First World War Personnel Records database

Use this tool to search for files in the following record groups:

  • Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF): soldiers, nurses and chaplains
  • CEF volunteers who were rejected at Valcartier
  • Non-Permanent Active Militia
  • Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps
  • Imperial Gratuities case files

This database does not include records for individuals who served in the Royal Canadian Navy or in the British air services. See our First World War: Personnel Records page for information about accessing those records.

The majority of these records are digitized, but some may need to be accessed on other websites, or are not digitized. See Access the records for more information.

Search the database


Search tips

Start with a simple search using 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.
  • Keep in mind that people sometimes gave false information when they enlisted.

  • Some used another name if they had already tried to enlist and been rejected, for example, for medical reasons.
  • Early in the war, a married man needed his wife’s permission to volunteer for the CEF. Some men used a false name if they did not have permission to join.
  • The American government did not allow its citizens to join the army of another country. Some American volunteers used a false name and place of birth.

In Date, you can enter the year of birth or a range of years.

  • Some people gave a false year of birth if they were underage or considered too old to join.

Use the Specific terms drop-down menu to search for other terms.

  • To search by regimental number, select “Regimental number” and enter it in the box to the right.
    • Most army officers, including nurses and chaplains, did not have regimental numbers. They were identified by their name and rank only
    • Some people received more than one regimental number.
      • At the beginning of the war, some CEF units assigned regimental numbers starting with a letter (alphabetic prefixes). The letters were later changed to numbers. Most often, the prefix letter “A” was changed to the number 4. For example, A3255 became 43255. You may find either version in the database.
    • Early in the war, some CEF units used the same regimental numbers. For this reason, some regimental numbers were assigned to more than one person. Later, unique blocks of regimental numbers were assigned to each unit.

Some entries do not include details for all of the search fields. There is an ongoing project to index extra details from the CEF files about place of birth and enlistment. You may get no results if you only search those fields.

Access the records

Digitized records

All the CEF service files are digitized in this database. Most of the entries have two attachments: the service file and a copy of the attestation paper or enlistment form.

Click on the “PDF” image at the bottom of the viewer to view the service file in a CEF database entry. Download a copy by either

  • Right clicking on the PDF image and selecting "Save as"
  • clicking on the downward-facing arrow icon on the lower left of the viewer

To help preserve the fragile documents, the original CEF files are no longer available to see in person.

Digitized records on other websites

Some of the records referenced in this database are digitized on other websites.

Digitized copies of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps files are available at The Rooms (the provincial archives of Newfoundland and Labrador) and on Héritage.

To access digitized files on the website of The Rooms:

To access digitized files on Héritage:

  • Search for a reference in the database
    • Note the microfilm reel number (for example, T-18475), volume number and file (regimental) number in the database entry
  • Go to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment service files page
    • Click on the microfilm reel number to access the
    • Locate the file using the labels at the bottom of each image, with the volume number, file (regimental) number and name

Digitized copies of the Imperial Gratuities case files are available in the Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919–1921 dataset on Ancestry. This subscription website is available free at LAC and many public libraries.

Non-digitized records

You can view the files in the following record groups in person. If you can’t visit us in person, you can order copies from LAC.

  • CEF volunteers rejected at Valcartier
  • Non-Permanent Active Militia
  • Imperial Gratuities (if you cannot access the images on Ancestry)

Important notes about ordering copies:

  • On the order form, under Title/Description, enter the record group name. Example:
    • Non-Permanent Active Militia file
  • Under Reference Number, enter the name, regimental number or rank (for officers), reference and volume number from the database entry. Example:
    • George Martin, Regimental number 1384, RG9-II-B-7, volume 48

About the records

This database contains references to five different types of personnel records.

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF): Soldiers, nurses and chaplains (RG150, Accession 1992-93/166, boxes 1 to 10,686 and RG150, volumes 1 to 35)

There are about 622,000 CEF service files. Most files are between 25 and 75 pages long. The shorter files are usually for people who were drafted or enlisted later in the war.

These service files contain documents about

  • enlistment (attestation)
  • movements between units and overseas
  • medical, dental and hospitalization history
  • discipline
  • pay
  • medal entitlements
  • discharge or notification of death

The original files had more documents and correspondence, mostly about pension and disability claims. These documents were destroyed sometime after the Second World War. All the remaining documents are in the digitized files in this database.

Attestation papers and enlistment forms

  • CEF volunteers completed a two-sided attestation paper when they joined.
  • Men who were drafted under the provisions of the Military Service Act (1917) completed a simpler one-sided form.
  • Officers completed a one-sided form called the Officers’ Declaration Paper.

Three copies of the attestation papers were completed. The CEF service file includes one copy, except for those who ended up not serving. Another set of the attestation papers was bound in registers (RG9-II-B-8, volumes 1 to 654). In an earlier project, those documents were digitized linked to the database entries.

More about the CEF files

  • See our How to read First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force service files page for help interpreting documents in the service files.
  • CEF files indicate the units people belonged to and the locations of their postings in the U.K. They do not include details about battles or locations in Europe. To find this information, find the unit (or units) in the person’s service file, then search for the unit(s) in the War Diaries of the First World War. Those diaries give details about locations and battles.
  • First World War service files do not contain photographs. The military did not take pictures of service members when they enlisted. Commercial photographers or family members took the majority of photographs of individuals for personal use.
  • Some Canadian nurses were not part of the CEF. Many served with British military and civilian units. In these cases, the person will not have a CEF service file.

CEF volunteers who were rejected at Valcartier (RG9-II-B-13)

Shortly after the British declared war in August 1914, Canada offered an initial contingent of 25,000 men. This first contingent gathered at a camp in Valcartier, Quebec, before going overseas.

These are the files of the volunteers who were rejected for service at the Valcartier camp.

There are about 3,280 files. Most files only contain an attestation paper. This includes the reason for rejection if the person was rejected on medical grounds.

Non-Permanent Active Militia (RG9-II-B-7)

During the war, units of the Non-Permanent Active Militia (NPAM) performed military tasks in Canada, such as guarding armouries, bridges and canals.

There are about 8,800 surviving NPAM service files. Most are less than 20 pages long. They include documents about

  • enlistment
  • medical history
  • discipline
  • pay
  • discharge

They may also include post-war correspondence about eligibility for war service gratuities and other service-related issues.

The NPAM sometimes used the same attestation form as the CEF. For this reason, many of the NPAM attestation papers have “Canadian Expeditionary Force” or “Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force” at the top of the form. This does not mean that the person enlisted in the CEF.

This record group also contains a small number of files not related to NPAM. There are files for some members of the following:

  • the Permanent Force
  • the CEF, before going overseas
  • the Royal Flying Corps (Canadians in the British air service)
  • some nursing sisters and other members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps

Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps (RG38-A-2-e)

There are about 6,700 service files. Most files are more than 100 pages long and have documents such as

  • attestation papers
  • medical forms
  • conduct sheets
  • movement cards
  • pay documents
  • correspondence with Newfoundland’s Department of Militia

Imperial Gratuities case files (RG9-II-F-10)

Canadians who served with the British Imperial Forces were entitled to a gratuity (payment) for war service overseas. See the Scope and Content section of the record description for more information.

There are about 16,800 Imperial Gratuities case files. They are between 20 and 50 pages long and include information about

  • the service person
  • their family dependents
  • units
  • dates of service
  • payment of the gratuity

These are not service files. Records of members of the British Forces are in the custody of The National Archives in the U.K.

Related resources

LAC has many other resources for First World War research:


We wish to thank the Friends of Library and Archives Canada, who are indexing additional details from CEF service files to include in our database.

Looking for more? Try our other search tools:
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