Friday, December 02, 2011


Experience the battles of Midway, Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, and countless smaller naval encounters in World War II as only those in the midst of the fighting could.

The WWII War Diaries on Fold3 are daily operational journals created by various naval commands of the U.S. Navy, providing first-hand accounts by the commanders of the ships that saw action. Reports from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1945 originally marked as "secret" and "confidential" now offer important historical and strategic perspectives relating to the war at sea.

This collection of over a million document images tells the story of a critical era in naval history. Examples of what you may find include:

• Bomb damage report of the USS Yorktown after Coral Sea
• Whale sightings originally mistaken for enemy subs
• Rescue of pilot at sea
• Personnel transfers
• Organizational chart for Marine Corps amphibious operations

War patrol reports can be riveting reading detailing a ship's hour-by-hour activities while at sea. For instance, the Report of the Fifth War Patrol, by the commander of the submarine USS Pogy describes firing torpedoes near Midway in the early hours of February 10, 1944. A Pogy torpedo hit a freighter and "a tremendous tongue of flame shot 500 feet in the air. We could feel the heat of it on the bridge, and by its glare we became instantly visible to an admiring multitude of Japanese." The commander commends the men aboard, yet says there are "too many dull-eyed seamen and firemen who cannot be pushed up into petty officer ratings and who have difficulty even in qualifying in submarines."

Although some reports are handwritten, many typed reports and diaries are OCR searchable. Browse or search on a battle location or keyword, or on the name of a person, Navy ship, aircraft, fleet, or unit of command. Although you'll find many abbreviations The World War II War Diaries description includes a list to help you decipher them.

According to the National Archives, war diaries were identified by the Navy in 1944 as "the principal means by which the day-to-day experience of the Navy is recorded for current study and future historical use." We're pleased to further this mission at Fold3:


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