World War II Crew Stories


William Edgar Diary – 1943–1945

William Henry Edgar, Water Tender 3rd Class aboard USS Taylor from 1943–1945, kept his handwritten war diary in a simple olive green cloth bound book. The first entry was December 22, 1943: “At 2:30 PM went aboard the USS Taylor (DD 468) for overseas combat duty.” The diary is a fascinating first-hand account of a sailor’s life during World War II, and reveals much about William Edgar himself. The first few pages are intricate diagrams and tables of information about the ship’s boilers, which were his responsibility. Read More.

John Kinder Diary – 1942–1945

John A. Kinder was a First Class Machinists Mate aboard USS Taylor from 1942–1945. He arrived aboard USS Taylor in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, New Hebrides on 19 May 1942, having taken the long way around, crossing both the Equator on 1 April 1942 (thereby becoming a “Shellback”) and the International Date Line on 7–8 April. Acording to the last entry in his war diary, John Kinder spent two years, six months and 10 days aboard USS Taylor. Read More.


LTjg Carl Alfsen’s Tokyo Diary

This is a first-hand report of the end of the war in the Pacific through the eyes of a junior officer aboard USS Taylor. Taylor arrived in Sagami Wan on 27 August 1945, and was the first U.S. Navy ship to drop anchor in Japanese waters since the war began. Alfsen writes about his observations from the deck of USS Taylor from then through the surrender ceremonies aboard USS Missouri (BB 63) on 2 September 1945. Read More.

Separation from Service

The Navy Department sent each sailor a letter on the occasion of their separation from active duty service at the end of World War II. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal signed the letters of appreciation for service, wishing each recipient well in civilian life. Read More.

Letter – 27 May 1945

Thought I would continue this letter to tell you a little more about our activities in the Pacific War. In my last letter I told you about the capture of Zamboanga City on Mindanao. Read More.

Letter – 14 August 1945

I don’t feel too ambitious today so instead of writing a long letter telling you how much I miss you and how I wish I were home, I shall send you one of these horrible form letters, which will tell you of the doings of the “TERRIBLE TAYLOR”. These letters are blessed by the censor as he need not read them. However, I’m sure you understand that anything done by the TAYLOR is done partly by me if the TAYLOR is successful in her missions then I have done my work well. Read More.

Letter to Gerry’s Family

The censorship regulations have recently been modified so that I can tell you a little more about what we have been doing in the past. When an action in which we have taken part is released to the newspapers, our Commanding Officer has authority to allow us to tell our personal experience after a month has passed. Read More.