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“I Shall Return”

General Douglas MacArthur served as the commander of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East during World War II. During the war, MacArthur led the campaign in the Pacific theater for the Army. In 1966, the Department of the Army published two volumes of reports of MacArthur’s involvement in the war. These reports describe and illustrate numerous battles in Japan and the Philippines that MacArthur helped plan. Alongside the reports, maps and charts were also included, adding a visual dimension to the battles fought in the Pacific. Many of these maps can be found in the Cartographic Branch here at the National Archives.

Leyte Map Complete
Leyte Map Base
Leyte Map Overlay
General MacArthur Report Maps, compilation materials and completed map
Top Left: Leyte Map Complete, National Archives Identifier 50925968
Top Right: Leyte Map Base, National Archives Identifier 50925966
Bottom: Leyte Map Overlay, National Archives Identifier 50925970

We have most of the completed and published maps that appear in the volumes, but the majority of what we have are other compilation materials. Included are illustrations and designs that show different aspects and sections of what would become the final map. Some of these items are hand-drawn designs while others include painted portions. Some also include plastic sheets that highlight particular parts of the map, such as troop movements and army locations, which would be overlaid on the base map in the published version. By looking through the folders, one can get a sense of how the pieces fit together and how they were used to highlight aspects of each map. Comparing the compilation materials with the published maps gives a greater sense of how they were created to show the whole story.
Japan Bombing Operations Eastern Air Force Overlay
General Situation of Japanese Forces
(L) Japan Bombing Operations Eastern Air Force Overlay, National Archives Identifier 50925952
(R) General Situation of Japanese Forces, National Archives Identifier 50925958
Japan Bombing Operations Rough Draft
Japan Bombing Operations Rough Draft, National Archives Identifier 50925956
The MacArthur report maps highlight some of the most significant battles of the war. They give insight into how MacArthur approached situations in the Pacific and how he planned for action. Included are strategic maps for the Battle of Manila, the Leyte Assault, the re-taking of Bataan and allied landings in Japan. Many maps show the disposition of enemy forces and their movements. By providing information about how these battles were planned, the maps present a very detailed and informative look at how MacArthur and the allied forces approached the war.
Even for researchers who have a strong understanding of this campaign, these maps highlight aspects and details of the Army’s planning that many will find useful. In total, there are approximately 2,400 items included in the series covering a significant portion of the war. Keeping in mind that the maps originate with MacArthur himself, they represent an important part of the story of World War II and they help to paint a complete picture of the war. You can learn more about this series in the National Archives Catalog.

Today’s post comes from Corbin Apkin, archivist in the Cartographic Branch at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, and originally appeared on the Unwritten Record blog.

World War I Mission: Capture the Captions

The National Archives recently completed a massive digitization project of World War I material, including series of photographs documenting American activity on the home front and on the battlefield during the war years. 
Snow and ice covered battleship, March 18, 1918
Snow and ice covered battleship, March 18, 1918, National Archives Identifier 45512677
The “American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs” series contains photographs depicting the unity of the nation and how overwhelming the war effort was. Within this series, you will find activities of libraries, hospitals, first aid stations and training camps, pictures of bonds, savings stamps and war loan drives, public gatherings, peace demonstrations and parades, as well as photographs of airplanes and other wartime industries, and much more. 

Our newest citizen archivist mission looks for your help to “capture the captions.” Transcribe the text found on each photograph card to enhance the description. Want extra credit? Tag features and details found with each photograph. All of these details will make these records more searchable in our Catalog and help unlock history. 
Get started transcribing and tagging!
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