Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “resistance”

What was it like to be a member of the Filipino Resistance under Japanese occupation?

In my entry for Coast Guard Oral Histories (World War II section) I claim you can answer “What was it like to be a member of the Filipino Resistance under Japanese occupation?” with this resource. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the resource and scroll down to either the “Women” or “World War II” sections
  2. Locate the oral history of Florence Finch was the only SPAR decorated for combat during World War II.

Here you’ll find this statement of SPAR Finch’s activities:

14. A Filipino man asked for my help in falsifying documents to enable guerillas to obtain fuel to operate their trucks and then wrote names on coupons to enable them to pick up their fuel supplies. Col. Engelhart wrote about this inthe recommendation for me to receive the Medal of Freedom. [See Medal of Freedom citation]. I also brought food and did laundry for the American internees in Santo Tomas until the gates were closed in October 1944, after General MacArthur had begun his efforts to liberate the Phillippines in Leyte Gulf. Then the Japanese put the internees on starvation diets. As I have written elsewhere, the Filipinos – all of us outside – were very loyal to the Americans; we shared with them our own meager foods. All ships had stopped coming from the US, also food was very scarce, many foods being sold on the black market, especially cigarettes.

While her Medal of Freedom Citation is not reproduced in this document, a search on her name brings up another Coast Guard biography page on Florence Finch which quotes from the citation:

For meritorious service which had aided the United States in the prosecution of the war against the enemy in the Philippine Islands, from June 1942 to February 1945.  Upon the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands, Mrs. Finch (then Mrs. Florence Ebersole Smith) believing she could be of more assistance outside the prison camp, refused to disclose her United States citizenship.  She displayed outstanding courage and marked resourcefulness in providing vitally needed food, medicine, and supplies for American Prisoners of War and internees, and in sabotaging Japanese stocks of critical items. . .She constantly risked her life in secretly furnishing money and clothing to American Prisoners of War, and in carrying communications for them.  In consequence she was apprehended by the Japanese, tortured, and imprisoned until rescued by American troops.  Thought her inspiring bravery, resourcefulness, and devotion to the cause of freedom, Mrs. Finch made a distinct contribution to the welfare and morale of American Prisoners of War on Luzon.

These oral histories are just one of the Coast Guard related resources in my Writer’s Guide to Government Information.


Marines in Iraq 2004-2008: An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography

Marines in Iraq 2004-2008: An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography

(Paper – http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/670246464)


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What challenges did US Marines find in Iraq?
  • What Marines units participated in the early occupation of Iraq?
  • When did Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani negotiate a truce in Najaf?


From the introduction:

This anthology presents a collection of 21 articles describing the full range of U.S. Marine Corps operations in Iraq from 2004 to 2008. During this period, the Marines conducted a wide variety of kinetic and non-kinetic operations as they fought to defeat the Iraq insurgency, build stability, and lay the groundwork for democratic governance.

The selections in this collection include journalistic accounts, scholarly essays, and Marine Corps summaries of action. Our intent is to provide a general overview to educate Marines and the general public about this critical period in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps, the United States, and Iraq. Many of the conclusions are provisional and are being updated and revised as new information and archival resources become available.

The accompanying annotated bibliography provides a detailed overview of where current scholarship on this period currently stands.

The annotated bibliography runs from page 269 through page 294 and includes primary and secondary sources. The articles and bibliographies offer many differing viewpoints. Between the essays and the bibliography, you ought to be reasonably informed about many aspects of the Iraq War from 2004-2008.

In addition to the articles and annotated bibliography there is a useful “Chronology of Events” starting at page 261.

The web version of the book is presented in seven PDF files. If you’d like a paper copy try interlibrary loan through your local public library.

Insurgency In Iraq: An Historical Perspective

Insurgency In Iraq: An Historical Perspective (2005)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What tactics did Menachem Begin’s resistance group, Lohamei Herut Yisrael use in the 1940s?
  • What were the main causes of death among US soliders in Iraq 2003-2004?
  • What were some earlier examples of IEDs used against Western soldiers?


This 27 page work offers a sketch of insurgent movements from around the world from the 1920s forward with particular emphasis on the Middle East. There is significant coverage of the tactics used by the Stern Gang in British Palestine prior to the formation of Israel. There is also some coverage of Iraq’s 1920s insurgency against the British Empire.

Pages 18-21 of this work consists of endnotes and references to other works.

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.

Against all odds: U.S. sailors in the War of 1812

Brodine, Charles E., Michael J. Crawford, and Christine F. Hughes. 2004. Against all odds: U.S. sailors in the War of 1812. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center.
(Find in a library: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/52937388)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How did American sailors commemorate crossing the Equator?
  • What were the disposition of US and British ships during the Battle of Cedar Point?
  • What did Cosgrove Rockets have to do with the National Anthem?
  • What prayer did Macdonough offer to his crew before meeting British forces on Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814?


This 76 page work is illustrated with many charts, diagrams and portraits. The book reviews three American naval campaigns and provides background on their commanders:

  • Pacific cruise of the Frigate Essex (Captain David Porter)
  • River defense of Washington DC/Chesapeake Campaign (Commodore Joshua Barney)
  • Battle of Lake Champlain (Commodore Thomas Macdonough)

Here’s how the introduction characterizes the campaigns:

Thomas Macdonough triumphed over the British, at high cost. While Captain Porter and Commodore Barney were defeated, their stories are given examples of determined resistance worthy of emulation by others. The men of the Essex were only taken after two and a half hours of bombardment that resulted in a loss of 155 lives. The men of Commodore Barney’s Chesapeake Flotilla burned their ships to keep them out of British hands and continued their resistance as foot soldiers until captured.

Each of the chapters offers detailed battle diagrams and short biographers of the commanders involved. The book concludes with a list of suggested readings and illustration credits that may be of further use to the researcher.


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