Lonsdale Battalion war diary

British Army war diaries between 1914-1922 are unit-specific accounts recording a variety of daily activities. They covered the unit's entire involvement in the war, from their initial landing on foreign soil through to their departure at the end or their disbandment, whichever came sooner. Daily accounts range from as little as three or four words entries to highly descriptive accounts of the day's fighting, which invariably including casualty figures of officers and other ranks. Some diaries recorded very little useful or interesting information. This was due to periods relative inactivity with "nothing [of note] to report." Examples of this are seen regularly in the Lonsdale war diary, particularly in the first few months of 1916 and the eventual run up to the First Battle of the Somme. In many cases terms such as the "front is very quiet," "working for the R.E." [1] or simply "fatigues" are commonplace.

Conversely, some war diaries were much more descriptive, providing daily reports on intelligence, operations, and enemy movements[2] They also included the unit's daily activities and occasionally there were recipients listed for honours and awards, usually the Military Medal (MM). Some diaries had appendices with hand-drawn maps, notes, reports and sensitive or confidential material. Many of these, especially the latter were removed from the original war diaries years before they were made available to the public. This accounts for the discrepancy between the list of appendices on the covers and the actual contents within the diary.[2]

Making the war diary available

Access to the war diaries have become more accessible with less cost to the recipient over the last 15 years or so. Increased digitising and the run up to the Centenary of the First World War in all likelihood sped up this process. Obtaining a copy of a non-digitised war diary a decade ago was a costly business, especially with war diaries containing several hundred pages, each of which would have been digitised at a premium rate. The project to make the Lonsdale war diary available to everyone with zero cost to the end user took a couple of years in total. It was made possible by a Lonsdale Battalion enthusiast[3] who generously donated a paper copy of the entire document to ensure the project could be realised, at personal expense to the sum of approximately £500. Today, obtaining the war diary is much easier and costs a fraction of the price. You can buy an Amazon Kindle digital copy for less than £5.

What about copyrights?

The National Archives holds the copyright of the scanned images. You cannot use these images without permission. Transcripts of unpublished Crown Copyright war diaries from the First World War can be used in any type of media such as websites and books. The National Archives state:

"You are free to transcribe, translate, index and quote from published or unpublished Crown copyright material among the records as extensively as you wish and you may publish the results in any format and any medium: in accordance with the terms of the Open Government Licence".

More information describing this in detail can be seen at the National Archives website in the following documents:

Aims of the project

One of the main aims was to retain as much of the original written character of the war diary as possible. Using this platform, it was virtually impossible to mimic all the headers and table elements accurately enough for a like-for-like representation. Instead, opting for a basic table format to display the four main columns of the diary retained enough of the character needed, most of which is in the writing itself. This includes incorrect spelling and infrequent punctuation. Illegible or guessed words are closed in [square brackets?] with a question mark. Once this structure was in place it was just a matter of transcribing. This was a lengthy process, especially as some pages were quite illegible in places and difficult to read.

Each month of the Lonsdale's war diary has been transcribed and is available on this site (see the table below).

Military abbreviations and acronyms

Main article: Glossary of Military abbreviations

War dairies from the First World War contain a wide variety of military abbreviations and acronyms that were used almost interchangeably with ordinary words written in longhand. All regimental war diaries at first glance may look similar to any other but in reality they are unique in both style and manner. This was down to the various officers writing the war diary at the time. They conform, generally, to a standardised set of military terms, such as: artillery, weaponry, military ranks, occupations, honours, awards and regimental units. This will furnish the reader with an abbreviated/longhand collaborative prose that can, to the casual reader, appear dry and at times incomprehensible. Conversely, however, some war diaries from this period can also come across as clear and succinct and lacking any major discernible abbreviations or acronyms.

Examples of what to expect in the war diaries are:
Btn. Bttn. Battalion
MG Machine Gun
HTMB Heavy Trench Mortar Battery
SOS Struck off Strength
HLI Highland Light Infantry
LNL Regt. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

The Lonsdale Battalion war diary transcripts

The war diary navigation table

This is the table that appears at the top of every war diary page. It is the easiest and fastest way to navigate to other pages within the war diary.

  • Simply click on a to be taken to that war diary page.
  • Where there is an empty space, there is no war diary for that month.
  • The Lonsdales did not leave for France until November 1915 and they were disbanded in July 1918.
  • There are a total 32 months of war diary transcriptions.
  • The home button will bring you back to this page.
    11th Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/2403    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  1. Royal Engineers.
  2. 2.0 2.1 British Army War Diaries 1914-1922 The National Archives. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 July 2016.
  3. A member of the now defunct Border Regiment Forum, which expired on 3 January, 2018.
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