Francis W. Rockwell Papers, 1910-1980 (bulk 1910-1966): Finding Aid
Published in March 2011
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 419
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Francis W. Rockwell Papers
- Dates: 1910-1980
- Bulk Dates: 1910-1966
- Size: 9.25 linear feet
- Container Summary: 8 manuscript boxes, 4 flat boxes
- Creator: Rockwell, Francis W., 1886-1979
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: Francis W. Rockwell was an officer in the U.S. Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1908. The Rockwell Papers are primarily the product of Rockwell's career as an officer in the United States Navy (1910-1948). The papers touch upon all of Rockwell's tours of duty, with an emphasis on his role in amphibious warfare, including the Aleutian Islands Campaign and amphibious training, and his command of the Sixteenth Naval District in the Philippines.
Chronology of Francis W. Rockwell
- On July 28, is born in South Woodstock, Connecticut.
- Is appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Connecticut.
- In June, graduates from the United States Naval Academy, where he rowed on the Varsity Crew team.
- Is assigned to U.S.S. New Hampshire.
- Is commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.
- Is assigned to U.S.S. Perkins (Destroyer: DD-26) as Executive, Navigator, and Torpedo Officer.
- Is assigned to U.S.S. Jarvis (Destroyer: DD-38) in connection with her fitting out.
- On June 19, marries Mary Allison Wilmer.
- Is assigned to shore duty at the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Electrical Engineering and Physics.
- While at the Naval Academy, is assigned to additional duty aboard U.S.S. Missouri (Battleship: BB-11) for the Academy's summer practice cruise.
- Is transferred to U.S.S. New Jersey (Battleship: BB-16) and, subsequently, U.S.S. Cushing (Destroyer: DD-55).
- Serves as commanding officer of U.S.S. Winslow (Destroyer: DD-53).
- Is awarded the Navy Cross.
- Is attached to U.S.S. Thatcher (Destroyer: DD-162) for her fitting out.
- Is transferred to the staff of Commander Division Five, Atlantic Fleet (Admiral Eberle) as Flag Lieutenant aboard U.S.S. Utah (Battleship: BB-31).
- Returns to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Physics.
- Is assigned to U.S.S. Tennessee (Battleship: BB-43) as gunnery officer.
- Returns to the United States Naval Academy's Department of Electrical Engineering as the head of the department's Experimental Laboratory.
- Receives command of U.S.S. Robert Smith (Destroyer: DD-324).
- Is transferred from U.S.S. Robert Smith and receives command of U.S.S. Dorsey (Destroyer: DD-117).
- Is ordered to the Office of Naval Operations, Ship's Movement Division.
- Returns to sea service as Executive Officer of U.S.S. Mississippi (Battleship: BB-41).
- Receives command of U.S.S. Medusa (Repair ship: AR-1).
- On June 30, is promoted to Captain.
- Is transferred to the Navy Department's Budget Office.
- Receives command of U.S.S. Nevada (Battleship: BB-36).
- In July, reports to the Naval War College for instruction.
- On November 5, assumes the post of Commandant of the Sixteenth Naval District and the Navy Yard at Cavite, Manila.
- Is selected for promotion to Rear Admiral.
- On March 12, is relieved as Commandant of the Sixteenth Naval District (for which he received both the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star in connection with his defense of the Philippines) for duty as Commander Submarines, Eastern Australia.
- Is assigned as Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, during which time he supervised the planning and execution of the recapture of Attu and Kiska, earning him the Legion of Merit.
- On April 1, is ordered to the post of Commander Amphibious Training, Atlantic Fleet.
- Is assigned to the Board of Inspection and Survey, Pacific Coast Section as Senior Member.
- Retires from the U.S. Navy, effective August 1, after which he worked for Hiller Helicopters.
- On January 2, dies in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Awards and Decorations:
Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2), Silver Star, Navy Unit Citation, Presidential Unit Citation, French Legion of Merit, Mexican Campaign Medal, World War I Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Defense Medal.
Description of Contents
The Francis W. Rockwell Papers, comprising 9.25 linear feet of documentation, span the period from 1910 to 1980, and are primarily the product of Rockwell's career as an officer in the United States Navy (1910-1948). The papers touch upon all of Rockwell's tours of duty, with an emphasis on his role in amphibious warfare, including the Aleutian Islands Campaign and amphibious training, and his command of the Sixteenth Naval District in the Philippines.
The collection consists of a mix of textual and non-textual documents, including letters, memoranda, dispatches, news clippings, diaries, reports, orders, photographs, books, medals, and navigational instruments.
The Rockwell Papers are organized into eight records series by document type. Consisting of a mix of document types, SUBJECT FILES offers an overview of Rockwell's career and interests, such as the Aleutian Islands Campaign, U.S.S. Nevada, and Philippines Defense Campaign, the latter of which carries over into REPORTS AND HISTORIES. This second series also deals with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's Amphibious Training Command. The Aleutian Islands Campaign, first touched upon in SUBJECT FILES, is the sole subject of the correspondence in DISPATCHES. The next three series consist exclusively of bound volumes. Comprising only nine documents, ORDER BOOKS and PUBLICATIONS (GENERAL) cover both World Wars, as well as the early days of Rockwell's career, and pertain to shipboard orders, U.S. Navy recruiting, and the histories of specific vessels. The longest series in the collection, JOURNALS, offers a day by day accounting of Rockwell's career in the U.S. Navy and subsequent private life following retirement. ARTIFACTS AND MEMORIBILIA is home to several objects from Rockwell's Naval career, including three of his medals, an identification card, and the drafting dividers he would have used for navigational plotting. The remainder of the collection consists of photographs (both loose prints and albums). The photographs, largely 8x10 black-and-white prints, focus predominantly on the Aleutian Islands Campaign of World War II.
In addition of the personal history of Frank W. Rockwell, research interests served by the Rockwell Papers including the history of amphibious training and warfare, the Aleutian Island Campaign, and the Philippine Defense Campaign.
- Series 1: SUBJECT FILES, 1918-1980
- Series 2: REPORTS AND HISTORIES, 1942-1971
- Series 3: DISPATCHES, 1943
- Series 4: ORDER BOOKS, 1911-1939
- Series 5: JOURNALS, 1910-1966
- Series 6: PUBLICATIONS (GENERAL), 1919-1945
- Series 7: ARTIFACTS AND MEMORIBILIA, undated
- Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1943-1946
- Subseries 8a: Prints, 1943-1946
- Subseries 8b: Albums, 1943-1945
Access and Use
Access to any potentially classified material is restricted.
Copyright and Permission
The Francis W. Rockwell Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gifts of Rockwell Lowe in October 2009 and Jet (John) Lowe in August 2012. Accession Nos. 12-11 and 12-12.
Related Archival Material
A document entitled Narrative, December 11, 1941-March 19, 1942 on naval activities near Luzon is available at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.
Processing and Other Information
Francis W. Rockwell Papers, MS 419
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in March 2013. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in March 2013.
Name and Subject Terms
- Attu Island (Alaska)
- Attu Island (Alaska), Battle of, 1943
- Kiska Island (Alaska)
- Nevada (Battleship : BB-36)
- Prisoners of war
- Rockwell, Francis W., 1886-1979
- United States. Atlantic Fleet. Amphibious Training Command
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Amphibious operations
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Alaska -- Aleutian Islands
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Philippines
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Orders (military records)
Series 1: SUBJECT FILES, 1918-1980 Box 1Series Description
Documentation of Rockwell's career in the United States Navy, spanning from World War I until his retirement in 1948. The materials pertain primarily to Rockwell's commands of U.S.S. Medusa and U.S.S. Nevada, U.S. submarine activity during Rockwell's command of U.S. Submarines, Eastern Australia, as well as the defense of the Philippines in World War II while Rockwell served as Commandant of the Sixteenth Naval District. Included in the series are incoming and outgoing letters, memoranda, orders, newspaper and magazine clippings, newsletters, and citations.
Scattered throughout the series are materials pertaining to naval officers other than Rockwell, such as recommendations for promotion, and documents regarding American Prisoner of War experiences.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by topic.
Series 2: REPORTS AND HISTORIES, 1942-1971 Boxes 1-3Series Description
Reports, histories, and oral histories, as well as supplements thereunto, drafted by Rockwell or by officers directly under Rockwell's command. The reports pertain to U.S. Navy involvement in Luzon and Corregidor during World War II, particularly that of the Sixteenth Naval District, as well as the history of the Amphibious Training Command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Included in the series are reports, memoranda, Photostats, a diary, interview transcripts, and an unpublished history.
Admiral Rockwell's Report, also known as "Philippine Islands, Supplementary of Narrative," is a supplement to Rockwell's initial 1942 "Narrative of Naval Activities in Luzon," and is composed of various supporting documents and photographs not initially available to Admiral Rockwell at the time of drafting of his first report.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by document title.
Series 3: DISPATCHES, 1943 Box 3Series Description
Messages sent and received by Admiral Rockwell during the Battle of Attu and Retaking of Kiska during the Aleutian Island Campaign. The messages pertain largely to artillery operations at Attu and landing operations, including the absence of enemy resistance, at Kiska. Included with the dispatches are memoranda, handwritten notes, and action reports.Series Arrangement
Arranged by campaign objective.
Series 4: ORDER BOOKS, 1911-1939 Box 4Series Description
Two Captain's Night Order Books and one volume entitled "Deck Divisions U.S.S. Perkins." The night order books, which are composed of entries detailing a ship's destination, course, speed, and place in formation, hail from Rockwell's command of U.S.S. Nevada on the eve of World War II and, presumably, his command of U.S.S. Winslow during World War I. The Deck Divisions volume hails from Rockwell's duties aboard U.S.S. Perkins as an Ensign.Series Arrangement
Series 6: PUBLICATIONS (GENERAL), 1919-1945 Box 7Series Description
Publications, primarily naval in nature, kept by Rockwell. The publications pertain in part to the Aleutian Island campaign, that latter stages of the naval war in World War II, Navy recruiting during World War II, and the World War I service of U.S.S. Mount Vernon and U.S.S. St. Louis. Included in the series are compilations based on ships' war diaries, a training manual, a recruiting bulletin, a report, and a religious text.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by title.
Series 7: ARTIFACTS AND MEMORIBILIA, undated Box 7Series Description
: Objects kept by Rockwell from throughout his career in the U.S. Navy, including an identification card from his time aboard U.S.S. Nevada, ribbons for three of his medals, a nameplate from his time as a Rear Admiral, and two sets of drafting dividers used for navigational plotting.Series Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by item type.
Series 8: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1943-1946 Boxes 8-12Series Description
Photographs and photograph albums, primarily of amphibious, naval, and ground operations related to the recapturing of Attu and Kiska Islands during the Aleutian Island Campaign during World War II. The series includes images of the American fleet in the Aleutians, landing operations, encampments, construction activity, American officer and enlisted men, and Japanese officers and enlisted men, as well as aerial shots and charts of Attu and Kiska. The series also includes images of former American prisoners of war and amphibious training facilities for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.Series Arrangement
Organized into two subseries: Prints and Albums.