The US Naval War College has released a trove of second world war information by posting online the operational diary kept by the Pacific commander, Admiral Chester Nimitz, during the war against Japan.
The 4,000-page multivolume collection posted on Monday includes a summary of the situation for every day of the war in the Pacific compiled by Nimitz's staff. It was the only known similar document to survive from the war, said Professor John Hattendorf, who teaches maritime history at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Nimitz "Graybook," named for the material in which it is bound, is posted at www.usnwc.edu/graybook .
The diary begins on December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbour, with the line: "The war opened with the attack of Japanese aircraft on Oahu." It goes on to list the locations of the US Navy's forces, the damage sustained and what was known about the enemy's position.
Nimitz's planning staff prepared a similar summary for him every day. Unlike other commanders, Nimitz kept them, and the diary was found in his personal papers, Hattendorf said.
It also included supporting documentation, including the orders Nimitz received from Washington and elsewhere, intelligence information and exactly what his fleet units were doing. The entries run through August 31, 1945.
The diary is kept at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, making it accessible only to those who can travel there. Hattendorf said the project to put it online would it easier for scholars worldwide.
"We'll really be able to understand in a much better way how Admiral Nimitz thought and the challenges he saw every day of the war," he said.