Unlocking World War I service records – Investigating records

Unlocking World War I service records – Investigating records

August 8, 2019 0 By Kailee Schamberger


[Music plays] (Narrator) Defence Service Records
set out the basic details of a person’s service. They record the movements of personnel
to administer their pay and leave and include details such as promotions
and periods of hospitalisation. On Discovering Anzacs you can find a
person’s World War One Service Record. On the home page select
Browse, Records. Select the Series B2455 for the first Australian Imperial
Force, A.I.F. Personnel Dossiers or another Series that is
relevant to your research. Enter the family name or
full name of the person. Select the Search button
to display the results. Then select the link to view a
digital copy of the record. You’ll find the personal
details given at enlistment in the Attestation Papers. Other information is detailed
in a Statement of Service. Records also included a
brief physical description written by the examining
Medical Officer. Thomas Albert Hughes was described
as having a fresh complexion, with grey eyes and dark hair and an Advance Australia
tattoo on his right arm. Thomas was listed as a Roman
Catholic, indicated by R.C. The Army did not record the
ethnic origins of enlistees. Many withheld information
about their backgrounds as under the Defence Act of 1909
enlistees could be rejected if they were not substantially
of European origin or descent. This means it can be challenging to
identify a service person’s ethnicity. Further research revealed
that Thomas Albert Hughes was a Chinese Australian and
his family name was Hughie. However, this was impossible to
tell from his War Service Record. Rarely a record notes
someone’s ethnic descent. Benjamin Moy Ling’s records
provide an example of this, recording his parent’s place of birth
and showing he was twice rejected as unfit for service
because of his nationality and because he was not substantially
of European origin or descent. Records of individuals who applied
to enlist and were rejected, discharged while still in training,
or who served in Australia can be found in the
MT1486/1 Series. Ben Moy Ling was able to enlist
towards the end of the War when enlistment
standards were relaxed. When war broke out the fighting
age for Australian males was between 19 and
38 years of age. This forced many men of all
ethnicities young and old to lie about their age
in order to enlist. It is likely Chinese Anzac,
Herbert Kong-Meng was ten years over the age
restriction when he enlisted. On his 1914 Attestation Papers
his age was recorded as 38. However, in 1917 his Medical Records
note he was 51. Before you delve
into our collection start by gathering basic facts about
the person you’re researching. Knowing where a service person
enlisted, their service number or possible next of kin can help
you identify a person of interest. Remember many Chinese, indigenous
or other ethnic personnel enlisted under assumed
or altered names. If you are researching
a relative, start with your own family for more
information, photos or memorabilia to help tell their story. You can search for more historical
material at these Organisations. [Music plays] Share your World War One
research on Discovering Anzacs. [Music plays]