Guide to Bernard A. Kolb's Logbook of the S.S. Henry Miller and S.S. Plattsburg, 1944-1945
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The S.S. Henry Miller was a Liberty Ship that served in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean during World War II. From January 1944 until April 1944, Henry Miller served in convoys in the Pacific and Mediterranean, transporting cargo between the ports of Hobart, Tasmania; Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka); Madras (Chennai), India; and Cochin (Kochi), India. After calls at Aden Harbor, Arabia (Yemen) and Port Said, Egypt in April 1944, Henry Miller sailed for New York and commenced convoy duty between New York, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and France through September 1944. In early January, 1945, Henry Miller was torpedoed by a German U-boat shortly after clearing the Straits of Gibraltar. Although she safely returned to the port of Gibraltar, Henry Miller's wartime service effectively came to an end.
The S.S. Plattsburg was an oil tanker that served in the Pacific during World War II. After being held up in drydock in November 1944, Plattsburg commenced duties transporting fuel oil between San Pedro, California and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The Plattsburg also served as a fueling ship for U.S. Navy vessels in the waters around Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok.
Scope and Content Note
The Logbook of the S.S. Henry Miller and S.S. Plattsburg, comprising one volume and several enclosures, spans from January 5, 1944 to January 15, 1945. The logbook, kept by LT Bernard A. Kolb, USNR, consists of daily entries noting shipboard events, ports of call, personnel actions, and various other observations.
The first section of the logbook is the product of Kolb's service as member of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard aboard S.S. Henry Miller, spanning the dates January 5, 1944 to September 5, 1944. The majority of the entries pertain to recurring daily events, such as meal service, general quarters, drills (fire, gun and boat), gun cleaning, target practice, clock adjustments, personnel movements, illness reports, magazine temperature readings, mail censoring, message coding and decoding, and the spotting of potential enemy submarines and aircraft. Other, longer entries pertain to friction between the U.S. Navy armed guard/gun crew and merchant crew members (April 8, April 10, June 12, June 23, July 7, July 24, and August 2). Several entries also pertain to the U.S. Navy crew's dislike of British DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship) training officers (February 28 - March 27).
The second section of the logbook is the product of Kolb's service aboard the S.S. Plattsburg, spanning from September 30, 1944 until the log's final entry of January 15, 1945. The content of the majority of the entries mirror those from Kolb's service aboard Henry Miller, with additional notations listing the merchant ships and U.S. Navy tankers receiving fuel shipments from Plattsburg. Other entries pertain to Election Day (November 7), the detachment of twenty-seven men from Plattsburg (November 12), and a series of incidents involving a mess boy who stabbed another crew member (December 25).
Included with the logbook, and originally folded inside the book's front cover, are several enclosures, including a mimeographed roster of the armed guard aboard Henry Miller, a brief list of number of meals served per day, and two documents from the Veterans Administration.
Research interests served by the collection include the itineraries of S.S. Henry Miller and S.S. Plattsburg, and the nature of the relationship between Navy and civilian merchant crews aboard Liberty Ships during World War II.