Skip to main content

Buford Patterson diary

Identifier: MS0352

Scope and Contents

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 stateside, 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.


  • 1941 - 1945


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

Biographical / Historical

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.


0.05 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Photocopy of typed diary written by a Charlotte native documenting his participation in the Bataan Death March and his confinement in POW camps in the Philippines and Japan during WWII.


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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2006.

Horace Buford Patterson diary
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
Schedule an Appointment