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A unique chronicle of the war from the perspective of a sensitive twenty-four-year-old sergeant who wrote for the Army’s in-house paper, Yank, the Army Weekly and a tale of the South Pacific that will not soon be forgotten. Correspondent Mack Morriss reluctantly left his diary in the Honolulu Yank office in July 1943. “Here is contained an account of the past eight and one-half months,” he wrote in his last entry, “a period which I shall never forget.” The next morning he was on a plane headed back to the South Pacific and the New Georgia battleground.

Morriss was working out of the press camp at Spa, Belgium, in January 1945, when he learned that the diary he had kept in the South Pacific had arrived in a plain brown wrapper at the New York office. He was so happy “to know that this impossible thing had happened,” he wrote to his wife, that he helped two friends “murder a quart of scotch.” What was preserved and appears in print here for the first time is a unique chronicle of the war in the South Pacific from the perspective of a sensitive twenty-four-year-old sergeant.

This is an intensely personal account, reporting the war from the ridge known as the Sea Horse on Guadalcanal, from the bars and dance halls of Auckland to a B-17 flying through the moonlit night to bomb Japanese installations on Bougainville. Morriss thought deeply and wrote movingly about everything connected with the war: the sordiness and heroism, the competence and ineptitude of leaders, the strange mixture of constant complaint and steady courage of ordinary GIs, friendships formed under combat stress, and, above all, what he perceived to be his own indecisiveness and weaknesses.

Ronnie Day introduces Morriss’s diary and illuminates the work with extensive notes based on private papers, government documents, travel in the Solomon Islands, and the recollections of men mentioned in the diary.

Mack Morriss, author of The Proving Ground, a novel based on his wartime experiences, died in 1975.

Ronnie Day is professor and chair of the Department of History at East Tennessee State University.

"Lively, colorful, and simply and forcefully written. It is a personal journey, giving not only an account of the battles but also of the life in the barracks and bars."—Knoxville News-Sentinel

"Beautifully edited, this diary provides a detailed look at a very introspective World War II reporter."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Mack Morriss, World War II, War correspondents


United States History


Edited by Ronnie Day

South Pacific Diary, 1942-1943
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