First World War

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MIKAN - 2894450

Army

Canadian Expeditionary Force

Library and Archives Canada holds the personnel files of the soldiers, nurses and chaplains who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) (Record Group 150).

The digitization of the CEF service files is now completed. The original paper documents can no longer be consulted. A total of 622,290 digitized files can be found in the Personnel Records of the First World War database or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu.

Feel free to contact us, if you still have questions after having checked the database.

Having these records available in digital format ensures:

  • 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 or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu. Enter “Rejected CEF volunteers” and a surname in the “All these words” search bar. Each record will have “Rejected CEF volunteers” under the Record Group field.

Indigenous Soldiers

Other references to Indigenous soldiers can be found in the records of the Department of Indian Affairs (Record Group 10). Files can be identified using Collection 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.

Indigenous Soldiers
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, or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu. Enter the name of the corps and a surname in the “All these words” search bar. Each record will have “The Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps” under the “Record Group” field.  

Microfilms are also available for consultation at The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Their archives have 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, or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu. Enter “Imperial Gratuities” and a surname in the “All these words” search bar. Each record will have “Imperial Gratuities” under the “Record Group” field.

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, or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu. Enter “Non-Permanent Active Militia” and a surname in the “All these words” search bar. Each record will have “Non-Permanent Active Militia” under the “Record Group” field.

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 aviators serving in the RFC and RAF

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

Ledgers of Canadian Expeditionary Force officers attesting to the RFC

  • 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 Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “Royal Canadian Navy Service Files, 1910-1941” from the Database menu. For more information on how to interpret the records, consult Service Files of the Royal Canadian Navy, 1910-1941 – Ledger Sheets.
  • 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 Collection 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 War 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 and Labrador (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 or in Collection Search. Switch to Advanced search, and select “First World War Personnel Records” from the Database menu.

For information about other sources held by Library and Archives Canada 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 Collection Search. In the Search bar, enter RG9 9-24 nominal and RG9-II-B-3. When you get the search results, scroll through them to find the item that covers the relevant battalion or unit. Click on the file title or the preview images to access the PDF links.
    Tip: Do not enter the battalion/unit name or number in your keyword search 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 Collection Search. In the Search bar, 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 Collection 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 1964-114 as a keyword, e.g. 1964-114 Vimy.

Published Sources


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