Grattan H. McCafferty Papers MS-0535

Adam Burkhart
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA 92182-8050

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

box 1, folder 1

Diary, April 8-May 10, 1942 Folder 1

box 1, folder 2

Diary, August 16-November 4, 1942 Folder 2

box 1, folder 3

Diary, November 5-December 10, 1942 Folder 3

box 1, folder 4

Diary, December 11, 1942-January 21, 1943 Folder 4

box 1, folder 5

Diary, January 22-March 2, 1943 Folder 5

box 1, folder 6

Diary, March 3-April 27, 1943 Folder 6

box 1, folder 7

Diary, April 28-June 20, 1943 Folder 7

box 1, folder 8

Diary, June 21-October 3, 1943 Folder 8

box 1, folder 9

Diary, October 4, 1943-March 3, 1944 Folder 9

box 1, folder 10

Diary, March 4-June 16, 1944 Folder 10

box 1, folder 11

Diary, June 17-July 8, 1944 Folder 11

box 1, folder 12

Diary, July 9-November 10, 1944 Folder 12

box 1, folder 13

Diary, November 10, 1944-April 26, 1945 Folder 13

box 1, folder 14

Diary, April 27-September 2, 1945 Folder 14

box 1, folder 15

Diary, undated Folder 15

box 2, folder 1

[Reflections on Japanese captors] Folder 1

box 2, folder 2

Typescript section 1, April 8-May 9, 1942 Folder 2

box 2, folder 3

Typescript section 2, May 11-August 15, 1942 Folder 3

box 2, folder 4

Typescript section 3, August 16-September 7, 1942 Folder 4

box 2, folder 5

Typescript section 4, September 7-November 4, 1942 Folder 5

box 2, folder 6

Typescript section 5, November 5-December 10, 1942 Folder 6

box 2, folder 7

Typescript section 6, December 11, 1942-January 21, 1943 Folder 7

box 2, folder 8

Typescript section 7, January 22-March 2, 1943 Folder 8

box 2, folder 9

Typsecript section 8, March 3-April 27, 1943 Folder 9

box 2, folder 10

Typescript section 9, April 28-June 20, 1943 Folder 10

box 2, folder 11

Typescript section 10, June 21-October 3, 1943 Folder 11

box 2, folder 12

Typescript section 11, October 4, 1943-March 3, 1944 Folder 12

box 2, folder 13

Typescript section 12, March 4-June 16, 1943 Folder 13

box 2, folder 14

Typescript section 13, June 17-July 31, 1944 Folder 14

box 2, folder 15

Typescript section 14, August 1-November 10, 1944 Folder 15

box 2, folder 16

Typescript section 15, November 11, 1944-April 26, 1945 Folder 16

box 2, folder 17

Typescript section 16, April 27-September 2, 1945 Folder 17

box 2, folder 18

Typescript section 17, September 3-October 21, 1945 Folder 18

box 2, folder 19

Photograph of Grattan H. McCafferty Folder 19