Unit War Diaries and Commander's Diaries
Digitised images of selected original war diaries recording the daily activities of Australian Army units are available for the following conflicts:
- First World War - AWM4
Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War
- Second World War - AWM52
2nd AIF (Australian Imperial Force) and CMF (Citizen Military Forces) unit war diaries, 1939-45 War
- Korean War - AWM85
Australian Army unit war diaries, Korea
- Korean War Unit diaries - AWM373
Korean War Unit Diaries - British Infantry Brigades and Commonwealth Division Headquarters
- South East Asian Conflicts - AWM95
Australian Army commanders' diaries
Not all war diaries and commander's diaries held by the Memorial are available online. The Memorial has selectively digitised war diaries from its various collections based on preservation needs and high usage. The remaining diaries may be viewed in the Reading Room of the Memorial’s Research Centre.
Note: Some Australian units served as part of higher British formations. The war diaries for these formations, which provide the context for Australian operations, are not held by the Memorial.
While on active service army headquarters, formations, and units are required to keep war diaries recording their daily activities. The purpose of the diaries is twofold: to provide data on which future improvements in training, equipment, organisation, and administration can be based; and to provide future historians with a record of activities of units and formations in operational periods.
The war diaries generally consist of war diary or intelligence summary sheets located at the beginning of each diary. The sheets 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:
- strength and casualty returns
- routine orders and administrative instructions
- operation orders and instructions
- location statements
- intelligence summaries
- photographs, sketches, maps, and traces
The war diaries vary greatly in the amount and level of detailed information they contain. Their quality generally reflects the skill, dedication, and enthusiasm of the officers in charge of compiling them. They are a historical record of a unit’s administration, operations, and activities, and rarely record information about individual personnel.
All the original records presented here are at least 30 years old, many are much older. Some are recorded on thin paper, some have been written in pencil, some are the result of old-fashioned duplication techniques, many are extremely fragile. Consequently, a number of images may be hard to read. The Memorial has attempted to capture the archival integrity of the documents at the point in time at which they were digitised. They have not been altered or enhanced in any way.
Note: It is difficult to display some of the larger format maps in adequate detail online, so they should be considered as representative images only. If a greater level of detail is required, the original maps can be viewed in the Memorial's Research Centre.