Second World War Diaries Description
While on active service, Australian Army headquarters, formations, and units are required to keep a unit war diary recording their daily activities. Archival series AWM52 comprises the diaries of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (AIF), Citizen Military Forces (CMF), and British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), Japan .
The war diaries generally consist of war diary or intelligence summary sheets located at the beginning of each diary which record the date of each entry, the unit’s location, a summary of events, and any remarks or references to appendices. The appendices, which make up the larger part of each diary, may include: copies of field returns, operation or routine orders, orders or instructions received from higher commands, and each narrative report describing operations drawn up by a subordinate formation or unit. Appendices may also contain sketches, maps, and photographs to supplement the operation reports or the diary in general.
The content of individual war diaries depends on the unit and its functions and daily activities. Overall, however, the main factor controlling the content and quality of content of a particular diary remains the skill, dedication, and enthusiasm of the officer in charge of compiling it. Please note, however, that not all units submitted diaries.
This series has a three-part numbering system:
- the first number represents a corps or a group of related units
- the second number represents the units within the corps, such as battalions, machine gun Battalions, and pioneer battalions
- the third number represents a particular unit within the above sub-group.
In 2001 the Memorial microfilmed Class 1 Headquarter units war diaries for preservation purposes. Digital images were derived from microfilm and made available on the Memorial’s web site for public access. Following the success of this project, Class 8 Infantry Battalion diaries, which were subject to high public demand, were digitised directly from the original records. These are also publicly available on the web site.
Note: At this point in time there are no plans to digitise any further portions of the Second World War war diaries. Diaries not digitised may be viewed in the Reading Room of the Memorial’s Research Centre.
The National Archives of Australia's collection database, RecordSearch, has a more detailed description in the series notes.