'Just Ask’ about your family’s Second World War history

On 15 August this year, we will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, also known each year as Victory in the Pacific Day. 

24 July 2020

Coronavirus has had a significant impact on the way we conduct public commemorations – as we all experienced on Anzac Day this year. Major anniversaries such as this one to mark the end of the Second World War remain of great importance to our nation. With some 12,000 veterans of this conflict still alive today, this is a wonderful opportunity for our nation to pay a special thanks to them and the almost one million Australians who put their hand up to serve during the Second World War.

It is a chance for us to learn about someone who served – that one in a million story of someone who may be related to us or who has inspired us with their service. So, now is the perfect time to ‘Just Ask’ the question about your family’s connection to the Second World War.

Give your relatives, family or friends a call and find out if they are aware of an ancestor who served. In most cases, it will assist you to find out your ancestor’s name, when and where they were born, and their parents' or grandparents' details. These are all clues that you can use to begin your online research.

With Second World War service records more accessible than they have been in the past, your research is easier than ever before. Here are a few important elements to help you in your search:

  • DVA has brought together all of its nominal rolls, including the Second World War nominal roll, into one website to make it easier to search and find information on those Australians who served in this war
  • The National Archives of Australia is in the process of digitising all of its Second World War service records, with some now available on their website.

These are a couple of places you can start your search, but you can also use the Australian War Memorial’s search for a person tool. It’s as easy as searching your relative’s name and seeing what comes up.

You can also use family history websites such as Ancestry.com.au to fill in any information gaps. Ancestry.com.au will help Australians pay tribute to those who served and sacrificed so much in the Second World War by providing free online access to all Australian and New Zealand military records on the site from 13 to 16 August.

Family history websites have catalogued archives from all over the world, such as: certificates for births, deaths and marriages, electoral rolls, census data, immigration information and military service records.