Unit histories

Sapper Burke, editor of the 1st Wireless Signal Squadron's unit history

The Oxford companion to Australian military history effectively defines unit histories as those produced by Army unit associations after the end of each of the world wars. Mostly the units are of battalion equivalent. This definition can be expanded to take into account the histories of units in the other services, namely, ships of the Royal Australian Navy and squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The most basic histories are simply compilations of reminiscences, poems and copies of newspaper cuttings and official documents. The standard unit history usually commences with an introduction or foreword by a former significant member of the unit, usually a former commanding officer or someone who has achieved prominence later. The story of the unit’s war service is then outlined. Typically the history will include a nominal roll, a roll of honour and a list of honours and awards, often with citations. Maps, often of a high standard, are normally included as are illustrations, which are usually drawn from the collections of the Australian War Memorial or from private sources. Sourcing and indexing are not common, especially in the case of histories published by battalion associations without access to sophisticated publishing techniques.

[Extract from: Richard Pelvin, “Australian Pacific War unit histories”]

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