World War Two Studies

Research Source

Important primary sources, offering insight into many aspects of the war, including government policy, the war in the Pacific, and the war in Europe.

Sources include the records of British espionage and sabotage organisation The Special Operations Executive; and private papers of American General Robert L Eichelberger from the Pacific war.

 

What collections are included in this module?

Cabinet Papers: Series One

Papers concerning Defence and Operational Subjects, 1940-1945: Winston Churchill, Minister of Defence, Secretariat Papers

 
Covering the period of Winston Churchill's war-time administration, this collection contains papers of the Prime Minister's own Secretariat, including details of his discussions with advisers outside of the Cabinet, and Churchill's Papers concerning Defence and Operational Subjects, 1940-1945, a period during which he was both Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.
 
Churchill made it a clear rule that "all directions emanating from me are made in writing." As a result, this series offers a complete record of the war from Churchill's perspective, including his directives, memoranda and general papers submitted to him for discussion. Examples of items featured include Trenchard's views on Air Policy; Mountbatten on MacArthur; Churchill's telegrams to Roosevelt, Stalin and other leaders; papers concerning defence plans for Singapore and Australia; records of Anglo-American discussions; and papers on Japan, the Soviet Union, Operations Overlord and Torch, submarine warfare, SOE, and occupied Europe.

The Diaries of James V Forrestal, 1944-1949

Complete and unexpurgated diaries from the Seeley G Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University

 
This project presents a complete and unexpurgated version of Forrestal's manuscript and typescript diaries, covering the period March 1944 to March 1949. As Secretary of the Navy, 1944-1947, and first Secretary of Defense, 1947-1949, Forrestal had significant access to the President and was part of a State Department team with crucial responsibilities for running the war effort, ensuring a successful outcome for the Allies and, moreover, with a key role in considering and shaping the peace, reconstruction policies and the structure of the post-war world.

Japan and America: Series One

The Papers of General Robert L Eichelberger (1886-1961)

The private papers of General Robert L Eichelberger, commander of the Amphibious Eighth during the Pacific War, in charge of all ground occupation troops in Japan (1945-1948) and second in command to General Douglas MacArthur, provide a mass of detail on the Second World War and the post-1945 period, on reconstruction and on relations between Japan and America.

Part 1 covers Subject Files on World War II and Japan. Campaign reports, Eichelberger's dictated notes, special reports and staff studies on terrain and likely difficulties to be encountered, Naval Intelligence reports, directives from General Douglas MacArthur, operations instructions, administrative orders, after action reports, interviews with Japanese prisoners and material on the Pearl Harbor Investigative Reports provide extensive documentation on the War in the Pacific, 1941-1945. In addition, there is much material on Operation Coronet (the planned Allied invasion of Japan) and the economic, educational, social and political restructuring of Japan during the period of occupation after World War II.

Part 2 covers material on events in Japan, providing monthly non-military summaries, files on the political reorganization of Japan 1947-1949, public health and welfare reports, 1945-1949, industrial reparations and Eisenhower's inspection of Kobe Base in May 1946. There are also files on the Sorge spy reports and material on Korea. Also included are all of Eichelberger's diaries for 1940-1951, which are very detailed and contain substantial daily entries.

Part 3, comprising Eichelberger's correspondence 1903-1961, provide scholars with a vast array of revealing personal and official letters. The bulk of the material is for the years 1942-1961. There are many war-time letters from General Eichelberger to his wife, Emma Gudger Eichelberger, describing the fighting in the Pacific, the nature of his relations with General Douglas MacArthur, the condition and morale of troops as well as the difficulties of jungle life, and events in Japan after 1945.

Finally, Part 4 brings together further subject files, writings, speeches, photographs and oversized material. Subject files relating to the Siberian Expedition, 1917-1924, document Eichelberger's early career, while photographs, oversize items and printed material provide a wide array of further information on Eichelberger's army career. 

Japan and America: Series Two

The O'Ryan Mission to Japan and Occupied China, 1940

 
In 1940 General John F O’Ryan, supported by two economists (Dr Simon Whitney and Dr Warren Hunsberger), and a Japanese-American interpreter (Hannah Syroboiarsky) travelled to Japan and occupied China. Sponsored by the New York investment firm of Eastman Dillon and the Japan Economic Federation, the O’Ryan mission visited the main centres in Japan, Manchuria, north and central China, talking to both Japanese and non-Japanese business leaders and residents. This project contains a wealth of fascinating information collected on their trip, which Dr Hunsberger described as "...one of the unsung moves in US-Japan relations after the 1940 denunciation of the trade treaty between the two nations." This project brings together an important cluster of surviving papers relating to the mission.

Special Operations Executive: Series One

SOE Operations in Western Europe

 
Since VE Day, the concept of resistance movements and secret government organisations has fascinated all aspects of the media, from simple fictional accounts to glamorous film noir characters. The release of files documenting the machinations of the Special Operations Executive means that, for the first time, scholars are able to see beyond the romantic; witnessing the first-hand accounts of those who risked their lives in order to stop the relentless march of fascism.
 
These files offer the realities of setting up, organising and posting agents into occupied territories, making for some of the most interesting and exciting material that has emerged from archives relating to the Second World War. Subjects for study range from the interaction between allied forces, the impact of guerrilla warfare in occupied territories, the extent of German penetration and the planning, politics and organisation associated with action behind enemy lines. This series covers activities in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

Special Operations Executive: Series Two

SOE Operations in the Balkans

 
Since VE Day, the concept of resistance movements and secret government organisations has fascinated all aspects of the media, from simple fictional accounts to glamorous film noir characters. The release of files documenting the machinations of the Special Operations Executive means that, for the first time, scholars are able to see beyond the romantic; witnessing the first-hand accounts of those who risked their lives in order to stop the relentless march of fascism. These files offer the realities of setting up, organising and posting agents into occupied territories, making for some of the most interesting and exciting material that has emerged from archives relating to the Second World War. Yugoslavian terrain was particularly suitable for resistance activity and various partisan armies harried the German forces of occupation mercilessly from April 1941 onwards.
 
Initially, SOE support was given to Colonel Draža Mihailović, who led one of the largest groups of resisters. The SOE mission (MACMIS) determined that support should be switched to Josip Broz, the Croat Labour leader better known as Tito, who was the other major resistance organiser, leading over 10,000 partisans by 1942. The files are full of local reports compiled by SOE officers, political and strategic assessments, details of operations, propaganda, details of couriers and supply drops.

Soviet War Posters

The Tass Poster Series from the University of Nottingham

 
Visually stunning and extremely scarce, the complete Nottingham University Collection of 129 hand-painted TASS Windows are published together with a further 37 printed posters from the same period.
 
The collection illustrates the themes and tone of the Soviet propaganda effort from the turning point of the war at Stalingrad to the final victory in Berlin. Amongst distinctive features are the appeal to Russian patriotism and the historical tradition of repelling Napoleon and other invaders; the effort to maintain the war effort and commitment as the war passed from Soviet territory into Eastern Europe in 1944; the positive image of the western allies and their military campaigns; vengeance for Nazi atrocities; apprehensions about neutral countries protecting fleeing Nazis; the heroic efforts of the Soviet armies; and the dependable, fatherly image of Stalin.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 1930-1955

Subjects

  • Battle of Britain
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Government and military strategy
  • European War
  • War in the Pacific
  • Atomic bomb
  • Marshall Plan
  • Espionage
  • Sabotage and guerilla warfare
  • Post-war reconstruction
  • Propaganda

Material Types

  • Government files
  • Personal writings, diaries and journals
  • Correspondence
  • Posters and propaganda materials

Header image - © AKG Images / ullstein bild / Heinrich Hoffmann