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Buford Patterson Diary

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Patterson (Buford) Diary

Buford Patterson diary

Summary Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
Patterson, Buford, (Horace Buford), 1918-1979
Buford Patterson diary
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Items
Mixed materials [Box]
Diary of a Charlotte native documenting his participation in the Bataan Death March and his confinement in POW camps in the Philippines and Japan during WWII.

Preferred Citation note

Buford Patterson Diary. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Biographical/Historical note

As Buford Patterson was already deceased by the time his diary was loaned to UNCC, most of what we know about him exists in the form of the diary’s internal evidence, archival service records, and from an interview of his cousin, Parker Whedon. According to his diary, Buford was born on January 2, 1917, in Charlotte, NC. He also had six siblings: Patti, Edgar, Charles, Martha and Helen; and he seems to have been a member of a Protestant Christian denomination, since he mentioned in his diary that he “took first communion in 3 ½ years.” He attended Elizabeth Grade School, Piedmont Junior High School and Central High School. According to Hill’s Charlotte City Directory in 1937, he worked for the Tate-Brown Company, of Charlotte, N.C. (where his father was vice president), as a salesman, and he lived with his parents at 419 Clement Ave. Apparently, neither Buford Patterson, junior, nor his father, liked their original first names (Horace), because they are both listed in the directory under H. Buford Patterson. He later attended Davidson College for two years, but financial limitations prevented him from finishing his education there. In 1941 he joined the military with the hopes of acquiring the financial means to finish his degree. According to archival service records, Patterson was a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, receiving his commission as a second lieutenant at Hunter Field in Savannah, Georgia, in 1941. What else we know of Patterson can be deduced by reading his diary, and also by carefully “reading between the lines.” He and his detachment sailed from California on November 1, 1941, arriving at Honolulu on November 6. They continued on to the Philippines, arriving at Manila on Thanksgiving Day, November 20. He did not write an entry for December 7, 1941, and first wrote about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor two days later. Soon, he and his detachment marched across the Philippines in order to confront the Japanese in a futile attempt to defend the islands against overwhelming numbers. Patterson wrote a few brief passages about his capture and the infamous Bataan Death March across the Philippines, where he and his comrades (those who survived) were later transported to the Japanese mainland. He and other prisoners spent the duration of the war at a number of different camps in Japan. After returning to the U.S., he attempted to pursue a career in art, taking lessons and classes in New York City. Tragically he never recovered from his experiences as a POW and became addicted to alcohol. He returned to Charlotte to live with his parents and performed menial work for the rest of his life. He died on July 19, 1979.

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Scope and Contents note

This diary, concerning the Bataan Death March and POW conditions in Japan, is that of Buford Patterson, who recorded his experiences between November 1941 and October 1945. The American military sent him to the Philippines late in 1941, and not long afterwards, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese on the Philippine island of Corregidor. He spent a few months in a prison camp there, and was later taken to the Japanese mainland. Patterson and other Allied prisoners spent the duration of the war in captivity, and conditions were so appalling (especially on Bataan) that many did not survive. The diary he recorded seems to have originally existed in the form of a stash of loose papers, which he kept concealed from the Japanese throughout the war. After returning States-side, he made a typed transcript of it and apparently discarded the original pages. His cousin, Parker Whedon, loaned the diary to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in April of 2005, for the purpose of photocopying it for the UNCC Special Collections.

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Arrangement note

Single folder, 1 item (photocopy) with 177 leaves.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 2006

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Loaned by Parker Whedon to UNCC for the purpose of photocopying, 2005.

Processing Information note

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2006.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Patterson, Buford, (Horace Buford), 1918-1979


  • Bataan Death March, Philippines, 1942.
  • Bataan, Battle of, Philippines, 1942.
  • Prisoners of war--Japan.
  • Prisoners of war--Philippines.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Japan.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Philippines.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Diaries.

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