Lists of personal diaries, letters, memoirs
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.
- 1 Individual items
- 2 Collections of items
- 3 Related Media
- 4 Research in progress
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.
- Matron Margaret Gray Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- Petty Officer Hans Heinz Harmes-Emden Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- German navy: SMS Emden (1908)
- Private David Watson Izatt Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- 10 Casualty Clearing Station (British?)
- 15 Casualty Clearing Station (British?)
- No 2 Australian General Hospital
- No 1 Casualty Clearing Station, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
- Sergeant John Robert Cowan Kelly Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- Major Percy Lay Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- Matron Mary McLean Loughron Australian War Memorial - Anzac Connections - collection items
- Red Cross
- Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve
- 2 Stationary Hospital Annexe (which country?)
- Siegfried Sassoon's journals are online at Cambridge Digital Library (but note that his Memoirs of an Infantry Officer is a fictionalised novel, not his memoirs). Sassoon served in the following units but we still need to know if he served in other units later in the war:
- Margaret Hall, American Red Cross. Photos and narrative at Massachusetts Historical Society.
- Two Colored women with the American Expeditionary Forces by Addie W. Hunton and Kathryn M. Johnson is a fascinating account of the YMCA's work and includes photos of named individuals as well as mentions of specific military units.
- 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.
- Go, get 'em! The true adventures of an American aviator of the Lafayette flying corps who was the only Yankee flyer fighting over General Pershing's boys of the Rainbow division in Lorraine, when they first went "over the top" by William A. Wellman
- John Terraine (ed.), General Jack's Diary ISBN 978-0304353200 (Amazon link). An abridged version of the diary of James Lochhead Jack:
- commander of C Company, 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), UK (Dec 1914-Feb 1915)
- company commander and 2nd in command of 2nd Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), UK (Aug 1915-Aug 1916)
- commander of 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, UK (Aug 1916-July 1917)
- commander of 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), UK (to Sep 1918)
- commander of 28th Infantry Brigade, UK (from Sep 1918)
- Letters and photos of Nora Saltonstall (American Red Cross)
- Letters home from Private Edward Ray Jackson (Canadian)
- Harold Skilling's Letters From World War One
- Canadian Expeditionary Force
- Royal Flying Corps
- Lieutenant William Milton Skilling
- 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. Which unit was he in?
- The Your Paintings site has artworks including Ellis Silas The Last Roll Call that could be linked to specific units through their artists.
- Anzac Live has 'interactive' posts based on letters and diaries from various men and women.
- Eyewitness accounts from Irish soldiers and nurses involved with the Gallipoli campaign from Ireland's National Public Service Broadcaster, RTÉ.
- Paul Thuns' War-Diary 1914-1918 (served in German army)
- Letters to Gwendoline: One story of Gallipoli told through letters home in memory of Anzac Day (58th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery)
- New Zealand's Roll of Honour 1915 The Auckland Weekly News Illustrated List with the names and photos of 'New Zealand Officers and Men killed or wounded in action in Turkey, The Dardanelles & Gallipoli in 1915'
- Items digitised by Te Papa include the Photograph album of Major J.M. Rose, 1st NZEF - which units are depicted in his photographs?
- India and the Great War has some Stories and Memories that might provide some clues
- 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?
- There's a stash of fantastic photos in The "Cambrian" Album from the OM77-14 2nd Light Horse Association Records 1914-1920 at the State Library of Queensland. The album includes photos from other units - can you help by adding images and links to unit pages?
- An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army by Flora Sandes, 'the only British woman officially to serve as a soldier in World War I'.
- FIELD HOSPITAL & FLYING COLUMN. Being the Journal of an English Nursing Sister in Belgium & Russia by Violetta Thurstan.
- Which unit was Charlie, who wrote these postcards to Blanche N Wooton, in?
- Where was Llewelyn Williams based?
- Francis Leo O'Meara and Patrick Julian O'Meara Australian Imperial force: which units?
- Arthur Dease: French Red Cross
- William Owen War Diary 1916-1917
- driver in the Royal Field Artillery: which unit?
- Bayley, Francis Wilton (Private), 1896-1974: Imperial Camel Corps
- Richard, Jim, Ted, Paul, Topher Berryman. Imperial War Museum catalogue entries for Ted and Paul give more details.
- Richard: Indian Medical Service, various hospitals and attached to 20th Horse, Indian (done)
- James: Middlesex Regiment (which battalion?); Royal Fusiliers Public Schools Battalion (which one?)
- Christopher: Middlesex Regiment (which battalion?); Army Service Corps (which unit?)
- Edward: 2nd Battalion 39th Garhwal Rifles, Indian (done)
- Paul: Royal Navy, HMS Gloucester and HMS Malaya
- War diary kept by Captain Neil Cantlie, RAMC, with the 6th Division at the Battle of the Somme, Sept - Oct 1916
- 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.
- Private Papers of Lieutenant L H Riddell
- pilot in Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force
- prisoner of war in Germany
- Letter from Charles Hezlet to his mother, 26 September 1916
- Commander of 33rd Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery
- 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
- The Imperial War Museum catalogue has details of personal papers, sound recordings, films and objects from the United Kingdom and former British Empire. Sound recordings include interviews with people who experienced the First World War. Many of these interviews can be heard on the site free of charge and reused for non-commercial purposes. The catalogue is searchable and is also indexed by unit.
- c 3000 videos from WWI at European Film Gateway's EFG1914 project
- A list of letters about the First World War on The Letters of 1916 project site. You can also help transcribe letters at their site.
- A list of memoirs and diaries at firstworldwar.com
- 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 Wartime Memories Project - The Great War 1914-1918 The Allied Army contains many personal accounts, mostly second-hand stories related by family members.
- 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.
- Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London hold personal papers of senior British personnel.
- Transcribe project at the Royal British Columbia Museum is a crowdsourced project to transcribe letters and diaries from their archives. The First World War collection includes narratives relating to several Canadian and British units.
- 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 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'.
British and Irish personal narratives
- Fit as Fiddles and Hard as Nails is a collection of Irish soldiers' letters, diaries and memoirs digitized by Trinity College Dublin.
- The Library Men of WW1: a collection of letters from 11 Belfast librarians who served in the British Army.
- Cymru 1914, The Welsh Experience of the First World War includes some diaries, photographs, letters and memoirs
- Cymry'r Rhyfel Mawr / Welsh Voices of the Great War on People's Collection Wales
- 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.
- World War 1 Veterans 1914-1918 blog: a collection of interviews with veterans conducted by Paul Nixon in the 1980s.
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).
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
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.
French personal narratives
- La centenaire de la Guerre 14-18 dans le Loiret is a French site that contains lots of narratives, media and other resources.
Images and recordings that aren't personal narratives but could be matched to units or used on other pages.
- The US National Archives has some large collections of WW1 photos, many of which mention unit names in the catalogue descriptions:
- Royal Armouries online collections includes Arms of the First World War, with photos and catalogue descriptions of weapons.
- Imperial War Museum: A H T Andrew's photos: a large collection of photos taken while he was a medical officer with 29th Division, UK at Gallipoli, but also showing many other units.
- 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.
- The Library of Congress has a collection of American recruiting posters, and hundreds of photos taken by Helen Johns Kirtland, including the Italian front.
Research in progress
Add notes or links here for diaries you need help researching, missing links from the sites above, etc.