Thousands of World War II stories of mateship, sacrifice and courage and the faces of those who fought for Australia have been saved for future generations to look back on.
Descendants of World War II servicemen and women will soon be able to access valuable records of their relatives, including records of medals, promotions and even disciplinary matters.
The National Archives of Australia said on Tuesday it had signed contracts worth $4.4 million to digitise more than 650,000 service records.
Among the records to be saved, and which will be available for free online, are photographs of servicemen and women which were previously at-risk of deterioration.
A National Archives spokeswoman said their storage methods dramatically reduced the rate of deterioration, but they were still working hard on digitising as many of the photographic works as possible.
"Approximately 5000 WWII service records are accessed in the Canberra Research Centre each year. In addition, an estimated 10,000 requests for digital copies are received annually, resulting in more digital copies being loaded to the online database, RecordSearch," she said.
The records contain wide-ranging details of army, navy and RAAF servicemen from their name, age, birthplace and next of kin to their medical history.
The records will progressively be made available free of charge to the public via the National Archives website from December 2020, however the overall project is not expected to be completed until mid-2023.
More than 220,000 Second World War service records have already been digitised.
National Archives' Director-General David Fricker said the contracts marked a milestone in the four-year, $10 million project to digitise the majority of Second World War records.
"The World War II service records are among the most popular in our vast collection and this project will ensure Australians can access almost one million of these records digitally by 2023," Mr Fricker said.
Fuji Xerox BusinessForce and W&F Pascoe will digitise the two largest World War II series held by the National Archives - personnel services records for the Citizen Military Forces 1937-47 and Second Australian Imperial Force 1939-47.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester visited the National Archives Preservation Facility on Tuesday to see the work being carried out.
"This builds on the already digitised records of those who served in the First World War and will ensure families, historians, academics and students will have free and ready access to these historical records," he said.
"As we approach Remembrance Day, there is no better time to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the around one million Australians who served at home and abroad during the Second World War."
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