Want to find your relative’s WWI Service File?

It's free and easy to find a First World War record using Archives New Zealand.

What is available

Did you know that over 10% of New Zealand’s population enlisted to serve during the First World War? To explore you relative’s experience during the war you can obtain a digital copy of their military personnel file from Archives New Zealand for free.

Archives New Zealand hold all WWI military service records, over 141,000 files in total. These include Nurse Service records and the files of soldiers who served in both WWI and WWII. To obtain a copy of WWII file for a soldier who did not serve during the First World War you need to contact New Zealand Defence Force.

Note that these records do not include New Zealanders who were overseas at the start of the war and joined other services e.g. British, Australian.

Getting the copy of the record in 6 steps

To get a copy of a personnel file you must have either the Name of the person or their Service Number.

1. Go to https://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ and click Advanced Search:

2. Click Records:

3. Under Keywords enter either the person’s name or their Service Number.

Under Series enter 18805 (this is the Series code for all military personnel files):

4. Find the right record from the list of the results (there may be more than one page). Click on the blue link to open the digital copy of the file:

TIP: If there is more than one record with the same name, open both records. File details such as place of birth may help you to determine which is the right record.

5. A page with another link will open. Click on the link:

6. A new window will open with the digital record.

How to read a military service file

The pages of the service file that hold key information usually are: History Sheet, Casualty Form and Medical reports. These can tell you about the movements and locations of the service person.

If you need help

The handwritten abbreviations and military jargon can be hard to decipher. Moreover, no battle details or exact locations are given, but this is something that a historian can determine.

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

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