William J. French Papers

Manuscript Collection #212
French, William J.
Physical description
0.073 Cubic Feet, 1 volume , photocopy of diary.
Preferred Citation
William J. French Papers (#212), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1942) consisting of a photocopy of a diary, references of ships and aircraft, statistics concerning troops, air and naval strengths.

Scope and arrangement

The diary of William J. French is an account of his experiences en route to Guadalcanal and his tour of duty on the island from June 10 to September 20, 1942. This diary marks the beginning of the American offensive in the Pacific involving the landing of forces on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Operation Watchtower, code name for the American Offensive, was designed to protect communication lines with Australia and capture Japanese air bases on Guadalcanal and Rabaul in New Guinea.

Mr. French, assigned to the U.S.S. ALCYONE, left Norfolk, Virginia on June 10, 1942 and later met up with the main Watchower Expeditionary Force (80 vessels) off the Fiji Islands. Brief accounts of life on ship are mentioned such as a short stay in the brig, King Neptune's ceremonies, and target and landing practices in preparation for the attack on Guadalcanal. A detailed account on the air and naval activities involved in the initial assault on Guadalcanal (August 7-12) is given with specific mention of the various American ships involved and the successful activities of the U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA.

The remainder of the diary is an account of Mr. French's experiences on Guadalcanal and his descriptions of the intense military activities being conducted by both American and Japanese forces. In describing life on the island, specific mention is made of the high morale of the men despite his accounts of the drudgery of their work loading and unloading supplies from transport ships; food and water shortages resulting in use of captured Japanese supplies; constant shelling by Japanese air and sea forces; and the Japanese propaganda broadcasts intimating heavy American casualties. Mr. French also describes the various methods of defense employed against the enemy air raids and the numerous Marine operations aimed at destroying Japanese land forces of Guadalcanal. Of final interest, numerous references are made to the names and types of ships and aircraft used by both sides and a variety of statistics concerning troop, air and naval strengths, casualties and prisoners of war.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 15, 1972, 1 volume; Photocopy of diary (1942, June 10-September 20). Loaned for copying by Mr. William J. French, Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Mr. William J. French

Processing information

Processed by G. Haworth, May 1973

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
French, William J.
Corporate Names
Alcyone (Ship)
North Carolina (Battleship : BB-55)
United States. Marine Corps--Military life
United States. Navy--Military life
Guadalcanal, Battle of, Solomon Islands, 1942-1943
Soldiers--United States--Diaries
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations
World War, 1939-1945--Equipment and supplies
World War, 1939-1945--Propaganda