Second World War Service Files – War Dead, 1939 to 1947
Use this tool to locate the service files of Canadian Forces members who:
- were killed in action
- died as a result of accident, illness or injury while in service
- died in 1946 or 1947 of injuries related to service
Search the database
Start with a simple search with just the person’s name.
If you don’t find a reference:
- Try searching with only the first name instead of including middle names.
- Some entries only have an initial instead of a full first name. Try searching by last name only.
- Names can be written different ways. The entries reflect the spelling of names as they appear in the files. Try spelling variations of the name.
- Try the * wildcard character, for example, Fran* for Frank, Francis, François.
- Army officers did not have service numbers. They were identified by their name and rank only.
- In Date, you can enter the year of death or a range of years
- In Service number, enter the person’s number without a dash or space after the letter, for example R88087
This database was first created from the data provided to us by the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Their data often includes details such as the names of the person’s spouse or parents and where they lived. Those details appear in our database entries in the Extra Information field.
- To search that field, enter relevant keywords in Any of these words.
- Some past projects involved indexing extra details from select files relating to place of birth and enlistment. Most of the database entries do not yet have those additional details. You may get no results if you enter something in those fields.
- To the left of your search results, you will see a menu of search term limiters. Only the one called Branch will apply to all results. The others are limited to the results that contain those details.
Access the records
All of the database entries include a digital “genealogy package”. This is a selection of the most relevant documents from the person’s service file highlighting their service, such as:
- military units with which they served (Canadian Army)
- names of ships on which they served (Royal Canadian Navy)
- squadrons with which they served (Royal Canadian Air Force)
- medal entitlements
- cause of death, burial details and estate records
For about 1,600 database entries there is also a second attachment. These are partial or complete service files that were previously digitized for other purposes. There may be some duplication of images with what is in the genealogy packages.
All of the digital objects are in PDF format and can be downloaded by either:
- clicking on the three dots (…) on the top right of the viewer and selecting « save »
- clicking on the downward-facing arrow icon on the lower left of the viewer
Very few database entries include a copy of the complete service file. For those that are not digitized, you'll need to see it in person. If you can't visit us in person, you can order copies or hire a researcher.
Important notes about ordering copies:
- These files can contain hundreds of pages. LAC does not do pre-order page counts.
- On the order form, under Title/Description, enter War Dead - Second World War service file.
Under Reference Number, enter the name, service number or rank (for officers), reference and volume number from the database entry. Examples:
- Doris Ann Nichols, W20570, RG24, volume 26708
- Jean Pierre Antoine Normandin, Captain, R112, volume 30572
- Under Additional Information, enter the following:
"I have viewed the digitized genealogy package in the database. I wish to order a copy of the portion of the file that is not digitized."
About the records
These 44,091 files at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) are part of the Department of National Defence fonds (Record Group 24 and R112).
They include the files of members of the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. There are also a few files for some individuals who served with militia units in Newfoundland.
For RCAF members, their files are included if they flew with RAF squadrons, but did not transfer to the RAF. For those who did transfer to the RAF, their files are not included.
This collection also does not include the files of:
- Canadians who enlisted in the armed forces of other countries
- Newfoundlanders who served overseas in units attached to the British Forces
- Americans who joined the Canadian Forces, then transferred to the American Forces and died while in service with them
- Individuals who served in the Merchant Marine
LAC holds the service files of members of the Canadian Forces who survived the war. Those files and the personal information in them are protected by privacy legislation. For the same reason, the database that is used to identify the files cannot be made available on our website.
- To access this information, you can submit a request for a military service file
- Military abbreviations used in service files
- Service files do not show locations of a person's overseas postings or battles they fought in. You can find that information by researching relevant unit war diaries, squadron operations record books or ship logs.
- For other research sources at LAC, see our Second World War page.
Services files for Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served with the British Forces are held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in the U.K.
- Date modified: