This page goes with the article posted 5 June 2014 titled WWI - The Great War
(Post Script: The Canadian WWI service records are in the process of being digitized and will be available in batches starting mid-end 2014.)
To order copies of my grandfather’s service records I went to the Library and Archives Canada website page to do an online application. After agreeing to terms, next page must choose Textual Documents. I choose to get emailed digital copies of the records. Fill in as much info as you can from Attestation papers and any other documents you have. Next page I filled in my personal information. Down the page is *Method of Payment... Check the box that is for the General Public (unless you happen to work for the government and have the codes). Submit. They assessed the file then sent me an invoice for the copies. Once they received payment by credit card they emailed me the file in a PDF. I received 84 pages for a total of $37.63. This is the first page, which is a summary of documents in the file.
The service file contains all movements of the soldier. When he arrived, promotions, demotions, transfers to other units, sent to hospital, returned to unit, name of ships he was on, etc. Between this and the online war diaries I was able to track his movements during the whole war.
Some of what this record reports:
SOS to CCAC (Struck off strength to Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre)
Appointed to Sergeant
Ceased to be attached
Reduced to former grade of Corporal
For AWL midnight to noon forfeit 3 days pay
Reverts to ranks at own request
SOS to 42nd Battalion
Appointed Lance Corporal
Awarded MM in the field
All casualty reports and hospital records are included. What he was being treated for, what the treatment was day by day, then declared fit for duty and transferred back to the unit.
All his pay records are included – money given to him, money sent home to his parents, to the penny.
Finally are the discharge papers.
LAC has a podcast you can listen to on this site or on iTunes titled Sign Me Up: CEF Files, explaining what to expect to find in a service file.
Update: All these WWI service files are now being digitally uploaded to LAC, Soldiers of the First World War and available for free.