Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947

Burial of 55 infantrymen of "A" Company, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada
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The Records

During the Second World War, approximately 709,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the Canadian Army, 200,000 in the Royal Canadian Navy and 250,000 in the Royal Canadian Air Force for a total of over 1,159,000 men and women. Some 55,000 were wounded. A further 44,093 lost their lives: 24,531 served in the Army, 17,393 in the Air Force and 2,269 in the Navy.

Only the files for those who died in service during the Second World War are open to the public and are grouped as a collection within the Department of National Defence Fonds (Record Group 24). In order to be included in this collection, the individual's name must appear in the:

This collection includes the service files for the following individuals who died between 1939 and 1947:

  • those killed in action;
  • those who subsequently died of injuries related to service; and
  • those who died as a result of accident or illness while in service

The files contain documents relating to:

  • enlistment;
  • military units with which they served (Canadian Army);
  • names of ships on which they served (Royal Canadian Navy);
  • squadrons with which they served (Royal Canadian Air Force);
  • medical records;
  • dental charts;
  • evaluation reports;
  • medal entitlements;
  • cause of death, burial details and estate records.

Army: Sample Documents from Elmer Brant, B37150
[PDF 3,689 KB]

Navy: Sample Documents from William Roy Smith, V69625
[PDF 3,611 KB]

Air Force: Sample Documents from Lois Alphonse Léon Renaud, J25372
[PDF 2,910 KB]

The files do not indicate the locations of overseas postings or list battles in which an individual may have participated. That information can be gleaned by researching relevant unit war diaries, squadron operations record books or ships' logs. Published sources may also be of interest.

The Database

This database provides access to 44,093 references to the files for those who died in service during the Second World War. If you cannot find a reference in the database, contact our Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Division at the address shown below under How to obtain copies or consult a file.

Search Screen

The search screen enables you to search by:

  • Surname
  • Given name(s)
  • Service number

Should you wish to view only digitized files, select "yes" in the dropdown box.

By clicking on Hide/Show Advanced Search Options, you will also be able to search by:

  • Rank
  • Unit
  • Keyword
  • Place of Birth - Locality
  • Place of Birth - Province or State
  • Place of Birth - Country
  • Address at time of enlistment - Locality
  • Address at time of enlistment - Province or State
  • Address at time of enlistment - Country

Use keyword to find those who died during the battles of Hong Kong and Dieppe or information about next of kin.

A search by Place of Birth and Address at time of enlistment is specially designed for participants of the Lest We Forget Project: Cenotaph Research as it enables to rapidly find digitized files based on these specific search criteria.

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only. Names can also be written different ways. The entries reflect the spelling of names as they appear in the files.

If you do not find a relevant reference, try searching with only one given name instead of all given names.

You can also search the Canadian Virtual War Memorial to identify a service number or confirm a name.

Army officers did not have service numbers. They were identified by their name and rank only.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The search results page displays the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Death
  • Service Number

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page may have digitized images in PDF format of a "genealogy package" that includes selected documents from the file that highlight/summarize the individual's service, including enlistment, units served, family details, etc.. The item page contains the following fields:

  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth - Locality
  • Place of Birth - Province or State
  • Place of Birth - Country
  • Date of Death
  • Rank
  • Unit
  • Force
  • Service Number
  • Address at time of enlistment - Locality
  • Address at time of enlistment - Province or State
  • Address at time of enlistment - Country
  • Reference
  • Volume
  • Extra Information
  • Notes
  • Item Number

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to obtain copies or consult a file

Library and Archives Canada has started to add digitized copies of the files to the database.

For files not yet digitized, you can order copies.

Once you have located a reference of interest in the database, you have the following options:

Option #1

You can order a copy of a complete file from our Consultation Services. Note that requests for copies must include the name, service number, archival reference and volume number. Files can include as many as 200 or more pages. Due to the large volume of requests we receive, we cannot pre-count the pages for you.

Option #2

If you are doing family history research, you can request a "genealogy package". The package will include copies of selected documents from the file that highlight/summarize the individual's service, including enlistment, units served, family details, etc.

Requests are to be submitted by mail or fax to:

ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington St.
Ottawa ON
K1A 0N4
Fax: (613) 947-8456

  • Include your name and mailing address, and a telephone number and/or e-mail address.
  • Include the complete database entry (e.g. name, service number, reference, volume).
  • Clearly indicate that you wish to receive a "genealogy package".

Option #3

Visit Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to consult the file on-site and to order copies of documents. Note that the files are stored off-site and can be pre-ordered before your visit.

Option #4

You can hire a local free-lance researcher to consult files and obtain copies of documents on your behalf.

External Links to Other Websites

Many books have been written that tell the history and activities of specific regiments during the war. You can search for a particular title using the online catalogue AMICUS.

On the search screen, select Entire AMICUS database.

Select Title Keyword rather than Title Browse, then enter the regiment name in quotation marks, e.g. "Loyal Edmonton", "Régiment de la Chaudière". A list of titles will be generated. Click on Locations to see which libraries hold copies of those publications.