Navy Publishes Nimitz Diary Online

Admiral Nimitz (seated) discussing strategies in the South Pacific theater with top officers.
Admiral Nimitz (seated) discussing strategies in the South Pacific theater with top officers.

Admiral Nimitz (seated) discussing strategies in the South Pacific theater with top officers.
Admiral Nimitz (seated) discussing strategies in the South Pacific theater with top officers. (Photo: Daily Press)

The Navy unveiled a gold mine of WWII information when it decided to publish Nimitz Diary – about 4,000 pages of personal records written by Fleet Adm. Chester A. Nimitz – online.

The said project dubbed “Gray Book” was launched last February 24. Nimitz Diary holds the private accounts of the officer starting from the attack on Pearl Harbor up to WWII’s closing days.

Nimitz Diary was was opened at exactly 6:30 PM that particular day and was even streamed on the Navy Live Blog. The launching also included a lecture on the material made available online as well as a question and answer session U.S. Naval Academy Professor of History Emeritus Craig L. Symonds.

Viewers of the live stream in Hampton Roads and all over the globe were able to pitch in their questions about the Nimitz Diary and the WWII in general through the interactive chat.

The records contained in the Nimitz Diary was declassified way back in 1972.

“[Nimitz Diary is] the most authoritative source on the Pacific War available anywhere,” said Naval War College Historian Douglas Smith. “Making the document public allows for a better understanding and context of the unique value and consequence of the U.S. Navy and Nimitz’s approach in directing the Pacific campaign.”

Admiral Nimitz’ writings stretch through 4,030 single-sided pages. The papers had been held in 28 boxes inside the archives of the Washington Navy Yard. Nimitz Diary even included records of individual ships giving researchers and readers idea of how these smaller vessels fit into the greater Pacific scheme.

Nimitz was assigned in Pearl Harbor Christmas time of 1941. At this point, the US was still staggering over the impact of the Japanese attack which damaged the country’s fleet and also marked its official entry into WWII. After three years, he was able to climb up the ranks and became a new five-star rank fleet admiral. Nimitz’ influence on the Pacific campaign had been expansive. They even included very vital battles like the Solomon Islands Campaign, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Soldiers arriving for the Solomon Islands Campaign.
Soldiers arriving for the Solomon Islands Campaign.

September 2, 1945 saw the formal surrender of the Japanese army. The event happened on board USS Missouri with Nimitz signing the vessel of surrender for US.

The Naval War College Foundation funded the effort of bringing Nimitz Diary online and started it on August 2012. The documents had been scanned before but this time, the Nimitz Diary online is of higher-quality making it easier to browse through the many pages for a top researcher or an individual simply interested in history.

The process of putting Nimitz Diary online had been a painstaking one. The original paper used by the admiral was onion-skin carbon copies in varied weights and shades. There was also an adequate share of handwriting and initials written on the papers. Additionally, the formatting, line spacing and even the sharpness of the typescript varies from page to page. Officials have been working on breaking down the pages – all 4,000 plus of them – into sections that are easily manageable.

“You’re getting a fly-on-the-wall approach to how decisions were made and how the war was fought,” said Robert Cressman, a historian at Naval History and Heritage Command.

– Daily Press reports


Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE