The ‘Australian Anzacs in the Great War 1914-1918’ and ‘New Zealand Anzacs in the Great War 1914-1918’ databases are research and public interest initiatives centred in the School of Humanities & Social Science at the University of New South Wales, Canberra.
Both draw on a wide range of published sources, supplemented by research in cemeteries to identify the dates of death and place of burial. While the structure of both databases is the same, individual entries vary widely. For example, enlistees in Australia were not asked their date of birth (this changed in 1918), whereas in New Zealand they were. Australia produced an end-of-war Nominal Roll, listing service number, final unit, fate and date of fate, but there is no such list in New Zealand. Some Australian enlistees are listed on the Nominal Roll as ‘Effective Abroad’, meaning they were still overseas when the Nominal Roll was compiled in mid-1919. For New Zealand getting the same level of detail entails going to the individual’s digitised Archives file, an ongoing and painfully slow process. Similarly, in Australia the War Memorial sent out a Roll of Honour circular requesting details of each soldier who died in the war – school, age to Australia if born overseas, other relatives who also served, thus enabling us to map family connections. In both databases many thousands of entries have been written up in great detail; on principle there is no censorship of material that some families find disturbing.
Members of the public can submit corrections or ask questions (we will not respond to abusive emails). There are undoubtedly many errors on both databases, inevitably because the printed records were compiled from handwritten forms, the information often dictated to a recruiting officer unfamiliar with place names or personal names, and in the process of going through several iterations, some information inevitably got mangled. We welcome such notifications, and record the nature of the error on the database while correcting the entry. We aim to have the most accurate data sets relating to both the AIF and the NZEF. The work is ongoing, and with only two people responsible for content, there is no end in sight.
We have recently expanded the search engine to make the databases even more useful to those who access them. We welcome new visitors and returning enquirers.
Emeritus Professor Peter Dennis