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Find: Personal Interviews in the WWII War Diaries

Personal Interview of Landon L. Davis Jr.
If you’ve spent any time looking through Fold3’s WWII War Diaries, you probably know it as a huge collection of action reports and day-to-day activity records submitted by Navy and Marine Corps units. But if you dig a little deeper into the collection, you’ll find that it also has more than 800 pages of personal interviews with Navy officers—many of them submarine commanders—as well as a few Marines about their experiences in World War II. Each interview has an introductory page that gives a short summary of the narrative’s highlights, helping you more easily determine if the content would interest you or not.

All the interviews are worth a read, but listed below are some that stand out for the quality of their information and for their readability or humor:

  • An interview with Lt. Commander Landon L. Davis, Jr., of the USS Pampanito (submarine) about rescuing Allied prisoners of war from the water after the Japanese ship they were on was sunk.
  • An interview with Captain Arthur Lawrence Maher, gunnery officer on the USS Houston (heavy cruiser), about the sinking of the Houston in the Battle of Sunda Strait, his subsequent capture by the Japanese, and life in prison camps.
  • An interview with Commander Chester C. Smith of the USS Swordfish (submarine) about evacuating Philippine dignitaries and other occurrences on the sub’s patrols.
  • An interview with A. H. Stegall, chief radioman on the USS Silversides (submarine), about an emergency appendectomy performed (with no experience) on board, as well as an account of the sub getting bombed by a plane.
  • An interview with Captain E. C. Stephan, commander of the USS Grayback (submarine), about another emergency appendectomy (also performed with no experience) and some of the highlights of the Grayback’s fifth war patrol, including a “lighthouse” mission and the rescue of downed airmen.
  • An interview with Commander Kemp Tolley of the USS Lanikai (yacht) about the Japanese air raid on Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines and the schooner’s escape to Australia via the Dutch East Indies.

Interested in reading more? Find additional personal interviews from the WWII War Diaries here.

10 Comments

  1. I have letters which a Chaplain wrote during WWII, but the real gem is a description of his observations/feelings when he was one of the first to walk through one of Hitler’s prisoner camps when it was opened after the end of the war. He wrote the document so ‘we would not forget’. Do you want this one page document included in your files?

  2. A couple of years ago I offered you an interview/biography with letters and photos on my uncle who was with the first army troops to fight in New Guinea and got a strange reply like you didn´t know what I was talking about. What do you say today? Joe Wachter

  3. I don’t know if you’re interested in Bomber pilots from the Army Air Corps but my dad is still living and has been interviewed by a local gentleman. I have the dvd if you’d like a copy. It’s serious in parts and funny in other parts.

  4. I would be interested in any letters you have from women in the service of our county in WWII

    I teach genealogy (mostly to seniors) at no cost to them. I also provide all of their supplies. I do this because I feel they want to leave their own personal history to family members. And, I am there to help them make that happen. One of he greatest laughs in my class is when we discuss “Oleo Margarine” and how we all used to wait for our mothers to come home from the market so that we could squish the little yellow dot of food coloring into what was mostly lard to make it look like “BUTTER” I actually have a copy of the original photo of this product in my pictues for them to see. That was advertised in magazines. Butter it wasn’t, but fun it was.

    I have a very large collecion of photos, posters and lifestyles of women from that era..Both at the Home Front and at War It is a joy for me to see memories coming back and hearing the stories from them about how their lives were impacted and often changed by WWII.

    Please let me know if you have anything for my classes. I will give them a written copy of your information and where they might read more of your collection.

    Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration,

    Peggy A. Taylor-Hulligan
    [email protected]

  5. US LaSalle info?

  6. A bit off topic, but we are nearing the end of the 200th anniversary of events during the War of 1812. I recently ran across a small work put online which included the muster rolls of units which fought in the Battle of Baltimore (Battle of North Point and Fort McHenry). In the PDF format, some names on the muster rolls show up in searchs and others seem to be invisible. Also, the rolls , as published ca 1840, do not cover all units. Surely there is more material out there, but you do not even include the War of 1812 in your list of topics. The title of the booklet is The Citizen Soldiers at North Point and Fort McHenry.

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  8. So how do I order a copy???????????

  9. I was born before WW II ended. I had 2 cousins in the Marine Corp in the South Pacific, an Uncle that was also in the Pacific and in the Army of Occupation, and an aunt that was a Lt. Commander in the Navy. She was in charge of the surgical unit on Guam. I listened to their stories and was 12 years old before i realizes that JAPBASTARD was actually two words.