Second World War: 1939-1945

Plane in flight over the fields of France

 Douglas Boston, Operation Jubilee. Dieppe, France.

The Second World War was the third major conflict Canada participated in and resulted in over 45,000 Canadian dead.

Second World War service files

Military service 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 and dental charts
  • evaluation reports
  • medal entitlements
  • discharge or death

The files do not include information about battles. See War Diaries, Ship Logs and Operations Record Books.

Open records

There are no access restrictions on the service files for members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died in service between 1939 and 1947, including 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.

To identify a military service file for those individuals, you can search our database: Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947

The database main page includes a section on how to obtain copies or consult a file.

Restricted records

For all other Second World War service files, access restrictions apply. The personal information contained in the service files is protected by the provisions of privacy legislation. For the same reason, the database and indexes that are used to identify the files cannot be made available on our website. Only staff may access them.

The following page includes instructions, information about access and links to online and printable versions of the application form: Requests for Military Service Files


Research guides

See also:

Archives Search: Search for other archival records using keywords such as a subject, place or name.

Image Search: Search for digitized photographs, maps, art, etc.

Media guide

Remembrance Day: An Essential Resource Guide for Media

Social media at Library and Archives Canada

Virtual exhibitions

Published sources

  • Official Histories are available on the website of the Directorate of History and Heritage at National Defence. Those digitized publications include:
    • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume I, Six Years of War
    • Official history of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume II, The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945
    • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume III, The Victory Campaign: The Operations in Northwest Europe, 1944-45
    • Arms, Men and Governments: The War Policies of Canada, 1939-1945
    • The Canadian Army, 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary
    • A History of Canadian Naval Aviation, 1918-1962
    • The Naval Service of Canada: Its Official History, Volume 2, Activities on Shore During the Second World War.
    • Official History of the Canadian Medical Services, 1939-1945, Volume 1, Organization and Campaigns
    • Official History of the Canadian Medical Services, 1939-1945, Volume 2, Clinical Subjects
    • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 1: The First Four Years
    • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 2: The Fifth Year
    • The R.C.A.F. Overseas, Volume 3: The Sixth Year
  • Far Distant Ships, an Official Account of Canadian Naval Operations, by Joseph Schull. (AMICUS 7239997)
  • RCAF Squadron Histories and Aircraft 1924-1968, by Samuel Kostenuk and John Griffin. (AMICUS 6621756)
  • The Creation of a National Air Force, Volume II of the Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, by W.A.B. Douglas. (AMICUS 2531345)
  • The Crucible of War, 1939-1945, Volume III of the Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, by Brereton Greenhous, Stephen J. Harris, William C. Johnston and William G.P. Rawling. (AMICUS 2531345)
  • The Ships of Canada's Naval Forces 1910-1993: A Complete Pictorial History of Canadian Warships by Ken Macpherson and John Burgess. (AMICUS 12545515)
  • They Shall Grow Not Old: A Book of Remembrance, by Les Allison and Harry Hayward. (AMICUS 13916985)

You can use Library Search to find out if there are published histories of specific regiments, ships or squadrons. Try Title Keyword or Subject Keyword.

External links to other institutions

Date modified: