Ancestry.com.au Blog http://blogs.ancestry.com/au Where family history comes alive Mon, 13 Apr 2015 07:02:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Collection launch. Spirits of Gallipoli project and AIF Burials At Gallipoli, 1915 explainedhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/13/collection-launch-spirits-of-gallipoli-explained/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/13/collection-launch-spirits-of-gallipoli-explained/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 06:57:41 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2529 Guest post by Kim Phillips, the historian behind Spirits of Gallipoli In November 2000 when I first walked the beach at Anzac Cove, I had little idea of the effect that visit would have on me, or the journey it would take me on. There is an aura at Anzac, a ‘spirit’. Those who have… Read more

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Guest post by Kim Phillips, the historian behind Spirits of Gallipoli

In November 2000 when I first walked the beach at Anzac Cove, I had little idea of the effect that visit would have on me, or the journey it would take me on. There is an aura at Anzac, a ‘spirit’. Those who have visited will know.

When I returned to Australia I wanted to learn more about Gallipoli and the Australian soldiers who were commemorated there. There is no shortage of books about the campaign. However, I found it difficult to find the names of the Australian soldiers who were buried or commemorated there, our First Anzacs.

I decided that the only way, really, to obtain an accurate list of the names was to visit and photograph every headstone and memorial. I began putting a list together. It would also be great if I could match a photograph of the soldier to the name on the memorial or headstone. Also, were the men commemorated on memorials in Australia and elsewhere? Photos of those memorials could also be added to the list. What about their families, what happened to them?

And so, the Spirits of Gallipoli Project was born. And now you can search the 7,249 Australian Imperial Force [AIF] men researched and laid to rest at Gallipoli on Ancestry.com.au, and view not only their records but also, where available, their portraits, headstones, and memorials. Click here to start searching today.

ADAMS Spirits of Gallipoli Ancestry

ZARNKE Spirits of Gallipoli Ancestry

For nearly 15 years I gathered together all this amazing information and felt that I wanted to put it all together in a book. But I could not decide on the focus of the book, what would I write about? How would I set it up? Then I met Garrie Hutchinson. Garrie suggested that I write about 100 of the men….and call the book “A Centenary of Anzacs”. The pieces fell into place and I had a plan.

The Spirits of Gallipoli, A Centenary of Anzacs looks at 100 of the 7,249 Australian soldiers who died serving their country. Their stories are in chronological order of their dates of death, and tell the story of the Gallipoli Campaign.

But, it is not a military history, it is the story of Australian men, of what happened to them, and of what happened to their families. Back in Australia, families and friends were devastated by the deaths of these men. They spent the rest of their lives trying to deal with the trauma. Sons, whose graves could never be visited; children who would grow up missing a father; wives who could never forget. Their stories too, needed to be told.

While the Spirits of Gallipoli focuses on men who died, thousands more served, suffered and returned home. I have endeavoured to locate, use and reference as many different resources as I can when telling the stories of the men. My hope is that if other families had men serving at Gallipoli then the references would assist them in their research.

Another great source of information has come from family members. For them, the grief is still raw. They have shared their stories and photographs with me. They have allowed me into their families and have shared that grief. They have brought the soldiers to life, told me about who they were and how their families suffered. I am proud to have had the chance to meet them and to get to ‘know’ their soldiers.

The CD that accompanies this book contains around 50,000 files. There are photographs for two out of every three Australian soldiers who died. Nearly 1,100 war memorials and honour boards have been located and photographed. Hundreds of newspapers and books have been searched.

Now, with the book and CD available, and the collection accessible on Ancestry.com.au, I feel a sense of relief. To have my work available to relatives and researchers has always been my ultimate goal.

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The Gallipoli Campaign of World War I is often seen as a defining moment for Australian and New Zealand national consciousness. This collection includes records of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) who died at Gallipoli in WWI. You’ll find a digital database of service records, plus digital images of portraits, headstones, and memorials. Details from the records can include:

  • name
  • age
  • rank
  • regiment
  • unit
  • service number
  • embarkation and enlistment data
  • death date
  • cause of death
  • cemetery
  • plot/panel
Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to order the book.

Click on the image to order the book.

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Update to London Workhouse Records, 1659-1930. Over 3.7 million new records!http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/09/update-to-london-workhouse-records/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/09/update-to-london-workhouse-records/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:14:06 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2513 Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930! We’ve added 303,179 new images [56%] and 3,771,083 [54%] new records, so this collection now has 542,642 images and 7,035,609 records! So, what’s in the update? We’ve added newly indexed workhouse admission and discharge records… Read more

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Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930! We’ve added 303,179 new images [56%] and 3,771,083 [54%] new records, so this collection now has 542,642 images and 7,035,609 records! So, what’s in the update?

We’ve added newly indexed workhouse admission and discharge records for poor law unions in the South of London as well as additional records from Central and West. Future updates are planned to include indexed records from the North and East areas of London, so stay tuned! Boroughs Added or Updated:

  • Greenwich
  • Lambeth
  • Lewisham
  • Southwark
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wandsworth

For many centuries, the task of caring for the poor was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572. Then, in 1601, the Poor Law Act empowered these Overseers to collect a poor rate from wealthier members of the parish, and distribute the funds among the poor. The 1601 law remained in effect until 1834 when a new law, the Poor Law Amendment Act took over. This collected parishes into groups called Unions. Each Union elected a Board of Guardians, which was then responsible for the care of the poor across all the individual parishes. Many of our ancestors received help through these Poor Laws. These included the elderly, orphaned, unemployed, sick and afflicted. It wasn’t just money they were given – they also received other daily necessities such as food, clothing and work. Children from poor families were placed in apprenticeships, or sent to particular schools and other institutions.

Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

What’s Included in This Database:
This collection includes selected admission and discharge records for workhouses created and administered under the Poor Law Acts in Central, West, and South London. Records from additional areas of London are planned to be added in the future. The exact information you can find about your ancestors varies according to the record. You may find:

  • The person’s name
  • Date of admission
  • Age
  • Date of discharge
  • Other details regarding the person’s condition and care
Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London, 1911

Dinnertime at St Pancras Workhouse, London, 1911

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Update to Australian Electoral Rolls collection. Over 30 million new records!http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/02/update-to-australian-electoral-rolls-collection-search-today/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/04/02/update-to-australian-electoral-rolls-collection-search-today/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 22:27:22 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2476 Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980! We’ve added 61,953 new images and 30,953,567 new records, so this collection now has 1,465,956 images and 100,540,723 records! So, what’s in the update? About 70% of the electoral rolls in this collection were previously transcribed. In this… Read more

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Great news, we’re always trying to improve our collections and we’ve updated the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980! We’ve added 61,953 new images and 30,953,567 new records, so this collection now has 1,465,956 images and 100,540,723 records!

So, what’s in the update?
About 70% of the electoral rolls in this collection were previously transcribed. In this update, we’ve extracted records from OCR data for the remaining 30% of rolls. In addition, we’ve added images and records for select rolls that were previously missing from the collection:

  • Tasmania (all districts for 1958-1980)
  • New South Wales (select districts for 1968, 1972, and 1977)

Electoral rolls began being compiled for some areas of Australia in the 1840s. At that time only property owners were eligible to vote. In most of the colonies all men were granted voting rights by the 1850s. Half a century later, women were granted voting rights as well.

Click on the image to read more. Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Click on the image to read more. Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Non-British subjects were not allowed to vote until the 1940s. In 1962 the right to vote in federal elections was granted to Australian Aboriginal women who, together with Australian Aboriginal men, had been specifically excluded from the franchise in Australia by the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902. Individuals falling into these two categories are not presently included in this database before those years.

Arrangement of Records:
Within each state voters were organized into electoral districts and subdistricts according to where they lived. Electoral rolls were compiled according to these geographical divisions. The boundaries of districts and subdistricts could change throughout the years.

Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

Why Use Electoral Rolls:
Electoral rolls are great to use as “census substitutes.” They’re useful when census records are either incomplete or non-existent, and are usually available in between census years. Because electoral rolls were published on a fairly consistent basis and are generally country-wide, they are useful for tracking individuals over time and place.

Click here to start searching today!

Information listed in electoral rolls usually includes:

  • Number
  • Name of voter
  • Gender
  • Address
  • Occupation
Click on the image to start searching today!

Click on the image to start searching today!

State and Years Presently Included:
This database currently includes electoral rolls for the following states and years. Those marked by asterisk have been transcribed. For all other years, the records were extracted using a new OCR indexing method. They were not transcribed. We encourage you to correct any errors you find in the data by going to the image and editing the name in the correction panel at the bottom of the page.

Australian Capital Territory: 1928*, 1929-31, 1935*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
New South Wales: 1930*, 1931-32, 1933*, 1934-35, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1953-54*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Northern Territory: 1922*, 1928, 1929*, 1930-31, 1934*, 1937*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Queensland: 1903*, 1905*, 1906, 1908*, 1909-10, 1912, 1913*, 1914-17, 1919*, 1921*, 1922, 1925*, 1926, 1928-29, 1930*, 1931-32, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Tasmania: 1914*, 1915-17, 1919*, 1921, 1922*, 1925, 1928*, 1929-31, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943-44*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958-1980
Victoria: 1856*, 1903*, 1905-06, 1908, 1909*, 1910, 1912-13, 1914*, 1915-18, 1919*, 1920-22, 1924*, 1925-28, 1931*, 1932-35, 1936-37*, 1942-43*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*
Western Australia: 1903*, 1905, 1906*, 1909, 1910-11*, 1912-15, 1916*, 1917-22, 1925*, 1926, 1928-30, 1931*, 1934, 1936-37*, 1943*, 1949*, 1954*, 1958*, 1963*, 1968*, 1972*, 1977*, 1980*

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Help Legacy Australia. Share your Anzac ancestor’s story & Ancestry will donate $5http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/25/help-legacy-australia-tell-your-anzac-ancestors-story-ancestry-will-donate-5/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/25/help-legacy-australia-tell-your-anzac-ancestors-story-ancestry-will-donate-5/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 04:44:20 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2445 Ancestry is asking our lovely members and the Australian community to share their Anzac ancestor’s stories and for each photo and story shared on the Ancestry Anzac Hero Wall facebook app, Ancestry will donate $5 to Legacy Australia up to $15,000. The Ancestry Anzac Hero Wall is an app hosted on the Ancestry facebook page… Read more

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Ancestry is asking our lovely members and the Australian community to share their Anzac ancestor’s stories and for each photo and story shared on the Ancestry Anzac Hero Wall facebook app, Ancestry will donate $5 to Legacy Australia up to $15,000.

Click on the image to go to the app and share your Anzac ancestor's story.

Click on the image to go to the app and share your Anzac ancestor’s story.

The Ancestry Anzac Hero Wall is an app hosted on the Ancestry facebook page and we know how much our members love sharing their stories on facebook, so please jump on to share your Anzac ancestor’s WW1 story and help us to support Legacy Australia and their brilliant work with veteran’s families across Australia.

Go to the Anzac Hero Wall – click here – or go to the Ancestry facebook page and click on the Anzac Hero Memorial on the main page menu. Click here to join us on facebook!

Click on the image to go to the app and share your Anzac ancestor's story.

Click on the image to go to the app and share your Anzac ancestor’s story.

Legacy Australia

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Australian Imperial Force – What the average Anzac took into service with him and what he brought homehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/20/australian-imperial-force-what-the-average-anzac-took-into-service-with-him-and-what-he-brought-home/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/20/australian-imperial-force-what-the-average-anzac-took-into-service-with-him-and-what-he-brought-home/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 06:50:52 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2423 Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive For the majority of young Australian men who joined the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] during the First World War, it was their first time separated from family, a familiar world and most certainly, in battle. Many of these men would have experienced an… Read more

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Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive

For the majority of young Australian men who joined the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] during the First World War, it was their first time separated from family, a familiar world and most certainly, in battle. Many of these men would have experienced an element of compulsory military training in the Citizens Military Forces or Cadets, but almost never in wartime. Most were single men, lived with their families and knew little about the world around them, beyond a brief British-centric colonial education. This ANZAC Day, the 25th April 2015, in the Centenary year of the Gallipoli Campaign, we will pay closer attention and homage to their service and sacrifice.

The experience of service during the First World War gave young men the opportunity for adventure, escape from the boredom of everyday life, a chance to visit the ‘Mother’ country and a chance to possibly cement a future through reputations earned. Men departed in the tens of thousands, fearful of missing the ‘big show’ and eager to prove their worth. They ultimately accepted death, as long as it was quick and painless.

Men of the first A.I.F. departed their homes carrying small comforts of a life that they knew. In their minds, the reality was that the material structure of those lives would remain in situ for the period of their service. Hindsight has proved that for many of those men, who were often on active service for four or more years, the reality was far from the truth. Life continued on in their absence.

The question of what the average Australian Anzac took with them into service provides a most interesting social insight into the nature of Australian society into the second decade of the 20th Century. What those same men brought back to Australia is equally as unique.

Aside from the ‘official kit’ that was supplied to the members of the AIF, they also carried many personal artefacts. These items represented the average soldier’s societal calling, religious affiliation, employment, love of family, desire to return to civilian life following service, or were keepsakes from the aforementioned life that they knew, having been secreted away from a loved one.

For the first Australian Anzacs, the Gallipoli Landers, their assault possessions would have been purposely kept to a minimum. Instructed to carry emergency rations and water for twenty-four hours, additional personal items were stowed in kit bags onboard transport ships for delivery later. Rations would have consisted of Bully beef (tinned corned beef), rice, jam, cocoa, tea, some bread and hard tack, or “ANZAC Wafer”; a rock hard biscuit that was often ground to make alternative meals.

The Anzacs carried varying smaller items on their person, often in the breast pockets of their often over-sized uniforms. Smoking paraphernalia such as ‘Woodbines’ Cigarettes or a bakelite pipes were commonplace overtime, even for original non-smokers. The comfort of tobacco was a small consolation in the trenches and a ready source for barter and trade. Photos of loved ones for those ‘quieter’ moments of reflection were also often carried in breast pockets for easy access around uniform webbing. Either singularly stowed or within a keepsake notebook, bible or small hold-all, such photos were a direct connection to a distant life. Commonplace with Anzac mythology, the bible kept close to the heart could on occasion offer possible divine intervention by stopping a errant or stray bullet from shortening a Digger’s service. Letters, notes, poetry, postcards, and other memory artefacts such as pocket watches, compasses and lighters were also carried on the person.

In recent years, the discovery of the bodies of 250 Australian solders in mass graves outside the small village of Fromelles in northern France, has given us greater insight into what the average Australian had on their person. Some 6,200 artefacts were removed and catalogued during the archaeological dig and recovery of the bodies for identification. These included usual pieces of military uniform such as buttons, buckles, fabric and even the occasional boot, often with Australian maker’s marks. However, many objects recovered reflected a soldier’s daily life a fountain pen, a bible, a French phrase book, and a leather pouch with coins still inside. More personal and intimate things included rings and bracelets, rosary beads, a lock of hair in a leather heart and a commemorative medallion from the local district presented to one of the Diggers prior to his departure. Ironically, a return rail ticket from Fremantle to Perth in Western Australia was found. The purchaser, then to soon be a soldier, would have intended to use the return section of the fare upon his cessation of service. A number of smoking pipes were also recovered, often in the breast pocket area of the remains discovered. In military service of the era, smoking was commonplace and for many men it assisted with the monotony of military life and the aromas of No-Man’s Land.

Often, the curious larrikin nature of the Australian Digger would result in the collection of souvenirs from the battlefield or enemy. John “Barney” Hines, a British-born Australian soldier of World War I, was particularly known for his prowess at collecting souvenirs from German soldiers. The German Pickelhaube or spiked helmet was a prized find and one such example was found in the knapsack of Private Alan James Mather, No. 1983, when his body was recovered from the Messines battlefield in Belgium almost 95 years after he disappeared. He was identified and reinterred in Prowse Point Cemetery in Fanders. His record can be found at Ancestry. Pistols, particularly German Lugers and Mausers, were prized by the Anzacs, often being reused during trench raids and silent attacks. These souvenirs were brought home after the war.

After four long years of campaigning, the Australian Diggers had procured a vast array of souvenirs, personal effects and essential non-official kit. Compiling a full inventory of the quintessential items within a returning solder’s kit would not be feasible. However, the greatest insight into the personal effects of the Anzacs that may have been brought home to Australia after the war, is to examine the service records of fallen men. Captain Leslie Russell Blake MC, No. 7306, 5th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, of Hawthorne, Victoria was killed in October 1918. His service file indicates that following his death, three storage items were returned to his family in probate; a tin trunk, a sealed suitcase and one parcel. The contents each package was as follows:

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects 2

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects 3

NAA WW1 Service Records Leslie Russell Blake Effects

In contrast, Lance Corporal Benjamin Lancaster, No. 3814, who enlisted at a similar time to Captain Blake, had his own personal effects returned to his family. The package consisted of one Wallet, 2 Badges and a purse.

Despite the hardships of war and throughout the service of the Australian Anzacs during WWI, there remained a willingness of the individual soldier to maintain personal effects. Whether fulfilling a link to home and past, out of necessity for survival, or through curious larrikinism, the personal nature of the Anzac’s possessions were as varied as the characters themselves.

Read more about Captain Leslie Russell Blake MC on Ancestry – click here to search the WW1 service records – and on Discovering Anzacs – click here to search.

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Member benefit. Order discounted BDM certificate transcriptions for NSWhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/19/member-benefit-order-discounted-bdm-certificate-transcriptions/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/19/member-benefit-order-discounted-bdm-certificate-transcriptions/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 00:54:52 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2293 Ancestry members can now order Birth, Death and Marriage certificate transcriptions for New South Wales at a discounted rate, just $17.50, from GeniCert with our friends at Marilyn Rowan transcriptions. The transcriptions can only be ordered direct via your Ancestry subscription. So you have to be logged in to your Ancestry membership to search on… Read more

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Ancestry members can now order Birth, Death and Marriage certificate transcriptions for New South Wales at a discounted rate, just $17.50, from GeniCert with our friends at Marilyn Rowan transcriptions.

The transcriptions can only be ordered direct via your Ancestry subscription. So you have to be logged in to your Ancestry membership to search on the Australian Birth, Death and Marriage [BDM] collections. Here’s some handy links to the Birth, Deaths and Marriage sets:

Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922
Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985
Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950

So, how do you take advantage of this great offer and order your certificate transcriptions? Please read on for tips on how to order.

First, log into Ancestry with your username / email and password and either double click on “Search” on the main menu to find all of the Australian collections:

GeniCert_Ancestry_Login_2_230215

Or hover your cursor over “Search” and select “Birth, Death & Marriage” from the drop list.

GeniCert_Ancestry_Login_230215

Then search the Australian BDM collections for your ancestor:

GeniCert_BDM_Ancestry_230215

Results for your search will be returned, including records for all states and territories that relate to your search terms:

GeniCert_Marriage_Jessie Baker_190315

Click on the cart image on the far right on the search results relating to New South Wales records and you’ll taken to GeniCert to allow you to order the transcription of the certificate type that relates to your search. In the example below, you’ll notice that this order is for a Marriage certificate transcription.

GeniCert_Marriage_Jessie Baker_Transcription Order_230215

At this stage you’re able to view a sample, see the “View a Sample” button in the top right of the window, or proceed to buy by clicking on the “Checkout” button. At any time during the process, you’re able to send an email to info@genicert.com with any questions you have.

GeniCert_Samples_1_190315

Clicking on “Checkout” to buy the certificate transcription, you’ll need to login to GeniCert or create a GeniCert account if you’re new to their service.

GeniCert_Login_Register_230215

The signup process is simple to follow and once purchased GeniCert has committed to providing the certificate transcription in 5 to 7 days. Again, if you have any issues during the sign-up and ordering processing, please send to info@genicert.com with your questions.

Happy searching and fingers crossed you find the person you’re looking for. Try it out today!

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Australian service records from World War Ihttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/16/australian-service-records-from-world-war-i/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/16/australian-service-records-from-world-war-i/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 01:31:09 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2334 Guest post from Anne-Marie Conde, National Archives of Australia WW1 Curator World War I service records (1914–1920) are a magnificent resource for family historians and anyone interested in war and its enduring impact on Australian society. These records are held by the National Archives of Australia and now on Ancestry – click here to start… Read more

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Guest post from Anne-Marie Conde, National Archives of Australia WW1 Curator

World War I service records (1914–1920) are a magnificent resource for family historians and anyone interested in war and its enduring impact on Australian society.

These records are held by the National Archives of Australia and now on Ancestry – click here to start searching today. In the collection you will find the records of Australian men and women who served in the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF). A Base Records Office was established in Melbourne in October 1914 to coordinate the recordkeeping for all AIF service personnel. It had links to records offices in London and Cairo for the duration of the war.

Service records consist of a collection of documents created by the AIF about each person who enlisted. While they were not intended to be a day-by-day account of a serviceperson’s career, they do contain a fascinating wealth of detail. You can follow a person’s journey from their enlistment to their assigned unit, departure from Australia and the major places in which they served, through to their return to Australia or, perhaps, their death.

Family historians will find the ‘attestation paper’ particularly useful. Usually found at the beginning of the file, it was a form filled out by each person who enlisted in the AIF. By signing it, they ‘attested’ to the truth and accuracy of the information they gave.

For instance, James Holmes Fleming enlisted in July 1915. Here is the first page of his attestation paper:

[image of p. 1 of attestation paper], National Archives of Australia: B2455, Fleming JH

[image of p. 1 of attestation paper], National Archives of Australia: B2455, Fleming JH

James had to answer 15 questions about himself, including his name, age, place of birth, occupation (‘trade or calling’) and whether he had had any prior military service. James also had to name his next-of-kin.

NAA - Next of Kin close up of this part of p. 1

This was the person who would receive notification of his injury or death. James nominated his father, Mr George Fleming of Elphinstone, Victoria, as his next-of-kin. Researchers may find information such as this invaluable in linking different people from the same family. The enlistee’s address and the address of their next-of-kin are important clues for researchers seeking to follow the fortunes of a particular family.

The attestation paper established aspects of the person’s physical appearance – their height, weight, complexion, eye colour and so on – and whether they met the standards of physical fitness required for military service. The form may have been filled out by the enlistee or sometimes the recruiting officer would take down the answers, but the enlistee had to sign his or her name twice. Here you can be certain that you are seeing the handwriting of your relative.

Most soldiers were issued with a service number, also known as a regimental number. James Fleming’s was 3107.

NAA - Image of p. 1 of attestation paper with close-up of his service number and name

However, researchers need to be aware of some of the trips and traps with service numbers. Firstly, officers and nurses were not issued with service numbers on enlistment, so some people never had them. Secondly, service numbers are not unique to one person. Each unit in the AIF allocated numbers from 1 upwards, meaning that many people could have the same number over the five years of the war. And finally, for various reasons a person could be issued with more than one number. So, while service numbers are useful, they are not a definitive way of establishing a person’s identity.

After the attestation paper, the amount of information contained on a service record varies greatly but most contain a Casualty – Active Service form (‘Form B103’). This record can be difficult to read, as you can see from the first page of James Fleming’s B103:

NAA - image of page 1 JF’s B103

But with a bit of patience, you can learn about a person’s movements, promotions, demotions, illnesses and wounds, and periods of leave.

Sometimes – but not always – you will find letters from family members anxious about the whereabouts of their loved one, or enquiring about medal entitlements or the return of a soldier’s effects after he has died. Here again you can find names and addresses and, perhaps, gain a personal insight into their lives.

Finally, the last page of a service record will usually contain a record of the campaign medals to which a serviceman or woman was entitled. To make things easy for the staff keeping the records, a stamp was made in the shape of each of the major medals – the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The person’s file would be stamped as each medal was issued. ‘NE’ indicated that a person was ‘not eligible’. For instance, although James Fleming enlisted in 1915, he did not leave Australia for active service until early 1916, so he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star.

NAA - image of the stamps part of his service record

James had a distinguished military career. For bravery he awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal. Here we see him wearing those medals: NAA - image of James wearing his medals

He was severely wounded late in 1918, but he made it home to his family in May 1919.

This is where his file ends – details of post-war life are generally not on a service record, although sometimes there may be correspondence even up to the 1960s, or later, concerning details of someone’s service. James’ wounds caused him ongoing health problems and he died in 1930, aged 47.

Read more about James on Ancestry – click here to search the WW1 service records – and on Discovering Anzacs – click here to search.

You can also search other collections that the National Archives of Australia have shared with the world via Ancestry. Search the Fremantle Passenger Lists, 1897-1963 – click here! This is a collection of passenger records of arrivals at Fremantle, Perth Airport, and other Western Australia ports. The lists, which are arranged chronologically, recorded passengers arriving from other Australian states and overseas and can include names of passengers passing through those ports en route to other ports within and ports outside Australia.

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Australian Imperial Force – Official Kit WWIhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/13/australian-imperial-force-official-kit-wwi/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/03/13/australian-imperial-force-official-kit-wwi/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 06:39:09 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2306 Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive Family and Military Historians and Genealogists alike, will continue to trawl archive websites such as Ancestry.com on the eve of the Centenary of ANZAC Day in April 2015; and beyond. They are hoping to make sense of the enormous service commitment delivered by… Read more

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Guest post by Matt Smith, historian at Australian War Graves Photographic Archive

Family and Military Historians and Genealogists alike, will continue to trawl archive websites such as Ancestry.com on the eve of the Centenary of ANZAC Day in April 2015; and beyond. They are hoping to make sense of the enormous service commitment delivered by Australian Anzac personnel, and the unimaginable sacrifices made by so many individuals and their families.

The Gallipoli Campaign in April 1915 saw the first major Australian commitment in warfare as a newly federated nation. The Australian Imperial Force, composed mainly of volunteers, were landed on the rugged coastline of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. The ten-month campaign saw an evolution in Australian ingenuity, endurance and fighting ability. Such traits would stand them in good stead during the three years campaigning in France and Belgium.

To assist with understanding of individual Australian service and sacrifice it is essential to better know the men and women who were there. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) Service Dossiers (B2455) are essential sources of information and insight into the movements of personnel. The dossiers are now available on Ancestry, click here to search. The Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files, housed within the collections of the Australian War Memorial, provide accounts of how a soldier died, was wounded, or was recorded missing.

One of the most significant insights into the WWI Anzac condition is the ability to now trawl vast collections of relevant digital images of Anzac personnel. These unique primary sources, until the development of digitized archives, lay accessible only to those researchers able to visit official institutions to view hardcopy material. Digitisation through on-line repositories such as Ancestry.com, has ensured that such images have been preserved and are readily available to the general public. In order to interpret digital images of A.I.F. personnel for greater understanding the following breakdown of Australian Anzac ‘Kit’ has been prepared.

The soldier in Figure 1 represents a typical Australian infantryman from the First World War. He is standing on-guard duty, most probably in London towards the end of the war. Although not in combat conditions, he is wearing the uniform of full fighting order. Figure 2 is an early studio portrait of an Australian 8th Light Horse Trooper. He is also wearing uniform and equipment of fighting order, although the webbing is leather. This is a Gallipoli era image due to the headware displayed. The usual Australian fur slouch hat is complemented by the more formal peaked cap, common at the initial Gallipoli landings. The soldier in figure one possesses a Brodie Helmet, which entered service in 1916. It is slung behind his left shoulder.

In order to interpret these particular images for understanding there are a number points for consideration that will inform the researcher.

Figure 1: A typical Australian Infantryman's Uniform, 1914-1918

Figure 1: A typical Australian Infantryman’s Uniform, 1914-1918

The soldiers in Figures 1 and 2 wear a British Pattern 1908 webbing arrangement in leather and/or heavy canvas. Although the exception, rather than the rule, it was common for the first Gallipoli landers to utilize the leather material versions. Developed for the British Army, this pattern was the most advance arrangement at the outbreak of the war and utilized by most Commonwealth armies. It was also probably one of the most comfortable and functional sets of any nationality, having the one main advantage that it could be taken off and on in one piece without the probability of losing any pieces.

The basic arrangement consisted of the following components:

  • 3 inch wide waist belt, with two angled 2 inch buckles at the rear
  • 2 inch wide shoulder straps, attached to the aforementioned buckles
  • left and right hand ammunition pouches, consisting of five individual pockets, three underneath and two above.
  • Haversack – this could be worn in a variety of positions and methods from middle of the back to below waist belt.
  • water bottle and carrier
  • entrenching tool and helve carrier – a two piece device and the handle of which is carried strapped to the bayonet scabbard, and attached to the bayonet frog
  • a large pack was also carried, almost always on the back. Valise straps attached the pack to the wearer.

The large pack was made to carry a soldier’s greatcoat, which was essential in colder regions. However, the amount of equipment that soldiers were required to carry usually meant that the greatcoat or blankets were often carried outside of the pack. Although a frontline soldier would try to keep his gear to a minimum, the pack contained the essentials for a soldier’s survival. According to Australian Imperial Force Orders, No. 2, 26 August 1914, a prescribed set of uniform, kit, and necessaries were officially issued to each infantry member of the AIF.

The individual AIF infantryman was issued with a universal kit or duffle bag. Into which he packed the following:

  • 2 Pairs of brown leather hob-nail-soled ankle boots, with one psare pair of laces.
  • 1 pair of braces
  • 2 pairs of woollen cord Commonwealth Pattern breeches.
  • Field Service Cap or Slouch Hat, with 2 spare chin straps
  • Greatcoat
  • Jacket – Service Dress
  • 1 pair of Puttees -. Fabric strapping for lower legs.
  • Dungaree jacket and trousers

Other pieces of kit included insignia and rank badges, and training garments including white canvas plimsolls and hat.

The Australian infantryman was not without some simple, essential comforts, despite the hardships of war.

He was assigned three brushes: hair, shaving and tooth. A comb, razor in a case and soap were his allotted toiletries. Underclothes were essential and each man was given two pairs of cotton drawers (underwear), 2 singlets, 2 flannel shirts and 3 pairs of socks. To keep out the chill he was allotted a jersey and khaki cap comforter. Essentially a woolen hat, this was often worn under helmets or during trench raids. All of the essential smaller items were contained in a ‘holdall’ and supplemented by a ‘housewife’, The Housewife was a holdall/pouch contained all that a soldier would require to carry out any repairs to his clothing when necessary. Inside it would contain a thimble, two balls of grey darning wool (for socks), 50 yards of linen thread wound around card, needles, brass dish buttons and plastic buttons for shirts.

The personal kit it would be finished off with the essentials of a knife, fork and spoon, that could be used with the D-shaped mess tin It consisted of two portions, a lid and a base and allowed for both a meal and hot drink to be served. Additionally a service knife was issued, which contained a marline splicing spike, a tin opener and lanyard.

As the Australian infantryman evolved as a fighting entity, especially into the main Western Front European theatre, the essential kit also contained a gas mask, personalized cold weather accessories and preferred trench fighting weaponry, such as knuckle-dusters, clubs and pistols. Unlike some other allied nationalities which supplied such equipment, the Australian infantryman sought out his own ingenuity for survival. Officers might privately purchase trench periscopes, binoculars and personal accessories that could more readily be stored in dug-outs.

Despite preconceived ideas, the Australian infantryman did not carry regular ‘K’ Rations as we known them today. He was often fed at the front by portable cooking stoves and rations were transported into the frontline trenches. However, he was assigned ‘emergency rations’, only to be used as a last resort and consisted of corned or ‘bully’ beef, hard tack biscuits, tea, salt and matches. In situations like that of the Gallipoli campaign, such rations were regularly called upon.

The Australian Infantryman of World War I was a resourceful individual who made the best of a situation and endured, often existing in horrendous battlefield conditions. Official kit was supplemented by personally acquired ‘unofficial’ kit, which, if withdrawn during official inspections, was tolerated. Souvenirs often found on prisoners, collected from the battlefield or bought from local merchants, regularly found their way into a soldiers pack. The life of an Australian infantryman during WWI was one of resourcefulness, acceptance and tolerance.

 Figure 2 - Studio portrait of 876 Trooper Stephen John Arbuthnot, 8th Light Horse, of Bonnie Doon, Victoria. Killed in action, Gallipoli Peninsula on 7 August 1915. Source: Australian War Memorial, H06442


Figure 2 – Studio portrait of 876 Trooper Stephen John Arbuthnot, 8th Light Horse, of Bonnie Doon, Victoria. Killed in action, Gallipoli Peninsula on 7 August 1915. Source: Australian War Memorial, H06442

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Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldierhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/02/23/tomb-of-the-unknown-australian-soldier/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2015/02/23/tomb-of-the-unknown-australian-soldier/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:34:13 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2276 “He is all of them. And he is one of us.” Behind all headstones are the stories of our community, of our families, of our history and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is no different. The man who now rests here met his death in France and for 75 years he rested under a… Read more

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“He is all of them. And he is one of us.”

Behind all headstones are the stories of our community, of our families, of our history and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is no different. The man who now rests here met his death in France and for 75 years he rested under a headstone in Plot III, Row M, Grave 13 in Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux. Of this one man, who lay quiet for decades in a grave marked simply, ‘An Australian Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God’ nothing is known. His name was lost among the hundreds of thousands of missing men along the Western Front between 1914 and 1918. On 11 November 1993, he was laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to represent all those soldiers lost in WW1 without names, units or dates of death.

We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.

Read or listen to the eulogy delivered at the funeral service of the Unknown Australian Soldier by Paul Keating. Click here for the Eulogy for the Unknown Australian Soldier.

Tomb of the Unknown the Soldier, Australian War Memorial

Tomb of the Unknown the Soldier, Australian War Memorial

The Unknown Soldier lies in a tomb beneath the dome of the Memorial’s Hall of Memory in remembrance of all Australians who died in war. For 75 years he rested in Adelaide Cemetery. There is still a headstone there but it carries this inscription:

The remains of an Unknown Soldier lay in this grave for seventy-five years. On 2 November 1993 they were removed and now rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Want to know more about Adelaide Cemetery? Go to Australians on the Western Front 1914 – 1918, and the Australian Remembrance Trail in France and Belgium. A brilliant project from the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs.

Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux. Source: DVA, Australians on the Western Front 1914-18

Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux. Source: DVA, Australians on the Western Front 1914-18

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Family Tree Maker expert Duff Wilson touring Australia in Julyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/06/19/family-tree-maker-expert-duff-wilson-touring-australia-in-july/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/2014/06/19/family-tree-maker-expert-duff-wilson-touring-australia-in-july/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 05:27:19 +0000 Ancestry.com.au http://blogs.ancestry.com/au/?p=2228 Duff Wilson, Senior Product Manager for Family Tree Maker in Provo, Utah, is touring Australia in July to share his expertise on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry. Duff will be speaking in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, so make sure you book early to secure your spot using the details below. Duff has worked for Ancestry… Read more

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Duff Wilson, Senior Product Manager for Family Tree Maker in Provo, Utah, is touring Australia in July to share his expertise on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry. Duff will be speaking in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, so make sure you book early to secure your spot using the details below.

Duff has worked for Ancestry for over a decade, with more than twenty years of software design and development experience and a number of notable awards for his work. He holds a Master’s degree from Utah State University in Instructional Technology with an emphasis on computer-based instruction. Duff has been passionate about genealogy from a young age, and as part of his work with Ancestry, he has travelled to numerous countries and connected with countless genealogists, ranging from novice to expert.

Duff’s work has given him an increasingly high profile, as the ‘voice’ in the Family Tree Maker webinars, and also getting rave reviews from the recent ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ Congress in London.

This is Duff’s first visit to Australia, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear from one of the world’s foremost experts on Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.

DuffW_hires

Session details:

Brisbane
Queensland Family History Society (QFHS)
20th July: Time 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Registration from 9:30 am
Venue: Aspley Hornets Football Club, 50 Graham Road, CARSELDINE
Cost: $55.00 ($45.00 QFHS and VicGUM Members (both prices GST inclusive))
(Morning and afternoon tea, and a light sandwich lunch provided. Please advise special dietary needs.)
Bookings: for Ancestry and Family Tree Maker Seminar online at www.qfhs.org.au/events
or by post to QFHS, PO Box 171, Indooroopilly, QLD. 4068 or by phoning (07) 3355 3369 during library opening hours.

Sydney:
Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG)
22nd July: Time 10.00 am – 4.00 pm. Registration from 9.45 am
Venue: Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt Street, SYDNEY
Cost: $60.00 ($50.00 for SAG & VicGUM Members; (both prices GST inclusive))
Includes morning & afternoon teas & light sandwich lunch
Bookings: Through SAG website at www.sag.org.au Enquiries (02) 9247 3953

Melbourne:
Victorian GUM Inc. (VicGUM)
26th July: Time10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Registration from 9:30 am
Venue: State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, MELBOURNE
Cost: $60.00 ($50.00 for VicGUM Members (both prices GST inclusive))
Includes morning & afternoon teas & light lunch
Bookings: through VicGUM www.vicgum.asn.au/30thMelbourneSeminar.html or ring the office (03) 9639 2005 Tuesdays or Thursdays.

AN249_300x250_amu-july-image-3-c2s1v2_Seminar

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