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Remembered Today:

First Tranche of New Digitised War Diaries Online


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Just saw this on the TNA website

Today The National Archives is making thousands of digitised First World War unit war diaries from France and Flanders available online.

The unit war diaries are among the most popular records from our First World War collection (file series WO 95) and the first in a series of First World War records to be digitised as part of our centenary programme - First World War 100.

Increasing access online

We have digitised around 1.5 million pages of war diaries so far, and will be releasing them throughout this year.

This first batch of unit war diaries reveals the real-time account of the first three cavalry and the first seven infantry divisions who were part of the first wave of British army troops deployed in France and Flanders, just over 300,000 pages in total.

It seems to be all the diaries from Divisional HQ downwards for the units involved.

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great stuff, there's a few i've been waiting for.

[edit] been transcribing a few, quite easy and fascinating. crowd sourcing is the way to go!

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auchonvillerssomme

The news reports on Radio 5 live are a bit misleading, they have been reporting that they are free and are personal diaries of soldiers.

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The news reports on Radio 5 live are a bit misleading, they have been reporting that they are free and are personal diaries of soldiers.

Yes, a comment to that effect by Andy Robertshaw (re personal diaries) - I think there must be more to this project than just the official war diaries

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Yes the early radio reports were rather muddled and did indeed imply that these were soldiers' personal diaries. Later on a chap from the NA who was interviewed ( not Andy Robertshaw in this case) did try to put the matter straight by explaining that they were unit war diaries. However he did also say that a lot of additional material is included alongside including, particularly in the early war period, some personal accounts by individuals.

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Just been reported on Breakfast News on BBC. Luke is interviewed. If my memory is correct from Conference, it is the same Luke.

Mandy

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Yes, just seen the BBC Breakfast coverage with the ubiquitous Bob Hall (how does he get all the military history reports going?)...and the coverage is irritating as it is muddling war diaries with 'diaries' and loading rather over-emotional commentary on top of it.

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But 'Discovery' remains as difficult to navigate as ever.

I suppose it must just be me, but I simply can't get the hang of it and always, ALWAYS struggle to find anything :(

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Graeme,

STREWTH! Even I can find things....

It's brilliant - thanks!

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Hi is it just me or is 'Discovery' very hard to use ? Can not find any of the first 7 Infantry divisions !!

Paul

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It is not that hard. Enter something like '7 AND division' in the search term, and 'WO95' in the 'search within'. It also helps if, once the results have been returned, you hit 'sort by reference'.

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I dont think it is easy. May be because the site is overwhelmed today?

My problems with the NA Kew catalogues go back years so this could be user error. But today my searches either failed (not enough info provided about how to enter Division and Number) or led me to the complete catalogue listing of War diaries.

Thanks for the advice above Chris -about inserting AND but non experts need guidance.

Then I tried the operation War Diaries link which did, in theory, lead to a tutorial but I failed the tutorial too. The pop up screen asked one to select on a greyed out page and if one closed the pop up, one lost the tutorial. A further choice led to me a non-operational link.

A fresh effort (1 Battalion East Surrey Unit selected at random because it was shown in a list of results) led to my being asked to pay £3.36 to download.

In our family archive, I have personal letters from people who did serve in 1914 so I thought it might be a chance to see what they were doing officially. Of course where the infantry is concerned I come as a complete amateur and beginner - It has taken me 11 years to get the hang of the Royal Field Artillery!

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Worryingly, it looks like all the other previously available diaries have been taken offline.Can anyone find anything above WO 95/1669 being available to download?

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Graeme - yep, that's fantastic, many thanks :)

It is not that hard.

Well, I suppose it had to happen. After 10 years or so on GWF, I have finally disagreed with Chris about something :)

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David_Underdown

The other approach to searching is to use quotes rather than the AND that Chris suggests. So I would normally do something like WO 95 "1 battalion" "welsh regiment" (note that has to just be 1 or 2 etc not 1st, 2nd, ...)

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David_Underdown

Has there been any release dates been given on the later diaries ?

Craig

No exact dates yet, but there will be a further batch in the spring and the remainder of what's so far digitised by the end of the year.

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The BBC news radio coverage this morning was nonsense. Goodness knows why. "Soldier's diaries" ... "never before seen" ... yaddayadda.

The BBC web site's no better - and it's a main news story. I used to think it was only small provincial papers that regurgitated press releases without checking anything.

As for the search facility... As Chris says, you can find things if you know how to work it. But, if you go to the search on their war diaries page and submit the sort of search terms that they invite you to, you'll as likely get nothing or 83,000 items from the whole of their index, not just war diaries. How this gets past even rudimentary testing is beyond me.

Anthony

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