Australians in World War 1

This guide focuses on Australians serving in World War 1. It also includes some information relevant to Great Britain, other Commonwealth nations and other combatant nations. There is a section on nurses and women's war occupations.

Photographs & posters

Photographs can give a real sense of a soldier's life during the War. Often soldiers won't be identified by name but by searching for places or events, you can find photographs reflecting a soldier's activities at a particular place and time.

For instance, here is a photo of Australian signallers at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt moving gifts sent by the Australian Comforts Fund. (Click on View Online to see the photo).

Here's another image showing an Australian soldiers' football match at Gourdine in Belgium.

Newspapers & magazines

If you are looking for a photo of a  particular person, newspapers may have what you need.

Trove

Photographs of servicemen and nurses which appeared in Victorian newspapers such as the Weekly Times, the Herald, Punch and the Leader  during World War I can be found on the Trove website. Select the Newspapers & Gazettes option on the dropdown menu, or you can click on Advanced Search to search using  more terms, dates, places and photos or illustrations.  You can search for a name using inverted commas, for example "John Smith" and add another term such as Anzac to avoid lots of irrelevant results. Once you have done your initial search, you can refine your  search to Victorian or interstate newspapers. These include many local newspapers. 

If you find that a photo found on Trove is not very clear, have a look at the same Victorian newspaper in our microfilm collection in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Room. The microfilm-reader printers can adjust the photos for better results.

Australiana Index online

If you have found a photo on the Trove newspapers, you may  not need the Australiana index, but it is another option. It lets you search by name and keyword to find the title of the newspaper and the exact date and page number. 

The Australiana Index is on the State Library website: Hover your mouse over Search & Discover, then go to the heading Research tools and click on Australiana Index.  The Construct a Search option lets you combine search terms, with one term in each search box. The search term used for many World War I items in the Australiana Index is European War, the contemporary term for the war. You can combine this term with a person's name or other terms. Put each term in a separate box and click search. 

The Australiana Index does not have digitised items: it provides the name of the publication and date, so you can find it either on Trove or in State Library Victoria collections. 

Staff at the Information Desk can assist you with these searches.

Illustrated war magazines 

Search our catalogue using the term illustrated war magazines to find some illustrated World War I resources, both online and  print. 

 

Anzac despatch rider at Gallopoli, Illustrated war news, 29 Dec 1915, part 73.

Pictures Collection

The Library has digitised many images from our Pictures Collection. You can view these on our web catalogue.

To find images,  go to  the  catalogue search box in the top right hand corner of  our web page. Type in the term  World war 1914-1918 and select Pictures & photographs on the drop-down menu. You can filter by date, online material or material held on the open shelves, which do not need to be requested. Click search.

You can also search  our catalogue by hovering your mouse over the  Search & Discover heading, and  going to the heading Search our catalogue. Click on Simple Search or Advanced Search. Select the pictures search option and type in your keywords. Advanced Search gives you more search options. 

You can make your search more specific: for instance, try the search terms:  war 1914 light horse or search using the term Gallipoli. 

You can search using keywords relating to places and battles, regiments and so on.  Be sure to select the pictures option. 

 Searching  the catalogue for pictures using the search term Gallipoli, you can find images by the following Australians: 

  • Kathleen Gawler, an Australian nurse with Queen Alexandra's Imperial Nursing Service.
  • Sergeant Charles Masters, who was killed in action in France on 9 November, 1916.
  • Thomas Pearse Bennett, a chaplain who served at Gallipoli

Separate searches by their names bring up photos by:

  • Arthur Morgan, a mechanic with the Australian Flying Corps
  • Captain John Lindsay Ross, who served with the 27th Battalion.  

 

Posters

Many war posters have been digitised by the Library.

Shirley Jones collection of military postcards

This collection contains postcards from the First World War. Many include messages from soldiers.

They have been digitised and can be searched in the catalogue under the collection name.

Books

There are a range of pictorial books with excellent images of the War. Search the catalogue using the words World War 1914-1918 Pictorial works.

 

Illustrated war news, 21 Jun 1916, page 28

 

Other online images

The Australian War Memorial houses a large image collection. Many of these images are catalogued but not yet digitised.

To search image holdings across Australian libraries, try a search on Trove. Use the phrase 'World War 1914-1918' and then add further keywords, for example Beersheba. 

Photographs from both the State Library of Victoria and the Australian War Memorial are included in Trove.

A selection of images from magazines of the time can be viewed on the Pandora archive.

There are many sites on the Internet that reproduce images from the war.

Type 'World war one images' into Google. Images.   Add more terms to your narrow your search.

Photos of Victorian soldiers

The World War I Pictorial Honour Rolls of Australians website includes photos of soldiers provided by family members, the Education Department, the Australian War Memorial and other sources.

Each entry gives service details and biographical information about the soldier. There is a link to interstate pictorial honour rolls.

 

State Library Victoria

Note - we have just upgraded our Library catalogue and are updating some links on our guides.

As we do this some catalogue links may not resolve correctly.