Frederick Lafferty diaries  1906, 1941-1946 (bulk 1941-1942)
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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:

  • 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.

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