Saturday, January 18, 2014

First World War Unit War Diaries online now

Visit our First World War portal
First World War unit war diaries launched online
This year signals the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. To mark this globally important anniversary, we are running First World War 100, an extensive programme of activities and events, spanning five years from 2014 to 2019.

This week sees the launch of two of our most exciting initiatives: the online release of the first batch of digitised unit war diaries, and Operation War Diary, an innovative crowdsourcing project aimed at tagging the data from the diaries. Read our blog to see how you can help us.

For full details of these and the rest of our programme visit our First World War 100 portal to see all of our First World War records, including advice on how to carry out your research.

We look forward to helping you get the most from our First World War collection so that we can all better understand the conflict and the people involved.
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U.S. Navy Deck Logs

Ship Garthsnaid, ca 1920s
Ship Garthsnaid, ca 1920s (Photo credit: National Library NZ on The Commons)
Know Your Records: U.S. Navy Deck Logs
by on November 1, 2013

Know Your Records: U.S. Navy Deck Logs
U.S. Navy deck logs and muster rolls are among the most popular U.S. Navy records in our holdings. Archivists here at Archives II frequently consult these records to answer researcher requests. Considering their popularity, we thought it might be helpful to dive a little deeper [pun intended!] into the information contained within each record type. Today’s topic: Deck logs!
U.S. Navy Deck Logs – What they are:
A deck log is a brief record of the daily administrative activities of a ship.  It includes journal-style entries of the ship’s administrative activities; location and course of travel; disciplinary procedures; and any unusual events.  The logs sometime include information related to operational activities, although the level of content and detail may vary widely.
[Click on any image to enlarge.]
Deck log of USS Borum (DE-790) – 12 November 1945
Deck log of USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) – 04 March 1960
Deck log of USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) – 04 March 1960
Deck log of USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7) – 01 September 1967
For the period of 1941 through 1956, deck logs generally include monthly rosters of officers.  Beginning in March 1957, officer rosters are no longer included in the deck logs.  From 1957 onwards, officer rosters are included in the ship’s Muster Rolls/Personnel Diaries. Rosters of enlisted crew are always found on the ship’s Muster Rolls/Personnel Diaries.
Only the deck logs of major combatant and support ships are considered permanent records, per the Department of the Navy records management regulations. Other types of logs (engineer, engine room, quarter deck, sick bay or sick call, radio, and quartermaster) are deemed to be temporary records and destroyed by the Navy after initial administrative use. Medical information concerning individuals should be included in the medical file of the individual.
What they are not:
Deck logs are not detailed journals describing a ship’s mission and all events transpiring in and around the ship, although they do sometimes provide information about a ship’s operations.
Deck logs also do not provide personnel information besides the monthly officer rosters for the years 1941 through 1956, as mentioned above. Personnel might be listed if they were involved in an accident or if they faced disciplinary action aboard ship. Unfortunately, we do not have a name index for these records.
Requesting deck logs from 1941-1978:
If you are interested in requesting information from or copies of U.S. Navy deck logs for the period 1941-1978, please contact
In your request, please include:
  • Full name of the ship, and hull number, if possible
  • the dates of interest
  • the nature of your inquiry
Tips for requesting deck logs:
Due to the number of requests received, and the limitations of staff and resources, archivists are unable to consult a large volume of deck logs per request. The following tips should be kept in mind when submitting a request:
  •  Do some research in advance of submitting your request. The Naval History and Heritage Command Histories Branch website provides links to very useful information, including the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Consulting these sites may help you better frame your inquiry.
  • Provide as much information about your inquiry as possible. Be specific. A general request such as “I would like the deck logs of the USS Essex from January-December 1945” is too broad a request for the archivists to sufficiently answer. What would you like to know about the USS Essex during this time? As mentioned above, a little research beforehand may help you better frame your inquiry.
  • Keep your timeframe as narrow as possible. Deck logs per ship per day frequently comprise multiple pages. For example, the deck logs of the USS Essex from April-June 1945 will likely consist of hundreds of pages. A narrow timeframe enables the Navy archivists to better answer your request.
Requesting pre-1941 deck logs:
Deck logs prior to 1941 are maintained by NARA’s Archives I Reference Section (RDTR1), National Archives Main Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC  20408-0001. To request deck logs prior to 1941, please contact
Requesting post-1978 deck logs:
Deck logs dated after 1978 are maintained at the Navy History and Heritage Command. To request post-1978 deck logs, please write to the Ships Deck Logs Section, Naval History & Heritage Command, 805 Kidder Breese Street, SE, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC 20374-5060. More information can be found here.
Deck logs online:
Many deck logs have been digitized and are available via NARA’s Online Public Access (OPA).  Following the link will take you to the series “Logbooks of the U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978.” To search within the series:
  •  In the Details area, look for “…file(s) described in the catalog”
  • Click on the “Search within this Series” button
Deck Logs OPA screen shot_close1
  • A search box will appear in the OPA banner at the top of the screen
  • Enter ship name or hull name. Do not include the prefix USS.
Deck Logs OPA screen shot_close2
If the deck logs of the ship of interest have been digitized, the images will appear on the results page. Only the first three results will appear. To view all results, click on “View all Online Holdings” on the right side of the page.
Deck Logs OPA screen shot_close3
Click on the image or hyperlink of the desired deck log to see a larger view of the image and to be able to download the image.
Do you Know Your Records?
Found anything interesting in the deck logs? Do you have another series of records you’d like us to similarly describe? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments!
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Holdout WWII soldier dies -Japan

Tokyo (CNN) -- A Japanese soldier who hunkered down in the jungles of the Philippines for nearly three decades, refusing to believe that World War II had ended, has died in Tokyo. Hiroo Onoda was 91 years old.
In 1944, Onoda was sent to the small island of Lubang in the western Philippines to spy on U.S. forces in the area. Allied forces defeated the Japanese imperial army in the Philippines in the latter stages of the war, but Onoda, a lieutenant, evaded capture. While most of the Japanese troops on the island withdrew or surrendered in the face of oncoming American forces, Onoda and a few fellow holdouts hid in the jungles, dismissing messages saying the war was over.
For 29 years, he survived on food gathered from the jungle or stolen from local farmers.
After losing his comrades to various circumstances, Onoda was eventually persuaded to come out of hiding in 1974.
His former commanding officer traveled to Lubang to see him and tell him he was released from his military duties.
In his battered old army uniform, Onoda handed over his sword, nearly 30 years after Japan surrendered..

Photos: Hiroo Onoda: Japanese holdout from WWIIPhotos: Hiroo Onoda: Japanese holdout from WWII

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"Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare and not to die," Onoda told CNN affiliate, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "I had to follow my orders as I was a soldier."
He returned to Japan, where he received a hero's welcome, a figure from a different era emerging into post-war modernity.
But anger remained in the Philippines, where he was blamed for multiple killings.
The Philippines government pardoned him. But when he returned to Lubang in 1996, relatives of people he was accused of killing gathered to demand compensation.
After his return to Japan, he moved to Brazil in 1975 and set up a cattle ranch.
"Japan's philosophy and ideas changed dramatically after World War II," Onoda told ABC. "That philosophy clashed with mine so I went to live in Brazil."
In 1984, he set up an organization, Onoda Shizenjyuku, to train young Japanese in the survival and camping skills he had acquired during his decades in Lubang's jungles.
His adventures are detailed in his book "No Surrender: My Thirty-year War." The Japan Times excerpted some of the book's highlights in 2007.
Here is a sample:
-- "Men should never compete with women. If they do, the guys will always lose. That is because women have a lot more endurance. My mother said that, and she was so right."
-- "If you have some thorns in your back, somebody needs to pull them out for you. We need buddies. The sense of belonging is born in the family and later includes friends, neighbors, community and country. That is why the idea of a nation is really important."
-- "Life is not fair and people are not equal. Some people eat better than others."
-- "Once you have burned your tongue on hot miso soup, you even blow on the cold sushi. This is how the Japanese government now behaves toward the U.S. and other nations."
Onoda was born in March 1922 in Wakayama, western Japan, according to his organization. He was raised in a family with six siblings in a village near the ocean.
Hiroyasu Miwa, a staff member of the organization that Onodo started in 1984, said Onodo died of pneumonia Thursday afternoonat St. Luke's Hospital in Tokyo. He had been sick since December.
Ever the faithful soldier, Onoda did not regret the time he had lost.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

An Office of Strategic Services Monuments Man: S. Lane Faison

English: OSS Shoulder Insignia
English: OSS Shoulder Insignia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
is the seventh in an ongoing series of posts on real-life Monuments Men. Today’s post is by Dr. Greg Bradsher. See related posts on Sir Charles Leonard WoolleyWalter J. HuchthausenSeymour J. Pomrenze, Mason Hammond, Edith Standen, and Karol Estreicher.
The forthcoming movie, The Monuments Men, has focused great attention on the Monuments Men (and women) and their work during and after World War II.  Of course the movie cannot tell the story of the over 300 individuals involved in Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFA&A) work, so focuses on three: George Stout, James Rorimer, and Rose Valland, played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett respectively.  Over the course of the next two months, I thought it would be illustrative to discuss some of the lesser known individuals.
This post focuses on S. Lane Faison of the Office of Strategic Services’ Art Looting Investigation Unit, and is the seventh in the series of blogs on the Monuments Men.
Samson Lane Faison, Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 1907.  He graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts in 1929, and earned a Master’s degree from Harvard in 1930 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Princeton in 1932.  From 1932 to 1936 he was an assistant professor at Yale and in 1936 he joined the Williams College faculty as professor of art history.  In 1940 he became chair of the Department of Art, a position he would hold for nearly thirty years.
On December 1, 1942 Faison was commissioned in the Navy and served as a Naval Flight Recognition Instructor and Training Officer until April 1945 when he was asked to join the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).  Faison, in early May, was assigned to the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU).  The ALIU was established in 1944 “to collect and disseminate information bearing on the looting, confiscation, and transfer by the enemy of art properties in Europe.” It was also mandated to find information “on individuals or organizations involved in such operations or transactions, as will be of direct aid to the United States agencies empowered to effect restitution of such properties and prosecution of war criminals.”
Faison joined the ALIU at Alt Aussee, Austria, in the summer of 1945.  It was on May 8, 1945, at that location, in a salt mine, where the greatest collection of looted art was discovered by the U.S. Army and it was there the ALIU established a base of operations. There Faison and his ALIU colleagues, including James S. Plaut and Theodore Rousseau, Jr., set about interrogating many of those involved in the plundering of works of art. Particular attention was paid to the works of art acquired by Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, to a projected Hitler Museum at Linz, and to the Nazi looting organization in France under the leadership of Alfred Rosenberg (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or the ERR).  The ALIU work at Alt Aussee resulted in the clarification of the nature of the looting process and the identification of the whereabouts of countless masterpieces.  Faison’s primary assignment was to write the “official history, as far as number 4 of the OSS ALIU Consolidated Interrogation reports, “Linz: Hitler’s Museum and Library,” December 1945, and the OSS ALIU Detailed Interrogation report on Herman Voss, September 1945.  Voss had been the director of the Dresden and F├╝hrermuseum.
Before leaving Europe Faison unsuccessfully recommended the art looters be included in the Nuremburg trials.  In February 1946 he departed the Navy as Lieutenant Commander.
In the spring of 1946, in recommending Faison for a commendation medal, Lieutenant Commander James S. Plaut, USNR, then Director, Orion Project, X-2 Branch, Strategic Services Unit, War Department, wrote:
As a field agent in the European Theater of a secret counter-espionage project, he conducted investigations and interrogations of enemy personnel with outstanding energy, subtlety, and distinction. Through diligent analysis of captured documents, through competent liaison with other Allied intelligence personnel, and through the aforementioned investigations and interrogations, he was able to produce a major definitive report which, for the first time, has revealed in comprehensive manner the activities and machinations of the group appointed by Hitler to amass cultural and artistic treasures from the occupied countries of Europe for the enrichment of the Linz Museum planned as a personal memorial to Hitler.
In addition, Lieutenant Commander Faison brought such skilled and highly specialized knowledge to his duties to make possible his personal preparation of invaluable interrogation reports on the leading members of the Hitler art-looting group, and the subsequent preparation, in the Washington headquarters of this project, of vital material for inclusion in the definitive lists of enemy art looting personnel presently nearing completion.
The latter was a reference to the ALIU final report, which was issued in May 1946.  The National Archives prepared a list of names mentioned in the final report, pointing to the report and page number where individuals are listed.
Back at Williams College Faison served once again as the chair of the Department of Art and became Director of the Williams College Museum of Art in 1948.
In late 1950, the State Department requested Faison go back to Germany as Director of the Central Collecting Point in Munich to supervise the transfer of U.S. operations to the Germans, and to oversee the final restitution efforts at Munich.  He agreed and stayed there during 1951. For his efforts in finding and restituting looted artworks, he received the French Legion of Honor in 1952.
Once again back at Williams he continued his position as chair of the Department of Art, until 1969 and that as director of the art museum until 1976.  In that year Faison finally retired as a full-time professor.  He then wrote several books, including The Art Museums of New England (1982).  He died in 2006 at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
On April 23, 2001, I phoned Professor Faison and told him the National Archives was issuing the next day a press release announcing the release of Microfilm Publication M-1782, “OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports, 1945-46.”  I told him the microfilmed records—including the detailed, consolidated, and final reports—were being made available on May 8, the 56th anniversary of the U.S. Army’s discovery of the salt mine at Alt Aussee, Austria, where the greatest concentration of Nazi plunder from Western Europe was concealed.  I asked him if he minded me making his phone number available if I received press inquiries about the records and the work of the ALIU.  He said at his age it was tough enough to get up to change the television channel, much less answer the phone regarding things he had done ages ago and which were well-documented in the records we were making available. So, yes, he did mind.  I thanked him for his time, his service, and told him that the National Archives would take good care of his reports.  I added that the records were indispensable to those individuals, institutions, and organizations engaged in art provenance and claims research.  I might add this is still true today.
The ALIU reports contained on Microfilm Publication M-1782, “OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports, 1945-46” have now been digitized and are available on
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