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How To Research A Member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Through Campaign Medals

A Guide to Traditional & Online Sources compiled by Peter Broznitsky, Neil Burns, Richard Laughton, Dwight Mercer, and Brett Payne with invaluable and generous additional assistance from the Members of the CEF Study Group.

Every British 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal issued to a Canadian Recipient has their Service Number, Highest Rank Attained, Initial, Last Name & Unit first attached to upon arrival in France. This information can be found on the reverse of the 1914-15 Star and on the rim of the British War and Victory Medals. This is similar to the British custom regarding First World War Medals.

The CEF Study Group: An online forum where students of the Canadian Expeditionary Force can exchange information, research tips, reference book checks etc. With over 400 members and 19,000 posts the forum has become a hub for serious students of the CEF.

The CEF Study Group Matrix Project: Information on the structure of the CEF; details that are being assembled by members on individual units; links to and transcriptions of war diaries; and a host of utilities (definitions, reference lists, abbreviations, map links and summary tables).

The Great War Project: Highly useful research utilities and databases created by Marc Leroux.

Research Resources:

Attestation Papers: Library & Archives Canada Soldiers of the First World War(1914-1918)

How to order copies of First World War service files:

Service Records: Accessing Records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)

For examples of documents in a Service File, check Brett Payne's outstanding site: The C.E.F. Paper Trail


Additional information on those who died in service can be found on the following sites: Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

War Diaries:

Most Unit War Diaries are available online: War Diaries of the First World War

Further Reading:

Nicholson's "Official History of Canada in the Great War" is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. A correctly paginated document with maps and a GoogleEarth overlay is now available at The Matrix.


Battles 1915-1918