Walter L. Small, Jr., Oral History Interview

September 30, 1996; October 1, 1996
Oral History #OH0158
Small, Walter L. (Walter Lowry), 1916-2004; Lennon, Donald R.
Physical description
0.02 Cubic Feet, 4 audiocasssettes, 6 hours, 58 pages
Preferred Citation
Walter L. Small, Jr., Oral History Interview (#OH0158), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Scope and arrangement

Admiral Small, a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1938. During his first interview, Admiral Small recounts his background in North Carolina and his experiences at the Naval Academy. He comments on service in the USS PORTLAND stationed in Long Beach, California, before volunteering for submarine school in 1940. He describes duty in the World War I vintage submarine R-3 in the Panama Canal Zone and his reassignment to the new USS FLYING FISH in September 1941. For World War II Admiral Small reports on spotting a German submarine off South America, an attack upon the FLYING FISH by an American plane, and the problem of attacking Japanese ships with defective torpedoes. He also describes his eight submarine patrols in the Pacific, including encounters near the Truk Islands, Taiwan, the Palau Islands, and off China. He describes being depth-charged, chasing a convoy for seventy-two hours, a battery explosion in one of their torpedo tubes, and using ten torpedoes to sink a tanker. After commenting on assignment to new construction aboard the USS ICEFISH, he tells of being part of a wolfpack of three subs off the Philippine Islands, suffering depth charge attacks, taking command of the USS BATFISH, and being bombed by friendly fire.

During his second session, Admiral Small examines his post-World War II career, including teaching ordnance and gunnery at the U.S. Naval Academy, serving as aide to Admiral Chester Nimitz, commanding the USS CLAMAGORE and the DD VANVALKENBERG, and being assigned as commander of SubDiv 61 and subsequently to the staff of CINCLAN Fleet. Other assignments described include the Naval War College; chief of staff for Sub Flotilla 41; command of the USS SPERRY; director of Science and Engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he had an encounter with Admiral Rickover concerning offering a nuclear engineering major; command of Sub Squadron 10; and a variety of other stateside and foreign duty stations.

Administrative information
Source of acquisition

Gift of Walter L. Small Jr.

Processing information

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.

General note


Key terms
Personal Names
Small, Walter L., Jr.
Corporate Names
Flying Fish (Submarine)
Portland (Cruiser)
United States Naval Academy--History
United States. Navy--Officers--Interviews
United States. Navy--Submarine forces
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations--Submarine