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McCafferty (Grattan H.) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Source of Acquisition
  • Accruals and Additions
  • Related Materials
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & University Archives
    Title: Grattan H. McCafferty Papers
    Creator: McCafferty, Grattan H.
    Identifier/Call Number: MS-0535
    Physical Description: 0.84 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): 1942-1945
    Language of Material: English .

    Scope and Contents

    McCafferty kept a diary in which he made near-daily entries from April 8, 1942, the day before the surrender of Bataan, until the Japanese surrender in 1945 and the liberation of prisoners of war. The collection includes 15 notebooks and notepads which document McCafferty's life in Japanese prison camps. McCafferty wrote in a sloppy and cramped hand in order to make the diary indecipherable to the Japanese authorities, and also due to the scarcity of writing supplies (he often fits two lines of script into one ruled line on the page). Accompanying the handwritten diaries is a typescript which McCafferty later made, consisting of 17 numbered and dated sections and one undated section, being a reflection on his Japanese captors and a list of their names and/or nicknames and personality traits. Most of the sections include an index of events. Also included in the collection is a photograph of McCafferty taken when he was a captain.
    In the diary McCafferty describes his experience on the Bataan Death March, as a passenger aboard various transport ships bound for prisoner of war camps, and daily life in the camps. McCafferty records the many abuses prisoners were subjected to. Prisoners who failed to bow or show proper respect to their captors received beatings, or "boppings" in McCafferty's words. McCafferty describes instances of Japanese sentries hiding in bushes to catch prisoners unawares, then beating them for failing to bow. Occasionally the prisoners were assigned essays on topics chosen by their captors, such as "who started the war?" and "the treatment of Japanese internees in the U.S." McCafferty writes that shortened rations and punishment would follow if the essays displeased the Japanese authorities. Food, or lack thereof, is a constant theme in the diary. Sometimes McCafferty's entry is little more than a description of the food ration that day. He records the men's complaints over the size and quality of rations and fairness of food distribution, as well as describing the men's efforts to supplement their diet, for instance, by foraging for snails. McCafferty also records the cramped and unsanitary conditions aboard Japanese transport ships, in which hundreds of men were squeezed into rat-infested cargo holds and forbidden from opening the portholes to get fresh air.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Source of Acquisition

    Rita Hill

    Accruals and Additions


    Related Materials

    World War II San Diego State College Servicemen's Correspondence
    Herman F. Fritzenkotter Papers
    Robert M. Briggs Papers

    Preferred Citation

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, Grattan H. McCafferty Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, San Diego State University Library.

    Biographical Note

    Colonel Grattan H. McCafferty served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1946. He was in command of a regiment of Filipino soldiers during the Battle of Bataan in World War II. On April 8, 1942, General Edward P. King ordered the surrender of the allied forces in the Bataan. The combined American and Filipino forces, including McCafferty, were taken prisoner by the Japanese Army and forced on the Bataan Death March, a 60-plus mile march to the POW camp at Camp O'Donnell. The prisoners suffered many abuses at the hands of the Japanese along the way. Those who lagged behind or could not complete the march were beaten, shot, stabbed and beheaded. Around 500 Americans and many more Filipino soldiers are estimated to have died during the march, with more dying at Camp O'Donnell and other camps. For the remainder of the war McCafferty was held prisoner in camps and internment areas in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Manchuria. The major camps where McCafferty was imprisoned were Camp O'Donnell and Tarlac prison camp in the Philippines; Karenko, Taiwan; and Mukden, Manchuria. He was repatriated after the Japanese surrender in 1945 and died in November, 1954 at the age of 65.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1939-1945--Sources
    Prisoners of war
    Bataan Death March, Philippines, 1942