George A. Holderness, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #672
Holderness, George Allan, 1900-1987
Physical description
0.83 Cubic Feet, 1100 items , consisting of correspondence, orders, reports, newsletters, photographs, news clippings, scrapbooks, programs, and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
George A. Holderness, Jr., Papers (#672), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1923-1986) including correspondence, orders, reports, newsletters, photographs, news clippings, scrapbooks, programs and miscellany.

Biographical/historical information

Rear Admiral George Allan Holderness, Jr., was born in Tarboro, N. C., on November 10, 1900. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1919 and received his commission as an ensign in 1923. He served at various posts for the next fifteen years, including tours on the USS UTAH (July 1923 - October 1924) and the USS WILLIAMSON (October 1924 - January 1925); duty at the New York Naval Yard (September 1928 - March 1931), the Puget Sound Navy Yard (July 1931 - June 1932), and the Naval Materials Inspectors Office (April 1935 - June 1938); and being posted to the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company as an assistant superintending constructor in June 1938, where he served through most of World War II. During this time Holderness also completed post-graduate work at the Massachusetts and Carnegie Institutes of Technology (June 1926 - June 1928, September 1931 - June 1932). He was promoted to captain (January 1944), posted to the 7th Fleet in the Pacific (November 1944), and became commanding officer of Manicani Island Ship Repair Base (SRB) (March, 1945 -December, 1946). Post-war assignments included duty at the Charleston Naval Shipyard (March 1947 - July 1950), the David Taylor Model Basin (September 1950 - September 1951), the Office of Industrial Relations (June 1952 - September 1956), and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (September 1956 - June 1958). He was promoted to rear admiral in August 1951 and retired in July 1958. Before his death in April 1987, Holderness became a lobbyist for the Puget Sound Naval Base Association.

Scope and arrangement

A large part of the collection consists of correspondence and orders spanning the admiral's career. An early series of letters (November 1928 - November 1931) detail Holderness's post-graduate courses and problems associated with them. Later correspondence includes a letter (September 23, 1943) from Holderness describing work conditions and productivity at the Port Newark, N. J., shipyard during World War II, as well as a series of letters (April 1945 - June 1947) describing construction and operation activity at the Manicani Island SRB, situation reports (May - August 1945), post-warplans for the base (August - September 1945), and its history from its inception (April 1946). Of particular interest is a letter (March 1947) describing the homeward voyage of one of the base's officers with stops at Manila, Okinawa, Shanghai, and Yokosuka, and the officer's opinions on each place.

The remaining correspondence concerns post-war activities of Holderness, including a description of life in the Navy (January 26, 1948), promotion board recommendations (June 29, 1955), and details of retirement status and benefits for a rear admiral (December 11, 1957). Further correspondence contains congratulatory letters Holderness received upon his promotion to rear admiral (1951). Of particular interest are letters from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates (July 23, 1951), and future admiral Ernest M. Eller (July 12, 1951).

A series of Manicani Island SRB establishment reports (May - October 1945) list on-going construction of piers and docks, the status of ship repair departments, and personnel assigned to the base. Descriptive photographs are found in many of the reports. Narrative histories of the base, technical descriptions of the floating dry docks, and copies of the base newsletter covering the first anniversary of the surrender of Japan and Holderness's leaving command (December 1946) are included.

Beyond Manicani Island, the collection contains information on ship repair bases overall. Holderness received several long letters and reports from other officers about their experiences with these bases during the war, giving detailed opinions on many aspects of their operation. Holderness also collected an extensive survey of forward repair bases from W. W. Keller that covers many of the pros and cons of the concept based on Keller's experiences.

Miscellaneous material, newspaper clippings, and printed material deal with Holderness's promotion to rear admiral (1951), and include launching and commissioning programs for the USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) in 1940, the USS ATLANTA (CL-51) in 1941, and the USS WORDEN (DD-352) in 1934. The 50th Reunion Book for the United States Naval Academy Class of 1923 and a signed picture of the reunion members, annual reports on the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (1956, 1958), the International Naval Review and Fleet Week Program (1957), a Christmas service guide and menu for Manicani Island SRB (1945), and a booklet on Camp John Hay in the Philippines are also included. There are programs for events at many of Holderness's duty stations, a number of certificates and diplomas that he received during his career, and his Masters thesis from MIT. Of special interest are the official program for the 350th celebration of the Jamestown Landing and a souvenir booklet for the Jamestown Festival (1957).

Two albums, a number of photographs, and an oversize folder complete the collection. The albums contain information, clippings, and photographs from Holderness's time at the Office of Industrial Relations and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Loose photographs include many shots of Manicani Island and various ceremonies Holderness attended throughout his career. Of interest are pictures of the USS IDAHO (BB-42) and USS MISSISSIPPI (BB-41) entering dry dock at Manicani Island (1945). The oversize folder contains all of Holderness's official promotion commission certificates.

Administrative information
Custodial History

January 5, 1994, ca. 1,100 items; Papers (1923-1986) of a U.S. Naval officer, USNA Class of 1923, including correspondence, memorandums, photographs, reports, programs, vouchers, scrapbooks, base newsletters, clippings, orders, and miscellany. Gift of Mary Clark Holderness, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mary Clark Holderness

Processing information

Processed by R. Earl, June 1994

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.

Container list
Box 1 Orders 1923-1956; Correspondence 1928-1986; Rear Admiral Promotion Material 1951
Box 2 Manicani Island Ship Repair Base Reports 1945-1946; Other SRB Reports and Newsletters; Miscellaneous; Printed Material
Box 3 Master's Thesis 1928; Photograph Album and Clippings; Photographs
Box 4 Office of Industrial Relations Photograph Album (1952-1956)
Folder os1 Commission Certificates