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The World War II Diaries of Ernest F. Easterbrook (1944–45)

During operations to cut the Burma Road in 1944, Colonel Easterbrook (center)
During operations to cut the Burma Road in 1944, Colonel Easterbrook (center) confers with Lieutenant Colonel Ken Harrold (left) and Captain Ray Leonard (475th Regiment Operations Officer). Photo courtesy of John Easterbrook.
Major General Ernest F. Easterbrook. Ernest Fred Easterbrook papers, Box 4, Fold
Major General Ernest F. Easterbrook. Ernest Fred Easterbrook papers, Box 4, Folder 3, Hoover Institution Archives.

Transcribed Diaries:

Maps

Supplemental maps

Project Information:

  1. Introduction
  2. Copyright Statement
  3. Collection Information
  4. Guide to the Easterbrook Papers
  5. Select Bibliography

1. Introduction

The Hoover Institution Archives is pleased to make the World War II diaries of Major General Ernest F. Easterbrook available online.

Ernest F. Easterbrook was born August 6, 1908, the youngest son of an army chaplain who rose to become Chief of Chaplains of the Army (1928–29). Easterbrook graduated from West Point in 1931 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry. In 1938 he married Nancy Stilwell, the eldest daughter of Colonel Joseph W. Stilwell. He had a distinguished army career lasting thirty-six years, retiring with the rank of major general.

These diaries cover a significant period of his service during World War II. In 1942 he was assigned to the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater (then commanded by Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell); initially he was an instructor and head of department at Ramgarh, India, instructing Chinese soldiers and officers in military tactics and associated subjects. In early 1944, when these diaries begin, he was assigned to be General Stilwell’s executive assistant in Burma. He continued in that position through the capture of Myitkyina; in late 1944 he was assigned to command the 475th Infantry Regiment, a component of the MARS Task Force, at that time the only US ground combat unit in the CBI Theater. In that capacity he led the regiment behind Japanese lines to cut the Burma Road in support of Chinese troops from Burma linking up with the Chinese Y-Force. The Y-Force was a 72,000-man force based in China’s Yunnan Province that was forcing the Japanese out of southwestern China so that a land supply route—the soon to be named Stilwell Road from Ledo in India to Kunming in China—could be reopened.

The diaries are significant for their detailed recording of the activity of Chinese units in northern Burma, including hand-drawn maps; as such, they are a companion to the Stilwell Diaries of the same period. In addition, during his command of the 475th Infantry Regiment, the diaries provide visibility to activities and personnel during that little-known part of the campaign in Burma.

In the diaries, references to “dad” or “pop” are to General Stilwell. He also refers to General Stilwell at times as “Q.B.,” short for Quarterback, Stilwell’s code name.

Also in the Easterbrook collection are two diaries covering the same period (early to mid-1944). One of those diaries, labeled “Supplemental Diary,” seems to have been written when he had time to gather his thoughts and write in a more complete manner. Those entries are designated by a box drawn around them.

Easterbrook originally drew the military unit symbols used in these diaries. Entries contained within brackets ([ ]) indicate editorial comments or spelling corrections. The software used to reproduce the military unit symbols uses a font from Tom Mouat’s MapSymbs website (www.mapsymbs.com). The software is Mouat’s intellectual property but can be copied freely. Tom was most gracious and generous with his time to ensure that the symbols worked properly.

Easterbrook’s son, John, transcribed the diaries. Linda Bernard championed the putting the diaries on line and provided the initiative to accomplish it. Lisa Miller provided the overall management and pulled all the areas of expertise together. Russell Rader scanned and integrated the hand-drawn maps into the diaries’ digitized version.

-John Easterbrook

2. Copyright Statement

Ernest F. Easterbrook's diaries are covered by the copyright law of the United States.
Please refer all requests to publish excerpts or quotations to the Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305-6010, or to archives@hoover.stanford.edu. Such requests will be forwarded to the Easterbrook family, who owns the rights to the diaries.

3. Collection Information

Consisting of correspondence, orders, photographs, reports, speeches and writings, the collection relates to Major General Easterbrook's tenure as an infantry instructor of Chinese troops in World War II, commander of the 7th Infantry regiment in Korea, and deputy commanding general of the 6th Army, headquartered at the Presidio of San Francisco. The collection also includes papers of Edmund Pepperell Easterbrook, army chaplain and father of E. F. Easterbrook. Correspondence, reports and photographs chronicle Edmund Easterbrook's career as a chaplain in Cuba during the Spanish-American war and Germany in World War I.

4. Guide to the Easterbrook Papers

Please browse the guide to Ernest Fred Easterbrook's papers at the Hoover Archives.

5. Select Bibliography

Easterbrook, John. The Soldier with a Heart. Santa Clara, CA: DeHart’s Media Services, 2006.

Randolph, John. Marsmen in Burma. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company, 1946.

Romanus, Charles F., and Riley Sunderland. Time Runs Out in CBI. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept. of the Army, 1958.

Sinclair, William Boyd. Confusion beyond Imagination, Book One. Coeur d’Alene, ID: Joe F. Whitley, Publisher, 1986.