Australian Unit War Diaries

Discussion in 'Australian' started by gmyles, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Does anyone on the forum live near the Australian War Museum in Campbell near Canberra?

    I am looking for copies of the following two war diaries :

    21st War Graves Unit (AWM52 - 21/2/22)
    22nd War Graves Unit (AWM52 - 21/2/23)

    From October 1944 through to August 1945.

    There's no rush so I am more than happy to wait a while.

    If anyone can, please let me know what they would like in return for their time and effort.

    Many thanks in advance

  2. spidge


    Hi Gus,

    Have you contacted the NAA online and asked for a quote for copying and delivery?


  3. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Geoff

    Many thanks for this. I looked at ordering it online but it stated that they could only copy complete files. The ones mentioned above cover from 1944 through to 1946 so they might be whoppers. But if they are wiling to just do the few months I am interested in, that would be brilliant.

    I posted on the off chance that someone living nearby could just take photos of the pages I seek the next time they pop in to the AWM. Pretty much like what happens here on the forum when someone goes to TNA at Kew.

    I am researching the troubles in Greece at the moment and 2 soldiers from 21st WGU were killed on 7th December 1944. The very same day 97th General Hospital became isolated and started burying their dead within the hospital grounds. They were too buried in the hospital grounds, so I am thinking they were either killed whilst at the hospital or maybe ambushed on their way there. I am hoping the diaries help to clear this up. It is a real tragedy that two soldiers who were in Greece to help bury the dead became casualties themselves.

    The CWGC website has also recently shown grave concentration records which is helping to pinpoint exactly where others died whilst fighting in and around Athens.
    I am also hoping that these diaries shed even more light on the process of handling the nearly 1000 casualties of the counter insurgency operations in Athens.

    Thanks again.

  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hi all - if no-one is able to offer assistance I will check when I am back at work next week to see if I can reach out to one of my colleagues in Canberra who might be willing to take this on.

    Otherwise, a few points while we wait. There is no Australian War Museum in Canberra - there is the Australian War Memorial which coincidentally fulfills the function of a museum as part of it's prime function of commemorating Australia's military history.

    Although these files are catalogued on the National Archives site ( they are physically held at the AWM and as stated above any copying would be done by them. Clicking on the request copy from the NAA site re-directs to the AWM copying service. Whereas the NAA will copy most files (at least the ones I have required) for a flat fee of around $30 the AWM service is 50 cents per page. As there is really no way of knowing how large the files are, or of getting them to only selectively copy from the file, the copying could cost anywhere from a few dollars to lots (technical term meaning I have no idea).

    I presume that the two casualties that you refer to are LCPL Sanders SX16592 & Private Christie VX146152. I presume that their files have been looked at to see if they bear any clues as to what happened in 1944?
  5. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Just padding this out on the off-chance that one day a family member will come looking for info on this unfortunate pair. What led to a fireman from Moonta in South Australia and a carpenter from Woodend in Victoria being killed in Greece in 1944......




    Attached Files:

  6. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Everyone and thanks for clarifying how files are stored and copied in Australia. And the newspaper atricle is a great find too.

    The two soldiers were caught up in a civil war between the British backed Greek government and the pro communist ELAS militia which had just fought alongside the British against the Germans only a few months before.

    Dave, how does anyone view these soldiers service records. I have had some luck finding service records online, but sadly not in this case.

    Sadly more than 1000 British and commonwealth forces died in the 6 week long counter insurgency operations. Athens was encircled and besieged by approx 50,000 ELAS guerrillas for 2 weeks and it took the reinforcement by 2 infantry divisions from Italy and Middle East to finally quell the uprising. My father was one of the 5000 British troops who managed to hold ELAS back just long enough for the reinforcements to arrive.

    The 97th Gen Hosp was in a remote area about 4 miles north from Athens and had become isolated from the ring of steel, surrounding and protecting central Athens and the seat of government. On the 7th December 1944, they became completely cut off when the road to Athens was blocked. This forced them to bury their dead in the hospital grounds. My thinking is that the 21/22 War Graves were notified of this and may have sent some up to try and get to the Hospital to assist with burial and registration. Many soldiers were killed in ELAS ambushes. Many were killed by mortar or artillery fire. I am hoping that the diaries may help to clear things up.

    Sadly they weren't the only Australians to be killed during the troubles either, Sgt Turner (MM) who was with the SOE on Greece was killed by an ELAS sniper firing from the Fix Brewery on 17th December 1944, as he was being transported to the airport south of Athens for his flight home to Australia. And Flt/Sgt Andrews for the Australian Air Force, who died on a ground attack training mission with his commanding officer. He crashed into trees, whilst attacking 3 x ELAS motorised transport vehicles north of Elevsis.

  7. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron

    Service records can be requested here:

    If the links don't work go to, click the search the collection link, then the record search link. In the keyword field enter the relative service number and it will take you direct to the record summary page on which there is a link to request a copy.

  8. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Cheers Gus - for the service files of these two blokes just use the National Archives site ( & type their individual service numbers into the Explore field in the top RH corner. As before, getting these files digitised costs around AU$30 and takes a few weeks (as compared to the AWM offer of 50 cents per page and 12 to 18 weeks for their files).

    Searching the AWM site ( "People" for their service numbers leads to their ROH entries (an online mirror of their details on the panels at the AWM itself), attached to the ROH entries are copies of the circulars compiled following their deaths. Sometimes they contain interesting snippets, in this case their pre-war occupations. Also an interesting mis-spelling of Phaleron (Faliron).

    I also checked their entries on the WW2 nominal roll as administered by DVA ( with nothing new found - neither of these blokes have recognised hometown ROH recorded though.

    I really thought there would be something about their deaths recorded in the newspapers of the day but I can't find anything.

    Attached Files:

  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi everyone

    Here's a link from your own AWM website detailing the work done by the Australian War Grave Units in WW2.

    Phaleron, the coastal port where the Commonwealth War Cemetery is located, is better known in Greece as Neon (new) Faliron, or just Faliron.

    I visited Athens a couple of years ago, but sadly did not have time to visit the cemetery.

  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    The AMW website has been recently updated with the personal file for Private Christie and inside it was a 2 page report on their deaths.

    I doubt that these two soldiers, from a unit whose job it was, was to register and bury the dead, ever thought that it would ever happen to them. Sad really.

    Anyone interested in the work of the War graves Units can find more info at the link below.

    Second World War Graves | The Australian War Memorial


    Christie-Sanders Deaths 07-12-44.jpg
    Christie-Sanders Deaths 07-12-44 (2).jpg
    DaveB likes this.
  11. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Er Gus - I assume instead of the AWM ("AMW") you meant that the NAA have now got a digitised copy of the service file for CHRISTIE, CORNELIUS BERNARD VX146152 available for viewing
  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    That's right.

    I had only just found a willing volunteer to visit the AWM in person to look at some war diaries, when I found this online.

    To clarify, the Digital Record Search National Archives of Australia - Login was used and Pte Christie's Personal File was found on the same website.

    There was no sign of L/Cpl Sanders PF.

  13. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    For those interested, the 64th Field Battery, 165 Regiment, Royal Artillery mentioned above is the same unit as the 64th (also known as "A" Air Landing Battery, Royal Artillery) who were subordinated to 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade on 1944.

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