stewart. (AMICUS 2505408)
- Report of the Ministry: Overseas Military Forces of Canada 1918, by the Overseas military forces of Canada. (AMICUS 7205827)
- 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)
External Links to Other Institutions
Use AVITUS to find other Web sites about records for the First World War.