UK National Archives treasures: WWI war diaries now online.


One site I always make sure to return to is the UK National Archives site. This time, I’m returning to check out the third batch of 724 WWI war diaries from France and Flanders available at their First World War 100 portal.

WWI war diaries from the front.
WWI war diaries from the front.

It’s on this site I’ve found some of the oldest and most intriguing finds of my genealogy research, including the fifteenth century wills of Ann Stone, Hannah Stone and Robert Stone of Wyke Regis, Dorset. These are not just the transcriptions we’ve become used to finding, but are high quality scans of the original wills. Luckily, I’ve had some experience transcribing ‘ye olde Englishe’, so I was able to transcribe them for this site.

The war diaries recently made available provide a glimpse into the daily lives and circumstances of those who took part in the hostilities, especially at the front.

Some highlights from the war diaries now available are:

  • a sports day programme dated 31 October 1917, which notes pillow fighting, wheelbarrow races and wrestling on mules (WO 95/2524/3),
  • two photos giving a ‘how to’ and ‘how not to’ guide to laying trench boards (WO 95/2670/1),
  • three photos of battalion officers from 7th Battalion Black Watch Fife (one of these photos is shown above) (WO 95/2879/5), and
  • sketch of a ‘snapshot’ view from the front (which notes ‘dead animals’ and even a ‘dead Frenchman’) (WO 95/2970/3).

Are you interested in playing a role in digitizing, tagging, and capturing data from WWI war diaries?

To participate and contribute, go to the Operation War Diary website.

It is highly recommended that a modern browser be used since www.operationwardiary.org uses advanced browser features and is designed to be used on a PC with IE version 9 (or higher), or with latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari on a Mac.

photo credit: Hampshire and Solent Museums via photopin cc