Nominal Rolls of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Source: Library & Archives Canada (2.6MB PDF)
Note: this is a significant update to my Nominal Rolls article from January 2014. Below you’ll find links to nearly 400 Nominal Rolls currently online at Library and Archives Canada!
A Nominal Roll is a list of the Officers, NCOs and Men who served in a unit of the CEF at a specific point in time. They were often compiled prior to a unit embarking for England and sometimes include embarkation information such as ship name, embarkation port and the date of sailing. A Nominal Roll usually lists a soldier’s Regimental Number, Rank, Name, Former Corps, Name of Next of Kin, Address of Next of Kin, Country of Birth, and both the place and date they were “Taken On Strength”.
It’s important to note that units experienced continual and sometimes significant changes to personnel. Major battles resulted in huge numbers of casualties but so did “wastage“, a term used to describe the daily toll of soldiers wounded or killed by sniping and shelling. The never-ending need for reinforcements meant that Nominal Rolls had a very short shelf life.
Nominal Rolls can provide other interesting bits of information, such as who attested on the same day as your soldier. You may also find other relatives or even neighbours that joined the same battalion. Page 11 of the 148th Battalion Nominal Roll shows that brothers Matt and James Liddell lined up one behind the other at the recruiting office in Montreal.
A Nominal Roll may provide clues as to which company your soldier served in, although this too was highly subject to change. The First Canadian Contingent originally divided its battalions into eight lettered companies but were reorganized into four numbered companies on arrival in England. However if you can determine the company your soldier served in it will make reading war diaries all the more interesting.
The tables below include links to Nominal Rolls at Library and Archives Canada. Please be aware these are PDF documents ranging in size from a few MBs to over 20MBs. Note: entries marked with an ‘*‘ are not currently online at LAC and so I’ve used a link to the Bob Richardson Nominal Roll collection page hosted by the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. You’ll need to navigate through the various folders to find the relevant nominal roll.
It took quite some time to build these tables so if you encounter incorrect links please leave a comment or contact me.
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