First World War Unit Diaries - 300,000 images and counting!
The Research Centre recently marked, with much celebration, the scanning of 300,000 images for the current major digitisation project involving AWM4, First World War Unit Diaries. These diaries document the daily activities of military units on active service in the First World War and supplement the existing diaries available online.
Planning for this project began in 2005 and following a tender process, scanning onsite commenced in December 2006 by Document Imaging Service (DIS). There are 35 classes of records in total, each corresponding to a Corps or group of the Australian Army. Class 13 relates to Artillery units and it was at this point that the project passed 300,000 images.
The milestone was celebrated with a joint morning tea for DIS and the Research Centre, recognising the skill, dedication, professionalism and knowledge for the collection and everyone involved in the project.
The scanning of the First World War Unit Diaries is two thirds completed and it is expected to take three years to scan 17,980 files. Memorial staff scan oversize items such as maps, charts and plans as well as bound diaries. DIS are also documenting a selection of items in a treasures book to log interesting facts of the military units.
This project has evolved from Lord William (Field Marshal) Birdwood's call to Australian soldiers to submit material relating to their experience of the First World War to the Australian War Records Section to assist in the creation of war museums. A record of Birdwood's request may be found in this typed message dated 14th December 1917.
Files will continue to be released online when they are completed. They can be found at the Australian Army War Diaries web page on the Australian War Memorial's website.