Research Guide 4: World War One

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“Canterbury’s Boys” - Canterbury and District Historical Society

Cover of Canterbury's Boys: World War I and Sydney's Suburban Fringe. Canterbury and District Historical Society, 2002

This publication should be the first option when researching WWI servicemen in the Canterbury area. It contains the names of over 1900 men and 5 women associated with the Canterbury District who enlisted in WWI. It is the result of 12 years research and contains biographies and photographs, Rolls of Honour and what Canterbury was like at the time.

The book contains information that can be used for further research e.g. Service Numbers can be used to easily search for service records via the National Archives; where the person lived – the name of the house can be searched in the Sands Directory to discover if the house still stands today.

Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe has been digitised and is available on the eBook section on this wiki.

There is an index of streets at the back of the book which is great for school students as they may like to choose a person who lived on their street, or that of their school. The library holds two reference copies: LH 940.467 CAN SLH 940.467 CAN

The library also holds two CD-ROM copies in SLH but the content is not searchable.


On Trove you can search digitised newspapers and find casualty lists and Australians killed in action lists. After the initial search, narrow the results down to digitised newspapers, decade and state. Search for photographs of the person, battalion, ship used for embarkation etc. When printing, it is best to press the PDF button and then print the relevant page.

Australian War Memorial

Click on the “people” tab on the AWM site. Use the Service Number found in Canterbury’s Boys to easily search war records, or alternatively search by name. Make sure to select "First World War 1914-1918" under “Conflict”. Here you can discover digitised records, including: Roll of Honour (details of members of the Australian armed forces who died while on active service), Nominal rolls Honours and awards. Images: use the general search box and then refine under Collections to Photographs. You can search for photographs of the person, battalion, ship used for embarkation etc.

National Archives of Australia

Search for Service Records

Use the Record Search function. Select the "Name Search" tab at the top of the page. Enter the family name and select World War I from the drop-down menu. Click “refine this search result” Enter given name, or search by Service Number (from Canterbury’s Boys) for a more specific and faster search Click “display” and select “digitised item” to view (choosing the name will display item metadata details) You can only download one page at a time

Pictorial Canterbury

On this Picture Database you can find images of the local area during the war years.

The Sands Directories (1858-1932)

Nicknamed "Sands", this is an excellent residential directory dating 1858-1932. Included is a suburban directory that lists house occupiers by street, sometimes with the house name or number. The library holds Sands on microfiche in the family history collection and printed in binders in the local history collection (every 2 years) held at LH 994.441 SAN. The directories be accessed online via the City of Sydney. We can discover the address of servicemen through the Canterbury's Boys publication (the name of the house is sometimes listed) and see if the house still stands using Google Street View. Street numbers started around the 1930s so it is a good idea to start at the last directory (1932) and work backwards.

Published by John Sands, the Sands’ Directories cover the Sydney metropolitan area and the rural country of New South Wales. Information was collected by agents calling door to door so it is therefore open to error. Other things to be aware of are that street numbering was often absent during the earlier years of the directory, house names could change, and unoccupied premises were not recorded. The directories are arranged alphabetically by street name.

Graves and Memorials

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Search casualty name or cemetery name. The cemetery name will be listed in Canterbury’s Boys.

The War Graves Photographic Project

The aim of the Project is to record and make available photographs of as many war graves and memorials as possible. Use the search facility to see if a photograph is held and available.

Find a Grave website

The Register of War Memorials in NSW Search by memorial name, suburb, postcode, veteran name

Other useful websites

Library History Search

Discovering ANZACS site

Students may like to add information to his site as they uncover records and information. Explore a growing selection of government records about Australians and New Zealanders in World War I and the Boer War. Enhance a profile dedicated to the wartime journey of someone who served. Uncover the personal stories of service men and women through original archival records.


The library has a Pinterest page, including a WWI board. This is a board where we have been pinning anything related to WWI and the Canterbury area, to make resources accessible in one place.