Anonymous Japanese Diary from WWII

Page from MSS 238 – Anonymous
Japanese World War II Diary
Boise State University’s Albertsons Library Special Collections and Archives holds an anonymous diary from a seaman working on a hospital vessel for the Japanese Navy during World War II.

The diary is shrouded in some mystery because its author (or authors), the name of the ship, and the author of the partial English translation are all unknown.

The diary was donated by a former Head Librarian at Albertsons Library, Timothy A. Brown. Mr. Brown received the diary from his cousin, a widow, whose husband had made trips to Japan.  The prior provenance of the diary is unknown.

In an attempt to gather more information about the diary, Tim Brown sent the artifact to the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle, Washington in 2001.

In 2005, the diary was returned stating that the consulate was unable to determine the identity (or identities) of the authors and did not indicate the name of the ship. It was then that Brown donated it to Special Collections and Archives.

Page from MSS 238 – Anonymous
Japanese World War II Diary
The diary contains details of World War II battles, the leisure time activities of the crew and officers, and opinions about the war. Here is a small sample of entries:
15 May 1944 Our ship finally reached its full complement of corpsman total of 96. Officers and crew invited to picnic at Manilla Park. I won a prize in the 100 Meter Run – just two rice cakes. In the afternoon played baseball with the officers – they won … the beer in Manilla is very tasty and had my fill.

20 May 1944 … My own opinion of this war right now is a possible attack by America or England on our home land… I’m sure Japan could not stand such an attack since so many of our troops and naval forces are now employed in the South China Sea.  Even if we do conquer New Guinea and New Zealand our major forces will still be deployed and too far away to defend Japan and the war could be lost.

25 Oct 44 Observed 18 enemy aircraft over Rabaul.  All Army and Navy guns trying to rebel the attack.  All enemy aircraft very smartly keeping outside our 19,000 meter range.  High flying bombers did much damage to base and facilities, staying at least 20,000 meter altitude. Our guns were useless at this range.  After sunset more bombing. Heavy damage to airfield and fuel storage. Many buildings no longer standing. Heavy black smoke covered the whole island…. I was sure I would be killed in this attack. The noise from our guns was deafening. The blast and wind from enemy bombs was terrible, could not stand or talk. Makes a man want to fight with all he has.

Because the translation is incomplete, anybody with Japanese language skills is welcome to come to Special Collections and volunteer their time to finish the translation. The archives are open 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.  An online description of the diary and translation can found on the Northwest Digital Archives.

Kent Randell
Assistant Professor/Librarian/Archivist

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