For our Expert Q&A Thursday, January 31 we had Jennie Norberry, Liz Holcombe and Cameron Atkinson from the Australian War Memorial [AWM] Research Centre to discuss how to use the AWM collection for family history. Thanks again to Jennie, Liz and Cameron for giving us all the benefit of their time and experience.
Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.
Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page
When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!
Jennie’s top tips for using the AWM in family history research:
- I would recommend doing some reading to gain an understanding of what the Memorial holds in its collections and what is held by other institutions. There is good information about each of the Memorial’s collections on our website from http://www.awm.gov.au/
- Spend some time exploring the Memorial’s website and learning how to use the databases as these are often the pathway into our collections.
- If you have questions please contact us, staff can provide assistance with learning how to use our collections and advice on where you might find the information you are looking for. However, please keep in mind we are not able to do your research for you.
- The “Search for a person” is a good place to start, as opposed to the Embarkation Roll, because it’s an index page to all the biographical databases.
Summary of links from the Q&A:
- Australian War Memorial
- Australian War Memorial Facebook page
- Australian War Memorial Research Centre Collections
- Australian War Memorial Research Centre Request
- AWM Collection info: http://www.awm.gov.au/
- AWM Collection info :: HMAS Arunta: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm78/40/
- AWM Collection search: http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/
- AWM Concert and Theatre Programs collection, WW1: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PUBS002/009/002/
- AWM Digitised Records: http://www.awm.gov.au/
- AWM Info Sheets: http://www.awm.gov.au/
- AWM Info Sheet :: Honours & Awards: http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/introduction/
- AWM Info Sheet :: Medals: http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/medals/
- AWM Info Sheet :: Research agents: http://www.awm.gov.au/
- AWM Info Sheet :: Unit history: https://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/unit_history/
- AWM Research Centre Copying info: http://www.awm.gov.au/research/copying.asp
- AWM Roll of Honour Search: https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/?Search_Mode=advanced
- AWM Search for a person: http://www.awm.gov.au/
- AWM War Diaries: Korean War Diaries
- AWM War Diary :: 14th Infantry Battalion
- Commonwealth War Graves website: http://www.cwgc.org/
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission casualty database: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Nominal Rolls: http://www.dva.gov.au/commems_
- NAA Fact Sheet :: Army Service Records: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs136.aspx
- NAA Fact Sheet :: Defence and War Service Records: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/on-defence/index.aspx
- NAA Fact Sheet :: Migration and Citizenship: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/on-migration-citizenship/index.aspx
- NAA Fact Sheet :: Navy Service Records: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs30.aspx
- NAA Fact Sheet :: Universal military training: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs160.aspx
- NAA Mapping Our Anzacs: http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au/
- NAA Service Records: http://www.naa.gov.au/
- National Archives, UK Research guidance list: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm
- National Medals: http://www.natmedals.com
- Regimental Books: www.regimental-books.com.au
- The War Graves Photographic Project: http://twgpp.org/
- Trove Catalogue: The History of the Fourteenth Battalion AIF book
- Trove Digitised Newspaper Search: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Transcript of Expert Q&A – How to use the Australian War Memorial collection for family history
Our Expert Q&A with Jennie Norberry, Liz Holcombe and Cameron Atkinson from the Australian War Memorial [AWM] Research Centre starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT on this page. Are you searching for your Anzac? Ask your questions on how to use the Australian War Memorial collection for family history. Please ask your questions in a comment below and AWM will answer in a following comment.
Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Jennie, Liz and Cameron from the Australian War Memorial Research Centre to tonight’s Q&A!
A. IHM: Tips for tonight: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear and if possible, include a service number & battalion for your Anzac in your question.
A. AWM: The questions are coming thick and fast, but Jennie, Cam and I would all like to say hello to you all. We are looking forward to the session.
Q. From Kim: Good evening ladies. Once the service records for a particular person are found, where to next for information on where their Bn went and what operations the Bn was involved in? Thanks.
A. AWM: @Kim. For information about the activities and movements of a unit there are a few options. In the Memorial’s collection of official records we hold Army War Diaries, Naval Reports of Proceedings and Operation Record Books for the RAAF. There are other operational records in this collection that may be relevant for your research. Sometimes there are published histories for a unit and you can look for personal papers that belonged to members of the unit. There is an information sheet about researching the history of a unit on the Memorial’s website at https://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/unit_history/. – Jennie
Q. From Michael: Are Vietnam War service records available yet at the AWM?
A. Michael: @ AWM Re my previous question below, no – it was just a general question. Was just curious.
A. AWM: @Michael. Service records are managed by the National Archives of Australia. The NAA has a fact sheet online containing information on how to request access to these records. -Cameron http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs136.aspx
A. Michael: Oops – thanks. Your right. I’ll hit them up for an answer.
Q (b): Michael: Another question – does AWM have all WW1 and WW2 gallantry medal citations available?
A. AWM: @Michael Unfortunately we do not hold citations for all gallantry awards. The Honours and Awards database on our website contains recommendations for awards from the First World War, indexed recommendations from the Second World War, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency, and gazetted awards from the Boer War to Vietnam. You can find out more about this database on our website at http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/introduction/ -Cameron
Q. From Lisa: How can you find out if there are any photos of your loved ones that fought in World War 1?
A. Lisa: And maybe if there was any diaries of them
A. AWM: @ Lisa Irwin. Unfortunately there are not photographs of everyone who served in WW1. Men could have portrait photographs taken by commercial photographers or can sometimes be found in photographs taken in the field. Some of these photos have been donated to the Memorial as part of our photographs collection. The Memorial’s photograph collection can be searched and viewed using the Collection Search, http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/. Search using keywords you think will appear in the description of the item, for example surname and service number or surname and unit. Some of the group photographs we hold of units do not include a list of names of all the people included in the photograph. You can try searching for a group photograph of your relative’s unit from the right time period and see if you can identify him through comparison with other photographs or family resemblance. People have been able to find relatives in group photographs using this method. You should also check the photo collections of other national and state institutions, for instance, the National Archives of Australia, the National Library and the State Libraries. We may also have diaries in our collection: again, search in our collections at http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/. Not everyone kept a diary, so do not be surprised if you do not find one. -Liz
Q (b): Lisa: Would Australian War Memorial also have a database for head stones for service men, I’m trying to locate my grt grandfather gunner 11303 Leslie James Brown he seems to have disappeared.
A. AWM: @Lisa, If it is photographs of a gravestone you are after, try the War Graves Photographic Project – their site is at http://twgpp.org/ The Commonwealth War Graves website also lets you search for people – go to http://www.cwgc.org/ and use the search to either find war dead or find a cemetery.
A. Lisa: Thank you.
Q (c): Lisa: Can you get copies of medals done so we can remember these great men that fought and honour them on Anzac Day and pass them down to younger generations?
A. IHM: For Lisa, here’s one replica medal service that has been recommended to us :: http://www.natmedals.com
A. AWM: @Lisa, You can get copies of medals. To locate companies who can provide replica medals, please consult the Yellow Pages under the heading Medals &/or Medal Mounting, or the Yellow Pages website. There is more information on our information sheet called campaign and service medals at http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/medals/ -Liz
Q. From Fiona: Hi there thanks very much for your time. My biological grandfather was a Dutch sailor in WW2 who was stationed in Fremantle after the fall of the East Indies. Any idea where one could find any records relating to his service?
A. AWM: @ Fiona. I found the following contact details for researching Dutch Naval personnel, I hope this helps. Directeur Personneel Koinklijke Marine, Postbus 20702, 2500 E S ‘S-Gravenhage, Holland, THE NETHERLANDS -Jennie
Comment: Carmel: Hi all
A. IHM: Hi Carmel, nice to see you :)
A. Carmel: Never know what can be picked up in these sessions, love them Cassie. A. Carmel: Such as the Dutch Records, my husband is Dutch
Q. From Pamela: I’m looking to trace the movements of the HMAS Arunta over the 2 year period my dad was on her in WW2 – any tips other than the basic google searches that have been relatively unsuccessful??? I would love to know more about his movements over this period… Thanks in advance for your time.
A. AWM: @Pamela The Reports of Proceedings for HMAS Arunta track the movements of the ship and any significant events that occured. These records have been digitised and made available on the Memorial’s website at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm78/40/ -Cameron
A. Pamela: Whhhooo thanks so much Cameron. Going to look right now….
Q (b): Pamela: Cameron the linked site is absolutely wonderful – but while the opportunity is here I should ask … I know my dad was on the HMAS Arunta because of a photograph with this on his hat but is there any way to know if he may have also served on other ships? Or if the Arunta has lists of servicemen who served upon her? A. AWM: @Pamela The first step would be to locate your father’s service record through the National Archives. This will then include information on all his postings through his service career, including what ship or station he was on, and when he was posted there. The National Archives have a fact sheet for accessing Navy service records online at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs30.aspx -Cameron A. Pamela: Thanks so much for your help Cameron and Inside History … You made my day with this information.
A. IHM: Happy dance all round Pamela, thanks again Australian War Memorial!
Q. From Judi: Two questions re: my grandfather John Gilbert Bond WW1 14th Battalion. How can I find the complete history of the time he served in WW1. I’ve found bits and pieces by googling different sites ie when he was taken POW and shot etc but no complete file if you like. Are there any photos or information at the Canberra War Memorial in relation to my grandfather, if so, I want to take my 88 year old mum to show her. Thank you.
A. AWM: @Judi. Unless someone has already done the research, you won’t find a comprehensive account of your relative’s service. His service record is held by the National Archives of Australia. The digitised copy can be viewed from http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=3097487. The service record contains information about the service person on enlistment and throughout their military service, including unit(s) they served with and when, if they spent time in hospital, training undertaken, etc. From here you can look at unit sources such as war diaries or published unit histories to find information about where they were serving and what they were doing. Your grandfather’s service record shows he joined the 14th Battalion in France on 7 August 1916. You can find the war diary for the 14th Battalion on the Memorial’s website at https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm4/subclass.asp?levelID=1787. There is also a published history of the 14th Battalion by Newton Wanliss that may be of interest. You are welcome to view this book at the RC or check Trove for libraries in your area who may hold this book, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/8473461. Your grandfather has a Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry file on the Memorial’s website at https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/wounded_and_missing/person.asp?p=609061. The RC also has a Red Cross Prisoner of War file in our collection that has not been digitised. Please contact the RC about visiting to view the original file or to order a copy. I did not find a photo identifying your grandfather on the Collection Search (http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/) but there are a number of group photographs of the 14th Battalion in which he may be included. Please search using 14 Battalion and First World War to view these photographs. You should also check the photo collections of other national and state institutions. Jennie
Q (b): Judi: Jennie, can’t thank you enough for all your information and help. My 88 yo mum is so excited with all the info I am finding out about her dad and her uncle (her mum’s brother)!!! I have actually been able now to locate her uncle’s children who only live approx half an hour away!!!! I’m calling them tomorrow, so excited!!! You mentioned to contact the RC, Red Cross? How or where do I do that? A. AWM: @Judi. Sorry for not including our details, you can contact the Research Centre via our website at http://www.awm.gov.au/request/. – Jennie
Q. From Carmel: Many of my soldiers I find had done some in some kind of training previous to joining for the war. I was told that this was mandatory training. Is this correct and are there records for this service?
Q (b): Carmel: I also had one who married in England and a child born there. They settled on one of the soldier settlements but I cannot find a record of her or the child arriving in Australia. His records held a copy of the marriage certificate etc but not of her coming to Australia. I know she did as they had other children and she died here. Any hints?
A. AWM: @Carmel The Defence Act of 1903 included provisions for conscription for the defence of Australia. In 1911 the government introduced the Universal Service Scheme. This scheme required all ‘unexempted’ males to participate in military training. The National Archives of Australia have a fact sheet with further information on Universal Training and resources available through the National Archives collection. You can find this fact sheet on their website at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs160.aspx -Cameron
A. Carmel: and WW2
A. AWM: @Carmel The service record of a soldier is unlikely to contain immigration documentation relating to their spouse. I would suggest having a loook through the Fact Sheets on the National Archives website relating to migration which may direct you to the documentation you are looking for. You can find the index to the migration and citizenship Fact sheets online at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/on-migration-citizenship/index.aspx -Cameron
Q. From Linda: Good evening. I am that pesky person from a question on notice looking for material on the Whitelaw brothers recently donated (maybe two years ago), and think I will just have to possess my soul in patience. If material does come in, such as medals, does it ultimately appear in the online catalogue under the name of the original recipient? Or does the War Memorial have material come in that is accessioned, but does not then appear in the online catalogue?
Q (b): Linda: I have just posted a photo over on the righthand side of what I can only call an “All Terrain Vehicle” [see photo here] that I think is towing a general Service Wagon from WWI. I have no idea where it was taken, but it is with some other interesting ones of trains in the desert etc. How would I got about finding out more about this photo, and the others with it. It is in a local historical society where I am cataloguing. Q
(c): Linda: While I am on a roll I have put a couple more photos over on the righthand side – Hospital ship Niagra included [see the photo of ship here and the photo of train here]. Any comments on the three photos at all, by anyone would be much appreciated. This is one of those little packets of photos that just got “found in a box”.
A. AWM: @Linda. Yes once items have been accessioned and catalogued they will appear on the website. Unless it is unknown the details of the medal recipient will be included in the information about the item. Cameron has informed me that your photograph of the unknown WW1 vehicle is a Holt Artillery tractor. You can find other photographs of this type of vehicle on the Collection Search from http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/?q=holt+tractor&conflict=all. – Jennie
A. Linda: Oh Wow! Love the Holt Artillery Tractors!!!!!
A. AWM: @Linda. There are photographs of SS Niagara on the Collection Search http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/?q=ship+niagara&conflict=all you can compare to yours. The following photographs seem to be of a similar train or the same one: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/G01458/; http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C04411/; http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00980/ A. Linda: Thanks for all the pic links Jennie – having immense fun! And starting to get more ideas where they might be taken.
Q. From Louise: Hi Jenny, am going to Gallipoli and looking for an ANZAC! Martin Gavin 7th LH. How would i find if related to Gavin brothers 5th LH and 31st Battalion. He was from Myrtleford Vic. Married and died 1921 after discharge 1919 for typhoid dysentry from Gallipoli. Was he at Gallipoli?
A. AWM: @Louise. Martin Gavin’s service record is available from the National Archives website at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=4028561. The records don’t always indicate where there are family connections between servicemen. You can sometimes find connections if the same parent is listed as the next of kin. Another option would be to check local newspapers to see if they wrote about the family serving together. The digitised newspapers on Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/ are great for this type of research.
Q. From Bindi: Hi, I haven’t been able to figure this out… (Family rumour says my g g grandfather’s personal papers were in a army looking satchel.) But the trouble is I can’t find him anywhere in any army records. His name is Thomas Rapson JOHNS. Born in Cornwall 1848, arrived in Australia 1883, wife Annie, he died in 1917, Bendigo.
A. AWM: @Bindi. It’s possible that your relative served with the British Army before coming to Australia or may have served within Australia rather than during a conflict, which would explain why he is not listed on the nominal rolls. Records relating to service in Australia may be held by the National Archives of Australia (http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/on-defence/index.aspx) or state archives if it was before Federation in 1901. If you want to research possible British service I would recommend looking at The National Archives website http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm. – Jennie
Q. From Robyn: My grandfather was in a touring concert party in WWI. I have two photos of him, one in costume (found on flickr; taken in France) and a personal photo of him in uniform yet no record can be found of him. I have tried writing to the AWM but they coudn’t help. Is there a place you can suggest I can get information on WWI entertainers and touring parties?
A. Robyn: In regard to my concert party grandfather, his name was William Henry Fletcher Shaw born 1892, NSW if that helps.
A. AWM: @Robyn Waite. I cannot find a record of a person with this name – William Henry Fletcher Shaw – in Australian forces. Is it possible that your grandfather was serving in a civilian capacity, or perhaps with forces from another country? Some men did serve under aliases too, which can make finding information about them difficult. There is a little information on our website about entertainment in the First World war, for instance at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PUBS002/009/002/ It is possible that there may be some information to be had in newspapers – the National Library’s Trove is a great place to look. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Q (b): Kim: My husband’s grandfather Trooper Percy Edgar Alley Reg #3107 was in the 12th L.H. then the 2nd LHTR, then trans to 32nd Co AASC as (I believe) a driver. I’m interested to know what he drove or whom he may have been driver to? I’m afraid my ability to interpret the service records comes to its limits with some of the handwriting. Is it possible to find out, or may it be in diaries etc as Jennie mentioned before? A. AWM: @Kim For members of the Australian Army Service Corps, Driver is actually an equivalent rank to Private. It was used in a similar manner to ‘Gunner’ for artillerymen and ‘Sapper’ for engineers. -Cameron
Q. From Christine: Is there a database whereby you can search for names of soldiers that have died on a certain date? In a newspaper report of 30 January 1918 it was reported he was on active service, then in another newspaper report of 26 October 1918 it was reported that he had been killed on 2 May 1918. His name was Frank Turner, born Francis Bramble or Brambell Turner in Tasmania in 1893. I have searched AWM site many times and have not found him. The only other idea is that he enlisted under a different name so if there is a list of deaths on 2 May 1918 I could at least go through it to see if I recognised soemthing, to help identify him. Many thanks.
A. AWM: @Christine. The Memorial’s Roll of Honour can be searched by date using the Advanced Search, https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/?Search_Mode=advanced. There are 58 names listed on the Roll of Honour for the 2 May 1918. If you know where in Tasmania he was born or enlisted you can try the National Archives Mapping Our Anzacs, http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au/, where you can browse by location. If there’s a chance he served with the forces of another country (e.g. Britain, New Zealand), you could try searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx. Their advanced search includes a date search option. – Jennie
Q. From Anne: Hi, my question is: the AWM has been digitizing many unit diaries, could I please have an estimated time as to when the following file will be completed please? 2/2 Forestry Company [Whole diary – 8 items] (Apr-May, Nov 1940; Sep 1943 – Jan 1946) Item barcode 1353788. Thank you.
A. AWM: @Anne. The following information is from our Digitisation team, “The digitisation programme for Second World War unit diaries has been delayed by other preservation priorities, and we do not have a current time frame for further digitisation of this series.” They are currently focussing on Naval Reports of Proceedings and Private Records to support the Centenary of WW1. If you (or someone you know) are able to visit us in Canberra you are welcome to view the original records in the Research Centre. If you are unable to visit you can purchase copies of the diaries. For details about our copying services please visit http://www.awm.gov.au/research/copying.asp.” – Jennie
A. Anne: Thanks for the details of the digitisation programme. I’m unable to get to Canberra but will check cost.
Q. From IHM: That truly was an hour of military family history power! For the AWM team: What is your favourite story you’ve found in the AWM collections? Thanks for all your help tonight!
A. AWM: I have been working at the Memorial for over 10 years now and over the years I’ve come across so many fascinating stories. But if I have to choose a favourite, I’ll go with my own family story. Not long after I started working here I researched my grandfather’s military service in the Second World War. He had never really talked about his experiences with me, so to discover where he had served overseas and the operations he had been involved in created a very personal link to the Memorial’s collection. – Jennie
A. AWM: Inside History Magazine, I have come to enjoy stories and accounts of small units and strange undertakings. One of my favourite stories is that of Lt. Ken McLeod of the 2/1st Anti Tank Regiment. Lt McLeod was sent forward to assisit in the beachead battles of Gona Buna and Sanananda. We hold a manuscript written by Lt. McLeod describing these events which can be viewed in the reading room. The manuscript can be found at http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/MSS1882/. We also hold copies of official documentation from Lt McLeod relating to his time working in support of the 2/6th Armoured Regiment. The file for the offical record is AWM54, 581/7/38. It may not be the most exciting story, but it provides some very interesting insights into a little known part of the war, that of the anti-tank gunner in the South West Pacfic Area. -Cameron
A. AWM: My favourite story in the collection; that is really hard to say, as there are so many. There is Sapper Pearl’s trench art – http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RELAWM14153/ is an example. Or the little painting of a magpie on a programme cover; then there is Mrs Mellor and her cow http://www.flickr.com/photos/australian-war-memorial/3527160566/in/set-72157618063189118. And of course, this man from the First World War – http://www.flickr.com/photos/australian-war-memorial/2863670139/in/set-72157607335488831/. I’m also rather fond of this one of my aunt, working in her tent in Borneo http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P03977.001. Liz
Comment: IHM: What terrific stories! Thanks again to Jennie, Liz and Cameron for joining us tonight! We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week – sure to be a favourite on our site! We look forward to having the Australian War Memorial back for your next Q&A on Thursday, 4th April.
A. Dezma: Thanks AWM and IHM – v informative – great idea.
A. Linda: Thanks AWM Team!
A. Kim: Many thanks
A. Christine: Thank you Inside History and AWM!
A. Chez: I could not make it here tonight but THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU! Using the link for the photograph collection I found my Great Uncle who was killed in WW1 – we have only one headshot photo of him and nothing in uniform. He had fought at Gallipoli and was injured He was in the 1st Battalion…at first I was not sure if it was him due to a different service number but a quick check at his papers and it seems he had had too so it is definitely him! I am headed to Canberra later this year… Am I able to view this photograph then and discuss the best size/medium to have it printed?? Is the next questions I will need to source info too…Oh and how to add that he was killed added to the description of the photo….. My Great Uncle was 1597 Corporal (Cpl) L. Jansen whose other service number was 1860! So here is the link… https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E01629/
A. IHM: Thanks again to Australian War Memorial! Brilliant news Chez and Judi – I’ve passed your question along to Jennie at the AWM Research Centre as well Chez.
A. IHM: Hi Chez, here is Jennie’s answer: “Service/regimental numbers in WW1 weren’t unique and many men could have the same number and if they transferred between units they could be allocated a second or even third number. Most photographs in the Memorial’s collection are stored as negatives and the image you see on our website is how they are accessed. You would need to talk to the Photographs section about amendments to the caption. They can be contacted at email@example.com. The eSales Unit manage reproductions of photographs from the collection and should be able to offer you advice on what size to print the photograph. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org”.
A. Chez: Inside History Magazine and Australian War Memorial thankyou so much!
Questions asked before the session:
Q. From Cathy: How do you find a photo of a WWI soldier if there is none attached to his paperwork? His name is Alexander Macleay Sanders and no one seems to have a photo of him. He was killed at Lone Pine.
A. IHM: Thanks for your question Cathy, we think we’ve found your Anzac on the AWM & NAA databases :: http://ow.ly/hfQrc – can you confirm his service number is 1213 from the linked record.
A. Cameron: Good question Cathy… I too have my great-uncle’s WW1 service record but would really like to see a service photo of his if there is one.
A. Michael: If you’re looking for pictures – try searching the Trove website and Picture Australia – you might just find something that way.
A. AWM: @Cathy and Cameron. Unfortunately there are not photographs of everyone who served in WW1. Men could have portrait photographs taken by commercial photographers or can sometimes be found in photographs taken in the field. Some of these photos have been donated to the Memorial as part of our photographs collection. The Memorial’s photograph collection can be searched and viewed using the Collection Search, http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/. Search using keywords you think will appear in the description of the item, for example surname and service number or surname and unit. Some of the group photographs we hold of units do not include a list of names of all the people included in the photograph. You can try searching for a group photograph of your relative’s unit from the right time period and see if you can identify him through comparison with other photographs or family resemblance. I know it sounds like a long shot but I was successful in finding my grandfather in a group photograph using this method. You should also check the photo collections of other national and state institutions.
Q. From Judi: Two questions re: my grandfather John Gilbert Bond WW1 14th Battalion. How can I find the complete history of the time he served in WW1? I’ve found bits and pieces by googling different sites ie when he was taken POW and shot etc but no complete file if you like. Are there any photos or information at the Canberra War Memorial in relation to my grandfather, if so, I want to take my 88 year old mum to show her. Thank you.
Q (b): Judi: Another family member, John Cornelius Hunt, 6th Infantry Battalion is my grandmothers brother. Our family can only find enlistment information, no war information or whether he was killed. Any chance of finding photos of him also? Thank you so so so much.
A. Judi: Disregard my enquiry re John Cornelius Hunt. I have just found all his war history, my 88 yr old mum will be so excited! He was wounded with the loss of an eye, but he did return. I am so proud of him even though I was never fortunate enough to meet him.
A. IHM: Thanks for letting us know Judi, I’m sure there will be a happy dance at yours when you tell your mum you’ve found him!
A. Michael: @ Judi Unit history books are a great source of information about battalions and regiments.
A. Michael: Plenty of them available from www.regimental-books.com.au
A. IWM: @Judi. Unless someone has already done the research, you won’t find a comprehensive account of your relative’s service. His service record is held by the National Archives of Australia. The digitised copy can be viewed from http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=3097487. The service record contains information about the service person on enlistment and throughout their military service, including unit(s) they served with and when, if they spent time in hospital, training undertaken, etc. From here you can look at unit sources such as war diaries or published unit histories to find information about where they were serving and what they were doing. Your grandfather’s service record shows he joined the 14th Battalion in France on 7 August 1916. You can find the war diary for the 14th Battalion on the Memorial’s website at https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm4/subclass.asp?levelID=1787. There is also a published history of the 14th Battalion by Newton Wanliss that may be of interest. You are welcome to view this book at the RC or check Trove for libraries in your area who may hold this book, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/8473461. Your grandfather has a Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry file on the Memorial’s website at https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/wounded_and_missing/person.asp?p=609061. The RC also has a Red Cross Prisoner of War file in our collection that has not been digitised. Please contact the RC about visiting to view the original file or to order a copy. I did not find a photo identifying your grandfather on the Collection Search (http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/) but there are a number of group photographs of the 14th Battalion in which he may be included. Please search using 14 Battalion and First World War to view these photographs. You should also check the photo collections of other national and state institutions.
A. AWM: @Judi re John Cornelius Hunt. You can find John Cornelius Hunt on the First World War Embarkation Roll and Nominal Rolls by searching from http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/. His service record is available from the National Archives at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=7023675. He joined the 6th Battalion in August 1916. He was wounded in action in May 1917, which resulted in him losing an eye. He returned to Australia in January 1918. I did not find a photo identifying John Hunt on the Collection Search (http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/) but there are a number of group photographs of the 6th Battalion in which he may be included. Please search http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/ using 6 Battalion and First World War to view these photographs. You should also check the photo collections of other national and state institutions.
Q. From Rochell: I have a question. how come some records aren’t released? So annoying.
A. IHM: Is there a particular type of record you’re looking for Rochell or do you have an example? Thanks for your question.
Q. From Michael: I’m just curious when the digitisation of WW2 and Korean War records will be completed.
A. AWM: @Michael. The Research Centre has digitised all of our holdings of the archival series AWM85 Australian Army unit war diaries, Korea – https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm85/. Was there a particular unit you were seeking? – Jennie
Comment: IHM: Thanks for your questions, the good people from the AWM will answer them on the post at the top of our page. We start soon at 8:30pm – stay tuned!
Using the Australian War Memorial Research Centre: FAQ
Q. When is the Research Centre open?
A. The Research Centre’s reading room is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 1pm to 5pm Saturday, closed ACT Public Holidays.
Q. What is held in the Research Centre’s collections?
A. The Research Centre holds the written records of war, both published and unpublished. Most of the collection is open to the public for use in the Research Centre, subject to legal restrictions or those imposed by donors. The Research Centre’s collections are arranged in three sections:
- Official Records: Primarily consists of operational and planning records created by the Australian Army, Navy, and Air Force during wartime, and the papers of the official historians.
- Private Records: This collection includes records of non-government organisations and personal papers of individuals from all ranks and services of the Australian armed forces. They include privately donated diaries, letters, notebooks, papers, and cards written during wartime, as well as some reminiscences written after the event.
- Published and digitised Collections: Contains books, serials, maps, plans, charts and extensive collections of ephemera.
More information about the Research Centre’s collection can be found on the Memorial’s website from http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/research/. Research Centre staff can also provide advice on searching and using the Memorial’s other collections, or refer you to the appropriate curatorial staff.
Q. Where should I start my research?
A. The Research Centre has a number of Information Sheets on the Memorial’s website (http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/) that provide advice for getting started with your research.
Q. How much of the Research Centre’s collection is digitised and available to read online?
A. Only a fairly small proportion of our collection has been digitised and made available online. On our website you will find the First and Second World War official histories; Army war diaries for the First World War, Second World War, Korea War and South East Asian conflicts; Reports of Proceedings for HMA ships and establishments; and the papers of C E W Bean. Not all of the Second World War diaries have been digitised at this stage. The diaries that have not been digitised can be viewed in the Research Centre’s Reading Room. The Reports of Proceedings is an ongoing project with records being added to the website as they are completed.
Q. I can’t visit the Research Centre at the Memorial to view your collections for my research, what options are available for me?
A. If you are unable to visit to view the original collections at the Research Centre it is possible to purchase copies of collection items depending on their physical condition, donor restrictions, the Copyright Act and Archives Act. More information about our copying services can be found from http://www.awm.gov.au/research/copying.asp. If you are interested in books or journal article you can request them via inter-library loan from your local library. Another option is to engage a research agent to undertake research on your behalf. A list of research agents is available from our website at http://www.awm.gov.au/research/infosheets/research_agents.asp.
Q. How do I contact the Research Centre?
A. The Research Centre can be contacted via the following:
Research Centre , Australian War Memorial GPO Box 345 Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6243 4315, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday
Online reference service: www.awm.gov.au/request/forms/
Q. Do you have service records of my relative?
A. No, service records are held by the National Archives of Australia. Please visit their website at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/defence/service-records/index.aspx.
Q. What projects are you currently working on?
A. For the Centenary of Gallipoli in 2015 the Research Centre in digitising items from our Private Records collection to display online. These include personal papers such as diaries and letters that have been donated to the Memorial. These collections provide an intimate view of the experiences and feelings of those who were serving in the First World War.