Are you looking to further your knowledge of an ancestors' military service in World War 1 (WW1)? Preferably via records freely available online?
Most people researching family members who served in WW1 know their war service records have been digitised and are online at the National Archives of Australia. However, few people are aware of the Embarkation Rolls that are available online and free at the Australian War Memorial. The Rolls contain information not available in an individual’s war service records.
The Embarkation Rolls are official records indexed online by unit name and are linked to a digital copy of the original documents.
Information in the Embarkation Rolls
The Rolls list the individual soldier's:
Port embarked from;
Ship’s name carrying the soldier to the theatre of war;
Occupation or calling;
Name and address of next of kin;
Unit serving in at date of embarkation;
Daily rate of pay before and after embarkation;
Allotment of pay to remain in Australia;
Rate of deferred pay to be issued on completion of service.
Finding a soldier in the Embarkation Rolls
To locate the Embarkation Rolls for an individual soldier:
Go to the Australian War Memorial’s website;
Click on the People menu;
Search for the soldier’s name;
When the correct person is identified, note the name of his unit;
Search for the <<Unit Name>> Embarkation Roll
Download the document;
Scroll through the document until you find your family member’s name.
The Rolls are presented in easy-to-read tabular forms and provide an insight into soldiers’ lives not available elsewhere. Further, the Rolls provide a unique opportunity to look at other people in the unit and see what, if anything, they had in common.
Were they of a similar age and did they come from the same or a nearby town? Were they of a similar age and/or socio-economic background and religion? Were they mostly single or married and if so, how generous were they in allotting part of their pay to their family in Australia?
These records are a little known and under-utilised collection but should be a major resource when researching family members who served in WW1.
I’ve tracked down all my own family who went off to the great war from 1914-18 in the Embarkation Rolls. Let me know if you succeed and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about this valuable family history collection.
In the meantime, happy ancestor hunting!
Your Family Genealogist
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