Personnel records of the First World War

Many Canadians served in the First World War, 1914 to 1918. Different types of records document their service. On this page you will learn what records exist and how to access them.

On this page

Before you start

Gather information such as:

  • name
  • date of birth or approximate year of birth
  • place of birth
  • whether the person served in the army, navy or air services

Places to look

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds records relating to individuals who served in the Canadian army and navy. We also have some records about Canadians who served with the British air services.

Personnel Records of the First World War (database)

Our Personnel Records of the First World War database allow you to search the following Record Groups (RG).

  • Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF): soldiers, nurses and chaplains
  • CEF volunteers who were rejected at Valcartier
  • Non-Permanent Active Militia
  • Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps
  • Imperial War Service Gratuity Files

Once you find a reference of interest

Find out how to read these documents:

Records relating to Indigenous soldiers

In addition to the CEF files, there are also these files related to Indigenous soldiers and veterans:

  • Lists of Indians killed and wounded overseas, 1914-1918 (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)

Courts Martial files

The Courts Martial of the First World War database relates to CEF service members. It only includes references for the courts martial files that have survived (RG150-8).

Navy records

The Royal Canadian Navy service ledger sheets, 1910-1941 database relates to naval personnel (RG150, Accession 1992-93/170). It only includes the ledger sheets. The database help page explains how to search for other navy service files.

CEF sailing lists

The Canadian Expeditionary Force: Sailing Lists (RG9-II-B-3, volumes 79 and 80, Finding Aid 9-24) are arranged by battalion or unit. They usually indicate the ship, date and port when the unit left Canada. For each name in the lists, it shows that person’s:

  • regimental number and rank
  • country of birth
  • name and address of next-of-kin
  • Former Corps
  • place and date when taken on strength (enlisted)

To see the digitized lists:

  • Go to Collection Search and click on Advanced Search.
  • Select Collections and Fonds database.
  • In All these words enter the word nominal plus the battalion number or the unit name (examples 34th, Ammunition Column, Lord Strathacona’s Horse)
  • In Specific terms, select Finding aid and enter 9-24

Prisoner of war records

We have the following records related to Canadian prisoners of war during the First World War:

  • Canadian Prisoners of War, reports and interviews (RG9-III-D-1)
    • Repatriated prisoners, volume 4737 (surnames A to L), volume 4738 (surnames M to Z)
    • Escaped prisoners, volume 4739 (surnames A to M), volume 4740 (surnames N to Z)

To see if there is a file:

  • Go to Collection Search and click on Advanced Search.
  • Select Collections and Fonds database.
  • In All these words enter a surname and the word prisoner
  • In Specific terms, select Archival reference and enter RG9

Hospital records

If a person’s service file indicates that they received medical treatment in an overseas medical unit, you might find their name in:

  • Admission and discharge books of the Canadian Army Medical Corps Overseas (RG150, Finding Aid 150-7). Read more about the records in the Scope and content section of the series description.
    • To find out if there is a relevant file:
      • Go to Collection Search and click on Advanced Search.
      • Select Collections and Fonds database.
      • In All these words enter the name or partial name of the medical unit (examples: No. 32 Casualty Clearing Station, 3rd Canadian General Hospital Boulogne )
      • In Specific terms, select Finding aid and enter 150-7
  • Queen's Canadian Military Hospital RG25-B-1-i This includes registers of admissions, discharges, transfers and deaths. For more information see the sub-series description, which also has a link to the finding aid showing the volume numbers and content. These records are indexed and digitized on Ancestry, which is available free at LAC and many public libraries.

Air services records

  • Canadians in the RAF, nominal rolls, [1918-1919] (RG 9 III-B-1, volume 3429, file C-6-49)
  • Nominal roll of Canadian aviators serving in the RFC and RAF (RG24):
    • volume 23195: surnames E to H and I to M
    • volume 23196: surnames 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
    • box 2: Macaskill to Zieman
  • Canadian airmen of the First World War (RG24)
    • This is a data file compiled from various sources. In the file description, see the sections called Scope and content and Finding aid.
  • Log of the Toronto Curtiss Flying School, 1915-1916 (MG28-III65, volume 1)
    • The Curtiss School of Aviation trained 130 qualified pilots for the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps from May 1915 to December 1916. For more details, see the Scope and content section of the series description.

Other files

The London Headquarters of Militia and Defence (RG 9 III-A-1) created some personnel files. These files mostly contain correspondence. For more information, see the Scope and content sections for File block 6 and File block 10.

To see if there is a file for a soldier or a nurse, search by name and finding aid number:

  • Go to Collection Search and click on Advanced Search.
  • Select Collections and Fonds database.
  • In All these words enter a surname and 9-53
  • if you don’t find a reference, try again using 9-54

Similar files are found in Militia and Defence personnel files (RG24-C-1-a). Try the same search in Collection Search using the finding aid number 24-8-1.

Access the records

Digitized records

If you find a record of interest, there may be a digital image. Some of these are available through Collection Search. Others, particularly digitized microforms, are available through Héritage.

Non-digitized records

For records that are not digitized and not restricted, you'll need to see them in person. If you can't visit us in person, you can order copies or hire a researcher.

Related resources

For more resources, including published sources, see First World War – Places to look.

Many Canadians served with the British Forces. The National Archives in England holds these records.