The motto of the Royal Canadian Air Force—per ardua ad astra—through adversity to the stars—might also serve as an apt expression when beginning research on individual Canadian airmen or airwomen of the Second World War. Without a guiding-hand, the first-time researcher is likely to experience some considerable “adversity” before locating their “stars.”

This note introduces the key records and published sources for documenting those individuals who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, as well as directions for locating the records of those Canadians who served in related air elements during the conflict. Many archival records and library sources give some information about these individuals; this note is limited to official records, or to those records compiled from official sources, that are held by the major Canadian and Commonwealth institutions which have the mandate to provide such essential wartime documentation.