Great War Military Records- An Interesting Perusal

For the first time in some years, I took time out to browse the files of Australian military personnel from the Great War.

All (or nearly all) files are available in digital format online. Often these are basic attestation papers and purely chronological records of the soldier getting busted for being drunk, or caught in a brothel, or both.

However, you can also find some pretty chilling stuff of soldiers admitted to hospital for a disease such as enteric fever, the parents being advised they have been removed from the seriously ill list only for them to pass away shortly later from something like “tuberculosus peritonitis”.

I guess it was the days before anti biotics.

Even sadder are the Red Cross reports where they may be asked by a relative if they have any news of Private XXX and whether it may be possible that he is a prisoner in Germany. Obviously grasping at a faint hope when realistically there is none.

Anyway, a different way to spend the evening.

Thanks so much for this post Cicero. I had no idea that these records were all available online. I’ve just been looking at my paternal grandfather’s WWI records. Such a wealth of information!

Glad it was of help Cunctator. I thought this had sunk without trace. I have all my Grandfathers and grand uncles records.

Do you have a link? Are the names of the medical staff listed? My grandmother was a surgeon in WW1 and she had her share of Australian patients, but she never, ever, talked about it.

Here is the site for the Australian War Memorial.

The patients could appear in Roll of Honour (if they died).

If you click on “Family History” and follow the bouncing ball it will take you to various databases.

Here is the site of the National Archives.

Sorry Quartz, I forgot the other part of your question.

Your grandmother was a surgeon? At that time it would have been unusual. Anyway, medical staff should be included as they were enlisted and part of the Army. Same as Chaplains (for instance).

Nurses I am not certain about- I think some were but a lot belonged to the Red Cross.

Just as an example here is the record for surgeonNeville Howse.

She was IIRC the third Medical Officer to be commissioned.

According to my father, she carried the equivalent rank of Captain.

In that case it should be there. The one I quoted (Howse)- he was the big boss of the medical units. As you can see he was a VC which I understand he won in the Boer War.

Hmm… I’ve tried a few searches and turned up nothing. She wasn’t an Australian herself (but she treated many) so I’m guessing her name wasn’t indexed.

Was she actually in the British Army?

If she was in the Australian Military Forces she should be included on theNominal Roll (it is just like a phone book of people who served)

She was gazetted as a Medical Officer in the RAMC. Not Australian Army.

One of the more chilling and amazing things at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is a series of telegraphs/notices to a family, which I don’'t remember the wording of, but the messages are basically:

  1. We regret to inform you that XXX has been declared missing in action.

A few months later…
2. We regret to inform you that XXX is considered as having been killed in action

Several months later…
3. We are pleased to inform you that XXX has been found alive as a prisoner of war at YYY

I can’t imagine what each of those must have felt like, especially that last one!