Records arranged according to AWM Library subject classification.

Accession Number AWM27
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

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AWM27 is a series of unrelated items processed through the Memorial's early Library Classification decimal system from about 1927 to 1970. The records that now constitute this series originated from many different sources and were classified into the same arrangement so they could be accessed under subject headings.

The records were known as the "classified files" and originally consisted of "files not in a registry but held in the AWM Library, files compiled in the AWM Library for research purposes, miscellaneous material and unit histories".
The unit histories were removed from the classified files and are now controlled as AWM224, Unit manuscript histories. Many of the files "not in a registry" were previously part of the Australian War Records Section Classification Sub-section series. These records were classified according to a three number subject classification scheme developed by the War Records Section and are identified by a distinctive green diamond stamp. As a result of Dr Bean's request to arrange 1914-18 War records chronologically within operational periods, the files were culled of important papers for inclusion in the Operations files (now AWM26) leaving only routine papers in the original arrangement. The files became incomplete and disorganised. Most of the residual files were processed into a more simplified two number classification system and are now known as AWM25, Written records, 1914-18 War. However, some files became separated from the series and were incorporated into AWM27. The research files and miscellaneous material remain in AWM27.

Over the years additional files have been added to the series. Some records accessioned through the Memorial's donated records system were catalogued into AWM27 because of their official content and/or usefulness for research purposes. The Donated Records List (DRL) items within AWM27 can be identified by a stamp placed in the bottom right hand corner of each file recording the DRL number and the classification number, or in some cases the DRL number is found on the back of an item. Some of these donated records have been returned to the Private Records collection but most remain in the series because of their official content. There are also miscellaneous items returned to the Library after use by the official historians and in some cases records donated by private individuals are associated with requests for information by the official historians. A large quantity of material collected or compiled by A G Butler, the medical historian 1914-18 War, was provisionally classified into the series by 1947.

It was originally intended for all the files in AWM27 to be catalogued into the Australian War Memorial Library Classification decimal system, however only part of the classified files were fully processed. The procedure for classifying documentary records was set out in "Rules for the guidance of those engaged in cataloguing the records of the War Memorial Library", using the original classification catalogue. A revised classification scheme was introduced in 1947 to include subject headings for 1939-45 War material. Files were classified under subject headings set out in the alphabetically arranged catalogue of subject headings. Blue and white catalogue cards were prepared for each file, the blue half denoting the class of records and white half recording a reference to Australia or Australian operations. The cards were prepared from catalogue sheets which were retained and filed numerically by catalogue number. The work of classifying these files was never completed and only a small portion of the series was entirely processed through this system of classification. The catalogue sheets have not been located and all the cards relating to the classified files were removed from the card catalogue in 1973.


The contents of this series cover most major conflicts up to the Korean War, including New Zealand 1860-61, Sudan 1885, South African War 1899-02, China 1900-01, 1914-18 War, 1939-45 War, BCOF 1946-51
and Korea 1950-53. There are also records relating to the inter-war periods 1901-14 and 1919-39. Because of the system of arrangement, items relating to all the conflicts are filed together, rather than grouped according to the conflict covered.

Pre 1914-18 War - New Zealand, Sudan, South Africa and China:-

Material relating to New Zealand, Sudan, South Africa and China are mainly items of historical interest rather than files generated for the administration of these conflicts. Of particular interest are item 100/6 - Photographic reproductions of correspondence relating to the service of Victorians in New Zealand; items 100/7 parts 1-3 - Nominal rolls for NSW and Victorian Contingents to China; and items
100/8 to 100/10 - which are records relating to the Victorian Contingent that served in South Africa.

There is also a small run of Defence Central Administration files relating to the operations, administration and personnel of the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) between 1906 and 1913 (items 375/19-375/84). These were probably requested and used by A G Butler for the writing of the official medical history.

1914-18 War:-

The major part of this series relates to the Army, Navy and Australian Flying Corps (AFC) administration and organisation during the 1914-18 War. This material consists of notes, extracts, messages, orders, administrative correspondence, memoranda andinstructions, despatches, cables, personal correspondence, proclamations, research files, newspaper clippings, code books, complimentary messages, special orders, leaflets, historical accounts, copies of journal articles, maps, plans and translations of German documents. A wide range of subjects relating to all theatres of the war are covered and they include files relating to the
organisation of divisions, corps, battalions and other units, the Australian Flying Corps, operations, military procedures, education and training, tactics, intelligence, aircraft, engineering, communications, weapons, tanks, artillery, ammunition, inventions, reconnaissance, gas warfare, German field work plates, transport amenities, casualty returns and strength statistics, repatriation and demobilisation, area organisation, civil defence, sanitation, supplies, prisoners of war, propaganda, censorship, discipline, manpower, food and rations, Australian Branch of the Red Cross Society, voluntary aid organisations, women's organisations, insignia, graves, memorials and ceremonies. There are also many files relating to the organisation and administration of the AAMC including treatment, disease, medical statistics, disposal of sick and wounded, nurses, dental, physiotherapy and hospitals.

Inter-war years:-

Files in this series produced during the inter-war years 1919-39 and post 1939-45 War mainly relate to the Army and RAAF, with a few items relating to the Navy. The material consists of reports, correspondence, extracts, research files, historical accounts, files and notes relating to military publications, copies of speeches and addresses, comments on newspaper and journal articles and copies of journal articles. The files mainly cover topics of historical interest relating to activities during the 1914-18 War and 1939-45 War. Subjects include anniversaries, abbreviations of military acronyms, military equipment, repatriation, voluntary organisations, war cemeteries, memorials, ceremonies, service organisations, commemoration, statistics used for research purposes and military publications. There are also a few files relating to medical administration in the Army and AWM Library research material and correspondence files.

1939-45 War:-

The 1939-45 War material covers all the defence services and mainly constitutes files of information compiled or collected for research purposes rather than operational, unit and administrative records produced by the services. This material consists of correspondence, instructions, lists, notes, reports, orders, messages, nominal rolls, copies of minutes, chronologies, proclamations, leaflets, maps, historical accounts, copies of speeches, forms, newspaper extracts, personal accounts and Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Field Unit recording transcripts. The subjects cover all theatres of activity and include operations, information documenting unit activities, censorship, anniversaries, FELO leaflets, "Sparrow Force" and other special forces, prisoners of war, propaganda, ships, speeches, military publications, voluntary and service organisations, Japanese medical services, malaria, hygiene and sanitation, meningitis, cholera, medical committees, disease prevention, military camps in Australia, postal history, chemical munitions, camouflage, rehabilitation, clothing and food ration and the Australian Red Cross Society.

BCOF and Korea:-

There is only one item in this series relating to BCOF (item 501/1), a disposal report on chemical munitions for Operations Lewisite BCOF. Two items relate to the war in Korea - item 100/12, a report on British Commonwealth naval operations in Korea and item 552/3, two North Korean war bonds.


The material was found divided into four distinctive blocks - subject classified files stamped with the decimal numbering and already listed, files not classified by the decimal numbers but listed with a running number imposed, boxes of files marked "subject classified medical" mostly with a pencilled classification number and boxes of files marked "subject classified material". The stamped material was listed during the 1980's and arranged in numerical sequence. The "medical" material contains a large number of files processed under the 370 to 377 medical classified headings, however there is also material not related to medical administration. This portion was marked with pencilled classification numbers rather than stamped. The files not classified but listed by a running number with a "A" prefix have been removed from AWM27 and separately registered as
AWM252. Although some of the files were flagged with subject categories they had not been allocated classification numbers and the decision was made to make them a new series because the work needed to classify them could not be justified. The "A" numbers were imposed in 1987 after listing of these items for access examination.

During processing many files were identified as belonging to other series. Files of rough notes, correspondence and draft chapters relating directly to the compilation of "The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918" have been removed from AWM27 and placed in the series AWM41, Official History, 1914-18 War: Records of A G Butler, Historian of the Australian Army Medical Services. The files were all identified as being either collected or compiled by A G Butler for research during the writing of the medical history. Files which could not be identified as being produced by the Official Historian remain in AWM27. Part of a series of Department of Defence registered "AIF" files has been extracted and separately registered as AWM253. A few files from other early 1914-1918 War registries have been identified by their registry stamp and classification number, and these have been returned to their original series (AWM10, AWM16 etc).

The series was first listed by Official Records staff using the subject classified decimal number found on each item with a running number imposed in square brackets if more than one item had the same classification number. The series was renumbered in 1994. The primary subject classification numbers were retained but any secondary decimal points dropped, and a running item number imposed. This imposed item number is now separated from the classification number by a slash rather than square brackets. For example 21.2[1] is now numbered 21/1.

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