Hi there,

This is my first post - yay!

One of my great grandfathers has a note in his large WW1 service record file and I really want to investigate it further, the reason being I am writing a biography on him, and I am generally nosey!

The notes reads (as best as I can decipher):

"See 3DB Secret 1938/46

of 6.6.1938

See 3DB Confidential 1938/117"

It appears on page 21 of James Picken Cowey's WW1 service record (Series number: B2455  Barcode: 3434482)

I hope I can access these "secret" files!

Thanks for your help, 


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Hello Summer

I had a look at your great grandfather's WWI service record on p.21 - it appears that the notes on that page a file/document reference numbers and that they possibly may have referred to the report or notes written by the examiner when your great grandfather sat the exams for promotion to the next rank.  Unfortunately, these reports have not survived on his service record and therefore no longer exist.

I noticed the digital copy of your great grandfather's WWII service record is also available online (Series B884, Control Symbol V5493, barcode 6277391), just in case you were not aware...



(NAA staff)


THanks Tonia.  I thought they may have referred to the period when my great grandfather returned his medals (around about 1938, the number reference in the "Secret" note).  He was very disillusioned during this time frame and turned to communism for a spell also.  It was not to last, and I certainly have his WW2 service record (I paid to have it digitised) where he saved mens lives for Australia on the Kokoda Track.

Back to the communism period though, do the NAA have records of Communist party members (which he was for a time), or surveilance files on individuals that I could further explore?  This would be really interesting.  Jim turned his back on the party (or an offshoot?) when they asked him to get involved with harming property of individuals.  I have no idea how or where to start looking for this information, and any assistance is greatly appreciated.  Nothing of this type comes up on a name search for him.


Hi Summer

If your great grandfather was an active member of the Communist party, the intelligence agency of the period (the Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General's Dept until the end of WWII, which then became the Commonwealth Investigation Service.  ASIO was not established until 1949) may have investigated him.  These records aren't all listed by name on RecordSearch - we have a vast collection (over 50 million items) and only a small proportion of them are in our electronic database.    

I suggest you submit a reference inquiry using the form at http://naa.gov.au/collection/forms/fam-inquiry.aspx with as much detail about his activities as you know in the period you are interested in, and one of our reference officers will conduct a search for the records on your behalf.



i am trying to find a lot more about my dad who served in ww2 he was over seas

Try a name search for your Dad, that's all I did when I started.  You may have to pay to get his file digitised and available on the web though.

Hi Robyn

To search for your father's service record go to http://naa.gov.au/collection/using/search/ and click on 'Search as a guest'.

Enter your father's name into the keywords box and click on 'Search' - the database listing for your father's record should come up in the search results.  Please note, this is only a database listing of the record like the book title in a library catalogue - not the actual record of service.

There may be a digital copy of the record already available.  If there is, you will see an icon that looks like a document.  Just click on this and you will be able to read his service record.  If there is no digital copy available you can purchase a copy by clicking on the 'Request copy' link on the right hand side of the page and then following the prompts through our e-commerce system.

Please let me know if you are having any problems locating his service record and I will do my best to help.



(NAA staff)


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