War Diaries (Kept at what level - battalion, coy?)

Discussion in 'Unit History' started by Mikeo, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. Mikeo

    Mikeo Member

    Can someone pse tell me at what level (British Army) war diaries were kept?
    Was there a separate war diary for a battalion?
    Did each company keep its own official diary?
    Many thanks in advance.
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Battalion/Regiment or Unit and above. So-called War Diaries do exist for sub units but only on an unofficial basis.
  3. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Mikeo - I assume you are enquiring about the lowest level to which war diaries were kept. My knowledge is limited to armoured regiments, infantry battalions, artillery regiments and the Royal Engineers. For the armoured and infantry WDs were kept at battalion/regimental level. For the artillery it was also regimental level although I believe you can also find battery WDs. Royal Engineer WDs were kept at squadron/company level. You will soon get a mass of info from others more experienced than I!
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Generally at battalion/regiment level but there were smaller units, e.g. Field Companies RE, that were expected to maintain them. Sub-units, like companies of a battalion, could keep war diaries but it was a minority. However, if a sub-unit was formally detached, e.g. the squadron of 6 R Tks that was sent to the Sudan in 1940, they would maintain a diary for the period of the detachment.
  5. Mikeo

    Mikeo Member

    Wow ... thanks for the speedy and comprehensive replies.
    To be more precise, I'm interested in 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.
    These must surely be at TNA but I wonder whether they might be elsewhere, too.
  6. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    The war diary is the lowest official record - it Battalion/Regiment level unless as has been stated there are autonomous detachments.
    The are compiled from notes made at sub unit level however there is no requirement for these to be in a standard format or kept. You may be lucky enough to find a Company /Squadron/Battery daily orders book with diary notes however these could be anywhere - private hands, RHQ archives, Regt. museum or rubbish tip. War diaries
  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Yes, the National Archive. The Regimental Museum (assuming there is one! - the Devonshire are not my specialty) might also have a version available although it's unlikely to be an 'original' more likely a photocopy or transcript.

    If you need a (photo)copy, there are people on the Forum who may even have a copy which they can email you for a modest fee.
  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member

  9. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

  10. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    Royal Artillery. I have in a series downwards, the brigade, one of it's reporting regiments and the three batteries of that regiment. To make sense of what the regiment did over a period of time I needed the diaries at all three levels because each level added something different to the same picture. For what its worth, having done the same for eight infantry battalions, I recommend you get the battalion, brigade and divisional diaries if you want a chance of getting the fullest picture. Sometimes the triple whammy is brilliant, sometimes I wondered why I spent three hours photographing them all and missing the train. The payoff sometimes comes months later when an insignificant obscure reference in one gives you an even bigger lead that you had never thought of before, the answer to which is helped by the others.
    ltdan likes this.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I have the 9th Battalions diary covering Sep 1939 to Dec 1941 if you'd like a copy. All my fee's are donated to charity during lockdown.

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