Australian Military Diary

It is a requirement of most commonwealth militaries that their units keep a regimental diary. This is an official document that sets out what the regiment did on a particular day and can range form a simple couple of lines to very detailed notes of personnel transfers, social events, training or other items the unit feels is of interest. The writing of these documents is normally entrusted to a junior officer, however he still relies on those more junior than himself to provide him with the information needed to complete the record. In peacetime this is a fairly simple bureaucratic exercise, however when in combat it becomes much harder to keep this record up to date and there is often not time to complete the record until weeks later, by which point memories of combat can become fuzzy. Small unit commanders are therefore encouraged to keep brief notes during lulls in the fighting that set out what their unit has been doing that can then be copied across when time allows. To allow these notes to be taken, the Australian Army issued small hardback diaries to its officers and senior NCOs which could then be filled out as required. These books were printed with a blue on white pattern on the covers:

The cover of the books is printed with its designation and its AAB code:

AAB stands for ‘Australian Army Book’ and was a way of identifying all the different army publications in use at any one time, equivalent to the ‘AB’ designation used by the British Army. Of course these books could be used as a more conventional diary as well and could be used to record appointments and useful information in. The books do not have days of the week or years printed in them, just the date and month and therefore can be used for any year:

I am unsure how widespread the issue of these books was, but they were certainly used by many officers and examples completed by Australian Army officers whilst on active service are held by many Australian museums in their archives, providing a day by day account of operations, The ‘Victorian Collections’ website from the state of Victoria lists amongst the objects in their collection an AAB 74 completed with handwritten notes by Captain Fred Cron in South Vietnam in 1970. This book is unused, but is of the type issued and used in the 1970s and 1980s and a great addition to the various items of Australian Army paperwork and books I have in the collection.

One comment

  1. In the military and in the department I served afterwards, the keeping of logbooks and/or worksheets was mandatory for each section and post.
    They had to be retained after they were full and a new one started and could be collected as evidence if required.
    Some people filled out a page or more for each shift with every trivial event listed in great detail to the very second, others wrote maybe one line giving the date and personnel present unless something non-routine or drastic happened.
    I had occasion to call a logbook out of storage once to prove that not only had I not taken a sick day on that date but I was, in fact, owed overtime since it was one of my days off, with the log entry being clearly in my rather distinctive handwriting 🙂

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