Walter P. Murphy, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #819
Murphy, Walter P., Jr.
Physical description
0.001 Cubic Feet
Preferred Citation
Walter P. Murphy, Jr., Papers (#819), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Reminiscences (1999) of Capt. Walter P. Murphy, Jr. (US Navy ret.) a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1941, of his service (1941-1944) as a junior naval officer during World War II, including among other topics the incident of the submarine USS Sailfish sinking the Japanese carrier Chuyo.

Biographical/historical information

Walter Patrick Murphy was born October 25, 1919, in Brooklyn, New York, to Walter and Ellen Murphy. He graduated from United States Naval Academy (1941), went on to serve on the Support Force (May-December 1941) aboard the cruiser USS Nashville. He graduated from Submarine School in July 1942 and continued to serve on submarines until he retired in August 1966. He had also been involved with the Polaris Missile program. After he retired, he accepted a civil service position with NASA as Senior Staff Officer to the Director of Kennedy Space Center where he stayed for seven years during the Apollo Program. He then became the NASA European Representative for five years in Paris until 1978 when he returned to California to head the NASA Office at Vandenberg AFB. Murphy retired again in 1983 and moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he died May 24, 2013, at the age of 93.

He married Ruth Guenter in April 1942 and they had three children and seven grandchildren; his oldest son became a Captain in the US Navy.


Scope and arrangement

The papers of Walter P. Murphy Jr. consist of memoirs given (ca. 1999) on the Support Force for the U.S. Navy during World War II (May-December 1941), and his team's battle on the submarine USS Sailfish with the Japanese aircraft carrier Chuyo near Pearl Harbor and other attacks during his patrol from October 7, 1943 to October 1944.

While on the Support Force, he was on the cruiser USS Nashville for 10 days near Pearl Harbor, before they relocated to Guantanamo Bay, later arriving in Boston in June. His first operation in the Atlantic Ocean was as part of a Task Force bringing four large Attack Transports to relieve the British forces in Iceland. After July 1941, five months were spent escorting Canadian convoys and conducting "Neutrality Patrols" in the South Atlantic.

Walter Murphy applied for submarine duty (ca. early 1942), and was later ordered to the Submarine School class (April 1942). In July of 1942, he reported to the USS Talamanca, a revamped fruit ship, at Pier 52. He started out on the submarine USS Snapper, and by his third patrol his team had sunk a large freighter in Apra Harbor, Guam. Afterwards he reported to the submarine, USS Sailfish, in Pearl Harbor, later helping to sink the Japanese aircraft carrier, the Chuyo. On the 7th of December 1943, the Sailfish was bombed by a Zeke type fighter plane in Formosa (Taiwan), but two CPOs (Chief Petty Officers) managed to fix the resulting leak. Afterwards the patrol had to operate on one shaft during attacks; however, they still managed to sink two freighters and damage a third before returning to Pearl Harbor (January 1944). Other things mentioned include that by the twelth patrol, Walter Murphy was an Executive Officer and that his team rescued twelve aviators during a strike on Formosa (October 1944).

Also discussed in his memoirs are the eighteen month engagement and April 1942 marriage to Ruth Guenter.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 4, 2001, 3 items, 12 pages; Three autobiographical accounts of Walter P. Murphy's experiences during World War II: "Support Force [19 May - 7 Dec. 1941]" (9/9/1999, 3p.); "Sailfish vs Chuyo, [1 April 1942 - October 1944]" (9/6/1999, 6p.); "Wedding" [1 April - 7 August 1942] (9/9/1999, 3p.). Donor: Capt. Walter P. Murphy, Jr.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Capt. Walter P. Murphy, Jr.

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Processing completed by Leah Turner on December 6, 2017.

Copyright notice

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

Related material

For more information on Walter P. Murphy Jr., see:

Walter P. Murphy, Jr., Oral History Interview, April 26, 2001(#OH0186) East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC USA

Key terms
Personal Names
Murphy, Walter P., Jr.
Corporate Names
Sailfish (Submarine)
United States. Navy--Officers
Aircraft carriers--Japan
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Contains Captain Walter Murphy's memoirs of his experiences during WWII as part of the Support Force (May-December 1941), his marriage to his wife Ruth (April 1942), and his experience in the submarine battle Sailfish vs. Chuyo (October 1943-October 1944). Also included is a short summary of his post-military career.