RAAF service records – Fact sheet 32

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has maintained service records on all who saw service with the RAAF, including the Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force (WAAAF) and the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF). Most RAAF service records contain:

Enrolment application
This contains personal information including name, date and place of birth, address, religion etc, and a sworn oath or affirmation.

Attestation paper
This form was filled in by the member on enlistment. Personal details include full name, nationality, place of birth, age on enlistment, training or civil occupation, previous military service, and a physical description.

Record of service form
This form documents the member's period of service. Details include personal information (including next of kin), qualifications, engagements, decorations and medals awarded, mustering, postings, promotions, and casualties.

Service conduct sheet
This lists any offences and punishment, or records a 'Certified no entry' for each posting.

Other documents
Also found on many dossiers are Record of Leave cards, technical assessments (eg flying returns, reports on ability and suitability for promotion by Commanding Officer), correspondence with or about the member, and the text of any citations. Most files also include a photograph of the subject.

Obtaining access to a RAAF service record

RAAF service records dating from 1921 (when the RAAF was created) to 1948 are held by the National Archives in series A9300 (officers) and A9301 (non-commissioned officers and other ranks) and are listed on our collection database, RecordSearch. You will need to know details of the member you are researching, including full name, service number and date of birth.

Personnel files for service from 1949 are held in series A12372. Records that are in the open access period are available through the National Archives. Send inquiries with the details of the member you are researching (ie full name, service number, date of birth, and enlistment and/or discharge dates) to:

National Reference Service
National Archives of Australia
PO Box 4924

Former serving members wishing to access their own record of service should contact RAAF Personnel Records.

Notification of death of RAAF personnel

Registrations of death or presumed death during war were made under the National Security (War Deaths) Regulations by the RAAF Casualty Section, rather than by a state government registrar of births, deaths and marriages. Therefore formal death certificates are not issued. The RAAF will provide a document confirming the details of the death on the basis of the deceased member’s service record. These can only be issued where proof of death is required. Contact the:

Family Liaison Officer
Directorate of Coordination Air Force
Department of Defence
Russell Offices
Canberra ACT 2600

Other sources of RAAF personnel information

Casualty files

Casualty files are created for every member killed or severely wounded. As well as details of the incident, the files may contain reports from war graves investigators, eye–witnesses, survivors, the Red Cross, and Squadron personnel.

Casualty files for the period 1922–60 are held in series A705, and have all been listed on our collection database, RecordSearch. An advanced item search using the member’s surname as a keyword and the series number A705, should retrieve relevant items.

Later casualty files covering the period 1949–75 are held in series A703. Our reference staff will be able to assist you in locating these records. Usually this involves obtaining the files or the file references from the Air Force Office.

Court of Inquiry files

Courts of Inquiry were conducted to determine the cause of accidents and incidents. This includes the loss of aircraft during air operations or as a result of enemy action. As well as an inquiry report (ie the ‘findings’ of the Inquiry), the file may contain reports from engineers, coroners, eye-witnesses, survivors, and Squadron personnel.

Many of the files that covered straightforward or minor inquiries were destroyed, as they were of no ongoing use. Most of those that remain document unusual cases, such as those involving experimental aircraft, incidents where members of the public have been killed, cases which attracted publicity in the press, or when many lives were lost.

Court of Inquiry files can be found in series A705 and A703. You need to know the type of aircraft and the date of the incident in order to determine the file number. If you provide these details to reference staff, they can determine the file number, and whether the file has survived.

Online nominal rolls of World War II, Korean and Vietnam War service

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has prepared online databases that include details of all who had RAAF service during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Sources of information about RAAF units

RAAF unit records

Most RAAF units created their own records. Many of these have been destroyed because the information is also held in the main RAAF correspondence file series – A703, A705, and A1196. Information about units can be found in the series listed in the table below.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesRAAF unit records1937–61AA1969/100
SeriesRAAF unit records - remnants from the records of various units1939–75A9519
SeriesRAAF unit records1948–70AA1971/614

RAAF unit history sheets (form A50)

These are volumes of forms completed by the Commanding Officer of each unit. They are in the form of a monthly sheet, with each entry briefly covering the daily operations of the unit during the month. Most of these records are held in series A9186. They can be searched by the name or number of the unit and the year. Some remnants of unit history records are held in series AA1969/99.

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