To mark 100 years since the official naming of Anzac Day, Ancestry.com.au is providing free access to all of its Australian and New Zealand military records – including a new WWII collection – from Friday 22 April through to 11:59pm (AEST) Monday 25 April 2016.
With 14 per cent of the population of Australia at the time fighting in WWII¹, this weekend is a perfect time for people to delve deeper into their family history and discover their own military connections for this Anzac Day 2016.
As well as being the centenary of the first commemoration of Anzac day, this year also marks the 75th anniversary of WWII battles in Greece and Crete in 1941, when Australia and New Zealand served together for the first time as ANZACs since WWI. During this period, 12,000 Allied troops were left in Crete following attacks from Germany. Of the 3,000 Australian troops on the island, 274 were killed in the campaign.
Key ANZAC collections free to search this weekend include the Australia WWII Service Records 1939-1945, the Australia WWI Military Book Collection and the Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920. Through these records, Australians will be able to discover information such as the military campaigns in foreign countries, the history of military units along with rich details such as name, regiment, rank, appointment or discharge date, and awards for service personnel.
The new WWII collections include records of more than one million individuals who served in the Citizen Military Forces (CMF), 2nd Australian Imperial Force, RAAF Officers, NCOs and RAN Navy & Petty Officers. Additionally, the new collections include almost four million images – accessible through Ancestry – demonstrating the conditions soldiers lived in during WWI and WWII.
The new Australian WWII Service Records from the National Archives of Australia further add to Ancestry’s diverse ANZAC record collection, part of the world’s largest online collection of military records.
David Fricker, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia said: “The war service records from the National Archives contain invaluable and intriguing genealogical information that highlight the vital role of Australian service men and women. Working with Ancestry to publish them online allows us to increase public access to these significant government records, making them more available than ever before.”
Ben Mercer, Senior Content Manager at Ancestry said: “Anzac Day serves as a good reminder to reflect on our war heroes and create personal connections to their stories via our own family trees. The new WWII records are the perfect starting point to help discover whether their ancestors did have a military past and remember them – especially considering 14 per cent of the population of the time fought in this war.
“Anzac Day is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that our countrymen and women made, so it is important for Australians to have the opportunity to discover their family’s military connection. These records provide an opportunity to unlock clues that could shed light on the lives of our ancestors.”
The collections will be free to search from 12.01AM AEST, Friday 22nd April until Monday 25th April at 11:59PM.
To access the collections, please visit: ancestry.com.au/anzacday2016
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics: Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012,2013 & National Archives of Australia, 2016: http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/defence/conflicts.aspx