Access the digitized microfilm reels on Héritage
This reference guide was created by CRKN staff in 2022 to assist researchers in navigating this series.
About the records
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the records for Canadian unit war diaries of both the wartime Canadian Active Service Force (CASF) and the postwar Canadian Army Occupation Force (CAOF). A war diary is a regularly updated official record kept by military units of their daily activities. The purpose of these diaries is to both record information which can later be used by the military to improve its training and tactics as well as to generate a detailed record of units' activities for future use by historians.
War diaries are focused on the administration and operations of the unit they cover, and generally do not contain information about individual personnel. Their purpose is "to supply authentic material for the history of the unit, and of the force; to furnish a historical record of operations; and to provide data upon which to base improvements in training, equipment, organization and administration. A good war diary makes possible the accurate and detailed reconstruction of circumstances, conditions and action." ("Instruction for Compilation and Despatch" of War Diaries (Appendix to CASF Routine Order No. 147, November 22, 1939).
For more information, consult Library and Archives Canada's description of the records.
How the records are arranged on the microfilm reels
Library and Archives Canada has organized the records in sub-series, based around high-level unit or division descriptions. Certain sub-series have been copied to microfilm and are available online in Héritage. Generally, each sub-series’ records are organized chronologically by sub-unit or department within. Where the records have been copied to microfilm, the LAC description will include the microfilm reel numbers, which can be used to locate the images in Héritage.
An index of sub-series for MIKAN 133700 can be viewed below. Where some records may be available on microfilm, the reel numbers are indicated. To access a more detailed listing of each sub-series, use the LAC Record URL and select “View lower level description(s)” under Record Information – Details. An index for sub-series 5066668 (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) is available as well, courtesy of J. Williams, who shared his index with CRKN.
Finding Aid Tip
There does not appear to be a finding aid at the beginning of any of the microfilm reels, but it is possible to use the reference “RG24-C-3” or finding aid no. “24-60” in LAC’s Collection Search to return all results in this series.
How to search the War DiariesThere may be several ways to identify the records you are looking for, and the relevant microfilm reel number to view the images in the Héritage collection. The steps proposed below are recommended.
Identify the unit or division whose records you wish to consult. It may be possible that the unit had a different name or was incorporated into another unit during the war, so be mindful of alternate names you may need to search.
Enter the name of the unit in the Collection Search bar. Select an item record from the results to see whether the item is available on microfilm.
If the unit or division you are looking for belongs to one of the high-level divisions in the table below, you can use the LAC Record link to open the record. From there, under Record Information – Details, you could select the “View lower level description(s)” to see records which cover a particular department or time period. Where the high-level catalogue record may include a range of reel numbers, a lower level description record may include only one or two reels which contain those specific records. To add a search term (like a unit number) to the “lower level description” search results, select the Advanced Search button before adding your additional search terms. This will preserve the specific terms already in the search.
Locate the microfilm reel number in the record. This information may be indicated in several places within the record; for example, in the Finding Aid, Container Notes, or Additional Information fields. You should also make a note of other relevant record information like the volume or file number, which is usually available in the Reference field.
Use the reel number to search in Héritage. As many of the records are handwritten, they are not currently searchable. However, as the records are generally organized chronologically, it is possible to jump ahead in the images to locate images for a particular date. The label on each image will usually include the volume and/or file number, which you can use to identify the records you are seeking.
If there are no microfilm reel numbers beginning with C-, H-, or T- in a record, it may be that these records were not microfilmed and therefore are not available in Héritage. You should contact the LAC team directly or use their Copy Services to arrange alternate access to those records.
You are looking for the war diary of the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment from June 1942. If you know that the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment was part of the Royal Canadian Artillery, you can use the link from the sub-series table below to open that record directly (see Step 1 - Option A). If you do not have this information, you will need to do your search directly (see Step 1 - Option B). Once you have a reel number, you can move to Step 2.
Step 1 - Option A
Select the Royal Canadian Artillery link from the table. From the LAC record which opens in a new tab, select “View lower level description(s)”. As there are more than 650 records, you should add an additional search term. Do this by clicking on the Advanced Search button in the top right corner and adding “5th Anti-Tank” to your search terms. In the latest search results, you will be able to see the coverage dates for the items in the brief description. Select the record which begins in June 1942. Under Container Notes, you will see that this item is available on microfilm T-16716 to T-16717. Please also note the volume and file numbers: vol. 14566, file 1992.
Step 1 - Option B
Enter “5th Anti-Tank Regiment” in the LAC Collection Search. As this is a very specific search, the record you are looking for should appear in the top results. Select the record which begins in June 1942. Under Container Notes, you will see that this item is available on microfilm T-16716 to T-16717. Please also note the volume and file numbers: vol. 14566, file 1992.
Go to heritage.canadiana.ca and enter “T-16716” in the search bar. Select the correct result to view the digitized microfilm. There is a reference page on image 9, which is found at the beginning of each reel (and file within the reel) for this series. It indicates that the following images are for file 908 (4th Anti-Tank Regiment). This means that the images for the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment begin mid-reel. It will take a little jumping ahead to locate the correct starting image. Use the volume and file numbers in the label on each image to identify the correct items. The records for the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment from June 1942 begin at image 168 in T-17616.
You can see the full list formatted as a web page by clicking here.
Index for Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Sub-Series