2nd Portsmouth Pals Battalion War Diary located!

For a long time I had been labouring under the misaprehension that only a select few WW1 war diaries had been made available for download via The National Archives Documents Online service. In such a manner I had downloaded a copy of the 1st Hampshire’s War Diary some time ago, and not long ago I posted up a summary of their activities from Le Cateau in August 1914 until the beginning of 1918. It’s a thread that I’m sure I will pick up again some time in the future.

But thanks to browsing on the Grear War Forum, I have discovered that more War Diaries are available than I had originally thought. It works like this – for many Battalions, in particular territorial or hostilities only, the Battalion diaries have been grouped by brigade, hence by a cursory glance, it appears that it is only the Brigade HQ War Diary that is available. But, and here’s the golden bit, they are actually consolidated – so in reality you get four for the price of one!

Of course I have a very keen interest in the Portsmouth Pals, as I will be carrying out a lot of research into their formation, their membership, their battles and their losses. Sadly the war diary for the 1st Portsmouth Pals (14th Hampshires) is not available, and will necessitate a trip to Kew, but that of the 2nd Portsmouth Pals (15th Hampshires) is.

I’ve downloaded a couple of hundred page PDF’s, and although I have only had a quick flick through, it seems like it is unusually detailed for a war diary. Not necessarily in terms of grid references, maps or operational matters, but it does seem to give an unusually high amount of attention to other ranks rather than just officers. Of course this will be priceless for finding out about when Private X died, or when Sergeant Z won his Military Medal.

Let the transcribing begin!

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12 Comments

Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, western front, World War One

12 responses to “2nd Portsmouth Pals Battalion War Diary located!

  1. John Erickson

    Any idea if they also have Canadian unit diaries? I’d love to find the diaries of the 13th regiment, the forerunners of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. And I REALLY need to check that Great War website out.
    One of these days.
    When I have time.
    (Yeah, right. :D )

    • James Daly

      John, I’m 99% certain they aren’t in the UK National Archives. They are almost certainly in the Canadian Archives, however. The commonwealth countries are remarkably more forward-thinking with their military history, as both Australia and Canada make WW1 service records available for download free. I’m not sure what the situation with war diaries is, but I would not be surprised if they are free. If you need any help let me know, they are probably in the same format as British WW1 war diaries, of which I have read quite a few, illegible pencil scribblings included!

  2. Pingback: 2nd Portsmouth Pals – formation to May 1916 « Daly History Blog

    • steve jones

      I have a relation who was with the portsmouth 2nd pals. please can you give me any information as to how i can access the war diary as this might shed light on his death. i have been to national archive website but have failled in my search.

      • James Daly

        Hi Steve, it’s quite hard to find – it had me foxed for a while. If you send me an email via the ‘contact me’ button I can send you a copy of it if you like?

  3. Pingback: 2nd Portsmouth Pals – The story of a raid: Ploegsteert, June 1916 « Daly History Blog

  4. Alison Styles Exeter

    I was up at Kew 6 weeks ago looking at war diaries. One I looked at in the reading room, the other was ready for scanning. If you contact them they may be able to tell you if they have the diary you are looking for and when/if they will be scanning it soon. Good luck and hope this helps. Alison

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