What will I find on this website?
This website contains the State Library of South Australia's digitised records of the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau of enquiries related to missing personnel during WW1.
You will find records containing information about soldiers, eyewitnesses and enquirers
- A soldier record is indicated by a red cross icon. It represents a soldier as the subject of an enquiry. The record in the website will include not only the digitised packet content, but also links to their service record at the National Archives of Australia and to personal notices within The Chronicle newspaper if there are any.
- An associated soldier is indicated by a grey cross icon. It represents an associated soldier who is mentioned in an eyewitness account in addition to the soldier who is the subject of the enquiry. The record in the website will include links to their service record at the National Archives of Australia, and a link to the record in which they are mentioned.
- An eyewitness record is indicated by an eye icon. It represents a soldier who provided an eyewitness statement about the fate of a soldier enquired upon. The record in the website will include links to their service record at the National Archives of Australia, and a link to the record for which they are an eyewitness.
- An enquirer record is indicated by a pen nib icon. It represents a person who initiated an enquiry upon a soldier or the next of kin of a soldier who may have been contacted by the Bureau and links to the soldier who was enquired upon.
Each of these records is linked making the discovery of relationships between the names within the website easier.
Searching across a range of data that has been captured by dedicated volunteers means that you can start a search with the name or unit of the missing personnel, an eyewitness' name, enquirer's name or even a location.
While the website is primarily about the soldiers enquired upon, we've indexed the eyewitnesses and enquirers as well enabling you to start your search with any name. The eyewitness statements are important because they may be the only recorded words of someone’s experience of the war.
Note on Additional Soldiers: The amount of information about an additional soldier may be limited. However, that person may also have their own soldier record in this website if they were also enquired upon separately. They may also appear in the Australian War Memorial’s First World War Red Cross Wounded and Missing resource.
You will find newly digitised scans of the original packets which can be downloaded as a PDF
The packets may contain some or all of the following documents:
- Envelope with the service number, rank, name and unit of the soldier enquired upon
- A card with a précis of correspondence (known as Form B)
- A summary of the enquiry (known as Form C)
- Letters sent to the Bureau by relatives or friends enquiring about a soldier
- The Red Cross Bureau searcher’s report
- Coded telegrams from the Bureau to the Red Cross Commissioners in Cairo or London
- Eyewitness accounts by men who knew the soldier concerned or statements by men who served in the same unit or the same action as that soldier. These statements may include certain circumstances of the death or wounding, the place of burial and physical description of the soldier
- The Bureau’s replies to enquirers
- Correspondence between the Bureau and the wounded or missing person
- Correspondence between the Bureau and the Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
You will find images of:
- Places associated with individuals, such as the address from which an enquirer wrote
We have added some images from our collections but would love you to add photographs from your personal collection or images you have found on another website - just click on the 'Upload a photo' button under the placeholder image. You can add as many photos as you like.
You will find maps marked with:
- Places associated with individuals on their personal record
- All places mentioned in all packets on a world map with links to the records of individuals associated with that place
You will find contextual links to:
- Soldiers’ digitised war service records on the National Archives of Australia website
- Personal notices and articles about soldiers in the digitised Chronicle newspaper on the Trove website (National Library of Australia)
- Unit histories, profiles and rolls (includes Honours and Awards, Red Cross Wounded and Missing, First World War Embarkation and Nominal Rolls and Roll of Honour) on the Australian War Memorial website
How are these records different to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing records held at Australian War Memorial?
The State Library of South Australia’s (SLSA) records are unique in Australia. Whilst the Australian War Memorial holds copies of most of the Australian enquiry records from the London bureau and may include some South Australian information, its collection does not include the letters from families or friends who initiated the search. SLSA’s collection includes all the original documents from the SA Bureau, including the enquiry letter, making this a more complete representation.
What can I search for?
- The names of soldiers, eyewitnesses, associated soldiers, enquirers and next of kin
- The service numbers, ranks and units of soldiers, eyewitnesses and associated soldiers
- Locations associated with soldiers’ service – including geographic places (for example, Mouquet Farm) and venues (for example, Graylingwell War Hospital) – as recorded in the packet
- Locations associated with enquirers or next of kin
Note: The searchable information is from the original packets only, not from other sources.
Notes on locations
There are many place names mentioned in the documents of the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau. Some are specific towns, trenches, pillboxes, hospitals, camps or stations while others are colloquial names or regional names. In many cases the story of one person contains variant names to describe the same location e.g. Black Watch Gully, Polygon Wood, Pozieres. All these names have been recorded and displayed in the individual’s record.
These locations have been plotted on a world map, which displays all places mentioned in all packets, and on a personal map for each individual soldier, eyewitness and enquirer.
The packets contain many spelling errors or variations in spelling of place names and every attempt was made to provide the correct name of the place and its geocode.
Overseas place names were sourced from Google Maps.
South Australian place names were retained as written by enquirers; the map will show the contemporary street, suburb and town names.
When the map is zoomed out, markers cluster around the major cities – zoom in and the markers move to their actual locations.
Where a country, but not a specific location, was recorded in the packet the marker was placed in that country’s capital city.
Where a town or city, but not a specific location, was recorded in the packet the marker was placed in a selected central location. These were often markets, town squares, churches and war memorials.
Some locations could not be identified – possibly due to phonetic spelling as written from verbal accounts – and were omitted.
Stationary and general hospitals are known to have moved with the action. Unless a specific location was recorded, in addition to the hospital name/number, these were omitted. Other movable medical facilities omitted if a specific location was not recorded include: aid posts, ambulance trains, casualty clearing stations, convalescent depots, dressing stations, field ambulances, field hospitals and rest camps.
Best attempts at correctly naming hospitals and other medical facilities were made, but this was not always possible.
When a German location was recorded, it was assumed that the individual was in a prisoner of war camp.
Sources for locations
Geocodes and place names were sourced from Google Maps
Cemetery names were sourced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Precise locations for some trenches were identified using British First World War Trench Maps, 1915-1918
Names and histories of hospitals and other medical facilities were researched using:
- Anzac Day Commemoration Committee: Australian WW1 Hospitals
- The long, long trail: Military Hospitals at Home (UK) and Base Hospitals in France
- Lost hospitals of London
- The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Hospitals
- Looking For The Evidence: AANS – Hospitals units
Enquirers’ Australian addresses were identified using:
- MAPCO: Map And Plan Collection Online: Register street guide Adelaide and suburbs 1929
- State Library of South Australia: Almanacs and directories
- Wikipedia: List of Adelaide obsolete suburb names
Where one exists, we've linked through to personal notices from The Chronicle newspaper accessible on Trove.
SLSA indexed more than 30,000 newspaper references to notices published in the South Australian newspaper The Chronicle between 1915 and 1919 under various headings including 'Heroes of the Great War', 'Heroes of the Empire', 'Died on Active Service' and 'Biographical'. The notices were placed by relatives and friends of approximately 10,000 World War I service personnel who died, or were wounded, or were decorated. Some newspaper printing errors have been corrected using official sources.
You can also correct the text of the article in Trove. Select the title of the article on the left to begin correcting. For more help on Trove, visit the Trove help page.
This site has been built recognising the requirement for linked data. As a result, the RDF metadata standards have been applied including the use of the Schema.org collection of schemas.
A JSON file of the data from this website is available at /sites/default/files/sarcib-data.json
For more information contact Andrew Piper, Manager Online Services.