Richard L. Downing Papers, 1944-1945, 1955

Manuscript Collection #647

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Richard L. Downing Papers
    Creator: Downing, Richard L.
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers (1944-1945, 1955) including photographs, speech, publicity, biographical information for commander, etc.
    Extent: 0.073 Cubic feet, 6 items , consisting of recollections and copies of photographs.
  • Description

    Recollections in the collection include accounts of two memorable enemy engagements of the HADDO, including a description of the successful first use of an experimental torpedo designed to hone in on the sound of a ship's screws (January 1945) and a description of the torpedo attack on the Japanese destroyer ASAKAZE (August 1944), and the subsequent destruction of the submarine USS HARDER by the Japanese-manned captured American destroyer USS STEWART (DD224). Also related is an account of a search and rescue operation the HADDO performed to retrieve a lookout member accidentally left above during a routine submersion to trim the boat (June 1945).

    The collection also includes the text of a 1955 speech by Downing, "Submarine Talk," in which he describes the layout of World War II submarines, the hazards of mines and mine fields, and the qualities of a good submariner; recounts war experiences; provides statistics about U.S., German, and Japanese World War II type submarines and their relative success; and discusses pros and cons of future submarine warfare as well as the use of atomic power.

    Miscellaneous items include a publicity release with biographical information for Commander (USNR) Downing and copies of photographs of the HADDO and of the ASAKAZE-- the latter taken from the HADDO during an engagement with the destroyer in August, 1944.

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Richard L. Downing graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1939, subsequently served on the destroyer USS SANDS, and then served on the battleship USS NORTH CAROLINA during the early part of World War II. In 1943 he volunteered for submarine warfare and completed five successful submarine war patrols in the Pacific (1943-1945), the latter three as executive officer of the submarine USS HADDO (SS255), operating from Perth, Australia. During the demilitarization period at the war's close, Downing served as officer in charge of the Japanese Submarine Base at Yokosuka, supervising the decommissioning of Japan's underwater craft. He resigned from the Navy in 1947 with the rank of commander, after which he worked with the Doehler-Jarvis Corporation as a sales engineer.

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    December 8, 1992, 6 items; Recollections and photograph copies of submarine duty during World War II by U.S. Naval officer, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1939. Gift of Richard L. Downing, Salem, South Carolina.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Richard L. Downing

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Richard L. Downing Papers (#647), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Z. Anishlan, June 1995

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

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Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection, without the consent of those individuals, may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which East Carolina University assumes no responsibility.

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