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.
At the start of the war, the Royal Australian Navy was a small but formidable force, consisting of 3,800 personnel, 16 ships including the battlecruiser Australia, the light cruisers Sydney and Melbourne, three destroyers and two submarines.The light cruiser Brisbane and three destroyers were under construction, and a small fleet of auxiliary ships was being maintained.
The RAN served under the British Admiralty in diverse areas of the world, including German New Guinea, the Cocos Islands, East Africa and the Dardanelles. Ships of the Royal Australian Navy also assisted the Royal Navy in the blockade of the German High Seas Fleet
Royal Australian Navy service records
The First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) personnel dossiers held by the National Archives of Australia include records for those who served with the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force and the Royal Australian Naval Brdiging Train. It is Series B2455 1914-20.
To search for an individual seaman's record, go to the National Archives homepage. Click on the heading Explore the Collection, then RecordSearch. Go to NameSearch and type in an individual's surname and select the category of records (World War I). Click search. If there are too many records with this surname, click on Refine this search result, and add a first name or names or a service number.
The National Archives of Australia also has other historic navy service records.
Navy history during World War I
For a more detailed account, the Australian War Memorial has an online edition of the history of the Royal Australian Navy during World War I.
See Volume IX The Royal Australian Navy, 1914-1918 (9th edition, 1941)
World War I Naval Staff Monographs
The Royal Australian Navy website has made available online Admiralty Naval Staff Monographs compiled from (British) Admiralty records, which give an account of events during the global war at sea during World War I. These monographs have been declassified, digitised and placed in the public domain as part of the Sea Power Centre - Australia's ongoing digitisation program. The aim of this program is to make historic records and information more readily available to members of the public to assist with historical research. You can find material relating to Australian navy ships' activities here.
These publications are free to read online