How to find out if a war diary from the Second World War is on microfilm

The article War Diaries: Discover what individuals or military units did during the war explores war diaries, their usefulness and how you can access them. Now, you may wonder: In what formats are they available?

Most First World War Army diaries have been digitized. As for Second World War diaries, some were microfilmed, but many are available in their original paper format only.

To find out if a war diary from the Second World War is available on microfilm, you must perform a search in the Archives Search database. After you have selected the relevant diary title, just refer to the Conditions of access section of the archival description.

For example, the war diaries of the 1st Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons) for September and October 1945 are accessible on microfilm reel T-12563.

Although some microfilm reel numbers are not entered in the Archives Search database, we have created a list of reel numbers that you can consult on-site at 395 Wellington Street, in Ottawa, or by contacting Reference Services.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

War Diaries: Discover what individuals or military units did during the war

Are you curious to discover what battles an individual fought in? Or what a unit did during the First or Second World War? Or maybe what regions a person travelled through with their unit?

In the first post, we suggested Published Histories. If there is no published history, or it is not detailed enough, then War Diaries may help.

War Diaries are the day-to-day log of a unit’s activities. For the Army, the official term is “War Diary.” For the Navy, the official term is “Ship Log” and for the Air Force it is “Operation Record Book.”

The Advantages of War Diaries

  • They provide the most complete first-hand record of how and where the unit was deployed;
  • They provide information that may not have been included in a published history.

To search for War Diaries, please use our Archives Search database.

For more details on War Diaries, visit our Military Heritage website.

Remember

  • War Diaries are not personal diaries. They rarely record information about individual soldiers.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Published Histories: Discover what individuals or military units did during the war

Are you curious to discover what battles an individual fought in? Or what a unit did during the First or Second World War? Or maybe what regions a person travelled through with their unit?

If so, you have two main options, Published Histories and War Diaries. This post will focus on Published Histories.

For an easy-to-read overview of the unit’s activities, we recommend starting with Published Histories. These books are often called “regimental histories.” They cover the history and activities of the unit. The level of detail varies for each history. Some books include a variety of information such as pictures, maps, lists of unit members, and quotes from unit members.

The Advantages of Published Histories:

  • easier to read than War Diaries
  • contain a variety of information
  • can usually be sent to your local library via interlibrary loan*

You can search for these on our Library Search database by using the unit’s name.

For other suggestions of books on military units, we recommend our online exhibition, entitled From Colony to Country: A Reader’s Guide to Canadian Military History.

Our next post will discuss your second option: War Diaries.

(*) Update: End of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Services

ILL services at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will end in December 2012. Users of LAC‘s current services should note the following dates:

  • November 13, 2012: End of loan requests from international libraries.
  • November 16, 2012: End of renewals. All items loaned after this date will be non-renewable.
  • December 11, 2012: End of loan requests, location searches, and ILL-related photocopying services.

LAC‘s ILL listserv (CANRES-L) and Canadian Library Gateway will also be archived in December 2012.

LAC will continue to facilitate interlibrary loan activities among other institutions through the ILL form in AMICUS, and through ongoing administration of Canadian Library Symbols.

Through our modernized service channels, LAC will emphasize increased digital access to high-demand content. LAC is working with Canada’s ILL user community in order to inform this approach to accessing the institution’s unique holdings.

For more information, please visit “Interlibrary Loan at Library and Archives Canada“.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!