Lists of personal diaries, letters, memoirs

From Linking experiences of World War One
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The letters, diaries, memoirs etc listed below could be linked to specific military units, but each name needs to be researched to find out exactly which unit they were in at the time. Can you help? Pick a name or document below, and try to find their military records to show which battalion they were in.

Here are some resources on researching World War One records to get you started.

Individual items

These names need to be matched to individual units so they can be added to its page. If you can find out which units these people were in, and send in your links to have them added to the wiki. If you're working on someone's record, you can also edit the wiki to add a note saying so. Remove the name below once it's been added to a regiment or battalion page.

  • blog post about Alfred Forbes Johnson. His papers and photos are now British Library Add MS 89235. He served in the Artists Rifles (which battalion?) and Royal Garrison Artillery (which unit?).
  • Bodleian Library, Oxford, MSS. Afr. s. 1715 (168A) (Box 10): papers of Brigadier M.S. Lush, who served in the Sudan Political Service, 1914-1945.
  • Bodleian Library, Oxford, MSS. Afr. s. 1715 (103) (Box 5): papers of Sir Angus Gillan, who served in the Sudan Political Service and took part in the Darfur campaign in 1916.
  • Louis Barthas (ed. Edward M. Strauss), Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918 (Yale University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0300191592) is a translation of the diaries of French soldier Louis Barthas. Served in these regiments of the French Army (see Wikipedia:Louis Barthas):
    • 280th
    • 269th
    • 248th
  • FIELD HOSPITAL & FLYING COLUMN. Being the Journal of an English Nursing Sister in Belgium & Russia by Violetta Thurstan.
  • Where was Llewelyn Williams based? (Can't identify from internal evidence: more info needed).
  • Ely, Dinsmore, 1894-1918. 'Diary letters of Dinsmore Ely, edited by his father, Dr. James O. Ely'. Library of Congress via Internet Archive. American pilot.
  • DeWitt C. Ellinwood Jr. (ed.), Between Two Worlds: A Rajput Officer in the Indian Army, 1905–21. Based on the Diary of Amar Singh of Jaipur (University Press of America, 2005, ISBN 0-7618-3113-4). Which unit did Amar Singh serve in?

Collections of items

  • A massive list of 'Diaries, Memorials, Personal Reminiscences' compiled by volunteers of the World War I Military History List (WWI-L). Pick a name, find out which unit they were with, and add them to the battalion/regiment page!
From their blog post '(Re)Discovering the Great War', 'The Wellcome Library has digitized over 130,000 pages of correspondence, personal and field diaries and reports, photographs and memoirs associated with the allied medical services during World War I. Drawn from material presented to the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum and Archive (now the Army Medical Services Museum Trust), the collection covers virtually every sphere of operations including the Balkan Front, the Dardanelles, East Africa, India, Italy, Malta, Mesopotamia and the Middle East, Russia, and South West Africa, as well as the Western and British Home fronts.'
  • The Great War Archive contains memoirs, letters and diaries, each of which could be linked to an Allied battalion or regiment.
  • An archive of transcribed war diary (Kriegstagebuch), letters and blogs includes a list of diaries from Weltkrieg / The Great War
  • The Liddle Collection, Leeds University Library. Includes personal papers of over 4,000 people who experienced the First World War, and over 750 sound recordings and transcripts of interviews about experiences of the First World War.
  • Sharon Ouditt, Women Writers of the First World War: An Annotated Bibliography (Routledge, 2014). ISBN 978-0415755498. Includes personal narratives of war experiences, and guides to archive collections.

Australian personal narratives

The Australian War Memorial's Anzac Connections lists 188 (at the time of writing) 'Biographies including private records and diaries'

The State Library of NSW has a collection of WWI diaries and letters online. Can you link the authors to their battalion page?

The SLNSW diaries have been analysed and visualised by Jaume Nualart Vilaplana as part of his PhD. You can explore them via the topics Personal, War, Military life, Travelling and The accidental tourist.

A user list of Great War diaries, letters, reminiscences on Trove (not all diaries may be available online)

State Library of Queensland HistoryPin collection for women in WWI: 'Honouring the contribution of Queensland women during the First World War, both at the home front and the war front'.

Anzac Live has 'interactive' posts based on letters and diaries from various men and women.

British and Irish personal narratives

  • The National Archives of the UK (TNA): CAB 45, official historian's papers, includes personal diaries and letters that were used to write the British Official History.

Canadian personal narratives

If you're interested in finding records for Canadian battalions, the Canadian Great War project has a form to search for War Diaries by unit.

Oral Histories of the First World War: Veterans 1914-1918 based on the CBC's radio broadcast In Flanders Fields, a series of one-on-one interviews with veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, which aired from November 11, 1964 to March 7, 1965. The website is organized into seven themes: Second Ypres, Vimy Ridge, War in the Air, The Somme, Trench Warfare, Passchendaele, Perspectives on War. Contains images, interview audio and transcripts.

New Zealand personal narratives

Personal Histories of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles (see also the sitemap).

Diaries listed in the National Library of New Zealand's WW100 digitisation project

Off at last the goodbye would have been too awful is a blog post featuring diaries discovered during digitisation at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

"It's just hell here now" is an Anzac Day post from the Alexander Turnbull Library that shows what can be learnt from individual diaries.

Since writing you last is a collection of digitized letters from Invercargill City Libraries and Archives.

American personal narratives

Veterans History Project

Indian personal narratives

  • David Omissi (ed.), Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers' Letters, 1914-1918, (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999). ISBN 0333751450. Compilation of Indian soldiers' letters.
  • British Library IOR/L/MIL/5/825-828: Reports of the Censor of Indian Mails in France. These reports contain many extracts of Indian soldiers' letters. Page scans are available through the "Browse this collection" link on the catalogue record page.
  • There are lots of references to individual soldiers and Indian Army units mentioned in Sikhs in World War 1 on SihkiWiki - can you find sources for them and link them to the appropriate Indian unit?

French personal narratives

Related Media

Images and recordings that aren't personal narratives but could be matched to units or used on other pages.

  • Berliner Lautarchiv British & Commonwealth recordings: sound recordings of British prisoners of war in Germany. A selection of 66 of these recordings can be heard at British Library Sound Archive website. These need matching to units.
  • The Illustrated First World War website contains a large collection of photos from the archives of the Illustrated London News. Free to view but all rights reserved.

Research in progress

Add notes or links here for diaries you need help researching, missing links from the sites above, etc.