Richard L. Downing Papers

1944-1945, 1955
Manuscript Collection #647
Downing, Richard L.
Physical description
0.073 Cubic Feet, 6 items , consisting of recollections and copies of photographs.
Preferred Citation
Richard L. Downing Papers (#647), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1944-1945, 1955) including photographs, speech, publicity, biographical information for commander, etc.

Biographical/historical information

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.

Scope and arrangement

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.

Administrative information
Custodial History

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.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Richard L. Downing

Processing information

Processed by Z. Anishlan, June 1995

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

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

Key terms
Personal Names
Downing, Richard L.
Corporate Names
Asakaze (Ship)
Haddo (Submarine : SS-255)
United States Naval Academy--Alumni and alumnae
United States. Naval Reserve--Officers
Submarine warfare--History--20th century
Torpedoes--History--20th century
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations--Submarine
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American