Importance of war diary recognised by UNESCO

Earl Haig
Earl Haig

The significance of Earl Haig’s First World War diary has been underlined with its inclusion in the UK Memory of the World register.

The online register, run by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), promotes the importance of documentary heritage across the UK and the world.

Field Marshal Haig’s diary, held by the National Library of Scotland, was added to the register on Tuesday, along with the Domesday Book, the silent films of Alfred Hitchcock, and the personal archive of Sir Winston Churchill.

“This year’s inscriptions reflect the richness of UK culture and history, from medieval
manuscripts to ground-breaking cinema,” said David Dawson, chair of the UK Memory of the World committee.

“We hope that today’s announcement will encourage people to discover these items and collections, as well as some of the other great documentary heritage near them.’

During the 1914-1918 war, Haig was Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force and recorded the war’s progress every day in his handwritten diary, including his account of key battles such as the Somme and Passchendaele.

It offers a unique insight into both the conduct of the war and one of the most controversial generals in the British Army’s entire history.

The diary is part of a wider collection of Haig’s personal papers at the National Library of Scotland.