Online Cenotaph – Auckland War Memorial Museum
This exceptional database covers all wars and conflicts New Zealand has been involved in. The First World War entries are comprehensive and include those who survived the war. Recent enhancements include photographs from Auckland Libraries Collection, additional records of New Zealanders who served with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), and a digital social space where researchers and family members can upload photos and share information.
On this site you can lay a virtual poppy in remembrance.
Search by name (note names can vary – it is worth trying alternative spellings) or service number HERE
Information to be found includes:
- Service number
- Name – Forenames, Surname & alternatives if known
- Images – e.g. photos from contemporary newspapers or photographic collections
- Next of Kin
- Service including campaigns and military units
- Military Decorations – medals and awards
- Embarkation details
- Date, Cause and Place of Death
- Memorial details both overseas and in New Zealand
- Links to other records including the.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. They care for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries. They list only those who died.
On this site you can download a commemorative certificate.
Search by name or number HERE.
Additional Information to be found includes:
- Grave/Memorial Reference
- Cemetary/Memorial Name
- Men and women who served with UK Forces.
Note: Some men died after discharge of wounds inflicted or disease contracted while on active service – the cut off date for New Zealand is 31 December 1923 and for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission it is 31st December 1921.
Military Personnel Record - Archway Database / Archives New Zealand
Archives New Zealand holds the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Personnel Files for all known New Zealanders who served in the First World War. This is a unique collection of 140,000 individual records.
There is usually a link from the Cenotaph database entry, or you can search by name or number HERE.
Tips on reading a Military Personnel File:
These records provide a wealth of information, although they can be difficult and confusing to read. The handwritten entries are often small and full of abbreviations. The information may be repeated and there is some emphasis on when and how service medals were delivered.
It is helpful to download the list of abbreviations used by the Armed Forces HERE.
Key information is usually found in these sheets:
History Sheet – this is an overview of the soldiers record and personal information – name, occupation, religion, last NZ address, last employer, name and details of next of kin, details of postings, decorations, marriage and children, date of death, and how and when his service medals were delivered. There may have been a “post-it” type note on this page and following pages show information that was hidden by the note.
Conduct Sheet – this details any disciplinary action taken against the soldier. There were a range of punishments from docking a soldiers pay right through to death. (Five New Zealanders were executed during World War One). For additional information on the type of offences and punishments click HERE.
Casualty Sheet – These are record sheets that travelled with the service person from posting to posting. They record similar information to that contained on the history sheet, but usually in greater detail. Unfortunately, not all of these have survived.
– these "questions to be put to the recruit before enlistment" was filled in by the recruit himself and includes a signed oath of allegiance.
– includes personal information – age, height, weight, hair and eye colour and any distinguishing marks. Also included are the results of a medical examination.
What is not included in these files is descriptions on how a soldier achieved a military award nor details of the action that led to his death. However once you know their Regiment and Unit you can find out more through Campaign histories and the Regimental histories. They are available on-line through New Zealand Electronic Text Collection HERE.
One of the most readable is The Silent Division, New Zealanders at the Front 1914-1919 / O.E. Burton
Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918 / Wayne McDonald
is a book that compiles a list of medal and award winners and records the heroic and selfless deeds behind those honours.
this website contains digitised newspapers from1839 to 1945 and additional information can often be found. Search HERE.
New Zealand history provides background and context for the First World War Learn more HERE.
It is also useful to be aware of the battles the New Zealanders were involved in and their dates; eg,12th October 1917 means he died at Passchendaele. Learn more about World War One Key Dates HERE.
There are innumerable books
and websites on the First World War. A good introduction is:
Fighting for Empire New Zealand and the Great War of 1914-1918 /Christopher Pugsley
One of the best most vivid first hand accounts is:
In Flanders Fields, The World War One Diary of Private Monty Ingram
You can download the Booklet Researching your Relatives Military Service / seminar notes HERE
Other World War I Units
NZ Camel Corps, NZ Cook Island Company, NZ Cyclist Corp, NZ Engineers, NZ Field Artillery, NZ Machine Gun Corp, NZ Medical Corps, NZ Native Volunteers, NZ Pioneer Corps, NZ Post and Telegraph Corps, NZ Tunneling Company, NZ Veterinary Corps.