A lot of us are new to this forum plus often have no military background. I have been reading quite a few diaries now and have indeed posted a number of times for information in understanding abbreviations etc. Thanks to those who reply. What I am still lacking is an overall understanding how they were used at the time and whether they were ever expected to form long term historical records. I am also interested if anyone has any 'instructions' from the era on how they were to be compiled, particularly as the 30+ that I have so far copied and read have considerable differences in level of detail, style and content. Many record grid references and named places, others simply 'in the field'. I am also amazed that many are typewritten. I can understand that for a more 'static' formation like a depot, workshop or storage unit but the most detailed and neatest diary so far has probably been for a Royal Artillery Regiment on winter mountaintops in Italy! Who actually wrote them or were they typically written or typed up by a Clerk from dictation from a senior officer or did people use Shorthand as I know there were shorthand courses listed in the Diary of a RASC Training Depot. I am also interested in one of the supplementary bits of paperwork that is often included. This is the 'Field Return of other Ranks'. Split into Part A, B and C Description of other Ranks whose return to the Unit is particularly requested, what exactly did they mean by particularly, surely any man absent for medical, training or secondment should have been recorded or was this a way of units trying to make sure men did not get purloined elsewhere particularly if they had a useful additional skill or trade? Hopefully any replies can give a good foundation for newcomers to the forum.