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Richard L. Downing Papers, 1944-1945, 1955

Manuscript Collection #647

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Richard L. Downing Papers
Creator: Downing, Richard L.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: 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.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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.

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.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Richard L. Downing

Processing Information

  • Processed by Z. Anishlan, June 1995

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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.

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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