Table of Contents
- Descriptive Summary
- Biographical Chronology
- Scope and Content Note
- Related Collections
- Series Descriptions
- Container List
- - Correspondence
- - United States Naval Academy Documents
- - Naval Career Documents
- - Research Materials
- - Manuscripts, Books, and Book Reviews
- - Ephemera
- - Newsletters
- - Rosters and Directories
- - Yangtze River Patrol Association - South China Patrol Association
- - Audio-Visual Materials
- - Photographs
- - Ephemera (Oversize)
- - United States Naval Academy Documents (Oversize)
- - Naval Career Documents (Oversize)
Guide to the O. Kemp Tolley Papers, 1924-2000
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: Ruth Hennessy
(Additional processing by David D'Onofrio, April 2009)
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
|1908||Born in Manila, Phillipines on 29 April|
|1929||Graduated, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD|
|USS Florida, Junior officer|
|1930||USS Texas, Staff, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet|
|1931||USS Canopus, Submarine Squadron V, Staff, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet|
|1932||Promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade 6 June|
|1933||USS Houston, Staff, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet|
|USS Mindanao, South China Patrol, Shanghai, Tsingtao, Harbin|
|1934||4th Marines, Shanghai China, Russian Language Student, 23 June|
|1935||American Embassy, Berlin, assigned Riga, Latvia|
|1936||Office of Naval Intelligence, Temdu|
|1937||USS Mindanao, South China Patrol|
|Promoted to Lieutenant|
|1938||USS Tutuila, Yangtze Patrol, Gunnery, Communications, 9 May|
|1939||4th Marines, Shanghai, liaison and language officer|
|1940-1941||U.S. Naval Academy, French Instructor, August – January 1941|
|1941||U.S. Naval Academy, Instructor of Midshipmen|
|USS Wake, Executive Officer August-November|
|1941-1942||USS Lanikai, Commanding Officer|
|1942||Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, March|
|1942-1944||Moscow, Assistant Naval Attaché, USSR|
|1944||Married Vlada Gritzenko, 15 November, Moscow|
|1944-1945||USS North Carolina, Navigator, Far East|
|1944||Promoted to Captain, August|
|1945-1947||United States Navy Department, Special Branch Operations|
|1947-1948||USS Vermilion, Commanding Officer, June-May|
|1948-1949||Landing Ship Tank Squadron 2, Commanding Officer, September-August|
|1949-1952||Armed Forces Staff College, Director Intelligence|
|1952-1954||Amphibious Group 2, Operations Officer|
|1954-1955||Amphibious Squadron 5, Commanding Officer|
|1955-1956||Amphibious Squadron Western Pacific, Commanding Officer|
|1956-1957||Yokosuka Fleet Activities, Chief of Staff|
|1957-1959||Yokosuka Fleet Activities, Commanding Officer|
|1959||Retired as Captain, Philadelphia, July|
|1960||Combat Advancement to Rear Admiral, 24 May|
|Norfolk, Commodore Convoy Instruction, 2 weeks|
|Convoy Commander duty, 20 days, San Diego to Hawaii (Vietnam War)|
|1961||Representative for SECNAV, FADM Nimitz, Japan, June|
|1961-1985||In retirement, he wrote articles for such authoritative publications as the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute.|
|1971||Published book, Yangtze River Patrol: the U.S. Navy in China|
|1973||Published book, Cruise of the Lanikai: Incitement to War|
|1983||Published book, Caviar and Commisars: the Experiences of a U.S. Naval Officer in Stalin’s Russia|
|1984||Oral history published by USNI, Reminiscences of RADM Kemp Tolley|
|1986||Edited book, Gunboats on the Long River Yangtsu|
|1989||Edited book, American Gunboats in China|
|1992||Permanent member of the Defense Attaché System Hall of Fame, June 9. "The Defense Intelligence Agency takes great pleasure in recognizing the accomplishments of RADM Kemp Tolley, USN while serving as a member of the Defense Attache System at US Defense Attache Office, Moscow USSR from 1942-44 for the outstanding service he is sincerely congratulated."|
|2000||Died Oct. 28, Monkton, Maryland|
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Rear Admiral Oscar Kemp Tolley (1908-2000) span the years 1924-2000. The collection consists of correspondence, publications of Rear Admiral Tolley and others, papers of the Yangtze River Patrol Association and the South China Patrol Association, awards, honors and dedications, and photographs. All of these components relate directly to Tolley’s life and career. The majority of the collection consists of original documents, although there are a small number of photocopies. The bulk of the material is centered around his Navy service in China, Russia, and Japan as well as his subsequent publications which chronicle that service. His involvement with shipmates and others who had served with him is well documented.
Rear Admiral Tolley served in the U.S. Navy from 1924-1961, encompassing the China gunboat era, World War II and the early years of the Cold War. As a Russian speaker and Naval attaché in Moscow from 1942-1944, he was deeply involved in US diplomacy. It was here he met and married his wife Vlada, a Soviet citizen. The collection not only documents his career, but also provides relevant insights into the Navy of that period. After his retirement in 1958, his involvement in writing, speaking and research increased. His facility with the Russian language allowed him to be a resource for Russian ships arriving in Baltimore and Annapolis. On the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II he was invited to the celebration in Moscow. He continued to have ties with Japan where he was instrumental in the restoration of the Japanese ship Mikasa.
The strengths of the collection are shown in the extensive documentation of Rear Admiral Tolley's career and subsequent publishing as well as the variety of his contacts. His letters to his parents from 1924 to 1961 are especially detailed and give the flavor of pre-war China. Other correspondence involves diplomats, Russian and Japanese officers, other authors and shipmates. Photographs include ships' albums. Printed matter includes maps, pamphlets, reports, advertisements and articles on various subjects.
Additional archival material pertaining to O. Kemp Tolley's command of U.S.S. Lanikai, totalling .25 cubic feet of documentation, can be found in the Papers of Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley, 1924-1967, at the Operational Archives Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.
I. CORRESPONDENCE (Boxes 1-13)
This series contains personal and professional correspondence. The correspondence within this series is both incoming and outgoing. It is divided into nine subseries.
Subseries 1 - General: The bulk of the correspondence in this series is related to current news and travels of Rear Admiral Tolley and his friends. Rear Admiral Tolley referred to these letters as "chit chat." The subseries is arranged chronologically by incoming or outgoing letters.
Subseries 2 - Authors, Military, Researchers: Much of this material relates to the verification of information for printed books and articles. This group of correspondents consists of noted authors, researchers and military experts. A large percentage of the letters are photocopies, although some are originals. Military leaders included in this subseries are Admirals Chester Nimitz and Thomas Hart. Also of interest are personal letters with other authors including John Hersey, Richard McKenna, Barbara Tuchman, John Toland and Herman Wouk.
Subseries 3 - Lieutenant Commander Charles C. Hiles: Lieutenant Commander Charles C. Hiles (1896-1979), was a career naval officer who served from 1914-1947 and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. After his retirement he devoted his energies to researching and writing about the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack and U.S. entry into World War II. Correspondence with Charles Hiles centers around the Pearl Harbor controversy, especially the culpability of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Admiral Husband Kimmel and others. This is a lengthy correspondence lasting from 1966 to 1978. At times Charles Hiles edited Rear Admiral Tolley’s book material.
Subseries 4 - Former Shipmates: Rear Admiral Tolley kept up extensive correspondence with his former shipmates and "river rats," both socially and historically. This subseries contains some minor reminiscences.
Subseries 5 - Publishers and Publishing: As well as his correspondence with the major publisher of his work, the United States Naval Institute, this series contains correspondence with editors and staff of various periodicals concerning articles he had written. A folder of rejection letters reflects his persistence in learning his craft. His generous advice and assistance to potential authors on publishing their work is included in this subseries.
Subseries 6 - Parents: Extensive correspondence with his parents from 1924, when he left for the Naval Academy, until 1961 when he was recalled to duty, containing a summation of his career and interests in those years.
Subseries 7 - Family: The correspondence in this subseries is with his wife, children, grandmother and other family members. These letters are personal and some refer to children’s school, camp and other activities.
Subseries 8 - Miscellaneous: This subseries contains bills, medical records, and various expressions of opinion in such items as letters to the editor and recommendations for awards. They demonstrate his involvement in issues of the day.
Subseries 9 - Orphaned sheets: The sheets in this subseries are "orphaned" and are filed separately.
II. UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY DOCUMENTS (Box 14-16 and 60 [OS])
Arranged into two sub-series.
Subseries 1 - Midshipman Items: This subseries consists of United States Naval Academy midshipman items, primarily papers relating to his appointment to the Academy, and several bound volumes of material relating to class activities and accounts.
Subseries 2 - United States Naval Academy Class of 1929: This subseries includes post graduation material on United States Naval Academy Class of 1929, and regulations for midshipmen of St. Johns College.
III. NAVAL CAREER DOCUMENTS (Box 17-18 and 60 [OS])
This series consists of sets of official orders and dispatches from several ships, and papers incidental to retirement, recall to duty and professional information. Arranged into two sub-series.
Subseries 1 - Orders 1929-1963: Official orders and documents
Subseries 2 - Career-Related Papers: Included in this subseries are letters, documents and papers incidental to his career, including professional information, and opinions on officer retention/recruiting.
IV. RESEARCH MATERIALS: (Box 19-32)
In accordance with Rear Admiral Tolley's extensive interests and constant verification of salient facts, the research materials series contains general research, ship research with focus on the Asiatic Fleet, research on the various services, and personal interests including genealogy. There is extensive information on Pearl Harbor and the culpability of Admiral Husband Kimmel and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Other Subseries consist of research on each of his primary books: Yangtze Patrol, Cruise of the Lanikai, and Caviar and Commissars. A further subseries involves fleet activities and his time and local contacts in Japan.
Subseries 1 - General: This subseries includes materials on a wide of variety of topics, many of which were verified through queries to the Operational Archives at the Naval Historical Center. Topics are as varied as alcohol use in the navies, espionage, torpedoes and letters and biographical information on former presidents and state and government officials.
Subseries 2 - Unpublished Notes: Pre-publication anecdotes, sea stories 1962-1987, notes for new books, manuscripts, and poems and sea shanties
Subseries 3 - Ship Research: This subseries contains information on ships, primarily the Asiatic Fleet. Much of the material consists of bound publications as well as newspaper clippings, logs, rosters and anecdotal records.
Subseries 4 - Services Notes: Miscellaneous clippings and print information on the various banches of the service.
Subseries 5 - Personal Interests and Considered Opinions: Interests in this category range from genealogy of the Tolley family, arguments for respect, Tailhook opinions, Universal Ship Cancellation Society, North American Society for Oceanic History, Admiral Nimitz Center, Fredericksburg, TX, Richard McKenna High School as well as participation in other organizations. Even more personal is information on biofeedback, miscellaneous farming related material and guarantees.
Subseries 6 - Pearl Harbor/Husband Kimmel: Rear Admiral Tolley performed intensive research attempting to obtain vindication for Admiral Husband Kimmel. He interviewed many figures involved in the Pearl Harbor attack including Admiral Fukuda, Admiral McCullum, Admiral Stark and Admiral Standley. He conducted voluminous correspondence on the topic of culpability of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor from 1966-1995, correspondence with the Kimmel family, and the author Edward Beach, Jr. This subseries also contains declassified documents, mostly photocopied, on the events leading up to Pearl Harbor.
Subseries 7 - Documentation of Major Publications: Yangtze Patrol (includes China) Much of the research in this area includes replies for reminiscence from the Asiatic Fleet, clippings, print articles and information about Shanghai and Tsingtao. His research for the book, Yangtze Patrol spans the years 1969 until post publication 1987.
Cruise of the Lanikai: This subseries includes unpublished notes and research on the Lanikai, both the physical ship (earlier named Hermes) and the voyage. Included is also continuing correspondence about the book and the voyage 1962-1994. There is also a certificate of recognition of the Lanikai with a Bronze Star.
Caviar and Commissars (includes Russia): Notes and correspondence concerning Russia and diplomacy are included in this subseries. There are many news clippings, posters and information on various ambassadors. After retirement, Rear Admiral Tolley acted as a good will ambassador when there were USSR ship visits and he traveled to Russia for the 50th anniversary of World War II.
Subseries 8 - Japan: This subseries contains material from the fifties when Rear Admiral Tolley was Commander of the Pacific Fleet, stationed in Yokuska. He played a key part in the restoration of Mikasa, and kept up correspondence with the many Japanese friends he had made, especially the Nagano and Godsoe families.
V. MANUSCRIPTS, BOOKS AND BOOK REVIEWS: (Box 33-35)
This series contains books, proofs and manuscripts given to him by other authors, as well as reviews, edits and articles and criticism by and about Rear Admiral Tolley. Among the manuscripts are: Preliminary draft From Giffin to River Rat: A J.G. on the Long River, by Rear Admiral Clarence E. Coffin; Low Water Above Hankou, by Commander Jerome Addison Lee; Amid These Storms: Letters and Dispatches of CDR Hugo Koehler; 1917-1922; A manuscript diary of Daniel H. Storey, Electrician 2nd Class; an autographed copy of Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward Beach, Jr., and A Hell of a War by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
VI. EPHEMERA: (Box 36-37 and 59 [OS])
The Ephemera series contains USNA materials, other pamphlets and brochures, Russian posters and a ships' cards and menus collection.
VII. NEWSLETTERS: (Box 38-44)
This series contains copies of the mockups of and published editions of Yangtze Patrol and China Gunboatman as well as individual ships’ newsletters and speeches.
VIII. ROSTERS AND DIRECTORIES: (Box 45)
This series contains Navy and Marine Corps directories from various assignments.
IX. YANGTZE RIVER PATROL ASSOCIATION - SOUTH CHINA PATROL ASSOCIATION: (Box 46)
The Yangtze River Patrol Association was founded to promote "friendship, camaraderie, and unity among former members of the United States Navy who served their country in ships of the Yangtze River Patrol Force and were recipients of the Yangtze River Patrol ribbon." An associate member status for those who served in the middle or upper Yangtze but had not received the ribbon was also formed. From the beginning, this associate membership caused problems, and they ultimately broke away to form a more inclusive South China Patrol Association. Since Rear Admiral Tolley believed strongly in inclusion rather than exclusion, he joined the new group. In 1998 when membership in both groups was dwindling, the two groups officially merged. This series contains the records of both organizations, some historical reminiscences, regulations, membership lists and the China repository which contains some information contributed by members on the country and its politics.
X. AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS: (Box 47)
This series contains four silent films; each filmed in 16mm and later transferred to VHS. Two of the films appear to hail from Tolley’s tours of duty in China, and include footage of the indigenous people, seaplane launches, Navy divers, and shipboard target practice. One video demonstrates the inner construction of turbines. The final video focuses primarily on a 1969 fire aboard U.S.S. Enterprise (Aircraft carrier : CVN 65).
XI. PHOTOGRAPHS: (Box 48-59 [OS])
This series contains a wide variety of photographs taken during tours of duty in China, Russia and Japan as well as family photographs. They span the years from 1929 to 1998. Several diplomats and political figures, including Averill Harriman are included. There are many portraits of Rear Admiral Tolley during various phases of his life. Many photographs are unidentified. A few are copies of well-know photographs.
Subseries 1 - Trips Taken Throughout Asia
Subseries 2 - Women, Friends and Family
Subseries 3 - Ships and Duty Stations
Subseries 4 - Portraits: Rear Admiral Tolley 1929-1998; Group portraits, including Roosevelt, Churchill, Stark and King as well as Averill Harriman and many Russian portraits.
Subseries 5 - Albums: The albums include those of the Yangtze Patrol, China and the Philippines and Russian friends. The memory book of the USS Asheville is also in this group.
Subseries 6 - Negatives: There are two boxes of negatives.