During the Korean War, Australian infantry battalions served as part of British, and later Commonwealth brigades. The first Australian ground forces committed to Korea, 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), arrived in late-September 1950. The Australians joined two British battalions on 1 October 1950 to form the 27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade.
The brigade was redesignated the 28th Commonwealth Brigade on 28 July 1951 when the original British battalions were withdrawn and 3RAR was joined by a second Australian battalion (successively 1RAR and 2RAR) under Australian command.
These units came under the overall command of the 1st Commonwealth Division, formed by 25th Canadian Brigade, the 28th Commonwealth Brigade and 29th Independent Infantry Brigade during June and July 1951.
The command records of the 27th/28th Commonwealth Brigade, along with those of 1st Commonwealth Division HQ were preserved in the United Kingdom after the war. Until 2013 it was not possible to access these in Australia. As a result, difficulties arose placing the battalion level diaries in their context with higher-level formation records or gain an authentic impression of a unit's role within the overall operational plan.
AWM373 allows digital access to these records for researchers and complements the Memorial's existing Korean War unit diary collection.
In 2012, digital copies of the Korean War diaries were purchased by the Memorial from The National Archives (UK) series WO 281 - War Office: British Commonwealth Division of United Nations Force: War Diaries, Korean War. The following diaries were selected as they relate most closely to the Australian experience for the duration of the war:
27th (British/Commonwealth) Infantry Brigade, Sep. 1950 - Apr. 1951; 28th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, Apr. 1951 - Dec. 1953; 1st Commonwealth Division Headquarters, Jun. 1951 - Aug. 1951 along with "G" Branch of the division headquarters, Sept. 1951 - Dec. 1953 and some miscellaneous support units.
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in analysing events in order to learn from them, as a reliable record of events for evidential purposes, and for future historical reference.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 contain day-to-day entries, though in most cases the entries are just a few lines, commenting on any significant action that took place. Also included in some of the diaries are security orders, operational plans, inventories of supplies and sketched maps.
The diaries pertaining to the Headquarters 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade also contain more detailed maps.
The diaries for "G" Branch are intelligence reports.