War diaries: variable detail - veriable accuracy!?

Discussion in 'Unit History' started by Chris C, Aug 7, 2021.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    So, I already knew by now that some war diaries have a lot of detail in them and some have very little.

    My particular headache today is the WD of 59th Anti-Tank Regiment (of 43rd Division). I am trying to write something about the actions of 129th Brigade which pushed into Cleve in February.



    What's the issue here? Well, the date seems to be wrong. 129 brigade entered Cleve on the night of the 9th/10th. And from what I can tell the following dates may be wrong too, including the report of destroying a Panther on the "12th". This destruction was also mentioned as part of a periodical citation for a Sergeant Stone, but now I can't even date it accurately. Ugh.

    As an additional headache - although this falls into the issue of "level of detail", the war diary doesn't even mention the losses that stolpi discovered and reported here.
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    The war diaries of anti tank regiments can be very thin. This may be because for the dates in question batteries may have been under command of a brigade or some other formation. While under command e.g. 129 brigade the passage of information to RHQ from 235 battery and an SP troop (which one?) may be thin or less than accurate. The adjutant has a daily duty to write something in the WD.
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  3. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    I tend to go to the Brigade War Diaries myself. They usually keep a “Ops Log” of radio messages coming in and out…..so these are “normally” dated and “timed” correctly. They don’t have the detail of individual unit actions….but they can CONFIRM the date, time and location of actions, units etc (and the movement of supporting units etc)….Good luck
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  4. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Apart from the brigade WDs it is also worth looking at the CRA WDs.

    I also tend to have a look at WDs a couple of months ahead of the action I'm interested in. Sometimes post-action reports have been filed in the month they were written, not the month of the action. I have found reports from April 1945 actions in June 1945 WDs, somewhere I wouldn't have thought of looking in.
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  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Interesting insights, thanks everyone :)
  6. Bedee

    Bedee Well-Known Member

    "The adjutant has a daily duty to write something in the WD."

    That is also my opinion, after reading most of the Canadian diaries for Operation Veritable, specially for the supporting units as 59 AT.
    My approach when i want to find out something specific, is to read the Units diary, Battalion, Brigade. But this is not possible for 59 AT.

    So most probably this would be this path for you;
    59 AT Diary
    The Somersets and Wiltshires Diaries (as AT is sometimes integrated in the infantry units)
    129 Brigade
    43 Wessex Division.

    59 AT Diary mentions only one line per day, and just Move to area. No locations.

    Just did a quick search, as it is early sunday morning :) but they are informed by 129 Bde, as 235 Bty is on the distribution list. See attachment of this list from 10 Feb 1945.
    But Chris, the WD of 129 is not that detailed too.

    Happy hunting, to find more details..

    Attached Files:

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  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Sadly the time I have is kind of limited (I need to finish my book by the end of the year) so I will just have to press on with what I have, I think.

    The distribution list there is interesting though - were there field guns attached to 129 Brigade? I don't think the 5 Wilts history book (?) mentioned those, although it did mention a platoon of mortars and a platoon of MMGs.

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