Pacific Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s “Gray Book” Journal Digitized

During the battles in the Pacific during World War II, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz kept a daily journal now referred to as the “Gray Book.” Bound in gray material, Nimitz’sdiary chronicles the Pacific battles in rigorous detail, covering several volumes of situational strategy and experience from a firsthand perspective. Nimitz’s staff helped to put together this 4000-page chronicle which was digitized for the public by the U.S. Naval War College in February of 2014. No similar compilation from the war is currently known to exist.

Pearl Harbor sets the scene for the opening words of Nimitz’s diary, and from there on out details everything Nimitz knew daily about naval positions for both the enemies as well as allies. Day by day, battle by battle, all damage done to U.S. naval forces from that very first attack in December of 1941 are painstakingly chronicled, allowing a statistical view of how America was handling the war against Japan.

These are not merely Nimitz’s own observations. His staff prepared him with this information on a daily basis, and orders both given and received by him were saved alongside his operational journal and other relevant intelligence on naval fleets. He continued this methodical detail up until the Pacific battles came to a halt in August of 1945.

Nimitz’s journal has not been a classified document since 1972, however access to it has been somewhat limited. Only those available for viewing at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington could previously peruse these writings. Posting them digitally expands the possibilities for academic and historical research into military stratagems, as well as a deeper look into the experience of being a commander at sea during a major war. Already, there has been heavy traffic for online viewings of the Gray Book in its entirety, the Boston reports.

Prior to Adm. Nimitz’s passing away in 1966, he spoke semi-frequently at the Naval War College, so it is not too surprising that his alma mater would fund such a project which provides a more in-depth comprehension of the trials he faced in battle. Online viewers of the Gray Book can now understand in full depth what such a lifestyle was like on a day-to-day basis, reading from the point of view of a man who received some of his orders directly from President Roosevelt himself. Nimitz’s operational diary now provides anyone with an internet connection with a look at the naval war experience as it has never been understood to civilians prior to the digitization of this journal.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE