The Naval & Military Press of Uckfield in Sussex, for many years the most innovative producer of digital tools of value to military researchers, has announced availability of full-colour printed copies of unit war diaries.
The war diary is one of the most significant of all primary sources of information about the British Army in the Great War. Written at the time, the diary describes the movements and actions of a unit. The style and level of detail varies greatly, with daily entries ranging from a single line up to many pages, and often with attached orders, narratives and maps. The original diaries are held at the National Archives in their series WO95, and those for the France and Flanders theatre are available through their Discovery search engine for a very modest fee as a digital download (PDF).
The N&MP printed copies are very nicely produced, with even the most faded pencil text being reproduced with good clarity. The pages are A4 in size and the diary is produced in a paperback (perfect) binding. Some diaries are small enough to fit into a single volume, while others (mainly because of added orders and reports) need to span several volumes: for example, the diary of the General Staff of 33rd Division is such that the period from 1 April 1918 onwards makes for a very hefty volume on its own. I understand that the range of diaries available covers up to divisional level and is only for the France and Flanders theatre: that is, it includes all units that were under divisional command, as well as the brigade and divisional headquarters. There are an astonishing 3,452 of them!
Prices vary depending on the scale of the diary. N&MP says they are “From as little as £15 for a modestly sized Diary. A 500-page Diary is £38 and a thumping great 1200-page Diary is £90.”
A very valuable development.