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John A. Courtney, 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, World War II collection

Identifier: MS 3116


This collection consists of personal histories, ephemera, and photographs of the members of the 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, 5th Naval District, U.S. Naval Reserve, who served in the Panama and the Pacific theater of World War II.


  • 1938 - 2004


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

In 1937, Governor Nice reinstated the Maryland Naval Militia via executive order in an act of mobilization against the growing commotion in Europe and Asia. With this executive order, the unit would also function as a part of the National Guard under the US Naval Reserve with the title of 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, 5th Naval District. Following three years of training in which these Marylanders won multiple competitive honors, the Navy called the 2nd Div. into active duty.

On October 18, 1940, the division set out for the Panama Canal Zone where they along with other reserve units would police the highly trafficked waters. Over the next five years, the 2nd Div. men would see action all over the Pacific Theatre from Panama to the East Indies to the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay.

Following their discharge the 2nd Div. men established an annual reunion organized each year by Ensign John A. Courtney. Over the years William Evans and Courtney would compile and edit the personal histories of their fellow servicemen to create a complete history of the 2nd Division’s involvement in WWII.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Series I: Personal Naval Histories

Box I, Folders I – XIV

Series II: Reunion Papers

Box II, Folders I – II

Series III: Subject Files

Box II, Folders III – X

Series IV: Photographs

Box III, Folders I – VI

Series V: Audio Visual


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of USNR John A. Courtney Sr., Fall 2012.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 5 series based upon the organization of the donor and chronology. Series I: Personal Naval Histories contains written histories of the men who served in the Navy’s 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, 5th District during WWII collected by Ensign John A. Courtney and Lt. Cdr. William W. Evans (1945 - 1997). These are generally short biographies arranged alphabetically with histories of ships associated with the 2nd division interlaced. Sailors that did not return Courtney and Evans’ questionnaire are represented by their incomplete forms. This series also contains a history of the Division itself, researched and written by a collection of authors. Series II: Reunion Papers contains lists of attending rosters, mailers, envelopes, and letters regarding the 2nd Division’s annual reunion in Maryland. The series also contains a list of the ships 2nd Div. sailors served upon (1986 - 2004). This series is arranged in the order received from Mr. Courtney. Series III: Subject Files consists of newspaper clippings, ephemera, and naval instruction manuals (1940-1965). This series was rearranged first by likeness of medium type and second by date. Series IV: Photographs is a collection of photos of the 2nd Division during wartime and at their reunion parties (1940-2001). This section was arranged by content likeness and date. Series V: Audio Visual is a home VHS tape made of a 2nd Div. reunion (1993).

Guide to the John A. Courtney, 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, World War II collection
In Progress
Ben Koshland
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-03: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States