• Canadians_in_France_11JULY44_ALB002_Bell_02.jpg
    Canadians in France July 11th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 002. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Capture_Harderwijk_5th_Can_Div_19APR45_ALB094_JHSmith_02.jpg
    Canadians capture Harderwijk, Holland, April 19th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Jack Smith. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Capture_Harderwijk_5th_Can_Div_19APR45_ALB094_JHSmith.jpg
    Canadians capture Harderwijk, Holland, April 19th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Jack Smith. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Utrecht_7MAY45_ALB095_Dean02.jpg
    Canadian Liberation of Utrecht, Holland, May 7th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Michael Dean. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_France_Monty_10JULY44_ALB002_Bell.jpg
    Canadians in France July 10th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 002. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_France_15JULY44_ALB002_Aikman.jpg
    Canadians in France July 15th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Harold Aikman. Army Numerical Album No. 002. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_Italy_War_Correspondents_8APRIL44_ALB073_DeGuire.jpg
    Canadians in France April 8th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ernie DeGuire. Army Numerical Album No. 073. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_Italy_War_Artists_4MAR44_ALB073_Nye.jpg
    Canadian War Artists in Italy March 4th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Charles Nye. Army Numerical Album No. 073. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_France_near_Falaise_17AUG44_ALB078_Don_Grant.jpg
    Canadians near Falaise, France, August 17th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Don Grant. Army Numerical Album No. 078. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_France_Caen_12JULY44_ALB002_Bell.jpg
    Canadians in Caen, France July 12th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 002. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_France_Sniper_hunting_Falaise_ALB078_Don_Grant.jpg
    Canadians sniper hunting in Falaise, France. Photographed by Lt. Don Grant. Army Numerical Album No. 078. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Almelo_Holland_5APRIL45_ALB091_Stirton.jpg
    Liberation of Almelo, Holland April 5th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Alex Stirton. Army Numerical Album No. 091. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Rouen_31AUG44_ALB079_Aikman.jpg
    Liberation of Rouen, France August 31st, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Harold Aikman. Army Numerical Album No. 079. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Bruges_13SEPT44_ALB080_Aikman.jpg
    Liberation of Bruges, Belgium September 13th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Harold Aikman. Army Numerical Album No. 080. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_France_11JULY44_ALB002_Bell.jpg
    Canadians in France July 11th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 002. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Ambassador_GP_Vanier_visit_6OCT44_Dieppe_France_ALB080_Dubervill.jpg
    Ambassador George Vanier visits Dieppe, France, October 6th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Frank Dubervill. Army Numerical Album No. 080. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Advance_Rhine_Germany_Hochwald_Forest_3MAR45_Bell.jpg
    Canadians advance to Rhine, Hochwald Forest, Germany, March 3rd, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 088. Library & Archives Canada.
  • 2_Motor_Ambulance_Convoy_Belguim__ALB086_Bell.jpg
    No. 2 Motor Ambulance Convoy in Belgium. Photographed by Lt. Ken Bell. Army Numerical Album No. 086. Library & Archives Canada.
  • US_USSR_link_up_27APRIL45_Torgau_Dubervill_ALB094.jpg
    Canadians in Torgau, Germany, April 27th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Frank Dubervill. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • US_USSR_link_up_27APRIL45_Torgau_Dubervill_ALB094_02.jpg
    Canadians in Torgau, Germany, April 27th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Frank Dubervill. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Surrender_Nazis_Foulkes_5MAY45_Wageningen_Holland_ALB095_Stirton.jpg
    Nazis surrender to Canadians, Wageningen, Holland, May 5th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Alex Stirton. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Surrender_Germans_5MAY45_Wageningen_ALB095_Stirton.jpg
    Germans surrender to Canadians, May 5th, 1945, Wageningen, Holland. Photographed by Lt. Alex Stirton. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Surgical_Unit_Germany_Cleve_Udem_Road_2MAR45_ALB088_DGrant.jpg
    Canadian Surgical Unit in Germany, Cleve-Udem Road, March 2nd, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Don Grant. Army Numerical Album No. 088. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Royal_22nd_Regiment_Hockey_Brighton_12JAN43_ALB031_Towers.jpg
    Royal 22nd Regiment Hockey Team, in Brighton, England, January 12th, 1943. Photographed by Sgt. Ralph Towers. Army Numerical Album No. 031. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Relaxing_face_Enemy_5MAY45_Glindhorst_Otterloo_ALB095_Michael_Dean.jpg
    "Relaxing in the Face of the Enemy", Glindhorst and Otterloo, Holland, May 5th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Michael Dean. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Move_up_to_Hatten_Germany_April45_Guravich_ALB094.jpg
    Canadians move up to Hatten, Germany, April, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Dan Guravich. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Utrecht_7MAY45_ALB095_Dean.jpg
    Canadian Liberation of Utrecht, Holland, May 7th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Michael Dean. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_Hague_7MAY45_ALB095_Dean.jpg
    Canadian Liberation of The Hague, Holland, May 7th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Michael Dean. Army Numerical Album No. 095. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Liberation_concentration_camp_near_Weener_Germany_ALB094_DGrant_24APR45.jpg
    Liberation of concentration camp near Weener, Germany, April 4th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Don Grant. Army Numerical Album No. 094. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Easter_Service_9April44_Italy02_ALB074_DeGuire.jpg
    Canadians celebrate Easter in Italy, April 9th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ernie DeGuire. Army Numerical Album No. 074. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Easter_Service_9April44_Italy01_ALB074_DeGuire.jpg
    Canadians celebrate Easter in Italy, April 9th, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Ernie DeGuire. Army Numerical Album No. 074. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Drive_on_Udem_Rhine_Germany_1MAR45_ALB088_JHSmith.jpg
    Canadians drive on Udem, Rhine, Germany, March 1st, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Jack Smith. Army Numerical Album No. 088. Library & Archives Canada.
  • CWACs_Invade_Germany_Bad_Salzuflen_12JUNE45_Hermeston_ALB101.jpg
    "Canadian Women's Army Corp invade Germany", June 12th, 1945. Photographed by Sgt. Karen Hermeston. Army Numerical Album No. 101. Library & Archives Canada.
  • CWAC_Baseball_Champioship_SEPT43_ALB047_Savage.jpg
    Canadian Women's Army Corp baseball Champions, September 1943. Photographed by Savage. Army Numerical Album No. 047. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Churchill_Visit_1st_CDN_Army_2_CDN_Corps_4Mar45_Gloster_ALB088.jpg
    Churchill visits First Canadian Army, 2nd Canadian Corps, March 4th, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Barney Gloster. Army Numerical Album No. 088. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Baseball_Eager_Beavers_Ede_Holland_Regina_Rifles_31AUG45_Richer_ALB104.jpg
    Canadian Regina Rifles play with "Eager Beavers" baseball team, August 31st, 1945. Photographed by Lt. Charles Richer. Army Numerical Album No. 104. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadians_in_Italy_24OCT43_ALB071_Smith.jpg
    Canadians in Italy, October 24th, 1943. Photographed by Lt. Jack Smith. Army Numerical Album No. 071. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadian_American_Force_Italy_April44_ALB074_Nye.jpg
    Personnel of the Canadian-American Special Service Force, Italy, April, 1944. Photographed by Lt. Charles Nye. Army Numerical Album No. 074. Library & Archives Canada.
  • Canadian_cameramen_Vught_Holland_02_ALB086_Aikman.jpg
    Canadian Cameramen in Vught, Holland. Photographed by Lt. Gordon Aikman. Army Numerical Album No. 086. Library & Archives Canada.
  • 023_Dale_last_album_01.jpg
    Retired Senior Film Conservator, Dale Gervais, displays Army Numerical Album No. 110, prior to copying, February 8th, 2020, Library & Archives Canada.
  • 024_Dale_last_album_02.jpg
    Retired Senior Film Conservator, Dale Gervais, prepares to copy the final page of Army Numerical Album No. 110, February 8th, 2020, Library & Archives Canada.
  • 025_Dale_neg_scanning.jpg
    Retired Senior Film Conservator, Dale Gervais, scans b&w negatives at Library & Archives Canada, 2019.

Library & Archives Canada: “Army Numerical” Series (110 Albums) Now Available Online

in History/Stills Photographers by

For the first time, all 110 photographic albums, known as the “Army numerical” series at Library & Archives Canada, are now available online to the general public for the first time.

The series of albums consist of contact sheets printed from the original b&w negatives, of Canadian Army photographs shot during World War II, 1941-1946.

For many years I had been aware of these albums while working as a Film Conservator at Library & Archives Canada (LAC). At the time, these albums were some of the most in demand finding aids for WWII images stored at LAC.

Known to staff as the ‘pizza boxes’, the Army numerical albums were stored in acid free custom made containers. Even though stored in ideal conditions, the albums were beginning to show their age; brittle and dry, the contact sheets were warping, and some of the adhesive keeping them glued to the pages was drying out.

One day while doing research for a client in Italy, I came across one of the albums online, and that is when I learned that there were only 7 of the complete 110 albums available online. What I also found buried in the albums images, were photographs of members of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit. Some of which I had never seen before. I wondered, “What other photographic ‘gems’ must be hidden away in the other 103 albums?”

During a series of discussions with LAC staff, a proposal was submitted to access all remaining 103 albums, and have them scanned using LAC’s Book2Net self-service book scanner located in their ‘DigiLab’. The Digilab is specifically equipped with Epson flatbed Photo Scanners used to scan photographic prints and negatives.

One of the challenges we encountered was how to adapt a piece of equipment created specifically for scanning bound books with lots of text, to scanning old photographic albums with very little text. A process was eventually devised by removing the metal screws that bound the albums, and then systematically scanning each of the albums pages using the handy foot-switch to initiate a scan leaving the hands free to prepare for the next scan. Performing several test runs, we were able to fine-tune the process resulting in successfully scanning one album in approximately 15 minutes.

Not without its share of error messages, and false starts, the whole project was eventually completed over a period of several months. All this was being done while staff continued to serve other clients. It wasn’t until the beginning of February 2020 that all remaining 103 albums were finally completed.

In total, “110 albums (8441 photographs) on 8327 album pages : b&w. ca. 62,000 photographs : b&w negatives” were scanned and converted into 103 separate .PDF files, along with OCR (optical character recognition), to allow each of the .pdf albums to be text searchable.

Even though the Covid-19 virus had begun to cripple the LAC’s ability to service the general public, staff were still able to prepare every one of the albums for eventual upload to the LAC database.

Today, the albums now serve a global audience via an easily accessible digital resource in the form of Library & Archives online database. To access all 110 albums, click HERE. Alternately, visit the Archives Search  and type “Army Numerical” in the field “Any Keywords”  you should get them showing first in your search results.

“Scope and content

The sub-series, consisting of photographs identified as “Army numerical”, which unlike the majority of other Army, RCN or RCAF imagery, was not assigned an alphabetic prefix. Printed copies of the negatives exist within 110 albums (printed as contact sheets with caption information), originally part of DND FA19. This is basically an inventory of Army photographs from mainly, but not exclusively, the Second World War (see below for details). The photographs are arranged numerically, chronologically and by region. Volumes 1-58 depict operations in the United Kingdom; volumes 59-73 are designated generally as DND; volumes 74-107 show North West Europe; the last three albums of the 110-volume series are titled: Secret 1; Secret 2; and Secret 3. United Kingdom albums include such subjects as: Army training; troop arrivals and departures; invasion exercises; hospitals; Royal visits; Dieppe survivors; Investitures at Buckingham Palace; mail ships; War Brides; funerals; mining in Wales; Canadian Forestry Corp in Scotland; sports meets; etc. DND albums consist of mainly Canadian troops in North Africa, Canada and Australia, Sicily and Italy. North West Europe albums are comprised of mainly Canadian troops in Belgium, France, Holland, and Germany. The many subjects depicted in this sub-series include: Canadians in action; Invasion Operations; refugee evacuations; CWACs; Victory Loans; tanks; mine-clearing school; POWs; Landing Beaches; German prisoners; Royals inspecting troops; Canadian General Hospitals; Nursing Sisters; cemeteries; mines; snipers; Amphibious Operations; Dieppe Raid; Red Cross; sweeping the shipping channel; Russian Generals; evacuation of Belgium children to Switzerland; D-Day Landings; Churchill visit; pipeline construction; liberation of concentration camp; surrender of Nazis to Foulkes; official delivery of surrender terms; liberations of Utrecht and The Hague; Montgomery meets Rokossovsky; peace celebrations; disarming program; bomb damage seen from air; Food and Surrender Conference; Victory Parades; Germans removing minefields; Canadian repatriation; Canadian War Art exhibition; etc.”

I want to thank the following people for allowing me the opportunity to serve alongside staff at Library & Archives to provide such a valuable Canadian resource;

Karine Gélinas (Project Manager, Public Services Branch); Satya Miller (Metadata Control Officer, Public Services Branch); Jean Matheson (Consultation and Reference Officer, Public Services Branch); Lynn Lafontaine (Consultation and Reference Officer, Public Services Branch); Alexander Comber (Military Archivist for Library and Archives).

Please contact Library & Archives Canada regarding any of the content within the WWII albums. As well, feel free in contacting me should you have questions or wish to retain my services in acquiring access to any of the b&w negatives that make up the many thousands of images within the WWII albums.

© 2020 Dale Gervais

Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale retired in September, 2018, after almost 36 years as a Film Conservator at Library & Archives Canada.