Getting Started

Where do I start?

Start by printing this page! Perhaps you are planning a visit to one of the very many places where Australians have served in our county's name. 

Or perhaps you are intrigued by a nearby Memorial, or you are interested in tracing a relative. 

Retracing the footsteps of one of those people is often a fascinating way to learn about places, events and people. It is also a great way of enriching your understanding of your own community or perhaps a travel experience that takes you to the places where Australians have served, fought and died.  

Step 1 – Selecting a “person of interest”

Your start point may well be a family member or one of the 48,000 plus names on the State's 1,760 memorials that we walk past every day. 

Alternatively it may be a name you've happened upon in a book, or in a story you've heard. 
In the case of your family, you may not be aware of the service background of some of your forebears.   Start by mapping a basic family tree, to get an idea of likely contenders; namely men born between 1880 and 1898 for the First World War (WW 1), and between 1890-1926 for the Second World War (WW 2).  Service women may be more difficult to positively identify. Then it is a matter of consulting one of a number of sources to get the ball rolling. 

Step 2 – Finding your person on the Virtual War Memorial

Do a name search on this site using the “People Icon" on the Home Page and the accompanying filters, or by bringing it up via the 'Explore' tab or at the top of every page.

You can use the "search" bar but the search is less structured than using the "People" icon.

You could also click on the Memorials icon and zoom in to find a town of interest. You can drill right down to individual memorials or honour boards near you and find a person.  

Don't use the back arrow though - it will take you back to the opening map. Use the scroll wheel on your mouse to broaden or narrow the search on your map.

Step 3 – Memorial Names and People

If you get a result, click on the name to see what content exists in the site already. 
Check that any Memorial data is complete - there should be a clickable link.  

There are two types of entries in the "View People" tab on a memorial page.       

Memorial Names - Those with surname and initials only, are defined as a “Memorial Name” - we have yet to make a positive match with a person record.  These are identified in grey and do not link to an active “Person Page”. Great care needs to be taken that the 'name' is connected to the correct person record (for example which of multiple ‘Smith, J’ records is the correct one?) 

Memorial People - This is where a name on a memorial is linked to a person record. These names are in red, usually have more information, and are linked to a “Person Page”.  There will be some content; in many cases it may only be an extract of detail from the Embarkation Roll containing the Surname, Given Names, Service Number, Unit on Embarkation and the Ship and Date.  Others may have a far more complete record.

Step 4 – Missing People

If your search does not return a result, then it may mean a number of things:

  • If your person served in WW1, they may not have embarked for overseas service and they will therefore not be on the Embarkation Roll, which is our basic reference point to verify identity.

  • They may not have served in Australia's military forces. A great many Australians were overseas when war broke out and in many cases those in the UK enlisted straight into the British forces.

  • Your target may have served in a conflict other than WW1. We will progressively load the nominal rolls for these other conflicts.

  • Your target may not be recorded on a memorial in South Australia.  Even if they are there are some parsing anomalies where data did not transfer properly in the data migration process. We are working our way through these.

That does not mean s/he is not in our database. There will be many people who originated from South Australia who didn't have their name inscribed on a local memorial for all sorts of reasons.  

They may have enlisted interstate, or overseas, Many Australians were working and / or studying interstate or in the UK when war broke out. If they enlisted interstate in the Australian Forces, and embarked for overseas service, then we will have them in the database.

If in the UK or elsewhere, we won't.  You may need to consult UK sources. Of course many people who served just did not find their way onto a memorial. 

Confirm the conflict in which your 'subject' was involved - bear in mind that there will be cases where the person was involved in more than one. 

Step 5 - Making a contribution to your person's profile

At this point and in the absence of key data, it is probably best to print the person's ‘landing page’ – (the page that opens up when you click on his /her name) and then look to access the links in the sidebar (Right Click on the link and select "Open in New Window"). 

If you are planning to make a contribution to the records of your 'person of interest' it is best to compile the information you have first rather than trying to do it progressively. 

Your objectives should be as follows:

  1. Collate the full name of the person

  2. Collect details of the individual’s service

  3. Find the name of the memorial/s that you believe s/he should be listed on

A photo of the memorial that highlights your subject's presence will help. If your photo is better than that which we have for the memorial in question, we may look to use it!

Please Note: Your submission of an image will imply permission for the site to use it.  

If you have pertinent photographs or documents, scan them. 400dpi is best documents and 600 dpi for photographs.  Record an accurate caption and identify the source of any imagery. (See details within "Terms and Conditions").