Find your soldier
There are many places online, in institutions and in libraries, where information can be found on soldiers’ war service and what happened after the war, such as soldier settlements and war service home schemes.
A good place to start looking for information about your soldier is to search the OneSearch the library catalogue.
Try using your soldier’s surname and other search terms such as ‘First World War’, ‘World War, 1914-1918’, ‘Australia’ or ‘Great Britain’, in combination with phrases such as ‘regimental histories’, ‘battalion’ and ‘history’; ‘biography’, ‘campaigns’, ‘soldier settlement’ or ‘repatriation’.
There are nearly 30,000 portraits of Queensland soldiers who served in the First World War available via One Search. Find out more about these portraits on the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a new generation showcase.
SLQ also has a growing number of collections related to the First World War that are in the process of being digitised. Letters, diaries, photographs, organisational records and other memorabilia can provide insight into war service, or may contain additional personal information. To see what is available, please see our WWI collections webpage.
Where should I go next?
The following valuable organisations and resources are useful for continuing your search.
National Archives of Australia
The National Archives of Australia contain Australian Government records, including World War One service records, and are often extensive files with surprising documents.
- Discovering Anzacs – The National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand are creating this website, which will have a unique profile of every Anzac who enlisted in World War One, linked to their service record. The public can build on the profiles and add family stories, photos or details of their service.
- RecordSearch – RecordSearch lets you find a service record using a name search and a category of record, such as World War One. Download the record by clicking on the ‘digitised item’ icon. Also search with the term ‘soldier settlement’. These records are mainly concerned with land acquisition. Few are digitised and they are kept in Melbourne.
- PhotoSearch – This is easily identified on the RecordSearch page or on a record with a camera icon.
- See NAA fact sheet 63: War service information
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial contains a wealth of information including:
- biographical database related to all the overseas military events involving Australians
- official records, including a link to those in the National Archives
- collections database that includes:
- over 7,000 film items and 5,000 sound recording items
- over 800,000 photographs
- over 7,500 private records
- army war diaries
- an encyclopedia
- a glossary of terms used
- useful links
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records details of Commonwealth war dead, so that graves or names on memorials can be located. Details cover name, rank, service number, date of death, age, regiment/service, service country, grave/memorial reference, and cemetery/memorial name.
Queensland State Archives
The Queensland State Archives are helpful for:
- researching World War One
- a brief guide on soldier settlements
- Image Queensland, which contains digitised material such as photographs, documents, maps and plans
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
The Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) is home to Australia’s most comprehensive collection of death records from the First World War. Nearly 10,000 digitised military death records are available to order online.
- Search and order records of your fallen soldier through RBDM’s Family History Research Portal
- Commemorate the death of family members with an ANZAC Commemorative Death Certificate
- See State Library’s digital story that recalls the labour of love behind RBDM’s collection of military death records in the 1920s
- Read more on the Anzac Centenary Queensland First World War Fallen page
There are many different resources that may contain photographs of your soldier.
SLQ digitised images
- Nearly 30,000 photographs of soldiers who trained at the Enoggera Camp were published in The Queenslander (the weekly version of the Brisbane Courier). State Library has digitised the portraits in high resolution and they are available online and also to download for free. Search our OneSearch catalogue using the surname and the word “soldier”. Not all soldiers who trained at Enoggera had their portrait taken, however, and soldiers who enlisted in North Queensland may not be included in these portraits.
- Other digitised photographs may be available in our OneSearch catalogue. Search using the subject ‘World War 1914-1918’ and ‘portraits’ or ‘soldiers’. These may include private photographs and albums, some of which may not be digitised.
Digitised newspapers are available on Trove.
The Cairns Post had a weekend version, The Northern Herald, and the Rockhampton Bulletin had the weekend Capricornian. Their soldiers’ pictures may be different from those in The Queenslander. Other newspaper sources include the dailies and The Week (weekend version of the Brisbane Telegraph).
Trove pictures are also worth checking.
The Australian War Memorial
- Collection database. Be prepared to use a service number or unit details to refine the search.
- See the list of names on Boy soldiers on the Roll of Honour for the First World War.
National Archives of Australia
- Images of World War One Australian servicemen - This includes 500 digital images from the Imperial War Museum in London. They may be downloaded, for personal use only, without charge. A list of searchable names is provided. Images include studio portraits and newspaper photographs. These can also be searched on Flickr.
Photographs in books, magazines and original materials (diaries, photograph albums, cutting books etc)
For example, images of soldiers who were commercial travellers appeared in the Australasian Traveller. Books published after World War One may have been digitised, and be found on CD-ROMs. Use our OneSearch catalogue and check for finding aids.
Community websites for World War One projects
- Sunshine Coast: Adopt a digger
- Mareeba Shire Council: Mapping our Anzac History
- Mackay City Council: Biographies of WWI and WWII casualties from the region
- World War 1 Pictorial Honour Rolls of Australians has an Australia-wide scope.
- The RSL Virtual War Memorial in its ‘People’ section, provides brief biographical profiles and photographs.
Other useful websites:
- Australians in World War 1 (State Library of Victoria)
- Researching New Zealand soldiers
- Tracing a WW1 British soldier
- The National Archives UK provides guidance on World War One records. They also have a page dedicated to World War One records, covering a limited number of service records in all branches of the services; prisoner of war reports; medal index cards; women’s army, air force, navy and nurses records; and war diaries, with further releases of documents in the future. Podcasts and blogs provide a variety of access points.
- The long, long trail: The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918 provides a range of digitised records.
- British World War One records are available on the Ancestry and Findmypast databases, which can be accessed freely onsite at State Library.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission provides access to records of deceased soldiers.
- Newspaper records are available via the British newspaper databases (see information about Newspapers below).
SLQ has an index of indigenous soldiers, which includes more names than those listed in the publications below. Indigenous soldiers are also included in other records. These titles deal specifically with them.
- Biographical register of Queensland Aborigines who served in the Great War, 1914-1918 compiled by Rod Pratt
- Forgotten heroes: Aborigines at war from the Somme to Vietnam by Alick Jackomos and Derek Fowell
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous response to World War One, by Philippa Scarlett, includes a referenced alphabetical listing of men of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage who volunteered for the first AIF and bibliographical references.
- For more information, see State Library's web page Resources for researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Participation in War
Useful titles you can request at State Library’s family history desk on level 3 include:
- Australia’s fighting sons of the Empire: Portraits and biographies of Australians in the Great War, which contains approximately 1,800 biographies and photographs of New South Wales and Queensland soldiers who fought in the World War One, with information supplied by family members.
- Queenslanders who fought in the Great War by Owen Wildman, which contains keyword searchable brief biographies, most with accompanying photographs. These were originally published in 1919 with information supplied by relatives.
State Library also holds CD-ROMs that include soldiers from other states.
- accounts of enlistments
- reports on those wounded
- information from family letters
- photographs of soldiers, leave-takings and battlefields
They are valuable for reporting on the local servicemen and war-related activities. Weekend versions of the daily newspapers, such as The Queenslander, The Week, Capricornian and The Northern Herald, also have valuable pictorial content.
Cutting books and biographical and subject newspaper clipping files may provide otherwise inaccessible detail. These may be requested on level 4 of State Library.
Find collections of newspapers:
- on Trove - an expanding collection from all Australian states, mainly to 1954
- in State Library’s microform collection - the major Australian dailies and a myriad of Queensland newspapers are collected. Locate newspapers on the OneSearch catalogue or in the booklets kept at the family history desk on level 3 ('Newspapers by place' or 'Newspapers by title')
in database collections, accessible online with State Library membership
- Times Digital Archive [London] 1785-2006
- 19th Century British Library Newspapers
All database titles are keyword searchable.
Anzac and TB (tuberculosis) cottages
Families of soldiers who did not return from the war, or who were badly incapacitated, were in desperate need of support. Anzac cottages were built to aid these families. Requirements such as land, materials and labour were mainly donated. In Queensland alone, about 50 were constructed, mostly in Brisbane. Funds from the state-managed Golden Casket, a lottery, funded the scheme.
Don Watson’s blog on Anzac cottage No 1 captures the enthusiasm and sympathy behind these projects.
Use the OneSearch catalogue to find articles and pictures of the homes and the people constructing them.
Trove also has many articles and photos. Check the tags ‘Anzac cottages’ or ‘Anzac and T B cottages’.
Queensland State Archives has an index of TB Home applications 1923-1932.
War service homes
Check these resources in State Library’s OneSearch catalogue:
- Designs of homes for selection by applications: War Service Homes Commission, Qld Branch. This book has been digitised and displays 50 photographs of designs for war service homes built in Queensland. Plans and services provided (tank water and sometimes electricity) accompany each photograph.
- War service homes jubilee 1919-1969: Australia Division of War Services Homes,1969. This gives a broad view of the Australian scheme.
- Queensland Parliamentary papers post World War One had a range of valuable reports (such as the Queensland Government Savings Bank Report of the Commissioner for year ending 30 June 1919, which contained photographs of some Sunnybank houses erected at the Sunnybank Soldier Settlement).
Check Trove for the period, including tags for ‘war service homes’ to find photographs and articles.
SLQ’s unit histories are extensive and may be found on our OneSearch catalogue using the search term ‘regimental histories’ together with an identifying word such as the name/number of the battalion/regiment or the author of the book. A list of some is included in the information guide on World War One resources.
A unit history may include:
- nominal roll
- a history of the unit
- accounts of battles in which the battalion was involved, as well as battle honours
- accounts of the roles of individuals
- photographs and maps
Sources other than National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Commonwealth War Graves and unit histories include:
- Australian Dictionary of Biography
- Australasian Biographical Archive on microform at State Library, available on Level 3 in the micrographics reading room
- Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand