British Army WW1 Unit Diaries Digitized

A typical handwritten British Army unit war diary page from the First World War.

A typical handwritten British Army unit war diary page from the First World War.

Its being called “Operation War Diary” – a cooperative effort between Britain’s Imperial War Museum and Zooniverse, a citizen science project with applications in the humanities.  This project seeks to digitize and publish online the war diaries kept by British Army units during the First World War.

The diaries total some 1.5 million pages and represent the official histories of British Army units kept by their own officers.  More than mere records of movements and numbers of casualties, the diaries often contain poignant narrative describing scenes from the trenches.  Through the efforts of numerous volunteer historians, these original records are being transcribed, tagged for searchable content, and published online as priceless resources for both today’s and tomorrow’s readers.

The loss of various kinds of original records over time through deterioration, fire, natural and manmade disasters underscores the importance of recording and preserving their content through digital means.

“Operation War Diary” is truly a grassroots effort with “citizen historians” working throughout the world on transcription and digitization.  To view the war diaries, or find out how you can take part, visit the project’s website here.



  1. Amazing, moving and interesting.

  2. There is enormous interest in the UK of WW1 and this should be another tool to gain more information and understanding of what those men went through.