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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Cruise Books of the United States Navy in World War
NAVAL HISTORY BIBLIOGRAPHIES, NO. 2
This bibliography lists more than 700 souvenir books--or
cruise books, as they have been called in the U.S. Navy--issued
during and immediately after World War II.
The practice of publishing such books dates back to the early
days of the twentieth century. Cruise books were issued for some
special event, such as the Great White Fleet sailing around the
world or some dignitary travelling on an international cruise.
A few were issued for U.S. naval vessels that served in World
War I, but this practice was not widespread.
It took the greatest naval war in history, namely World War
II, to bring forth the first large group of cruise books. During
this war millions of Americans were involved with the United States
Navy and the drama of sea warfare, especially in the Pacific campaigns.
It was natural for these Americans to want a souvenir book recording
the part that their own ship or unit played in World War II.
Cruise books are not official U.S. Navy or government publications.
Instead, they were produced from money either in the unit's welfare
fund or donated by the crew, and they were initiated and produced
by the crew. Frequently, it was the chaplain, medical officer,
or a welfare officer who took on the task. Fortunate was the crew
who had someone on board with journalism training who could put
together the ship's story with candid photos, portraits, and maps
of the cruises. The books were then distributed free to each crew
member or sold for a nominal price. Some of the books are amateurish;
others are remarkably professional.
The cover and size of these books varied greatly. Some were
mimeographed by the unit or ship's crew and had only a paper cover.
Most were printed by commercial firms in the States and some of
these have elaborate covers. A few books were printed in England,
New Zealand, or Japan soon after the surrender.
Immediately after the war a number of publishing and printing
companies produced more professional books. A few of these companies
were Army & Navy Pictorial Publishers of Baton Rouge, Schwabacher-Frey
Company of San Francisco, and Newsfoto Publishing Company of San
Although no government funds were ever expended directly on
the books, the Navy did encourage personnel to spend time producing
them. Surely the Navy realized that these books were good public
relations and that they promoted unit morale. They were aimed
at the Navy personnel, their relatives back home, and the taxpayers
to whom the Navy would have to go for the funds to maintain a
During the last forty-five years the cruise book tradition
has continued, and some ships produce one almost every year. The
books have become larger and more elaborate with color photography--altogether
a more professional product. However, the books commemorating
World War II have a more spontaneous feel to them and may provide
historians with a more intimate view of naval life. Much credit
needs be given the well-known bibliographer Charles E. Dornbusch
and the New York Public Library for putting together a collection
of these World War II souvenir books and for publishing the first
bibliography in 1950, entitled Unit Histories of World War
II, United States Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, under the
auspices of the Army's Chief of Military History. With interest
in World War II naval history on the increase more than forty
years later, it seems to be an appropriate time to reevaluate
and update the data.
In doing so, I have diligently tried to find and examine all
cruise books of the World War II era, but am the first to admit
that there are more in existence than I have located. Even with
large collections now in the Navy Department Library at the Washington
Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., and the Nimitz Library at the U.S.
Naval Academy, Annapolis, World War II cruise books are hard to
find. This is because most were printed in small quantities, especially
in the case of smaller ships with their smaller crews. And no
single collection is complete or even nearly complete.
To establish a book as an authentic World War II souvenir,
or cruise, book as opposed to a unit history, I have used several
criteria: The book was produced either by the crew or at the behest
of the crew. It was published during or soon after World War II
for the benefit of the crew. It was not an official U.S. Navy
document. It was not the history of a ship or unit written by
an author independently of the crew and crew desires.
Although souvenir books of World War II are generally undated,
it is logical to assume that, with the fighting over in September
1945, most were published that year or the next. This assumption
is supported by the many advertisements in All Hands magazine
for these books between 1945 and 1947.
Some ships of the late World War II naval shipbuilding program
were not commissioned until after Japan's surrender; nevertheless,
I have also included the first cruise books for these ships. The
cruise books for units involved in the Bikini atomic bomb tests,
Operation Crossroads, are also listed even though this operation
took place shortly after the war.
Whenever possible I have examined the books to confirm all
data from earlier references. So that researchers may have some
idea of the contents of a given book, I have also indicated whether
or not the book contains photographs, portraits, maps, rosters,
and other useful information.
Because many of these books were self-published by crew members,
they often lack standard information and sometimes provide facts
not typically found in a book. Sometimes, no copy could be found
and the little information on them is taken from earlier references.
Other books are in private collections that I was sometimes unable
to view. I have often corresponded with the owners of the collections
and in such instances was able to provide descriptions. My own
collection is carefully detailed and listed as a private collection.
If there is no description of the contents or appearance of a
book, it means I was unable to check it personally or get this
information from another source.
This bibliography is divided into four major sections, following
the pattern set by Dornbusch. Section 1 lists ship cruise books
in alphabetical order. Section 2 covers naval aviation units,
with flying units listed serially by number; air ground bases
and commands appear alphabetically. Books issued by naval construction
(Seabee) units appear in section 3, presented serially by number,
except for the last section, which is in alphabetical order. Books
issued by other naval commands make up section 4, classified according
to amphibious forces, Coast Guard units, medical facilities, naval
officer training units, naval supply units and other commands.
Each subcategory is in alphabetical order.
Coast Guard ships and units serving under the Navy in wartime
are included. Marine Corps units, whether ground or air, are not
I would greatly appreciate readers forwarding new information
to me on the books listed in this bibliography, or on books that
fit the criteria but are omitted altogether. Write to me in care
of the Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C., 20374-0571.
A supplement to this bibliography may be considered some time
in the future.