World War II Battle Evaluation Group records
Scope and Contents
The source materials for the Group were War Diaries, Deck Logs, Dispatches, Aircraft Action Reports, Action Reports of Ships, Task Force, Group and Unit Commanders' Reports, captured enemy documents, and interrogations of prisoners of war. The bulk of this Record Group is made up of photocopies and transcripts of this material with some original documents.
Conditions Governing Access
Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.
Conditions Governing Use
Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.
During the course of World War II, bulletins of "Battle Experience" were issued for the general information of commissioned officers. These studies gave the most reliable current information, but it was full realized that they were no substitute for a detailed final analysis of battle experience. In 1944, the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, directed that the Naval War College was responsible for the analysis of combat action reports (COMINCH Conf. memo ser 03072 of 4 Seo 1944). In 1946, the Naval War College was directed by Fleet Admiral C.W. Nimitz, the Chief of Naval Operations, (CNO letter serial 0331P34 if 24 May 1946.) to study and to evaluate the World War II naval battles in which the U.S. Navy participated. The title, method of presentation and form of the study was left entirely to the discretion of the Naval War College. The President of the Naval War College, Admiral R.A. Spruance, selected Commodore R.W. Bates to head the team of officers who would undertake this task. The study group was to be entirely separate from Samuel Eliot Morison's U.S. Naval Operations in World War II research team which was also based at the Naval War College in 1946. Commodore (from 1949, Rear Admiral) Bates remained in charge of the group throughout its existence from 1946 until 1958. The work was carried out from September 1946 until 1950 in the Department of Analysis, in 1950-1951 in the Special Projects Department, and from 1952-1958 by the World War II Battle Evaluation Group. The project was discontinued by The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke on 31 July 1958 for lack of funds. However, Admiral Bates was allowed to remain at work until the end of 1958 while he completed a vol~me of the study.
During the existence of the study group, Admiral Bates completed volumes 1-3 and 5 of the classified study on the Battle of Leyte Gulf and studies of the Battles of Savo Island, Midway and Coral Sea. Volume 4 of the Leyte study was to have covered the approach of Japanese naval and air forces and the continuity between the three major actions of the battle during the time frame from 1042 October 20 to 2400 October 27, 1944. This volume was left about 20% completed. Volume VI of the Leyte study, the Battle o:ff Samar was about 5% completed and Volume VII, The Battle off Cape Engano was left about 20% completed. Only a few notes had been gathered for the projected volume which would gather together the lessons distilled from these studies of naval command.
The mission of the World War II Battle Evaluation Group was to provide lessons derived from the experience of World War II for the education of naval officers in improving their professional judgment for the future. The studies which the Group produced emphasized the problems of command and decision and attempted to portray the mental processes, decisions and actions of combat commanders.
61.6 Linear Feet (59 boxes, oversize folders)
Language of Materials
Administrative records; collected documents, chiefly copies, relating to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 1944; and miscellaneous materials relating to Battle Evaluation Group Studies produced on battles of Savo Island, Midway, and Coral Sea.
In 1946, this duplicate set was given to the Naval War College in order to provide a safe place outside of Washington where it would be of value and use. It consists of all action reports, war diaries, and submarine patrol reports of operational interest which were received by the Chief of Naval Operations during the war years.
Existence and Location of Originals
A large portion of the original documents which was associated with these documents was transferred in 1958 to the Operational Archives, Naval History Center, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
Existence and Location of Copies
A collection of about 2000 reels of microfilm is housed in the Classified Library, Hewitt Hall, Naval War College. This collection is a duplicate set of the COMINCH microfilm library which is held by the Naval History Division.
This collection does not inclde a Box 39.
- Bates, Richard W., 1892-1973
- Coral Sea, Battle of the, 1942
- Leyte Gulf, Battle of, Philippines, 1944
- Midway, Battle of, 1942
- Savo Island, Battle of, Solomon Islands, 1942
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Pacific Ocean
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American
- transcriptions (documents)
- Inventory of World War II Battle Evaluation Group records
- Language of description
- Script of description