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Links Special: Official Histories of the First World War

Its been more than a hundred years since the First World War started. Its course and outcome defined most of the 20th century. Receding from public memory into history, it is also long enough in the past for the various official histories of the war to go into public domain.  These days, most of the official histories are available online.

Australia

The Australian involvement in the First World War was published as a series of 12 volumes edited and written by C. E. W. Bean between 1920 and 1942. The series describes operations by the Australian Imperial Force, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Flying Corps and the Home Front in Australia. The complete official History is available at the Australian War Memorial website.

Additionally available are the three volumes of the “Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914-1918”

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Austria

The title of the Austrian history of  World War One aptly translates to “Austria-Hungary´s last War”.  Its official title is “Österreich-Ungarns letz­ter Krieg 1914–1918”, it was edited by Edmund Glaise-Horstenau and was published in seven volumes, each accompanied by an equally voluminous map volume, at Verlag der Militärwissenschaftlichen Mitteilungen, Wien  from 1930–39.

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Canada

The official history of the Canadian Army has only one modest volume. It was written by Colonel G. W. L.Nicholson of the Canadian Army Historical Section. In 621 pages, plates, sketches and maps the book covers the part played by the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in France. the Book can be found online at the Canadian Army Heritage Website.

France

The official account of the French Army in the First World War was published as a series of 11 “Tomes” further divided into 106 volumes of text, annexes and maps. The official title is “Les Armées Françaises dans la Grande Guerre”, published by Imprimerie Nationale, Paris, 1922-1937. It is currently available online (with a few exceptions) at the Gallica (BNF Bibliothèque Nationale de France).

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Germany

The German official history of the Imperial German Armies has the official title “Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918”. It was written as a series of 15 volumes and three supplementary volumes and published between 1923 and 1956 at Mittler in Berlin.

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Great Britain

The British Official History was published between 1923 and 1949. The formal title of the work is the “History of the Great War Based on Official Documents”. It was produced by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence

  • The military operations consisted of 28 volumes and the official historian responsible for the compilation of this work was Brigadier-General Sir James Edmonds.
  • The naval operations consisted of five volumes by naval historian Sir Julian S. Corbett and Henry Newbolt.
  • The air operations consisted of six volumes and appendices by Walter Raleigh and H A Jones.
  • The medical history of the war was written by the Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Major General Sir William Grant Macpherson

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Italy

Italy, just like Germany, had the publication of its official history interrupted by the Second World War and finished last: In 1988 the last Volume of the L’Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-1918 was published. The seven-volume work covers the whole of Italy’s involvement in the war and sticks out though its inclusion of unit diaries and the inclusion of tactical studies.

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Russia and the Ottoman Empire

Due to the Revolutions in 1917 and 1918, no official history of the Russian or the Ottoman Empire´s war effort were ever written.

USA

The official history of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in the First World War was compiled in 18 volumes prepared by the Historical Section of the Army War College. The volumes were numbered 1-17, with volume 10 split into two parts.

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5 Comments

  1. Here is a link to the French Defense Ministry website ‘Mémoire des Hommes’.
    It contains links to the Gallica pages of every text volume as well as images of every map, which are otherwise not
    http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/fr//arkotheque/inventaires/ead_ir_consult.php?fam=11&ref=FRSHD_AFGG_ead

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