As a way to honor the centenary of the Great War, the British National Archives has been hard at work digitizing the WWI diaries of many British military units. The archive has over 1.5 million pages worth of diary entries detailing the day-to-day lives of soldiers during the war. Though they are not what most would consider ‘personal diaries,’ they do provide a wealth of information regarding life in the army during WWI.
The first batch of unit war diaries reveals the real-time account of the first three cavalry (WO 95/1096 to WO 95/1156) and the first seven infantry divisions (WO 95/1227 to WO 95/1670) who were part of the first wave of British army troops deployed in France and Flanders. They cover the entire period of the units’ involvement in the war, from their arrival on the front to their departure at the end of the war.
One of the most interesting parts of the digitization process for these WWI diaries is the archives’ attempt to ‘crowdsource’ the project. While getting the diaries scanned and available for research online is only the first step, there is a wealth of information within the diaries that must be cataloged and tagged before it is useful to researchers. That is where you come in. By visiting Operation War Diary you can read through the diaries and tag them with the appropriate tags, thus helping ‘unlock’ the information for research purposes. Head on over to Operation War Diary and help make these amazing WWI diaries even more useful to historians.