War Diaries through Heritage Canadiana

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by sapperschild, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The Heritage Canadiana site is using the LAC war diary reels. Every bit is included. Sometimes it gets very tedious when a great deal of useless information is included, which takes a long time to wade through. Some units sent out daily strength returns during the mobilization phase, some weekly, and most not at all. This is true for other reports as well.

    For example, 2nd Field Battery RCA has 2016 entries for the period from 1 September 1939 to 31 May 1940, while 28th Field Battery RCA has 256 entries for a similar period. It is not a matter that there are files missing but rather each unit had a different system as to what they placed in the diary. What I find confounding early in the war are units that include one page for each day of the month, particularly when all that mentioned is the weather! On the other hand, some units place the entire month's log on one page with only a few days highlighted.

    I did find a file sent from the NDHQ to units after a number of months of receiving war diaries. It basically told the units what they were doing wrong with their war diaries. Things seem to get better early in 1940.
  2. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    When do you think that they will be adding more? I am particularly interested in the RCE as they have only parts of some units that I want and none of one of the units I want.
  3. klambie

    klambie Senior Member

  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Thanks for the link, Kevin.
  5. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    I have sent a message to my contact at Heritage Canadiana regarding future postings of War Diaries. If and when I get a response, I will post it here.

  6. tal

    tal Junior Member

    Fantastic..thanks for this,,I am finding out more about my fathers time in ww2 through these..even though he was in the RE..Shame they haven't got the 2ND AND 3RD Battalion RCE though..
  7. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I have just been in contact with Heritage Canadiana regarding further postings in the War Diary section. As it now stands there are 742 reels posted. According to my source, the plan is to have a total of 1068 reels total for the site. That is an additional 326 reels remain to be posted. Again, according to my source, the additional reels should start to be posted in January 2016. Given the immense quantity of data that is being added to the site, of which the war diary section is only a small part, this is remarkable.

    According to my calculations, there are around 543 reels that have not been posted from the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) site. I have identified these on the spreadsheet that I have posted previously. They are mostly Headquarters (such as Brigade HQs, Command HQs (i.e. Pacific Command), Military Districts) for a total of 268 reels, Armour for 17 reels, Artillery for 43 reels, and Engineers for 215 reels.

    I can only speculate on which reels will be included in the additional 326, but we must wait and see in January 2016. As any updates come through, I will post the information.

  8. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Thanks for the link, but he can only post what they have copied so far.
  9. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Thanks. Of course it is the engineers ones that I want and are one of the last to be done.
  10. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    One thing that you learn after almost 50 years of military history research is patience. I started with popular histories, then gravitated to official and regimental histories available at large libraries. From there I started purchasing regimental and official histories. After that most of the official histories have been placed on-line as well as quite a number of regimental histories. War diaries were the last items to come along. My co-author has been photographing many war diaries from the LAC, many of which are no available at Heritage Canadiana. In a short period of time, about two months, more should be available. Two months is a short period relative to 50 years, so I am pleased. In the meantime, those diaries that are available are keeping me quite busy along with the numerous ones that we have photographed.


    Do you have the digital regimental history of the 2nd Battalion RCE? If not PM me and I will send you a copy.

  11. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Yes, two months is not long, but there is no guarantees that they will post the two that I am `impatiently' waiting for. It is interesting that some are being copied better than others. Some I can read clearly while others are a little blurry. Still, overall this is good and I wish that other countries would do the same. And by that I mean GB.
  12. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The quality of the copies is not the fault of Heritage Canadiana. They are just transferring microfilm reels that were originally done by the Library and Archives of Canada. I am not sure of the dates they were microfilmed, but I am guessing it was about 20 years ago or more. Technology has changed. Heritage is not dealing with the original documents. That is why no infantry war diaries have appeared, since these were never microfilmed by the LAC.

    We had to obtain special permission to photograph the original infantry war diaries that we have done. It was, in fact, even more complicated to photograph war diaries that were already microfilmed since they kept trying to foist the microfilm on us. When my colleague visited the archives, the boxes that he was expecting, and had ordered, were not there with the claim that the microfilm could be viewed.

    As you stated, the microfilm quality is poor in many cases. Using modern digital cameras this can be compensated for. On many documents, I had to put them through Photoshop to be able to read them even after being photographed.

    Here are two examples of an original that we photographed and the same item after Photoshop. It is part of a location statement from Pacific Command.

    Attached Files:

  13. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

  14. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    No I wasn't aware. Thanks.
  15. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Any word when the next batch will come in?
  16. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I am still waiting as well. My last contact said that they should start uploading in January. I noticed that there has been a shift in locations of the main links on the Military pages, which may indicate that they are uploading to some of the areas. So far nothing new in the War Diaries though. As the month gets closer to the end with no contact, I will send a query. I hate hassle anyone and have tried to limit my contacts.

    I did sent them a copy of my spreadsheet and they did seem appreciative.
  17. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    It is a good spreadsheet. I use it often.
  18. Tiflo 62

    Tiflo 62 Member


    Do you know if they will add a button or something else to download a complete roll?
    I made a program to download the both images of a folder but it still tooks a lot of time...

  19. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I queried them about that very issue regarding downloading a complete roll. I compared it the Australian War Diary site, where you can download PDFs of an entire month. They felt that it would just tie up the site with massive downloads, which is probably correct. They are offering the information for free and they should be commended since it is a great quantity of data.

    I have been indexing the "1946 Army Central Registry" section recently. It contains an amazing amount of information regarding the formation of the Canadian Army, though many images are very poor. Unfortunately, they destroyed the originals after microfilming.

    I am not sure what your program does, but I am interested. Is it PC-centric or will it work on a Macintosh computer?
  20. JohnS

    JohnS Senior Member

    Wow, you wrote a program to do your work for you. Now that is getting serious. I still do it the old fashion way by saving one at a time to my computer.

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