Want to research your World War II ancestor? Aside from ordering military files from a government archive or searching genealogy websites for records, there are countless online images, databases, and digitized collections that can help you. When searching for resources, make sure to utilize archives, museum, and library websites for the country you are researching. The following websites provide just a sample of what is available online.
World War II United States Military Records
The FamilySearch Research Wiki page, World War II United States Military Records, 1941 to 1945 is one of the first places US researchers should peruse. The Wiki contains links for FamilySearch collections as well as collections found on other genealogy websites. Don’t forget to explore the links on the left-hand side of the wiki page for different record sets including Pension Records, Prisoners of War, Service Records, Soldiers Homes, and Unit Histories If you don’t see your favorite collection, consider contributing that information. Afterall, it’s a wiki and wikis and their users benefit when information is shared.
For those with Jewish ancestors, the JDC Archives has various digitized images with over 500,000 names in their collection that can be beneficial to family historians. “The JDC Names Index is an indispensable resource tool for genealogists, personal historians, and scholarly researchers alike. Here you can search for relatives, friends, ancestors; anyone worldwide who has received JDC aid, financial or otherwise.” Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing on through the World War II years you can find names from immigration, refugee, ship, and orphan lists.
An example of the information found in these lists is Refugees in Polish Border Areas, 1938-1939 which is described as "Lists of Polish Jews expelled from Germany by the Nazi government into the Polish border town of Zbaszyn and others expelled from the German client state of Slovakia to towns in the no-man’s-land across the border in Western Galicia, receiving assistance from the JDC in 1938-1939." The list includes name, birth date, occupation, former residence, marital status and name and address of relatives in the United States.
UK National Archives Research Guide
The UK National Archives Research Guide, Second World War will help you better understand what records are available to research your World War II era English ancestors but it also includes links to online collections such as Allied Expeditionary Force papers (1943-1945) and Cabinet Papers (1915-1978). Related National Archives Research Guides you can access from this page include: British Army operations in the Second World War; Royal Air Force operations; Royal Navy operations in the Second World War; and War crimes 1939-1945.
Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada's Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947 includes 44,097 references to individuals who were killed in action, died as a result of an accident or illness while in service, and those who subsequently died of injuries from their service. However, this database does not include information about those who survived the war nor "the locations of overseas postings or list battles in which an individual may have participated." The page also includes suggestions for searching the database.
World War II Nominal Roll
For those with Australian roots, the the World War II Nominal Roll website honors the "men and women who served in Australia’s defense forces and the Merchant Navy during this conflict." Searchable by "name, service number, honours, or place," this website includes services records of one million individuals who served. The information provided can also include next of kin and date/place of birth.
Lastly, don’t forget to review Legacy Family Tree World War II webinars and their handouts for other websites and collections. Good luck with your research!