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UK WWI War Diaries

Fold3 Image - Daily summaries for 20th Battalion, 2nd Division, 2nd Light Brigade
Do you have family members who served with the British Army during World War I? Look for their units in Fold3’s UK WWI Diaries to discover what they experienced during the war!

The UK WWI War Diaries are unit diaries (not personal diaries) via the National Archives of the UK that document operations and movements for British and colonial units serving between 1914 and 1920 in France, Belgium, and Germany, as well as in the Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign (in what is now Turkey but was then the Ottoman Empire). On Fold3, these diaries are separated into two titles: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium, And Germany) and UK, WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli-Dardanelles).

As required, all units on active duty kept a daily record of events. They were written by a junior officer, then approved by a commanding officer. Some diaries contain more information or are more descriptive or detailed than others, though most if not all record at least the date and location. While some diaries contain daily reports, intelligence summaries, tactics, and general observations, others merely record things like losses (casualties, fatalities, etc.) and map references. Likewise, the format in which the information was recorded can vary widely from diary to diary, as can the types of supplementary documents included.

Though individuals may be mentioned by name, the purpose of these diaries was to record information about the movements and actions of the unit as a whole, not to focus on particular people. Still, the war diaries can be helpful in fleshing out your understanding of what your family member experienced, as you can learn where your family member’s unit was on a given day and what activities the unit was involved in.

On Fold3, these diaries are organized by regiment, division, then sub unit. Some diaries may be somewhat challenging to read as they might be handwritten or may be carbon copies of the original records. This may require you to browse through the documents rather than relying solely on search results for the information you’re looking for. 

Do you have family members who served with the British Army during WWI? Tell us about them! Or get started looking for the units your British WWI ancestors belonged to in Fold3’s UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium, And Germany) and UK, WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli-Dardanelles).

17 Comments

  1. Are there war diaries for the American units during WWI?

    • UK

    • I know there are pages where you can add information for American service members. I added info for my uncle, who was missing in action in the pacific. I added that the US Army returned his remains some 60 years after he was declared Missing in Action – presumed dead. Can’t remember where exactly these pages are but found them by searching for my uncle by name.
      Zoe

  2. Are there any WW1 diaries for the Austrian Army , as my Father -in Law
    served in the Austrian Army during that time ?

    • try this link https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/AWM4/ or search for “Australian War Diaries” They are available at a couple different sites.

    • The link below, may get you started in a good direction. I never served in a war, but I am a U.S. Navy Journalist & I came across the same link as well, though I could see how the title could be misleading.

      It amazes me that so many people in 2016, still confuse Austria with Australia. They mean well, but it really is quite sad. Here is the link:

      http://www.war-diary.com/worldwar1.htm

      You MUST SCROLL DOWN, to the bottom where the Lime-Green Heading DOES, indeed have the word, “Austrian” in it.

      I am currently on my phone and I’m afraid the print is two small for my eyes, but I did see at least two names. Perhaps you will find information, regarding your father-in-law there? I wish you well in your search.

      Sincerely,

      JO3 Cher Grace

  3. My father was drafted into in the US National Army and National Guard. Served as a private from August 7, 1918 to July 1919.. He was sent to France on October 6, 1918 and served under the Command of Edwin F. Glenn. He remained in Europe until 1919.

    Do you have any information on this service by our US Army?

    • Maj. Gen. Edwin F Glenn commanded the 83rd Division, which trained at Camp Sherman in Ohio. This was part of the National Army (drafted men). It moved overseas in May/June 1918 and became the 2nd Depot Division, responsible for training replacement and casual troops. Some units were detached from the 83rd and served with other Divisions in the Meuse-Argonne campaign and in Italy. About 10 pages on the 83rd are in Vol 2 of “Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War” which can be downloaded at http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/023/23-2/index.html (12 MB file). Some interesting film footage about training at Camp Sherman is available at the National Archives website, catalog.archives.gov/id/24715 — enjoy!

    • Thank you for your reply and the information, very helpful.

  4. NARA holds unit histories at NARA II (College Park).

  5. Are there war diaries for WWII? I am new to this and haven’t searched much yet, still getting used to the site. Thanks for your info.

  6. On May 3 my wifes uncle was killed in Action at Courtneys Post, Gallipoli. He was a member of the Australian Military Forces. His name is Harold Vernon Jordan and his military number was 331. A fellow soldiers hand written diary records how he and 5 others were buried.This diary was found among my mother in Laws things after she died. My wife visited the Courtneys Post cemetery and the six graves are in a row each grave site has the words ” Believed to be buried in this Cemetery”:She would have liked to know the actual facts behind his and his comrades deaths, was it MG fire, bombs , artillery , hand to hand fighting?
    Hoping for some details

    • Donald,
      I had a look to see if he came up in The Red Cross records that are on the AWM site, to see if any information had been recorded for Harold Jordan, ser no 331, 14th Batt. Unfortunately, no luck. The Red Cross collected information, sometimes well after the event, (after the war), from people who may have been witness to the fatality. Maybe one of the others was recorded, but I could not find Harold. His service record just records, “KIA”. This was Albert Jacka’s, (VC) , unit. The book “Hard Jacka” covers his service on Gallipoli. Might give you an idea of what was going on at the time. On another note, I see Harold is down to have his name displayed on the side of the War Memorial in Canberra, later this month. Check out the times and dates on the AWM site, and happy hunting. My only suggestion is go through the Red Cross records, for the 14th. Search for someone who died on the 1st of May 1915, and see if Harold happens to get a mention. This could be a lot of names, but you might get lucky, and he is mentioned, while they are interviewing for another soldier. Cross referencing was not good, so just a mention of “Jordan”, will not create a record for Jordan. Cheers

  7. My uncle was a volunteer in the Canadian/American Polish Volunteers who served under the command of the British. He was sixteen years old when he left home to fight.

    Any records of that volunteer unit?

    Ski

  8. What about Middle East – Libya, etc. in WWII?

  9. I was just wondering if Canadian diaries, were also included?

    • In searching for my husband’s grgrandfather who enlisted in Canada in WWI, I ran across the following site: Ancestry.com. Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918 [database on-line]. The records are at Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. An inquiry, about the specific record I found, sent to them received a quick response stating they are still digitizing the specific box and will send a copy of the record when completed.