Military history: a quick guide to online resources

Anzac Day 2018

12 April 2018

PDF version [277KB]

Dr Nathan Church (updated by David Watt)
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section

The purpose of this quick guide is to provide parliamentarians and their staff with helpful resources for researching various aspects of Australian military history. This document will be periodically updated when additional resources become available. All hyperlinks were correct as at 12 April 2018.

Online military history resources

The Australian War Memorial (AWM)

The AWM website provides an extensive amount of military history resources, including:

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)

DVA offers a variety of resources, ranging from lists of anniversaries and commemorative events, nominal rolls for the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam (with preliminary work beginning on the Gulf War) and information on the Office of Australian War Graves.

The DVA website also contains a research tips guide and approximately 50 media backgrounder fact sheets on various aspects of Australia’s military history, including involvement in wars and conflicts, commemorations and related themes.

DVA has also published the following reference websites Gallipoli and the Anzacs, Australians on the Western Front 1914–1918, Australia’s War 1939–1945, Australia’s involvement in the Korean War and Australia and the Vietnam War.

The National Archives of Australia (NAA)

The NAA website contains an array of primary source military history documents and thematic fact sheets. These include service records, administrative records, internment records and national service records. The NAA guide to researching war service provides useful information, as well as a link to the RecordSearch database. The 376,000 First World War service records have been digitised in their entirety, following the three-year ‘Gift to the Nation’ digitisation project. Digitisation of other records remains ongoing.

The NAA has also created the Discovering Anzacs website, featuring profiles of Australian military personnel, an image gallery and a mapping tool highlighting the places of birth and enlistment of those who served in the Boer War and First World War.

The AIF Project

This is a database coordinated by academic historian Peter Dennis which allows the searching of Australian First World War personnel by name, service number or location of birth/place of residence upon enlistment.

The National Library of Australia’s Trove website

As a result of the National Library’s newspaper digitisation program, more than 1,000 different newspapers across all states and territories have been digitised, spanning the early 1800s to the mid-20th century. These newspapers are keyword-searchable and provide substantial media coverage of the war front and the home front during the First and Second World Wars.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography

This website contains searchable biographic articles of notable personalities, including those involved in the military. It is an initiative of the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University.


The Parliament of Australia ParlInfo database enables keyword searching across House of Representatives and Senate Hansard, committee reports and proceedings and Bills debated within the Parliament. This database is useful for identifying the parliamentary proceedings during times of conflict.

Parliamentary Library resources

Thematic topics

Honours and awards

The Department of Defence website contains information regarding the different types of Australian and Imperial military awards. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s It’s an Honour website provides further details on Australian honours, including the ability to search by an individual or a specific award or medal.

  • The Australian Army History Unit website contains primary source materials regarding the Australian Army forces’ contribution to conflicts spanning pre-Federation to Vietnam, support to peacekeeping operations and information regarding unit histories and formations.
  • The Royal Australian Air Force website contains overview information of the RAAF’s contribution to Australian military operations. The history of the RAAF is also described, including a list of famous RAAF personnel. The RAAF website also gives information regarding the traditions of the red poppy, the last post, the dawn service and Remembrance Day.
  • The Royal Australian Navy website contains reference material regarding the histories of various ships, submarines and naval bases, customs, traditions and navy personnel.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service

  • The Australian War Memorial website contains an overview of the history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service, including specific sections regarding its involvement in Australia’s various military conflicts.
  • In May 2014, the Indigenous Liaison Officer for the AWM, Gary Oakley, delivered the lecture ‘Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a Secret History’, as part of the Parliamentary Library’s series Parliament, War and Empire. This lecture can be downloaded as an MP3 file, with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation and slide notes.
  • The Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website has a section on Indigenous Australians at war and also provides details of other online and hardcopy resources regarding the military service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel. This includes an honour roll.

Soldier settlement


For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.

© Commonwealth of Australia

Creative commons logo

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.

In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.

To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to

This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.

Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Enquiry Point for referral.