ID number AWM85 (AWM85)
Title Australian Army unit war diaries, Korea
Collection Official Record
Object type Official Record
Copying provision Copy provided for personal non-commercial use, permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use


Unit war diaries were produced each month in order to record in detail a unit's activities, and to document any relevant orders or reports. This process was of benefit in analysing events in order to learn from them, as a reliable record of events for evidential purposes, and for future historical reference.

The diaries of 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), the Australian unit with the heaviest and most prolonged commitment, date in this series from November 1948. At that time this unit was still 67th Australian Infantry Battalion and a component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), stationed in Hiro, Japan. (The Royal Australian Regiment had been created, and 65th, 66th and 67th Infantry Battalions redesignated 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, RAR earlier that year.) One month after North Korea launched its invasion of the South (25 June 1950) Acting Australian Prime Minister A W Fadden announced that an army contingent was to be sent to Korea to operate under General Douglas MacArthur. On 28 September 3 RAR arrived in Pusan and joined 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, also lately transferred from Japan. The battalion mounted its first operational patrols on 2 October and had its first major action at Yongju later in the month. When, after withdrawing after the Battle of Kapyong in April 1951, 27th Brigade went into reserve, Headquarters 28th British Brigade replaced Headquarters 27th Brigade and the formation changed designation to become 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. Unlike some British units 3 RAR as a unit was not withdrawn and continued as a constituent member of the Commonwealth Brigade.


In June and July 25th Canadian Brigade, and 28th and 29th Commonwealth Infantry Brigades combined to form 1st Commonwealth Division. In early November 28th Brigade moved into reserve. On 6 April 1952 1 RAR arrived in Korea, soon joining 28th Brigade (1 June) and engaging in its first action, at Hill 227 (2 July). 1 RAR was relieved by 2 RAR on 21 March 1953. 1st Commonwealth Division, in reserve since the previous 31 January, returned to the line on 8 April. Over May and June 2 RAR and 3 RAR returned to the line and were relieved at various junctures. The Armistice took effect from 27 July 1953. Until then most of the Australian battalions' time had been spent in active engagement in combat operations. Thereafter, until April 1956, they were occupied mainly by fortification, training and rehabilitation. The first to be withdrawn, 2 RAR, left in March 1954 and was replaced by 1 RAR (relieved by the former and withdrawn to Australia the previous March). 3 RAR was withdrawn in November 1954, after four straight years' commitment, and 1 RAR in March 1956. The Commonwealth force, now without an Australian component, was renamed Commonwealth Contingent Korea (CCK) the following month.
Between 1954 and 1956 the diaries for units serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), Japan and some of those from Korea were received by the Memorial from the Army's Military History Section in Melbourne. The former were incorporated into series AWM52 with the Second World War diaries, the latter, eventually into series AWM 85. Those Korea diaries not received at this time (namely covering the three infantry battalions during 1950-53), were finally transferred to the Memorial in 1970.
The series comprises the war diaries of 28 British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), and some miscellaneous support units, compiled during their involvement in the Korean War.
The war diaries of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, RAR are in two distinct parts - the diary itself and related appendices to the diary. Those of 28th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade comprise the diary part only. The diary, on Army Form C.2118 or equivalent, is in monthly segments and contains day-to-day descriptions of unit activities and operations. For periods when the unit was engaged in combat operations its diary is generally detailed and voluminous, when in reserve considerably less so. The principal types of records usually included in appendices are Routine Orders (Part 1), field returns, administrative and training instructions, operations orders and instructions, intelligence reports, patrol orders and programmes, monthly reports (medical officer's, quartermaster's, etc), messages and signals, and maps, sketches and traces. Types of records occurring less frequently include company diaries (1 RAR only), nominal and embarkation rolls, operations signal logs, signal instructions, codename lists, standing orders, Routine Orders (Part 2), weather reports, photographs and battalion newsletters (3 RAR only). Some duplicate diaries are missing (eg those of 1 RAR for February 1953 - February 1954) and documents in original diary appendices are sometimes missing from their duplicates. Some units' diary appendices are arranged much better than others. The best organised are those of 3 RAR, in which similar appendices (eg "instructions", "orders", "returns", "reports", "miscellaneous", etc) are generally grouped and attached together and listed at the front in an index/contents page.
Notable documents found in the series also include:
-A Short History of the 1st Battalion RAR, 1945-55, (1RAR, December 1955) (16pp)
-A history of 2RAR in Korea (2RAR, September 1953) (1p)
-Intelligence Brief issued by General Staff (Intelligence), Headquarters, 1st Commonwealth Division (2RAR, June 1953) (0.25cm)
-A complete nominal roll of 3RAR at the time of the ceasefire (3RAR, June 1953)
System of arrangement and control:
The 218 items in the series are arranged by an imposed number system ranging from [1/1] to [10/2]. The initial number for each item indicated a sub-series, arranged by unit or formation as follows:
1/- Headquarters, 28 British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade
2/- 1 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
3/- 2 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
4/- 3 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
5/- HQ BCFK [Headquarters British Commonwealth Forces in Korea]
6/- 1 Commonwealth Division Independent Provost Company
7/- Commonwealth Contingent Korea Provost Section
8/- 6 Australian Advanced 2 Echelon
9/- 71 and 72 Carrier Borne Air Liaison Sections
10/- Cabinet Office & War Office Records Centre