John Conner Atkeson, Sr., Oral History Interview, November 29, 1975, March 30, 1976

Oral History #OH0029

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

Title: John Conner Atkeson, Sr., Oral History Interview
Creators: Atkeson, John Conner
Lennon, Donald R.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Extent: 0.015 Cubic feet, 3 audiocassettes, 1.5 hours, 75 pages .

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

General note

1922-1957

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Repository does not own copyright to the oral history collection. Permission to cite, reproduce, or broadcast must be obtained from both the repository and the participants in the oral history, or their heirs.

Preferred Citation

John Conner Atkeson, Sr., Oral History Interview (#OH0029), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of John Conner Atkeson, Sr.

Processing Information

  • Processed by J. Morris III; M. Elmore, May 1985

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


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

John Conner Atkeson, Sr. (b. Sept. 11, 1905), entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1922. He served in the South Atlantic (Panama, Cuba, and Nicaragua; 1927-1939) and was a destroyer commander in both the Pacific and Atlantic during World War II. Following the war he served in the Mediterranean and then as head of the Navy's division of the Military Advisory Group. Heavily decorated during World War II, Atkeson retired as a rear admiral in 1957.

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

The interview covers his duty aboard the ARKANSAS and DENVER in the late 1920s, the WYOMING, LEARY, and BARRY. in the 1930s, the GILMER, LEARY, BAILEY, HEALEY, BENNER, and ENGLISH in the 1940s, and the NEW JERSEY in the 1950s.

In addition to normal shipboard duty, pre-World War II topics discussed were the effect on the U.S. Navy of the Washington Conference of 1921-1922 which set limits on the number of battleships permitted the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan; life on Guantanamo naval base (late 1920s); information about the search for Amelia Earhart; comparison of "goldplaters" and "four-stackers" (destroyers); and the 1931 sale of the U.S. submarine OTWALA to British adventurer Sir Hubert Wilkins. Wilkins renamed the submarine NAUTILUS and was attempting unsuccessfully to sail her under the Arctic ice pack when she was rescued by the U.S.S. WYOMING,on which Atkeson was serving. Also described are the wreck of the REUBEN JAMES on the north coast of Cuba (1940?) and an anecdote concerning Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels's ban on shipboard consumption of alcoholic beverages.

World War II topics discussed include kamikaze attacks, rescue operations, convoy duties, and fueling at sea. Detailed descriptions are given of the battles of the Komandorskie Islands (1943), the Philippines (Aug. or Sept., 1944?), and other skirmishes in the Surigao Straits. Atkeson also comments on Admiral Halsey's decision to sail a task force through a typhoon (1943), in addition to giving a general opinion of Admiral Halsey.

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 Department, 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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