UK Archives Digitizes World War I Hospital Diaries

The UK National Archives has digitized almost 250 World War I hospital diaries and put them online. According to The National Archives web site at

“Diaries of 247 First World War hospital camps, hospital ships, convalescent hospitals and veterinary hospitals are now available to read online. The National Archives digitised the documents as part of Disability History Month.

“These war diaries reveal different methods of treating injured and disabled soldiers, and give insight into life in hospital during the First World War.

“The diaries give fascinating details about daily routines, operations and special events, including Christmas services: on board Hospital Ship Vasna in December 1918, ‘a generous supply of gifts were obtained from the Red Cross Depot in Basra and were distributed by the Matron to all patients, passengers and staff.’ Read more about Christmas aboard hospital ships on our blog.”


It is great that so much of the background information pertaining to ancestors caught up in the Great War is being digitised and put online. Even if they don’t mention your ancestor by name you can see what was going on around him or her. I recently looked up what was going on at a casualty clearing station at Bellevue on Christmas Day 1914 and discovered that they spent the day madly cleaning their new premises ready for patient occupation. It is the little details that bring the stories alive. And yes it did mention the RAMC staff members by name which is useful to know as their service records have not survived. Hopefully if these records are eventually tagged as part of TNA’ “Operation War Diary” exercise it will provide a much needed resource.


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