Personnel records of the Second World War

Over 1.1 million Canadians served during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945. 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 about the person you want to know more about:

  • Names (person you are looking for, their next of kin)
  • Date of birth or approximate year of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Whether the person served in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy or Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Date of death (if applicable)

Places to look

We hold records of people who served in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy or Royal Canadian Air Force.

Personnel Records of individuals who died during the Second World War (War Dead)

The Service Files of the Second World War—War Dead, 1939–1947 database contains partial files of individuals who died between 1939 and 1947 and who

  • were killed in action
  • died as a result of accident or illness while in service
  • died of injuries related to service

These files are open without restrictions.

Personnel records of former Canadian military service members

Service files of individuals who survived the Second World War are restricted under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. You can submit a request for copies of documents with the help of our ATIP assistant.

Access the records

Records that are digitized

Most significant documents within the personnel files of the war dead have been digitized and can be found through Collection Search.

Records that are not digitized

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

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