Papers (1937-2002) including correspondence, diary, log books, newspaper clippings, military papers, photographs, identification cards and miscellaneous items related to the life of Louis Poisson Davis, Jr., a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander during World War II serving aboard submarines USS Salmon and the USS S-18.
Louis Poisson Davis, Jr., was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, on July 17, 1919, to Captain Louis P. Davis, Sr. and his wife Edna Shethar. His uncle, Thomas W. Davis was the general solicitor for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Following in his father's footsteps, Davis, Jr. enrolled at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, in 1937. He was an intercollegiate champion of the Gym Squad where he climbed a 20-foot rope in 4 seconds. He achieved expert marksmanship and graduated with honors in February of 1941. He was serving on the USS Reid while it was in port at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After Pearl Harbor, Davis transferred to the submarine division. It was while serving on the USS Salmon that he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for repairing a damaged ballast tank at great personal risk. After his resignation from the Navy in 1945 he attended Princeton and Rutgers Universities for post-graduate work. He joined the New York Bar Association in 1954. His post-military career was focused in the oil industry working for several international companies such as Esso Standard Oil, International Petroleum Company, and AMF International, which took him from Lima, Peru, to Madrid, Spain, and Hong Kong. He married Emily Elizabeth Carr (1922-2013) and had a daughter Cynthia Davis Gersony. Louis Poisson Davis, Jr., passed away, just shy of his 90th birthday, on July 8, 2008, in Sarasota, Florida.
(For more biographical information see Davis's entry in Who's Who in American Law, included in his collection.)
Early correspondence is from Davis to his parents, written aboard the USS Henderson (1941) and the USS Reid (1941) after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Subsequent correspondence, both personal and official, includes a citation (1944) for bravery given while aboard the submarine USS Salmon. The majority of the official correspondence pertains to Davis's loss of command of the submarine S-18 due to a disagreement with his squadron commander over its seaworthiness, and his attempts to have an inquiry made into the incident. Drawing on personal connections, Davis was able to get his father, Admirals Louis E. Denfeld and Randall Jacobs, and Rear Admiral Gilbert J. Rowcliff involved in the situation. Failure to receive a hearing resulted in Davis's resignation on November 29, 1945. Filed with official correspondence are letters acknowledging transcripts sent to Rutgers and Princeton from the U.S. Naval Academy, a fitness report, a Board of Inspection and Survey Report on the S-18, orders, a service record, and resignation papers.
Other correspondence includes letters from a French historian (1982) and other historical researchers, fellow veterans, and from Bob Sneed, chairman of the USS Reid reunion committee (1982).
In addition to personal and official correspondence, the collection contains a diary written aboard the USS Reid (Dec. 7, 1941 - Feb. 21, 1942), describing the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequent anti-submarine patrols off the Hawaiian Islands; an ammunition log for the USS Salmon (undated); three torpedo logs for the USS Salmon (Aug. 1942 - Dec. 1942; Nov. 1942 - May, 1944; Mar. 1944); and a classified after-action report of the Salmon (1944-1946). Several newspaper clippings concern Davis's citation (1944) and business career (1950) after the war.
Photographs document Davis's U.S. Naval Academy career (1937-1941), his participation in the war (1941-1945), and his family life (1945-1989).
Other material consists of identification cards, a galley proof for Who's Who in American Law, a graduation invitation, a menu from the TSMV Duntroon, manuscript from fellow U.S. Naval Academy graduate, John W. Palm, title "My Plebe Year at Annapolis: July 1, 1937 to June 2, 1938" (2002), and a published memoir autographed by John M. Wright, Jr. Captured at Corregidor: Diary of an American P.O.W. in World War II (2002).
Also included within the collection are five VHS videocassettes copied from aired broadcasts regarding World War II submarine history. An ABC News broadcast includes an interview with Davis and Dick Wright.
Oversize material includes a 1957 official transcript from the U.S. Naval Academy, an article from Sarasota Downtown Magazine on Louis P. Davis, Jr. from 2001, and a collection of autographed prints by the artist Dean Ellis of five submarines: USS Cheyenne, USS Gato, USS Holland, USS S-44, and USS Wyoming issued to veterans in 2000 as part of the U.S. Submarine Centennial celebration.
For related material, see Collection #309.
Gift of Louis Poisson Davis, Jr.
Processed by J.W. Morris III, March 1985
Additions processed by Samantha Sheffield, April 2016
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.