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First World War

Poppies
In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields


John McCrae

From 1914 to 1918, thousands of Canadian men and women were called upon to contribute to the effort required for the First World War.

Attestation paper of Claudius Corneloup. Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, accession 1992-93/166, box 2010-13

Attestation paper of Claudius Corneloup. Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, accession 1992-93/166, box 2010-13.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Canadian Expeditionary Force

Library and Archives Canada holds the personnel records for the 600,000 Canadians who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918). To identify the file references for nurses, chaplains and soldiers, you can search our Soldiers of the First World War database.

View sample documents

If you order a copy of a file, the following information pages will help you interpret the documents:

Abbreviations Used in Personnel Records

How to Read a Record of Service or Casualty Form

How to Read a Memorial Cross Card

How to Read a Medal Card

Aboriginal Soldiers

Other references to aboriginal soldiers can be identified using the Government of Canada Files database.

Keywords: surname of the person and "soldier"
Record Group: 10

Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Foresty Corps

Library and Archives Canada holds microfilm copies of the military personnel files of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps. References to those files can be identified using the Government of Canada Files database.

Keywords: surname of the person and "Newfoundland"
Record Group: 38

Please take note that the documents for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on microfilm are not available for loan from Library and Archives Canada. The Family History Library has a copy of these microfilm reels.

Imperial War Service Gratuity files

Some Canadian residents who served with the British Imperial Forces during the First World War received a gratuity from the Canadian government. Those Imperial War Service Gratuity files are found in our Department of Militia and Defence fonds (RG 9 II F10). References to those files can be identified using the Government of Canada Files database. Use the Detailed Search Screen.

Keywords: name
Finding Aid: 9-56

Air Forces

The Royal Canadian Air Force did not exist at this time and those wishing to serve in the Air Forces would have joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Air Force (RAF). Library and Archives Canada does not hold personnel records for those individuals.

Library and Archives Canada does hold some nominal rolls of Canadians who served with the RFC and RAF in the following series. Those lists are not available on microfilm; they must be consulted onsite.

RG 24, vol. 23195: E to H and I to M
RG 24, vol. 23196: A to D and N to W
RG 24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 1: Acland to Luxton
RG 24, acc. 1995-96/670, box 2: Macaskill to Zieman

Personnel files for the RAF and RFC are in the custody of the National Archives in England. The records are described in their guide: Royal Air Force and predecessors.
[www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/familyhistory/military/airforce/]

Naval Forces

Library and Archives Canada holds the following records for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve.

The pay ledger sheets consist of single over-size pages that summarize each individual's service, including the names of all ships and shore bases on which he served. The service files are more administrative in nature.

References to the service files can be identified using the Government of Canada Files database. Use the Detailed Search Screen.

Keywords: name
Finding Aid: 24-167

Service records for those who served in the Royal Navy are in the custody of the National Archives in England and can be searched online.

Royal Navy: Registers of Seamen's Services (1853 to 1923)
[www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/royal-navy-service.asp]

How to Access Library and
Archives Canada Records

Research in Other Institutions

Surviving personnel records for members of the British Forces, including the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force, are in the custody of the National Archives in England (formerly the Public Record Office). Use their Family History Military Guide [www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/familyhistory/military/] to identify military records of interest to you.

Research in Published Sources

  • The Official history of the Canadian Army in the First World War, by Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson. (Also Available Online in PDF format.) [www.forces.gc.ca/hr/dhh/downloads/Official_Histories/CEF_e.PDF]

Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.

Research Online

Courts-Martial of the First World War

Canada and the First World War

Military Records of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Newfoundland Forestry Corps [http://ngb.chebucto.org/NFREG/index1.shtml]

Canada Remembers: The First World War [www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/firstwar]

Use AVITUS to find other Web sites about records for the First World War.

Related Topics

Merchant Marine/Merchant Navy

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