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Finding Military Service Records

Updated: May 31, 2023

By Christal Speer with additional information from Susan Huff and Rus Magnusson


U.S. Marines at their encampment in Reykjavik, Iceland during WWII
U.S. Marines at their encampment in Reykjavik, Iceland during WWII

Each day, many Icelandic Roots volunteers are busy entering new people into the database as well as additional information, documents, photos, newspaper articles or clippings, family stories, and more to persons already in the database.


Icelandic Roots wants to honor all veterans with an event on their page called Military Service.

  • This includes persons who are Icelandic and those who are not Icelandic but are married to someone who is Icelandic.

  • The military service could be during times of war or in times of peace.

In order to find this information, many online databases are consulted because they may contain the necessary clues.



Finding Database Records of Military Service on the Icelandic Roots database


From the Main database page, there is a Blue panel on the left, click on People(+), then in the drop-down, click on the link to Military Service. This opens a list of over 3,300 veterans. The list is daunting in length, yet fascinating to read some of them. Each month, volunteers enter more people with Military Service that will show up in the list. This is a work in progress!


But what about looking at an individual person’s page? Ideally, a person’s military service is given in detail on their page under the event called Military Service. Most often there is a drop-down arrow beside it. Click on the arrow to read more about their service.


We want each veteran to have the Military Service event on their page; however, sometimes the event is missing and needs to be added.



What are the clues to discovering if someone is a military veteran?

  • The information is in a Biography or an Obituary on their page.

  • The information is not on their page but is referred to in the Biography or Obituary of their spouse or their parents.

  • Mention is made of military service in a program given out at a funeral service.

  • There is a photo of the person wearing a military uniform.

  • The military information is on the free website Find-A-Grave.

  • The military information is engraved on the gravestone.

  • The person is buried in a military cemetery. (Note that the spouse of the veteran may also be buried in a military cemetery.)

  • The 1930 U.S. census asks if a person is a veteran.

  • Newspaper articles

  • Family histories and/or local histories

When an Icelandic Roots member or volunteer discovers that more information and records are needed regarding military service, there are several places to look. However, service records during and after World War II are more difficult to find due to privacy concerns, especially in Canada unless the person was killed during the war. In addition to the clues mentioned above, there are more places to search.


Books listing veterans of Icelandic descent for both WWI and WWII

Veterans of Icelandic descent from both Canada and the U.S. have been listed in two volumes published by the International Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), Jon Sigurdsson Chapter in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Please note that there are some veterans missing from these books.


For WWI: Minningarrit Islenzkra Hermanna 1914-1918


For WWII: Veterans of Icelandic Descent WWII

Icelandic Roots has a copy of this book presently being scanned for all our volunteers to use. A supplement was published later. A few of our genealogists have copies of both books, and will search for information from these sources upon request.


There is another source for this with the University of Manitoba’s digital library, but we caution against the use of this copy since several errors have been found (such as some incorrect bios linked to the wrong photo image when it was digitized): https://digitalcollections.lib.umanitoba.ca/islandora/object/uofm%3Aicelandicvetsww2


Attestation papers and documents for Canadians serving in World War I

This can be found through Library and Archives Canada. Here is a link directly to WWI Canadian Expeditionary Forces, personnel files:


Documents for Canadian military personnel killed during World War II

Information on each can be found through Library and Archives Canada: Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947 - Library and Archives Canada (bac-lac.gc.ca)


Further information on burial sites for war dead can be found on the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission” website: https://www.cwgc.org/



Personnel records for Veterans of WWII who survived and returned after the conflict can be requested through the Library and Archives Canada, but there is a waiting period of up to two years. The files are not yet fully digitized and privacy concerns must be met. Few veterans are still living, but if the veteran passed away some time ago, there is a good chance your request can be put into the queue:


FamilySearch website (free membership)

The FamilySearch website, where you can join for free is at: www.familysearch.org

There are many military records available online in the Research Wiki; select the country, then state or province. Once you enter your family information and begin to build your family tree, the FamilySearch computer system will begin searching the indexed records. You will receive 3 computer-generated record “hints” for the people in your family tree.

You can review the record to see if it matches the person and then attach the record to the person.

Many of the records listed in the section below for the Ancestry.com website are also available on FamilySearch.


Ancestry.com or Ancestry.ca website (paid membership)

This requires a paid membership but has millions of records. You can build a family tree and then “hints” will come up for individuals (as it does in FamilySearch) for more records. Once again (as in FamilySearch), carefully look at the record to confirm that it matches the person.


Doing a search on their Card Catalog using the words "Military Records" comes up with countless records to search. Here are just a few:

  • Canada, World War I CEF Attestation Papers, 1914-1918

  • Canada, World War I CEF Personnel Files, 1914-1918

  • Canada, Canadian Airmen of WWI, 1914-1918

  • U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946

  • U.S., World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas

  • U.S., World War II Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, 1942-1948

  • U.S., Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006

  • U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010


Many individual states have military records available. Some public family trees may have military records or information linked to the person you are searching for.


Draft Registration Cards

  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 – 1st and 2nd pages scanned together

  • U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 – 1st and 2nd pages scanned separately

  • U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 – 1st and 2nd pages scanned separately


Please note that the United States draft registration cards for World War I and World War II are not proof that the person enlisted or was drafted. All men of a certain age were required to register. Other documents are needed for proof of military service.


We are in the process of correcting situations where the WWI and WWII draft registration cards are used in the Military Service event on a person’s page. It is nice, however, to see these cards included somewhere on the person’s page, such as under a Note.


How can you help in honoring our veterans?

If you have any military information, service documents or medals, or photos of the veteran (and the photos could include family members), please send the information to support@icelandicroots.com, making sure to include the veteran’s name and IR number. Including birth and death dates would also be very helpful.


One more important way to honor a veteran: When you are looking at a person’s page and notice that somewhere it mentions the person is a veteran but that a Military Service event is not listed, please bring this to our attention by sending the person’s name and IR number to support@icelandicroots.com. A volunteer can then add the Military Service event to their page.



Thank you for helping us honor our veterans

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