Find out about the history of your australian relatives in ww1

Compose a war diary / 6 unit war diary
This site is dedicated to my Grandfather, who disappeared after returning from WWI. He fought for my freedom which I know does not come without cost. I am eternally grateful for his efforts and what he stood for. I love you Grandad, good on ya mate. FOR KING & COUNTRY. R.I.P. Albert Alfred Curry.

Unit War Diaries record the daily activities of an Australian Army Unit

World War One is now online. The Australian unit war diaries are now completed and are available to view and print off. The originals are held at the Australian War Memorial.

Australian Army War Diaries World War I-II

I have found some incredible information from these records of my grandfathers units. But you need to how to decipher them. This is how I used these documents to locate their positions on the battlefield.

War Profiles

I first used the information from my Grandfathers War Profile. This was constructed in the previous chapter and is used like a template to show date changes to different units served. This is important because he changed to three different units 4th Battalion, 56th Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Brigade. When he was in the artillery he also changed from 51st Battery to 50th Battery. These changes will all give different locations and coordinates on the battlefield that will need to be plotted down and recorded.

The second important piece of information from the war profile is the dates when a soldier was in and out of battle. Places would have been missed due to sickness or leave and should also be considered into the equation. On three separate occasions Albert Alfred Curry was out of the field for several months at a time. His unit kept going and he returned and rejoined them at different locations.

Unit War Diaries

Once I have found the correct Unit War Diary. I start to look at the documents month and year related to my soldier. I start with the Intelligence Summary pages first which are normally written landscape wise. On the left hand collum I record the names and dates of villages they stayed at. Dates when they were relieved or put on route marches or training exercises. From casualties to sporting events I try to write a brief sentence to describe each day’s activity.

Then you come up to the Appendix pages. These documents give you the overall information on daily operation orders. I was able to find my grandfathers artillery battery trench map coordinates on different days and locate these positions from where they fired their guns and left their Wagon Lines. Target coordinates are also given, ammunition expenditure, casualties on men and horses and sometimes artillery barrage maps are given.

These are examples of Unit War Diary pages I have constructed of my Grandfathers units.
I have colour coordinated the pages to make it easier to read and understand.

Yellow Background shows training and movements in Egypt.
Aqua Background is when the unit is resting, training or en-route to next location.
Grey Background is when the unit is moving up to operations and firing on the battlefield.
Blue Trench Map coordinates positions on the battlefield. Returning to their unit.
Red Writing shows when my family members were wounded and monthly unit casualties.

Curry Brothers - 13th Field Artillery Brigade Unit War Diaries

Marchment Brothers - 14th Machine Gun Company Unit War Diaries

You now have all the information you need to locate the exact positions on the battlefield.

The techniques below worked very well when I travelled to the Western Front in 2008. The Unit War Diaries references I created gave precise locations on the battlefield and gave me a better understanding of where my family fought during the war. To help navigate and find the locations of Trench Map Coordinates, Memorials, Cemeteries, Museums and Training Camps around the world. I used Google Earth and these methods below to view and make maps of the Western Front Battlefields. Don’t forget to look at my Photo Gallery and page on this site called Walking in the footsteps of my grandfathers to see the results of how it worked.

Locating the Battlefields and Coordinates

Final Conclusion

When you have completed this stage of your soldier details you have now completed your family war diary. You can use this diary if you wish to help navigate the Battlefields of the Western Front or just keep it at home as a great reference book. Congratulations and good luck with your research.

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