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British Army war diaries 1914-1922
What are these records?
These records are selected war diaries of units in the British Army in the First World War. They include some of the most frequently requested war diaries in a large series of records, WO 95, which contains many records that have not yet been digitised. They are for British and colonial units serving in theatres of operations between 1914 and 1922. They are not personal diaries (try the Imperial War Museum for those).
What information do the records contain?
Some diaries will record little more than daily losses and map references whilst others will be much more descriptive, with daily reports on operations, intelligence summaries and other material. The majority of the diaries cover activity in France, Germany and Belgium.
The diaries do not usually contain information about particular people: they are unit diaries, not personal diaries. A few contain details about awards of the Military Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Many maps and plans were included in the original diaries but some confidential material was removed before the files were made available. This accounts for the absence of some appendices referred to on the covers of many diaries.
How do I search the records?
You can search the records in Discovery, our catalogue, by filling in the form below.
Please note, your results will show all instances of the term(s) you searched for within the record descriptions, as this is currently a keyword search.
If you search only by regiment, your search results will include all the battalions in that regiment.
You do not need to include the word 'regiment', 'battalion' or 'brigade'. For example, to search for a battalion in the Northumberland Regiment, you need only search using the word 'Northumberland'.
Searching is free, but there may be a charge to download documents.
What do the records look like?
With each download, you will typically see a diary of several battalions covering a period of several years. This will be divided into several PDF files, which you can save to your computer. You can then scroll through the PDF files to locate the battalion and dates that you are interested in.
Many of them were scribbled hastily in pencil and use obscure abbreviations, whilst some are the second carbon copy of the original, so they may be difficult to read.
Why can't I find what I'm looking for?
Not all the unit war diaries held by The National Archives have been digitised. Those diaries that haven't been digitised are available to view in their original form at The National Archives in Kew. They are found in record series WO 95.