Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Frederick Lafferty Diaries, 1906, 1941-1946
Finding aid created by Meg Hixon, August 2012
Title: Frederick Lafferty diaries Creator: Lafferty, Helen Inclusive dates: 1906, 1941-1946 Bulk dates: 1941-1942 Extent: 7 items Abstract:
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.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
2000. M-4084 .
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Frederick Lafferty Diaries, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically by each volume's beginning date.
Frederick Lafferty of Dorchester, Massachusetts, had at least one sister, Helen. He joined the United States Army on March 24, 1941, and served in a communications unit in New Caledonia and Guadalcanal from March to November 1942. Lafferty was a non-commissioned officer. He died during the war.
Collection Scope and Content Note
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:
Printed maps of Ballarat, Australia [ca. 1942]
La France Australe, New Caledonia newspaper (August 13, 1942)
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.