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"Notes from War Diaries" General Staff, Army Hedquarters, India


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  A constant  source of depression in archive work is when things are missing from where they are supposed to be.  Balanced out very occasionally by finding something that has been misplaced when looking for something else.   The War Diary for 2nd South Lancashire  for 1914-November 1915 is available on Ancestry  (It's at the beginning of the roll of film-run it back or it will tend to show 1/4th South Lancashire, which follows it)

   The 2nd South Lancs WD was obviously written on some very flimsy paper and the pages have been mounted at some stage (almost certainly when in the care of Sir James Edmonds).  Some of the pages for 1915 have been mounted on gash pages of a confidential printed series of  General Staff, India.  The full title of one of them is:

 

     Confidential Series  No.7/1052

 

      Notes from War Diaries. Part  CCCXCIV

 

       Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force  

          (Force "D")

 

General Staff, Army Headquarters, India, October 1917

 

As examples of what may be there, there is a report of a small cavalry action by 32nd Lancers, Indian Army in June 1917 (at frame 140 on the South Lancs WD)

 

 

 

or, a  reprort from Assistant-Director of Veterinary Services, Cavalry Division, March 1917 (af Frame 152)

 

   Now this looks as if it could be a very valuable series-  if only it could be located.  The printers' code on the issues used for backing S.Lancs WD suggest a print-run of 50 copies.   I can find no reference to this series on  GWF before. It does not figure on COPAC, Worldcat or Discovery.   A very few issues are noted at  the British Library, South Asian Archives (still the India Office Library to me-too old to change on that).  Alas, the entries say that the runs were destroyed by normal weeding pre-1960. There appear to be a few index listings of this series from 1918-1919  at BL.

    Now both as a bookseller and doing the odd bit of History-Bashing, I am well aware of these internally printed materials being like Hen's Teeth when trying to find them-they are neither published blue books nor "public records" within the meaning of the UK records legislation.  Many historians are used to the Foreign Office and Colonial Office Confidential Print from Victorian times, as well,say, as Committee of Imperial Defence records in the Cabinet papers at Kew(a reconstruct from other sources). I have seen some Confidential print from other departments(eg War Office for the Gordon Relief Expedition and some Treasury stuff).

 

      So-simple question-  does anyone know where there might be a complete run of these beasties? -they look very useful indeed for Mespot.  I would hope that our horse-loving colleague SB might know something.   If not, could we start looking?

 

      British military archives remaining in India is a hit-and-miss topic but that seems the likeliest place for a set of them.  Should be out there somewhere.  As the S.Lancs WD was mounted at a later date (Obviously post-1917) then I will try to ascertain if Edmonds had a set and whether they are extant (I do not have a copy of the biography of Edmonds and his work on the "officials" but would be grateful if some kindly member would do a look-up and report).

 

   PS-Not National Army Museum either

      And trying Google laterally throws up a reference to a run/set of these used by  Kaushik Roy in his Oxford book "Indian Army and the First World War"

 

I mages taken from War Diary, 2nd South Lancashire, digitised by The National Archives. Reproduced with my thanks and for fair use and scholarly pruposes only (Now...if David Underdown could locate a set of this stuff at Kew, that would be just dandy :wub:

 

Indian Army and the First World War: 1914–18

By Kaushik Roy

 

 

NOTES FROM WAR DIARIES- SL-140.jpg

notes from war diaries-152.jpg

Edited by Guest
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Off-hand, no idea, but I wil have a rummge through my (ahem) 'Extensive Library' tomorrow and see if I can find any references.

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If these are selected extracts from Unit War Diaries that have been printed then they could be very helpful indeed as capable of being optically scanned/read ?

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This does not look good. I picked one record at random in BL:

 

1963937912_GWFNotesFromWarDiariesBL.JPG.54e1354508f6f28143f71b46d76ba22b.JPG

Edit- but this "destroyed in weeding" doesn't appear on all files so perhaps some are still accessible ?

 

eg for CCXCIV:

 

70397293_GWFNotesFromWarDiariesBL2.JPG.520af052795e4d84facba2bff04a238a.JPG

 

Edited by charlie962
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  Hi Charlie- Yes, the Waziristan stuff at TNA is the same sort of stuff but a continuation of the wartime series.  The dreaded words "weeded"  are, of course, to be deplored. It looks -possibly-as if this format may have been used before. Tom Pakenham in his history of the Boer War reports that there was in existence a "diary" of the  Boer War maintained by the War Office-and destroyed through weeding c.1950.

   I do not have the recently published book on the Indian Army so my browsing is limited to the free sample provided by Mr. Google. But Kaushik Roy clearly had access to a good run of stuff. at the Indian Archives.  As the extract references I could peruse included  stuff relating to the Black Watch, then it would seem that all of Force D Mespot was covered and not just the Indian Army regiments.   However, trying to get to an accurate listing of what the Indian archives actually has through its website has defeated me more than once- If you can do it and get at Kaushik Roy's reference sources, then you are a better man than I am Gunga Din.

    At a tangent, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just issued (19th may)  a new listing of "retained" records rather than the "migrated" records which caused such a furore a while back (Well, Ben Macintyre was in a hissy-fit about it)- the awkward "End of Empire" stuff that was held back at Hanslope Park.  The new listing is  c. another 600,000 files (Yes, easily overlooked-as if)  Begs the question -  is there a MOD  equivalent to Hanslope Park (I think very likely)  and what is in it?  I am not conspiratorial as regards the "management" of records by our successive governments but given the vast numbers of clerks employed and the sheer size of the military effort in both wars, it seems to me a racing certainty that there are still chunks of  "retained" records out there- My particular beef is that anything that might have legal consequences is missing-  Captured officers not exonerated, etc. (AG3 section) 

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The Mespot war diaries have themselves been digitised of course.

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59 minutes ago, David_Underdown said:

The Mespot war diaries have themselves been digitised of course.

I have accessed a number of these and there are considerable gaps.  I wonder whether the printed versions are 'management highlights' and whilst excluding a lot of mundate matter might have the benefit of having some extracts from Diaries where the original has long since diasappeared ?

 

Charlie

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 However, trying to get to an accurate listing of what the Indian archives actually has through its website has defeated me more than once-

What about this listing of 468 results for 'Notes from War Diaries'?

 

Searching in that screen linked above, using 'War Diary' or 'War Diaries' etc  brings up all sorts of potentially useful files but only useful if you are able to go to the BL ! (which I cannot)

 

Here is an example I took from Kaushik Roy and by taking the title of his source and puting it into the search page it came up without problem:

"Recruiting in India"

 

Charlie

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I wonder what useful records  were weeded here :

 

Title:

Collection 425/849 Disposal and location of British prisoners captured at Kut-el-Amara.

Collection Area: India Office Records and Private Papers

Reference: IOR/L/MIL/7/18017

Creation Date: 1916

Extent and Access:
Extent:
1 file
Access Conditions: Destroyed:

Language: English

Contents and Scope:
Appraisal:
Destroyed in weeding process pre-1960

------------------------------------------------------------------

 

And what is this file about ?

 

Title:

Collection 456/78: War 1914-1918: Treatment of coases on account of the surrender of Kut, Mesopotamia.

Collection Area: India Office Records and Private Papers

Reference: IOR/L/F/7/2750

Creation Date: 1916

Extent and Access:
Extent:
1 File

Language: English

 

If the language is English, what is a COASE and is it catching ?

It is your fault, Mr V, you have me trawling catalogues and finding files that I cannot see !

 

Charlie

 

Edited by charlie962
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Charlie-aka Gunga - thank you for that good news-   Exactly what was needed.  Attention bought to a potential source which is not generally known  -the more so if there but "hidden in plain sight" in an archive catalogue.   I will try to get to BL  and report back.  

 

David Underdown is quite right-and helpful as ever-  regarding digitisation of War Diaries for Mespot. The big "but" is twofold:

 

  1)  Not all WDs have survived and even if parts  only are quoted, then we are better off than before in terms of knowledge that can be had.

 

   2) The few extracts from South Lancashire WD  show that there is a lot of ancillary material from smaller units-perhaps too small to have had a regular war diary of the sort we know and love when trying to zap the elusive beasties on Ancestry.

 

       Thank you for your sleuthing-Exactly what was wanted and a desirable result (ie I can get down the Victoria Line  for free on my Over 60 and Knackered Oyster Card  rather than book a flight to Delhi). Very good news indeed for some of my rather elusive Mespot. casualties-Thanks again for putting some time in on this

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

I recall your previous thread here

 

    Deliberate to raise it again-  MOD is a gargantuan body-If one looks at the agglomeration of archival junk  on the new  FCO listing, then it seems all the more probable that  there is a similar graveyard out there for MOD stuff-if only given the prospect of the huge amounts that must have been generated.  

   The new FCO highlights one problem-  that of Departmental Record Officers and their holdings. Stuff for Kew is covered by Public Records legislation (however easy it is for something to be kept back), blue books are in the public domain. But the general custom for the Victorian and Edwardian periods certainly was to shove all the books and papers of a departing  Permanent Secretary into the Departmental Records and just leave them there-I had an experience of this when chasing some printed materials generated by the Gold and Silver Commission some 30 years back-the Treasury told me on the quiet that it had all sorts of junk stashed away but not a clue as to what. And on another occasion I had the chance to see inside the Home Office in Queen Anne's Gate- I was simply amazed at what they had on open shelves, let alone what was still kept back-There were hundreds of volumes  on Victorian child abuse cases-OK, not my cup of tea but the "closure for  personal detail" rules do suggest VERY strongly that there is still stuff to come following 100 year closure- and much of the stuff would have been generated in the immediate post-war years should be coming up-Better to raise it on GWF and chase it rather than the stuff might be quietly binned. It is distressing when getting out files-like the Mespot listings at BL-to see that the stuff survived for donkey's years only to go in some casual weeding exercise decades later.

    So,Yes, harping on an old theme- but until the formal clinical diagnosis of paranoia, then the odds are that there is a lot of MOD stuff still kicking around.

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The series of War Diaries at the British Library appear to be War Diaries for Army Headquarters India, so hard to guess what could be there, and I am unaware of anyone who has looked at them and what they found.

 

They are all from the Military Department Library, so they are printed volumes. which means you don't need to interpret handwriting.

 

IOR/L/MIL/17/5/2421-4246 1914-1921. Military Department Library: Indian Army First World War - War Diaries.

 

The entries which include War Diary in the individual entry are from IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3001. War diary, Army Headquarters India, Indian Expeditionary Force 'A' [France]. IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3086-3149; IE Force 'B' and ‘C’ [East Africa] IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3150-3222; IE Force 'D' [Mesopotamia] IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3223-3892, including IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3788 A table of the contents of the war diaries of the Mesopotamian Campaign; IE Force 'E'/'E' & 'G'/Egypt and F. IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3893-3950; IE Force 'G' [Mediterranean] IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3951- 3953; Aden Force IOR/L/MIL/17/5/3954-4056; India, Afghan War IOR/L/MIL/17/5/4057-4065; India, Frontier Operations IOR/L/MIL/17/5/4066-4121; Persia IOR/L/MIL/17/5/4122-4223.

 

Some of these volumes are Indian Army Casualty Returns, explained in the British Library article "Finding Indian soldiers who served in World War One"

 

Cheers

Maureen

 
 
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4 hours ago, Maureene said:

The series of War Diaries

as distinct from "Notes from War Diaries"

 

I'm having fun searching this catalogue!

 

Charlie

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5 hours ago, charlie962 said:

as distinct from "Notes from War Diaries

 

The 'Notes from War Diaries' are part of  the larger category War Diaries, according to  the record catalogue reference.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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I will try to get a few of these out at BL this week.  I am slightly puzzled by a couple of things-  why this run of stuff is not better known in it's UK location- and why it's cataloguing is a little unusual. A serial publication (which it is) would normally be catalogued under one heading, with the gaps noted  in the "Details" link on BL's standard cataloguing.  The  listing of each individual surviving part is most confusing. Now...if we can just persuade BL to digitise the stuff............   

 

2)   Charlie- I will be glad to order up this file to see what a "coase" is (apart from a Nobel Prize Winner for Economics)-  I suspect that it may be a matter that dear old Spike commented on when he signed himself as "Spine Millington, the well-known typing error". With all respects to David Underdown, archive cataloguers do make mistakes-  There are still many treasures to be found  in archives that have been catalogued already.   

Title:

Collection 456/78: War 1914-1918: Treatment of coases on account of the surrender of Kut, Mesopotamia.

Collection Area: India Office Records and Private Papers

Reference: IOR/L/F/7/2750

Creation Date: 1916

Extent and Access:
Extent:
1 File

Language: English

 

If the language is English, what is a COASE and is it catching ?

It is your fault, Mr V, you have me trawling catalogues and finding files that I cannot see !

 

    Guilty-but it is good fun!!     On a serious note,one always has to be on guard for the difference between "weeded" and "destroyed". The latter generally means  it has been shredded or burnt(but not always- there are cases are archive stuff officially "destroyed" which have later turned up)- and weeded which is not a synonym-to me, weeded means the stuff COULD be elsewhere and one should be on guard-My experience  on Foreign Office and Colonial Office stuff in times past is that when one gets a file that has been heavily weeded, then there is often a reference somewhere on the file jacket-which is outside of any publicly known registry system-  There is little point in Civil Servants moving the stuff is they don't know how to find it again.  It's for that reason that I suspect that there was-and hopefully- still is a chunk of AG stuff on "problem" cases-officers exonerations- as the numbers on the odd records that have popped up in officer files are on a different registry system to anything known (and the printer's codes for the AG3 forms suggests there could be 10,000  or more of these records.)

   We're not done yet with the Great War.  For instance, I have a casualty who died as a clerk working for the Directorate of Hirings- the body that bought and requisitioned stuff in France. It must have been a huge organisation but there is nary a record of it anywhere on Discovery-though legal matters arising must have continued for donkey's years after 1918.  No reference materials kept? No specimen files?  Highly unlikely

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6 hours ago, David_Underdown said:

I would never claim perfection by cataloguers.  I suspect these have been catalogued as archive style, rather than as serials.  When possible archives catalogue down to item level.  May also depend on what original cataloguing they came from the India Office with originally.

 

   Thank you David-   yes, archivists do seem a bit troubled with printed materials. But at least this lot has got some deserved publicity. I will be going to the India Office Library on Saturday-so will try to ascertain the complete format of each issue, provenance and previous cataloguing history and report back.

 

   Are you sure you haven't got a set tucked away somewhere.................  This set looks pretty certain to have come from the India Military bods in London-but there should have been a set with the War Office if  it  included details of  British units and not just formally those of the Indian Army. If FCO can "accidentally" overlook  600,000 files (as if), then anything is possible.

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  • 1 month later...

Another run of pages from this series- very helpfully, some index pages listing what units and what diaries were covered can be found on Ancestry -used as backing paper for  War Diary 2nd Middlesex for the Spring of 1918

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  • 2 months later...

Have you looked at these QLA or this More QLA. Lots of good stuff there.

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Thanks for this Mart-   I will give it a good scrutiny and post some info. for others on GWF.  See if I can get some more info about the project from BL tomorrow.  Must say that tripping across a digital library in Quatar  means your loveable dog must like some very,very long walks:wub:

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Kia has a very good nose, he is the truffle hound of India Intelligence Branch publications.

 

 

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The Qatar Digital Library was set up some years ago (?5) and most of the contents are from the India Office Records at the British Library.  All the funding was from Qatar. MartH must be using better search terms, or the Search has improved, as I have always found it quite difficult to actually locate titles.

 

On the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Mesopotamia Campaign  https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Mesopotamia_Campaign the following are copied from, and are links to the Qatar Digital Library

 

Cheers

Maureen

 

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On 01/11/2019 at 23:34, Maureene said:

MartH must be using better search terms, or the Search has improved, as I have always found it quite difficult to actually locate titles.

 

I understand how to search for things on computers and in databases, use to do it for a living and have 30 years experience in using matching software.

 

Here are some tips:

 

Remember that the material you are looking for may has been miss-filed or misspelled

Start with a wide search and avoid words like "the", "of"

Open up all the filters, use them towards the end of the search process, the QDL has some very good ones.

Remember to use the "+" to make sure that term is in all the results, and a "-" to discard results with that term.

Use " " to enclose a words to be returned such as "official history"

Think about how you search for reports, always best to use the authors name or where it is published as a + term

If you get a long list from your search use Ctrl F to search on the page.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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