Researching Canadian Military who died during WW2



Library and Archives Canada maintains the database of Canadian personnel who died during the WW2 period from 1939-1947.  You may ask, why 1947 when the war concluded in 1945.  The answer lies in the fact that many personnel died following the war of wounds inflicted during the war.

Searching for records is fairly straight forward if you know some basic information.

Let’s use a real-world example.  We are going to search for the records of Sgt. Harold Francis Brown of the Ontario Regiment.

Go to https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/second-world-war-dead-1939-1947/Pages/search.aspx.  Input the surname and given name into the field.

We find that there two files which apply.  If we had included his middle name or initial, our search would have clued directly on file number 4259.

Clicking on the file number gives us the basic information on Sgt. Brown.

But this is not all of the information we are seeking.  Note the screen above and the statement: “No PDF file available“.  This means that Sgt Brown’s actual records are not on this system.

Here is when the wicket gets a bit sticky.  The LAC records have been outsourced to ANCESTRY.CA.  Normally, ANCESTRY.CA is a pay-for-service but I assume that LAC struck a deal with them to ensure that military records can be viewed without charge.

So let’s keep searching for Sgt. Brown’s records.  Go to ANCESTRY.CA. at the following address: https://www.ancestry.ca/search/categories/39/

Input the information we have about Harold F. Brown including his year of birth and death which we learned previously.  The result will tell us if a record does exist.  We find that it does, so we click on “View Image“.  At this point, ANCESTRY.CA will ask us to sign up for an account.  Do not accept a paid account unless you feel you need one… these records are no charge. (Information beyond the military record cannot be found without a paid membership.)

So sign up for the free account by following the prompts from the site.  Once you are in, you will be required to input the name and dates of Sgt. Brown again.  When you get the results of the search (there will be over 1000) you have the capability to refine the search.  Change the Collection tab to Canada then click on the military tab (on the left side) and then on casualties.  This will take you the file for which we search.

 

Now click on View Image and begin the peruse the records of Sgt Harold Francis Brown, of Toronto, Ontario, a proud member of the Ontario Regiment who died in 1944, at the age of 22 and is buried at Cassino, Italy.

Note that you can zoom on the image and download or print it.

Reference: Bruce Ricketts