Carter Berkeley Simpson Papers

Manuscript Collection #646
Simpson, Carter Berkeley
Physical description
0.073 Cubic Feet, 83 items , typescript pages of two diaries (1941-1944) of U.S. Marine officer, USNA Class of 1939.
Preferred Citation
Carter Berkeley Simpson Papers (#646), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1941-1944) including correspondence, 2 hand written diaries, receipts of letters, description of daily routine activities.

Biographical/historical information

Carter Berkeley Simpson was born in South Carolina in 1915, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1939, and subsequently served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He was stationed in the Philippines when the United States entered World War II, commanded troops first in Bataan until its fall (April 8, 1942) and then on Corregidor until its surrender to the Japanese (May 6, 1942). A prisoner of war, he was interned in a Japanese P.O.W. camp in the Philippines from June 1942 until late 1944, when his P.O.W. ship was sunk enroute to Japan. Recaptured upon reaching shore, he died of exposure and starvation December 31, 1944, having achieved the rank of captain.

Scope and arrangement

The collection includes two diaries written by Simpson while a prisoner of war in the Philippines. The first diary (December 8, 1941 - April 18, 1944) of 59 typescript pages presents a reconstruction of war and defeat in Bataan (pp. 3-14) and Corregidor (pp. 15-21), including sample battle dialogue (pp. 19-21). Dated entries begin with May 6, 1942 (p. 22) and describe conditions of surrender to the Japanese on Corregidor, travel to the P.O.W. camp, and camp life itself. The other diary (April 19, 1944 - October 12, 1944) of 23 typescript pages describes life in the P.O.W. camp up to the time Simpson was sent to Japan. Together the diaries describe two years and four months of life in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. Except for six months of this time, Simpson served as a camp barracks leader.

Diary entries provide insight into the psychological effects of imprisonment, including continual fears about the future, disillusionment with human nature, preoccupation with rumors about the course of the war, and alternating hope and despair of freedom. Other topics of constant concern in the diaries are lack and type of food; health problems, notably malnutrition, beri-beri, and pelagra; interaction among the prisoners; and receipt of letters from home and Red Cross packages. Daily routines, departures from routine, amounts of rations, camp entertainment, crime and punishment, and general camp morale also are described regularly. The second diary in particular includes observations of Japanese military activity witnessed from the P.O.W. camp, including aerial operations andactions such as foxhole digging within the camp itself (pp. 12, 16, and 21).

The collection also includes a copy of the entry on Simpson in the United States Naval Academy Register of Alumni.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 8, 1992. 83 pages; Diary (1941-1944) of U.S. Marine officer, USNA Class of 1939. Gift of Capt. Fred C. Wyse Estate, McLean, Virginia.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Capt. Fred C. Wyse Estate

Processing information

Processed by Z. Anishanslin, June 1995

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
Simpson, Carter Berkley, 1915-1944
Corporate Names
United States Naval Academy--Alumni and alumnae
United States. Marine Corps--Officers
Prisoners of war--Philippines--Diaries
Prisoners of war--Psychology
Prisoners of war--United States--Diaries
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, Japanese