Naming World War I and World War II
The State Department Bulletin (in UI Libraries at (Gov JX232 .A32) for 1945 (vol. 13, pages 427-428) has a copy of a letter written to President Truman by Henry Stimson (then Secretary of War) and James Forrestal (then Secretary of the Navy). This letter quotes the 1919 War Department General Orders No. 115.
The subject of the Stimson/Forrestal letter is the "official" name for WW II.
The text of the Stimson/Forrestal letter to Truman follows ...
"10 September 1945
Dear Mr. President,
President Wilson, under date of July 31, 1919, addressed a letter to Secretary of War Baker which read, in part, as follows:
'It is hard to find a satisfactory "official" name for the war, but the best, I think, that has been suggested is "The World War," and I hope that your judgment will concur.'
Subsequently, under date of October 7, 1919, War Department General Orders No. 115 directed:
'The War against the Central Powers of Europe, in which the United States has taken part, will hereafter be designated in all official communications and publications as "The World War".'
As a matter of simplicity and to insure uniform terminology, it is recommended that "World War II" be the officially designated name for the present war covering all theaters and the entire period of hostilities.
The term "Wold War II" has been used in at least seven public laws to designate this period of hostilities. Analysis of publications and radio programs indicates that this term has been accepted by common usage.
If this recommndation is approved it is further recommended that the title "World War II" be published in the Federal Register as the official name of the present war.
Henry L. Stimson
Secretary of War
Secretary of the Navy
Approved: September 11, 1945
Harry S. Truman"