About the author: David Nash (October 12, 1914 — August 3, 2007) born in Haddon Heights, New Jersey; died in Coronado City, California. The Pogue Library of Murray State University, which possesses a transcript of the Nash diary, published this biographical summary:
David Nash was the Executive Officer aboard the U.S.S. Mindanao just prior to and during the Second World War. After the declaration of war, his gunboat was sent to the Philippine Islands where it performed patrols from the Island of Corregidor. On May 6, 1942, Corregidor surrendered and the next day Lt. Nash was made a prisoner. He was interned at several prison camps including those at Bilibid, Davao, Dapecol and Cabanatuan. During the final months of the war, he was removed from the Philippines to Korea and later China. He was released on August 9, 1945 at Mukden, China by Russian troops. Lt. Nash received the Navy Cross for his actions in the Philippines prior to his capture.
The Hall of Valor Project contains his Navy Cross citation. Additional information on Nash can be found in The Coronado Eagle & Journal which published this obituary:
He graduated from the US Naval Academy with the Class of 1935. During World War II he was listed as missing in action and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. In fact, Nash was a Japanese prisoner of war. He survived and returned home at the war’s end…
After being liberated, Nash and a friend had to fend for themselves if they wanted to get home quickly. They bribed their way onto a military flight to Guam. From there they found their way home on a ship to San Francisco.
The Nash family moved to Coronado in 1951. He continued his career in the Navy and saw service during the Korean War. For the time he spent as a prisoner of war, Nash was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal and Purple Heart. For aiding injured shipmates aboard the Japanese prison ship, he received the Legion of Merit.
In retirement, Nash served as Vice President and Trust Officer, San Diego First National Bank and as a long-time officer with the Coronado Chamber of Commerce. He was the founding father and a much admired member of the Optimist Club of Coronado, which sponsored him for his banner on the Avenue of Heroes.
About the diary: The Coronado Eagle and Journal, in its obituary on Nash, mentioned that,
Interestingly, Nash surreptitiously kept two meticulous journals during his captivity that included detailed, hand-drawn sketches of his captors and the camps in which he was confined. It is miraculous that these diaries survived the war.
The Philippine Diary Project reproduces these two documents, available online from the US National Archives:
- File “Diary, Lt (Sr. Gr.) David Nash, 22 Sept 42 to 29 May 44, (1 of 2), Folder 5,” Naval officer at Bataan, Corregidor, and Davao, covers 1 December 1941 – 20 August 1942, file code 999-2-111
- File “Diary, Lt (Sr. Gr.) David Nash, 22 Sept 42 to 29 May 44, (2 of 2), Folder 6,” Davao POW Camp, roster of USS Mindanao and camp, covers 20 August 1942 – 29 May 1944, file code 999-2-111