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Frederick Lafferty diaries, 1906, 1941-1946 (majority within 1941-1942)

7 items

This collection is made up of 5 diaries that Frederick Lafferty composed while serving with the United States Army during World War II. Lafferty, who worked in a communications unit, described his experiences at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Victoria, Australia; New Caledonia; and Guadalcanal.

This collection is made up of 5 diaries that Frederick Lafferty composed while serving with the United States Army during World War II. Lafferty, who worked in a communications unit, described his experiences at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Victoria, Australia; New Caledonia; and Guadalcanal. The volumes cover March 24, 1941, and November 17, 1942, with detailed entries for January 20, 1942-August 11, 1942, and October 1, 1942-November 17, 1942.

Lafferty began his first diary with his enlistment and early training in the United States, and started keeping regular entries in late January 1942, after his deployment overseas. In a note to Helen dated August 15, 1942 (pp. 27-29), Lafferty indicated his desire for her to read his diary. He anticipated an upcoming assignment, and shared his belief in military service as a duty to one's country.

Lafferty wrote about his experiences onboard the transport ship Santa Elena while traveling from the United States to Australia via the Panama Canal; his stay in Ballarat and Melbourne, Australia; and his journey to New Caledonia, where he remained for several months. As a member of a communications unit, he often worked in a "message room" and reported rumors of upcoming maneuvers and news of recent battles; his unit worked in cooperation with French radio operators. He heard, and related, stories of Marines who had participated in combat against Japanese forces.

Lafferty's diaries primarily reflect aspects of soldiers' daily lives, such as meals and the poor quality of the food, mail, inspections, leisure activities, and religious habits. A Catholic, he often reported his discussions with priests, attended mass, and prayed the rosary. He also occasionally discussed air raids and training exercises.

Lafferty's final diary almost exclusively concerns his active participation during the Guadalcanal campaign. This diary also has a list of items the soldiers carried (pages 34-35).

Non-textual matter includes a picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill posed next to the Statue of Liberty and the flags of the United States and Britain (cover of the 3rd diary). Also, an entry is written on the inside of a Philip Morris cigarette package (laid into the 5th diary).

Two of the diaries contain enclosures:

  • Volume 1
    • Printed maps of Ballarat, Australia [ca. 1942]
    • La France Australe, New Caledonia newspaper (August 13, 1942)
  • Volume 5
    • Recipe for developing film (undated)
    • United States Army bulletin regarding military information and artillery practices, "Sterling Brand" Grape Juice, and battle precautions (August 9, 1942)
    • Real photograph postcard from Fred to Mrs. Eliza Lafferty, Boston, Massachusetts (September 4, 1906)
    • New Caledonia stamp [ca. 1942]

The collection holds two loose items. The first is a letter from Frederick Lafferty to his sister Helen about his intention to send her his diaries after the conclusion of the war. The other is a printed program for a memorial service held by the Elks of Boston, Lodge No. 10. Frederick Lafferty is recognized in a list of "Deceased Brothers," 1945-1946.


Norma Greiner and William R. Kent collection, 1942-1945

0.5 linear feet

This collection is made up of the World War II-era correspondence of Norma Greiner, her husband William R. Kent, and the Greiner family. The papers include letters that Norma Greiner wrote to her family while serving as a United States Navy nurse in San Francisco, California, in 1943; letters that William R. Kent wrote to his wife Norma while serving onboard the USS Cape Esperance in the South Pacific from August 1944-November 1944; letters that the Greiner family received from various servicemen during the war; and letters that Norma Greiner Kent received from her mother- and sister-in-law.

This collection (79 items) contains the World War II-era correspondence of Norma Greiner of La Grande, Oregon; her husband, William R. Kent; and the Greiner family. One receipt pertains to a small payment from Mrs. R. C. Greiner to C. E. Branner (July 9, 1942).

Norma Greiner wrote 38 letters to her parents while working as a United States Navy nurse at Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, in 1943. She described her experiences treating wounded servicemen and sometimes provided details about specific patients. In one letter, she discussed a set of photographs shown to her by an officer returning from Guadalcanal (February 13, 1943, mailed with letter dated February 11, 1943), and in another, she described her wedding (August 3, 1943). Some letters refer to Greiner's dating life and several from late July and early August concern her marriage to William R. Kent. Her final letter, dated February 19, 1945, pertains to life in San Diego, California. Three of her letters have enclosures: a newspaper clipping about nurses (March 15, 1943), 4 snapshots of natives in an unidentified location (May 27, 1943), and bicycle licenses for Norma Grider [sic] and Wanda Tucker (June 4, 1942). One item is an illustrated printed form letter 2'8" long, including grains of sand glued to one page, that Norma sent to her brother Lawrence (March 27, 1943).

William R. Kent sent 26 letters to his wife Norma Greiner Kent while serving on the USS Cape Esperance in the South Pacific from August 1944-November 1944; these letters form part of a much larger series (not present). Kent discussed navy life, anticipated the birth of their first child, and counted down the days remaining in his enlistment. While stationed on an unidentified island, he described his health difficulties, including a sprained ankle and a diminished appetite, and responded to Norma's news of her hospital work and pregnancy. He mentioned his initiation as a "shell back" after crossing the Equator and encloses a humorous mock subpoena for a related ceremony (August 14-15, 1944). On October 19, 1944, Kent reflected on the death of a friend named Hallowell, enclosing his obituary. Other enclosures include letters and V-mail from the Kent family (September 20, 1944; September 29, 1944; and October 15, 1944); 3 snapshot photographs of an unidentified man with a dog and horse (September 14, 1944); a notice that his subscription to Parents' Magazine would soon expire (September 14, 1944); a cartoon (October 16, 1944); and a list of recommended Bible verses (November 19, 1944). Norma also received letters from her sister-in-law, "Jay" Kent, and from her mother-in-law, Helen Kent.

In addition to Norma's letters, the Greiner family received correspondence from William R. Kent (1 item, March 22, 1945) and other servicemen. Private Dale Greiner, a relative, wrote about his experiences while training with the United States Air Forces in Miami Beach, Florida, and Gulfport, Mississippi; David G. Weathers wrote twice of his love for Norma (April 4, 1943, and July 11, 1943); Norman E. Olson mentioned his participation in naval campaigns near the Philippines on the USS Heywood (February 27, 1945); and Private Chester J. Hoab discussed tank training at Fort Knox, Kentucky (ca. March 25, 1943). Private Bryce E. Miller wrote his letter of March 4, 1943, on stationery bearing printed images of military aircraft.