The National Archives is making thousands of digitised First World War unit war diaries from France and Flanders available online.
This first batch of unit war diaries reveals the real-time account of the first three cavalry and the first seven infantry divisions who were part of the first wave of British army troops deployed in France and Flanders, just over 300,000 pages in total.
William Spencer, military records specialist at The National Archives said: ‘Making the First World War unit diaries available online allows people across the world to discover the daily activities, stories and battles of each unit for themselves.’
The archive has so far digitised around 1.5 million pages of war diaries so far, and will be releasing them throughout this year as part of their centenary programme.They have also launched Operation War Diary, an innovative online crowdsourcing partnership project between The National Archives, Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Zooniverse, which aims to unearth the details from within the diaries, using the same technology that has been used to map the stars.
Each unit in World War One was required to keep a diary of its day-to-day activities and the first batch released show the experiences of three cavalry and seven infantry divisions in the initial wave of British army troops deployed in 1914 as well as accounts of tug of war, rugby matches and farewell dinners to mark the end of the fighting.
Twenty five volunteers scanned hundreds of boxes of diaries – which had been available for the public to view at the National Archives in Kew since the late 1960s between January and December last year.