Raymond J. Dansereau Papers

Manuscript Collection #667
Dansereau, Raymond J.
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 5 items , consisting of diaries, papers, and a published version of the diaries entitled Tomorrow's Mission.
Preferred Citation
Raymond J. Dansereau Papers (#667), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1942-1945) including diaries; papers; details of daily routine like swimming, reading, liberties; Mexican funeral, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Raymond J. Dansereau of Lynn, MA, enlisted in the Navy at age eighteen (April 1942). Dansereau trained at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and attended technical training schools in Illinois, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. He was assigned as a radio operator to a flight crew on the aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) in the Pacific Theatre during World War II (August 1943-March 1945). After the war, Dansereau enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves for eighteen years, flying in dive-bombers, torpedo planes, and anti-submarine planes.

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of three handwritten diaries (December 1942-May 1944), an edited re-write of the second diary, a published version of the diaries titled Tomorrow's Mission, and reminiscences. Early diary entries concern Dansereau's training in radar, radio and gunnery schools in Chicago, IL (Vol. 1, pp. 1-5), Memphis, TN (Vol. 1, pp. 7-43), and Oklahoma (Vol. 1, January 25-February 24, 1943, pp. 52-70). Further training and operations in the Caribbean Sea are noted and specific entries pertain to the maintenance and repair of planes (Vol. 1, April 6, 15, 1943, pp. 105-106, 119-120); a description of glide bombing (Vol. 1, April 7, 1943, p. 107); and turret problems while on a practice bombing run (Vol. 1, April 13, 1943, pp. 115-116).

Further entries describe going through the Panama Canal locks and passing the newly re-outfitted battleship USS NEVADA (BB-36) after it suffered severe damage during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Vol. 2, July 11, 1943); tactical maneuvers, practice flights, and mock attacks with battleship USS WASHINGTON (BB-56) from Barber's Point airport in Hawaii (Vol. 2, July 23-August 21, 1943); and vivid accounts of air attacks by the YORKTOWN'S planes on Marcus Island (Vol. 2, August 31-September 1, 1943), Wake Island (Vol. 2, October 4-10, 1943), Mili Atoll in the Gilbert Islands (Vol. 2, November 21, 1943), Kwajalein Atoll (Vol. 2, November 27-December 4, 1943)and Tarawa (Vol. 3, January 29, 1944) in the Marshall Islands, Truk in the Caroline Islands (Vol. 3, February 16, 1944), Saipan in the Marianas Islands (Vol. 3, February 20-22, 1944), and New Guinea (Vol. 3, April 21-30, 1944). The collection's hand-written diaries end on May 28, 1944, but a hand-written reminiscence is included (May-November 1944), and a loose diary entry (February 14, 1945) concerns attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. Tomorrow's Mission also documents attacks on Formosa (January 21, 1945, pp. 311-316); Okinawa (January 22, 1945, pp. 316-318); Tokyo (February 16, 1945, pp. 329-337); Iwo Jima (February 20-22, 1945, pp. 343-347); and a typhoon in the Pacific that sunk some American ships is also detailed (December 18, 1944, pp. 299-304).

Throughout the diaries, Dansereau details the daily routine, particularly work as a radar and radio operator; the cleaning of planes; other American ships the YORKTOWN encounters; and the sightings of Japanese planes and ships. Specific topics covered include the filming of a movie (Vol. 1, June 11, 1943, pp. 174-175); sighting systems used for gunnery (Vol. 2, August 6, 1943); a vivid description of catapulting planes from ships (Vol. 2, September 4, 1943); radio controlled planes (Vol. 2, October 18, 1943); night fighting (Vol. 2, December 16, 1943); photographic missions (Vols. 2 and 3, January-April, 1944); and Japanese prisoners on board the YORKTOWN (Vol. 3, February 2 and May 6, 1944). Particularly interesting diary entries concern airplane accidents, including a two-plane collision (Vol. 1, April 14, 1943, pp. 118-119), crash landings at sea (Vol. 1, May 21, 1943, pp. 147-148) and on the YORKTOWN (Vol. 1, May 26, 1943, pp. 153-154; Vol. 2, July 13, November 23-24, 1943); a death resulting from walking into a spinning propeller (Vol. 1, June 15, 1943, pp. 182-183); and a crash off the aircraft carrier USS LEXINGTON'S (CV-16) catapult after take-off (Vol. 3, March 26, 1944). Dansereau's hand-written report of this accident is also included (April 5, 1944), and at the end of diaries 2 and 3, Dansereau wrote a chronology of his activities while on the YORKTOWN.

Non-military and social activities are also detailed throughout the diaries including liberties, swimming, and reading. Other subjects include a Mexican funeral in Oklahoma (Vol. 1, January 24, 1943, pp. 49-50); sites in Trinidad (Vol. 1, May 29, 1943, pp. 155-160); a description of Hilo, Hawaii (Vol. 2, December 17-18, 1943); and a "Crossing the Line" ceremony (Vols. 2 and 3, January 21-22, 1944).

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 6, 1993, 3 items and 5 volumes; Diaries (1942-1944) and personal recollections (1944-1945) of an aircrewman on the USS YORKTOWN during World War II, along with published version entitled Tomorrow's Mission. Gift of Mr. Raymond J. Dansereau, Middleton, MA.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Raymond J. Dansereau

Processing information

Processed by M. Burdette; A. Merriman, October 1999

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
Dansereau, Raymond J.--Diaries
Corporate Names
Nevada (Battleship)
United States. Navy--Military life
Washington (Battleship : BB-56)
Yorktown (Aircraft carrier : CV-10)
Aircraft accidents--Pacific Ocean
Aviation ground crews
Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941
Radio operators--United States--Biography
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, Japanese
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American