How to find WWII service records and records from later conflicts.

All Second World War files are free to access. Find out if the file you want is held by Archives New Zealand or by the New Zealand Defence Force.


This article is about the following records:

  • Post-1920 territorial service records

  • WWII records

  • Post-WWII records (e.g. Korean War, Vietnam War)

For information on how to get WWI records click HERE.


The record may be available through Archives New Zealand online

If the service person whose record you are after served in both WWI and WWII, their full record will be available through Archives New Zealand. This includes soldiers who served overseas in WWI and went on to serve in the Home Guard in New Zealand in WWII.


Obtaining records of a deceased service person

If the record you are interested in is that of a deceased service person, you can get it regardless of your relationship to that person. This means that researchers or distant relatives can apply to see these records.


New Zealand Defence Force holds files of personnel who served after 1920 including WWII military personnel files. To request a copy of the file fill out NZDF APPLICATION FORM FOR NZ MILITARY RECORDS and email it to nzdf.pam@nzdf.mil.nz along with evidence that the service person is deceased (e.g. newspaper death notice, death certificate, headstone photograph).


Obtaining records of a living service person

Only the service people themselves are entitled to request a copy of their personnel file. If another person is requesting the file on behalf, they must obtain either written authorisation from the former service person or of the person who holds a Power of Attorney. To request a copy of the file, fill out NZDF APPLICATION FORM FOR NZ MILITARY RECORDS and email it to nzdf.pam@nzdf.mil.nz.


How to read a WWII military service file

The Second NZ Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) files are varied but you are likely to find documents such as; Attestation forms, Medical Records, Gratuity and Base records, Claim Forms for Medals and promotion/disciplinary material. Unlike First World War files, 2NZEF files are a mixed bag - there are some gems in there but it can be hard to zero in on the key document. Generally, if you can get your hands on Medal records these can be the most helpful.


If you need help

It is hard to decipher handwritten abbreviations and military jargon. WWII files tend to be unclear about locations of the service person and do not state battle details, however, this is something that a historian can determine.


Historic NZ offers Transcription Service which will explain which battles your relative participated in, commendations, particulars of their wounds or illnesses and will provide you with historical context.


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