Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “military government”

Battleground Iraq : journal of a company commander

Battleground Iraq : journal of a company commander by Todd S Brown; United States. Dept. of the Army – http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-107-1/index.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What was a night raid like in Iraq?
  • What was the routine of an occupying force?
  • How did some Americans see the Iraqis they encoutered?
  • How did US servicemembers pass the time in the field between assignments?


This book is the journal of company commander (then Captain) Todd S. Brown who led an army company in Iraq from April 2003 through March 2004. From the editor’s introduction:

There is a lot that Todd Brown’s journal is not. It is not an official account, nor does it purport to be. It is not consistent. Todd experiments with his writing style–he was a civil engineering major at the US Military Academy–and bounces around with respect to structure, organization, and delivery. He also bounces through mood swings reflecting good days and bad days. Reading a paragraph in isolation might cause one to believe that the war was winnable or hopeless depending on the exigencies of the moment rather than upon some overarching theory of campaign progression. Sometimes he speaks casually of breathtaking courage, and other times he seems almost whiny.

Captain Brown’s account is supplemented by editor supplied background material at the beginning of each monthly chapter. The work has a glossary and an index as well as five appendices, all of which will be helpful to the writer of stories set in this period:

  • A. Command and Control at the Brigade and Below
  • B. The Samarra Paper
  • C. Civil Samarra
  • D. Countermortar Operations around the LSA
  • E. Life Aboard the Bradley

Some of the relations with the Iraqis might be helpful in occupation stories set on other worlds.

Securing the Surrender: Marines in the Occupation of Japan

Securing the Surrender: Marines in the Occupation of Japan. Charles R. Smith. 1997. 44 pp.
(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/38745461)
(Online: https://archive.org/details/SecuringTheSurrender)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find pictures of surrendering Japanese troops?
  • How were Marines housed during the early occupation?
  • What duties did Marines have during the occupation?


A well illustrated account without table of contents or index about the Marines role in the occupation of Japan. Sidebars show interesting stories such as the oldest Marine in the occupation. Work also shows a number of photographs.

Coast Guard Oral Histories (World War II section)

Coast Guard Oral Histories (World War II section) – http://www.uscg.mil/history/oralhistoryindex.asp

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What was it like to be a member of the Filipino Resistance under Japanese occupation?
  • What was it like to be on Coast Guard Picket Duty during World War II?
  • How would a Coast Guardsman react to finding Nazi saboteurs on American soil?
  • How were bed-wetters treated on some Coast Guard vessels?


This page links to histories from a number of eras. Scroll down to World War II to find over four dozen oral histories from the men and women who served in the Coast Guard in a number of different capacities during World War II. Some of the histories are illustrated with photographs and/or drawings.

Search Tip:

To search for an oral history that matches topics that you are interested in, visit your favorite search engine and do a search in the form of:
[your search terms] inurl:history/weboralhistory
If you use [”bed wetters” inurl:history/weboralhistory], you will retrieve the one oral history that deals with this topic. Note that searching will bring up any oral history that matches your terms, not just oral histories from World War II.

The above search on retrieved items from the Coast Guard Oral history site as of December 2013. If results from other sites appear in your search, do the search again and add site:uscg.mil to the end of it.

Five years of the War Department following the war with Spain, 1899-1903 [Philippine Insurrection]

United States. 1904. Five years of the War Department following the war with Spain, 1899-1903, as shown in the Annual reports of the Secretary of War. Washington, D.C.: The Dept.  – http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/568044050

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What oath were insurgent Filipinos desiring amnesty in 1900 asked to take?
  • How did the US government view the people they called Tagalogs?
  • What sorts of Filipinos were exiled to Guam in 1901?
  • What pest killed off about 90% of Filipino draft animals?


This work should probably be taken with a grain of salt and cross-checked against other resources. This five year compilation of annual reports of the War Department following the War with Spain was not only written by the victors, but by people who felt they had a superior claim of civilization based on the color of their skin.

Nonetheless it will come in handy for writers by serving as a useful chronology of events for the Philippine Insurrection. It may also help sculpt situations and characters, especially ones with the racialist attitudes of the late 19th Century.

For an overview of the United States intended to shape the Philippines, read through President McKinley’s instructions to the civil Philippines Commission, starting on page 407.

This work is divided by year. The order of the subjects covered varies from year to year. Fortunately, there is an index starting on page 495. Aside from using “Philippines” as a starting point, look at “recommendations made concerning” starting on page 519, or for “Philippines” under other headings.

Although this work is being cited here as a resource on the US efforts to suppress Filipino resistance, this volume also documents the US point of view in the following campaigns:

  • The Military Government of Porto Rico.
  • The Development and Establishment of the Republic of Cuba.
  • The China Relief Expedition of 1900.

The book can be freely downloaded from Google Books and is available in paper at many Federal Depository Libraries. The WorldCat link given for this work links to a HathiTrust version that can be read online, but not downloaded.

Annual Reports of the Secretary of War

Annual Reports of the Secretary of War – http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000078451

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How did US authorities deal with an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in Manila in 1899?
  • How many US soldiers were there in China in 1923?
  • Where can I locate specifications and test results for late 19th weapons such as the Skoda 5-Pounder Rabid-Fire Gun?


Spanning from 1863 – 1949, these reports cover a variety of topics. Sometimes they have details about conflicts the United States was engaged in at the time. For example, volume one, part 10 of the 1900 report (http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b2980393) provides a US view of civil affairs under its occupation government in the Philippines.

Sometimes they cover other matters. For example, the 1923 report (http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015024071535) concerned itself chiefly with the economics of national defense and included comparisons of US military spending to those of other countries.

Nearly all of the annual reports will have statistics on the size, composition, and rough deployment of the armed forces. Most years also have an helpful index that might generate story ideas, such as the Bubonic Plague outbreak detailed in the 1900 report. The volumes from Hathitrust are also fully searchable.

In the digitized copies linked here, there is a gap from 1941 to 1947.  As of this writing, I’m unsure whether this means the volumes were not published or simply not digitized.

Records of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany

Records of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany – http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/466.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How much did occupying Germany cost the United States?
  • How is an occupation organized?
  • Where can I learn more about German war criminals?


This is a finding aid to some of the materials generated by the Allied occupation of Germany. The finding aid lists groups of records. Some of the more notable groups are:

  • 466.1 Administrative History
  • 466.2.4 Records of the Office of Economic Affairs
  • 466.2.5 Records of the Office of Political Affairs
  • 466.3 Records of the Land Commissioners 1945-52
  • 466.5 Records of the U.S. Element of the Military Security Board 1947-55
  • 466.6 Records of the U.S. Element of the Extradition Board 1945-55
  • 466.7 Records of U.S. Courts of the Allied High Commission for Germany 1944-55
  • 466.9 Records of the Combined Travel Board of the Allied High Commission for Germany 1945-54

The extradition board had jurisdiction over war criminals and worked with various governments to secure their return to Germany.

As far as I can determine, very few of these records have been digitized. You’ll need to visit the National Archives to see the vast majority of records. If you’re within driving distance of Maryland and are interested in the day to day details of an occupied country, this series would probably help you.

Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II

Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II – http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/331.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How might an occupier change the educational system of an occupied country?
  • Where can I find records of Japanese war crimes trials?
  • Where can I find information on POWs held by Japan?


This set of records relates to the Pacific and European theaters and include many postwar occupation records. It may be the best source of primary source records on the occupation of Japan. Some of the relevant series include:

  • 331.37.6 Records of other general and special staff sections – This group includes dockets of war criminals.
  • 331.38 Records of the SCAP Diplomatic Section 1945-52 – This group includes correspondence accusing the Soviet Union of obstructive actions in postwar Japan.
  • 331.39.1 Records of the Office of the Chief – Includes items relating to war crimes trials, 1946-49, including court proceedings, affidavits and statements, and related records.
  • 331.39.2 Records of the Administrative Division – Includes records on Japanese POWs, POWs held by the Japanese, aerial photo of the route of the Bataan Death March, information on War crimes trials and instructions to the government of Japan.
  • 331.39.4 Records of the Legislation and Justice Division – Among other things, contains a compilation of Japanese laws from 1884-1947
  • 331.39.5 Records of the Prosecution Division – Contains case files and transcripts for war crimes trials, including war crimes committed in Korea, China and the Phillippine Islands.
  • 331.39.6 Records of the Investigation Division – Contains completed questionnaires from former prisoners of war of the Japanese.
  • 331.40 Records of the SCAP International Prosecution Section (IPS) 1907-48 (bulk 1945-48) – additional records of war crimes trials, including newspaper clippings, trial transcripts and at least one diary kept by a Japanese government minister. Also includes a Japanese newsreel showing interrogation of captured U.S. Pilots and photographs of Japanese soldiers and Alliewed POWs
  • 331.41.1 Records of the Headquarters Division – Contains records relating to public welfare, 1945-1951.
  • 331.42 Records of the SCAP Government Section 1945-52 – Contains instructions to the government of Japan as well as the Japanese civil service and records relating to religious, cultural, economic, and other organizations in Japan.
  • 331.45.3 Records of the Education Division – Records including teacher training materials and collections of approved and rejected textbooks.

These record groups could be very helpful in providing backgrounds for occupied countries or planets where the invaders have decided to alter just about all aspects of the invaded society. It will also be useful in studying how war crimes cases are established and tried. Unfortunately, it appears none of this material is available electronically, though some of it of it is available in Microfilm. See the “Plan your visit” page from the National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/research/start/plan-visit.html to see how you might go about accessing this material.

Chronology of Japan (Occupation)

Chronology of Japan (Occupation) – http://www.history.army.mil/documents/8-5/8-5.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What types of events take place in the stages of a military occupation?


As the title implies, this US Army publication is a simple list of dates and events from 8/15/1945, the former date of the Japanese surrender though 3/31/1946, the 97th Infantry Division was inactivated at Kumagaya. I’ve included this resource for the mundaneness of tasks involved in winding down a war and setting up a military government. On interesting item here was the January 1, 1946 “Imperial Rescript” from the Emperor which renounced his personal claim to divinity and the Japanese people’s claim of racial superiority.

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