South Australian Returned Servicemen Deaths
1947 to present
19,400 deaths of South Australian returned servicemen from the Boer War, World Wars and later conflicts
The Returned & Services League of Australia (SA Branch) Inc (RSL) and its predecessor organisations have produced a magazine or tabloid newspaper almost continuously since a branch or division was established in the State. From at least May 1947 there has been a section in the periodical called 'The Last Post' which records the deaths of ex-servicemen and women. The amount of information provided has changed over time, but generally includes surname with either forenames or initials, service unit, date of death and sometimes age.
|Periodical||first issue||last issue|
|RSA Magazine||Apr 1916 (v.I:1)||Oct 1919|
|The Returned Soldier||Feb 1918 (v.1:1)||Aug 1932 (v.19:27)|
|Diggers' Gazette||Nov 1919 (v.1:1)||July 1922 (v.5:5)|
|The Digger||Aug 1922 (v.5:6)||Dec 1924 (v.9:15)|
|The People (inc 'The Digger')||Aug 1922||July 1927|
|Rising Sun||Aug 1931 (v.1:1)||Feb 1951 (v.27:4)|
|Voice and Opinion||June 1946||Jan 1947|
|Back||Mar 1947 (v.1:7)||Aug/Sep 1956 (v.7:12)|
|Sentry-Go||Oct 1956 (v.1:1)||Jan 1961 (v.4:45)|
|The Signal||Summer 1992 (No.1)||(current)|
The early periodicals did not have The Last Post section but it has been included since May 1947 when it made its first appearance in Back.
This database covers the period May 1947 to January 1961, after which there was a gap before The Signal was first published in the summer of 1992. During the first period, the majority of deaths were of servicemen from the 1st World War. However, there are also a significant number of Boer War veterans included who died during this period. Many of those listed lived in Broken Hill and the Northern Territory. In many cases the information found in the periodicals has been added to by reference to the Index of South Australian Deaths, the Boer War Nominal Roll and the Embarkation and Nominal Rolls for the 1st World War found on the Australian War Memorial and the World War II internet databases.
The second period included in this database has been extracted from The Last Post section of the quarterly/thrice-yearly tabloid newspaper, The Signal. This generally full page section includes the deaths of servicemen and women who have died in South Australia during the preceding three or so months. The RSL has extracted this information from the death notices of the Adelaide Advertiser, together with advice from their sub-branches notifying them of the death of members. I am grateful to the RSL for providing me with copies of The Last Post section from past editions of The Signal. However, I have not been able to locate copies of The Signal before issue No.12 of 1996 (with some gaps thereafter). Neither the RSL, the State Library of South Australia nor the National Library of Australia holds issues earlier than this.
The information provided has changed over the period of the extraction from The Signal. In the early period the names were subdivided into service branches, Army, Navy and Air Force, and for some periods further subdivided into, for example, RAAF and RAF. More recently the listing has been a continuous alphabetical sequence with no indication of the branch of service, other than what may be determined from the Service Number. Initially The Last Post listing included multiple initials in lieu of forenames, however from January 2007 only the first initial was included.
It is possible to determine from many of the service numbers which branch of the service the individual belonged.
Australian Infantry Forces
World War II - 2nd AIFThe single, double or treble letter prefix, which includes the letter X refers to World War 2 enlistments with the first letter determining the state at enlistment, e.g. SX = South Australia. The Single letter prefix refers to Citizen Military Forces enlistment during World War 2, e.g. S = South Australia, N = New South Wales. (NT prefix letter is D, and Papua New Guinea NG). A female enlistment included the letter F within the initial letters of the service number, e.g. SFX or SF.
British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (in Japan)Volunteers from the 2nd AIF kept their original service numbers. Subsequent volunteers (between 1946 and June 1947) were issued with an X500000, e.g. SX500561. Enlistments after June 1947 for the following three years were in the RARSR (Royal Australian Army Special Reserve) were in the beginning NP000 numbers, but then changed to 2/0000 or 3/0000 etc.
Vietnam War PeriodNational Servicemen had a seven digit service number, the second digit was always the number 7 to distinguish from Citizen Military Force personnel who were also allocated seven digit numbers. Permanent AIF personnel had six digit service numbers. The first digit for all three categories denoted the state in which they enlisted (QLD 1, NSW 2, VIC 3, SA 4, WA 5, TAS 6, NT 7, PNG 8).
Royal Australian NavyThe standard prefix for World War 2 enlistments is P and the second initial the place of enlistment, e.g. PA = Port Adelaide, PM = Port Melbourne.
Royal Australian Air ForceWorld War 2 enlistments are generally 6 numerical digits, with the first two digits referring to the year of enlistment, e.g. 407791 = enlistment in 1940.
Further InformationThis database is ideally only an entry to other information sources which will provide much more information about the individual concerned. These include:
- Newspaper death notice column will probably provide the individual's full name, next of kin, place of death, cemetery etc. This will primarily be the Adelaide Advertiser.
- Nominal Roll - the Australian War Memorial internet site will provide links to the nominal rolls of all Australians involved in conflicts. For example World War 2, Korean War, Vietnam War.
- Service Records are available for all Australian enlistments for all service branches from the National Archives of Australia. Most of these are available online as digital images and can be downloaded.
- The RSL itself may be able to provide more information.
The database also includes service personnel who belonged to branches of the British or Allied armed services (eg New Zealand). Unfortunately service records for these individuals are only available to heirs and next of kin and even then at some cost.
Inevitably there are errors, both in the information provided in The Last Post and in the creation of this database. Some cross checking has been done to clarify dates and service (e.g. Army, Air Force) from the nominal rolls. Further cross checking can be done by consulting the original copy of The Signal (available from the State Library of SA and the RSL Library), the nominal roll and the newspaper.
Copyright©2009-2016 A G Peake, Australia