Ancestry Opens Military Records

Earlier I listed some new military records on Ancestry. Below is a press release with more detail than I had time to include, and information about free access.

Before that, don’t forget Ken McKinlay’s presentation for OGS today, Thursday 4 Nov., 7 pm: Second World War- Researching the Canadian Fallen will surely cover Ancestry’s records.


For the first time, 2,500 images and more than 100 newsreels depicting scenes from combat and routine life during WWII are available on
These photo and video collections provide a window into the lives of those on the front line and Homefront, allowing Canadians the chance to create deeper connections to their families’ WWII experiences
Ancestry is offering free access to these new collections and all global military records from November 1 to November 12

TORONTO, ON – November 3, 2021 – This Remembrance Day, Ancestry®, the global leader in family history, is encouraging Canadians to build deeper personal connections with their families’ lives during the world wars, by providing free access to two Canadian World War II record collections that are new to the site, including video newsreels and photographs featuring photographs of men and women who served in the Canadian Forces during the conflict.

The World War II Newsreels, 1942-1945 and Faces of the Second World War, 1941-1945 collections feature 2,500 photographic images and 106 video newsreels that bring to life many aspects of Canada’s contributions to World War II, from combat and routine life on the front lines of France, Holland and beyond, to military training, war materials production, city building projects, and Armistice celebrations on home soil.

At the onset of World War II, the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau recommended the Army form a special film and photographic unit, to distribute material worldwide to boost morale and further the war effort. As a result, the Army created a public relations unit in 1940 that would become the basis for photographic units formed by all three military branches (The Army, Air Force and Navy). The resulting material created by these units – available in these collections on Ancestry – was circulated by a variety of local and international newspapers and newsreels.

Some highlights from the newsreel collection include:

A 1945 newsreel from Vancouver, BC, showing how “wartime speed” was employed to build a new home in a mere eight hours, creating new housing developments for the many shipyard and airfield workers who contributed to World War II from the Canadian Homefront
A 1944 newsreel from Simcoe, ON, introducing local identical twins and flight lieutenants Alan and Eric Sherlock at RCAF Bomber Command after completing their second bombing operation overseas
A 1945 newsreel from Montreal, QC, where the famous Royal Highland Regiment, or Blackwatch of Canada, were given a hero’s welcome with a full parade on St. James Street.

While digitised paper documents such as military service and casualty records provide important facts and information about our family connections to World War II, photo or video content adds further context to life at the time and may be able to offer people insight into their ancestors’ experiences. Whether it’s the muddy boots of a tired soldier serving in Europe, footage showing the scale of the war production in Canadian factories on the Homefront or an image of a loving embrace as service men and women arrive back home on Canadian soil for this first time in years, these collections can help spark emotional connections to this period in time.

Additionally, for the first time, information from these photographs and newsreels are indexed on Ancestry, making it easier for Canadians to directly search for their ancestors and connect these visual records to their family trees online.

Simon Pearce, military family history expert from Ancestry says, “Canada’s military and civilians played a key role during WWII. Learning about the experiences of our ancestors during the conflict through amazing resources such as these photos and newsreels can help provide a personal connection to Remembrance Day and an understanding of how the conflict may have shaped our family histories. Now is the perfect time to explore collections such as these on Ancestry, so we can honour the memory of our ancestors and feel a deeper bond to the past.”

To commemorate Remembrance Day, Ancestry is providing free access to all global military records on the site, including World War II Newsreels, 1942-1945 and Faces of the Second World War, 1941-1945, from November 1st to the 12th*, allowing Canadians to search through records, videos and images to discover the untold stories of how their ancestors may have supported the country’s World War II effort.

Click on the media assets folder to access select images and newsreel footage from Ancestry’s World War II Newsreels, 1942-1945 and Faces of the Second World War, 1941-1945 collections.

Visit to access Canadian Remembrance Day collections and explore your own family tree.

*Free access to global Ancestry® military records from 1 Nov – 11 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Registration required. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using a paid membership. Terms apply.


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