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Today’s post was written by Nick Baric, a processing Archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

In May of 1918 a group of American sailors detached to a base at Kyle of Lochalsh in the Scottish Highlands found themselves in a bit of hot water. They faced accusations of removing a jewel box from a reputed haunted house on the Isle of Skye. The allegations came to light in the form of a letter of complaint regarding the sailors’ conduct from a local authority, the Procurator Fiscal, on behalf of the property owner.Handwritten letter admitting to theift of item from haunted house

A component of the U.S. Forces Operating in European Waters, the base at Kyle of Lochalsh (along with Base #18 at Inverness and nearby Base #17 at Alness) was charged with “assembling American mines for the North Sea Barrage.” This mine barrage’s mission was keeping German U-boats trapped in the North Sea and away from the vital sea lanes connecting the United States and to its allies. After the war, these same forces were charged with sweeping and removing the mines to facilitate post-war shipping.

Historically, relations between American military personnel stationed overseas and the local population can become strained. To head off problems, Navy authorities will declare certain districts off limits to American sailors and efforts were made to provide entertainment and leisure opportunities. Incidents do still arise of which this one was an example of middling severity. An investigation by superior officers was promptly launched. The testimony of one sailor, Seamen Second Class Philip W. Sagel, is included below. All the sailors’ testimonies were similarly simple and sincere, with no denying that they had in fact entered the “haunted house” and had removed the box as a “souvenir”.

Upon the conclusion of the investigation, a solution was obtained that was amenable to local authorities, the property owner, and Navy authorities. In a final letter to Navy authorities, the Procurator Fiscal W. J. Robertson wrote, in part, as follows: “I do not think it is necessary that it should be brought before our court. I am aware that the house is said to be haunted and it was very natural that your lads should have gone to explore it. It is a pity, however, that they took the jewel box away, but I am prepared to accept the explanation that they did so as a souvenir, thoughtlessly … there was no nefarious intent.”   With the jewel box returned to its proper owner, the incident was declared over. There was apparently no further disciplinary action taken against the sailors.Second handwritten letter

One can only surmise that back home during reunions or when asked by their children, grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren about their service in the Great War, perhaps these old sailors would recount their adventures in a haunted house in the Highlands!


[Source: All documents quoted and reproduced here come from File 30/2/18 in the series SUBJECT FILES RELATING TO NORTH SEA MINE BARRAGE ACTIVITIES IN SCOTLAND, 1917-20 (UD Entry 9-O, NAID 12006036) RG 313: Records of Naval Operating Forces]

One never knows what will be found in the files.  While undertaking holdings maintenance on some records, the document described here appeared.

In September 1945, just after the formal end of World War II, the British embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic note to the Department of State requesting some information.  In Britain, the Committee of the Civil Service National Whitley Council had some questions and the embassy asked that the information be obtained “from the appropriate United States authorities.”  The Committee was examining the question of the marriage bar in the British civil service and had five questions about U.S. practice:

1. Are married women employed (in normal conditions and not merely in war-time) either regularly or exceptionally in the public services of the United States?

2. If the normal rules forbid the employment of married women, is there any provision for exceptions, and if so in what terms?

3. If married women are employed, what advantages and disadvantages have they been found to possess as employees?

4. Is there any system of paying gratuities or “dowries” to women who resign on marriage, compulsorily or voluntarily, as the case may be?

5. If married women are employed in normal conditions and not merely in war-time, what arrangements are made for leave of absence for childbirth?

To secure the needed information, the Department of State sent a copy of the British request to the Civil Service Commission.  The Commission replied as follows:

US Civil Service Commission response regarding the employment of married women


US Civil Service Commission response regarding the employment of married women


US Civil Service Commission response regarding the employment of married women


US Civil Service Commission response regarding the employment of married women


Upon receipt, the Department provided a copy of the Commission’s response to the British embassy, which expressed its appreciation.  That sentiment was passed on to the Commission.

Source: British Embassy to the Department of State, September 4, 1945; Department of State to the Civil Service Commission, September 10, 1945; Civil Service Commission to the Department of State, September 21, 1945; Department of State to the British Embassy, September 25, 1945; British Embassy to the Department of State, October 1, 1945; Department of State to the Civil Service Commission, October 12, 1945.  All documents in file 811.017 in the 1945-49 segment of the Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), part of RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives in College Park.

Most researchers dealing with the translation of captured and seized Japanese records are familiar with the primary organizations translating those records.  These would include the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Service (PACMIRS), the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS), the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area (JICPOA), and the Washington Document Center (WDC).  Few researchers are aware that the U.S. Navy’s relatively small intelligence unit,theFar Eastern Section, Foreign Intelligence Branch, of the Office of Naval Intelligence (OP-16-FE), located in Washington, D.C., also translated captured and seized Japanese records.

During the first six months of 1944, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) received approximately 130 large cases of Japanese records from JICPOA. In addition, ONI’s Far East Section received many documents for translation from the Hydrographic Office, the Naval Research Laboratory, the various Navy bureaus, and other offices.  The records included blueprints of Japanese equipment, charts, logs, war diaries, field manuals, and codebooks. The backlog of untranslated material accumulated rapidly.  The Navy responded in May 1944 by ordering approximately twenty recent graduates of the Navy School of Oriental Languages (at University of Colorado at Boulder) to report for temporary duty to work on translating the materials.  In September 1944, thirty more language officers, mostly WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), were assigned to permanent duty in the Translation Unit of Far East Section of ONI (OP-16-FE).  By February 1945, the unit consisted of ninety-five personnel.  Even with this large staff, it was insufficient to keep up with the task of processing, translating, evaluating, and disseminating the captured Japanese records.

The Far East Section (OP-16-FE) began publishing translations on June 10, 1944.  Twenty copies of these translations were distributed, with seven going to the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department, two to the Director of Naval Communications (OP-20), and one to ATIS.  The number of copies distributed would increase.  By the end of the year well over 100 translations had been published.  By April 1945 OP-16-FE had published well over 200 translations.  Given ONI’s naval interests it is not surprising that many of the translations related to Japanese naval and merchant vessels. There were translations related to warships and other craft, organization and personnel of the Japanese Imperial Navy, addresses and code addresses of naval units, naval regulations, naval construction, mine warfare, naval ordnance, and anti-submarine and aircraft defensive measures.  Many of the translations related to the Japanese merchant marine and convoys including anti-submarine measures, sailing directions, and Notices to Mariners.  There was even a translation relating to the German Submarine U-188 operating in the Indian Ocean.

Many of the translations related to airplanes, airfields, ordnance, and Kamikaze [Special Attack Units] operations, as well as to technical matters, including radar, echo-ranging gear, radio homing gear, direction finders, and range finders, communications equipment, and cameras and optical instruments.  Numerous translations related to gasoline and gasoline additives, engines, carburetors, fuel injector systems, magnetos, oils, and greases.  Weather data and forecasts and meteorological material made up a handful of translation.  Japanese air defense preparations, units, equipment, procedures and activities, were the source of numerous translations.  There were also translations relating to the Japanese population, including Korean residents; the Japanese character; evacuation of Japanese urban communities; railroads and transportation; factories and supplies, including supply methods, units, and shortages.

In addition, there were also translations relating to underwater obstacles for use against landing craft and amphibious tanks; poison gas warfare; disposition of Japanese forces; handling of Army secret documents; defects in the training of soldiers facing the Soviet Army; and, methods for the disposal of code books and code machines of the 3rd Southern Expeditionary Fleet.  Other translations included those of Japanese documents relating to Japanese views of American strength, plans, and tactics.  OP-16-FE also produced numerous translations of Japanese intelligence reports regarding Russian military matters, including military operations on the Eastern Front and at the Manchurian-Soviet border.

During the summer and fall of 1945, OP-16-FE began receiving captured records from the WDC and it was during the latter half of that year its translation work shifted dramatically to focus on occupation-related documents.  During the August 25-October 1 period it published numerous translations relating to prefecture information and government officials in different parts of Japan.  It also produced, during the late August-mid November period, translations related to the structure of the Japanese government and the various ministries.  Also translated were documents related to the emperor and his household estates and accounts.

The translation activities of OP-16-FE trailed off after mid-November 1945. On December 13, 1945 it published a translation related to the Japanese Special Naval Police Force and on January 2, 1946 it published a list of intelligence reports issued by the Japanese Naval General Staff.   Four more translations were issued in February and March and the last on April 1.

Altogether OP-16-FE (and its successor OP-23-F141) between June 1944 and April 1946 published 398 numbered translations of Japanese documents.  They can be found in boxes numbered 1-12 of the series Foreign Document Translations and Related Records, 1944-1948, Entry UD-8 (NAID 6789380), Far Eastern Section, Foreign Intelligence Branch, Office of Naval Intelligence, Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 38.  The first box contains a numerical index to the translations.

The thirteenth box of the series contains two special translations based on documents acquired in Germany. They were published in July 1945. One was a 122-page report, dated February 26, 1945, by Vice Admiral Katsuo Abe (1891-1948) in his capacity as Japanese representative on the Tripartite Naval Affairs Commission to the Minister of the Japanese Navy and to the Chief of the Naval General Staff. The other was a 17-page report, dated December 31, 1944, from Baron Lt. Gen. Hiroshi Oshima (1886-1975), Envoy Extraordinary and Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Japanese Empire in Germany to Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu.

The Abe report is a compilation of daily and monthly reports covering conferences with the highest German and Italian state and military leaders over the period extending from May 1943, when he was assigned to duties in Germany, until the end of January 1945.  Especially interesting, are some of Abe’s accounts of meetings with Hermann Goering, Benito Mussolini, Alfred Jodl (Chief of the Operations Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command), and other prominent Axis leaders.

Along with two military attaches, Abe met with Hermann Goering at Carinhall (his estate near Berlin) on the afternoon of January 13, 1945.  Abe reported two days later that Goering’s “complexion was good, he was less fleshy than formerly, and appeared in unusually good health.”  Goering told Abe the reasons why he believed the large Allied bomber formations were able to operate over Germany for long periods of time and expressed high praise for “the brave and incomparable deeds of the Japanese Army, and expressed great admiration for the planes used by our Special Attack Units, and for the effectiveness of their attacks.”  In the “Opinion” section of his report, Abe wrote:

The fact that the Marshal has completely changed at this time from his former appearance of importance with his big stomach, and presented the humble attitude described above, can only be viewed as showing his respectful admiration for the spiritual strength of our army. We easily perceived his intense feelings about Japanese cooperation, which pleased us.

The Marshal’s popularity has been reported as considerably weakened since the incident of 20 July, and news of his loss of position has been widely circulated. However, judging from the official treatment of him as a leader at this time and from other actual facts, his position remains unchanged, and particularly, his hold over the air force is considered to be exceptionally strong.

With regard to the state of the air force, it is a fact that his characteristic despotic tendency is strong, and the staff is extremely ineffectual; so that in the handling of important problems and the expression of opinions, it is difficult for us to accomplish anything unless we can influence the Marshal directly.

Abe met with Benito Mussolini at Gargnano, Italy, on December 29, 1943.  During of the course of this meeting Abe asked Mussolini about his thoughts about the Allies opening a Second Front in France.  Abe reported Mussolini’s response:

In view of the appointment of Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, it seems certain that the enemy will establish a second front in France.  Moreover, it will probably come in February or March of next year, somewhere in the English Channel area. The landing will be accomplished with the cover provided by an umbrella of a large number of aircraft and a great amount of bombs.

However, Germany is fully prepared, and should smash the enemy’s landing plans. Moreover, once such a landing operation has failed, it is practically impossible to make all the preparations again and carry it out a second time, so that this should bring about the ultimate defeat of England and America.

Germany is preparing secret weapons, and although I do not know for sure what they are, according to the information I have, they are along the line of rocket bombs…

Already thousands of rocket launchers have been constructed on the French coast of the English Channel, and tens of thousands of rockets can be launched in one night. However, Germany is evidently waiting until the assembly of American troops in England has been completed.

The Oshima report relates to the contributions made by the staff of the Imperial Japanese Embassy in Germany to support the Greater East Asia War.  Oshima’s report covers the period from February 1941 till the end of 1944.  He began his report discussing the duties of the embassy in Germany and followed with discussions about the duties and activities of the Political Affairs Division; the Commerce and Economic Division; the Culture and Propaganda Division; the Subcommittees on Education, Publications, and, Propaganda; and, the General Affairs Division.  After providing information about the divisions and subcommittees, Oshima reported on the activities of some forty-five individuals associated with the embassy.   Of interest are Oshima’s observations on the fallout caused by the British Royal Air Force’s attacks on Berlin in November 1943 and the destruction of the embassy and the embassy’s dealings with Indian Nationalist Chandra Bose.

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives in College Park.

The U.S. Army’s Pacific Military Intelligence Research Service (PACMIRS), located at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, had been established in September 1944 to exploit captured Japanese records.  During 1945 it saw a steady increase in staff and workload–from 120 personnel in February to 160 by the end of August.[1]  The volume of captured Japanese records received also increased.  During March it received 437,682 pages.  During the next four months it received, primarily from the Washington Document Center (WDC), over 1.2 million pages monthly, so that by the end of August it had received 7,947,710 pages (118,969 documents).  Of that total, 7,678,654 pages (106,298 documents) were found to have no value.  Of the over 7 million pages received by the end of August, PACMIRS translated 22,985 pages (of which over 7,100 related to the Japanese Air Force, 2,303 related to tactics and strategy, and 1,074 related to chemical warfare).[2]

Frequently during the summer of 1945 PACMIRS was requested to translate specific documents.  Some of these documents were for use by the Counter Intelligence Corps in its plans for operations in Japan once it was occupied.[3]  A major activity of PACMIRS was publishing translations of and information from the captured records.  By the end of August PACMIRS had published 1,068,901 pages.[4]

Some of what PACMIRS translated and published came from European sources once the war ended in Europe.  Many of the documents were taken from or formerly belonged to Japanese in Germany and other parts of Europe.  In late June PACMIRS began publishing Limited Distribution Accession Lists that contained summaries of documents bearing on the war in the Pacific received by PACMIRS from the Europe Theater.  It appears that the last, No. 4, was published on March 1, 1946, shortly before PACMIRS was abolished.[5]

With the war’s end came the necessity to reevaluate all the documents in light of post war intelligence requirements. Thus in September all current PACMIRS documents were reconsidered at a Document Reevaluation Conference and many of them were withdrawn from further processing because they had no post-war intelligence value.  Also in September PACMIRS began sending some documents to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota for translation and publication. One such work, dealing with the Japanese Military Police, proved to be of extraordinary value to the Judge Advocate General’s War Crimes Office.[6]

PACMIRS beginning in August 1945 developed a relationship with the Eastern Division of the War Crimes Office, which briefed its officers about the importance to be on the lookout for certain types of documentary evidence needed in war crimes trial preparation and the necessity of obtaining documents on short notice—documents needed in response to specific requests.  As the war came to an end in the Pacific, the relationship grew and expanded.  During the August-October period PACMIRS, besides providing documents and translations, had personnel spend time at the War Crimes Office and undertook several special projects, including doing research at the Library of Congress on Japanese nationalist organizations.[7]

Based on the documents in its possession, PACMIRS, between November 13, 1945 and April 9, 1946, published twenty PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series publications (numbered 1-20) that consisted of translations of documents grouped together by topic.[8]  The PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series publication quickly became popular and shortly after the first issue appeared the number of distribution copies doubled.[9]  Also to make interested parties aware of the war crimes related documents held by PACMIRS, it published PACMIRS Bulletin 80A on March 8, 1946, that identified documents that had been acquired once the war ended.[10]

During late 1945 PACMIRS continued receiving items from Europe relating to the Japanese.  In early December, 48 cases of documents from the Japan Institute in Germany arrived.  In a report regarding the first eight boxes opened, it was noted that half the documents were in the Japanese language and the rest in numerous other languages, with German, English, French, Russian, and Latin predominating.  Found were books on the culture of Japan (art, literature, poetry, music, religion, mythology, history, manners and customs, law, education and industry), encyclopedias, collections of Japanese literary classics and paintings, newspaper files, bound collections of monthly and quarterly periodicals of Japanophile societies, and personal papers.[11]

At some point in late 1945 PACMIRS received a collection of captured Japanese records from the Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center (SEATIC) Headquarters in Singapore, via the WDC, to review and exploit.  Approximately 95% of these SEATIC documents were destroyed by PACMIRS, most likely during the first couple of months of 1946. Apparently the remaining 5% were transferred to the WDC when PACMIRS vacated Camp Ritchie in April 1946.[12]  It also appears that a significant body of captured Japanese records that had come to PACMIRS from the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) and other sources was also destroyed during 1945 and 1946.[13]

On March 29, 1946, began the publication of a new series, entitled PACMIRS Summary. To some extent, it replaced the PACMIRS Bulletins, with some modifications. These document summaries were supplementary to the Shipping Advices of acquired documents published by the WDC (Advanced Echelon) in Japan. Given in the summary listings were the PACMIRS Document Number, the WDC Shipping Advise Number and WDC Number.[14]

PACMIRS Technical Service Translations, a publication series that had begun in April 1945 and continued after the war ended, covered a wide range of topics, mostly of a technical nature.  Among them were: No. 9 August 8, 1945 Outline of Soviet Chemical Warfare; No. 19 September 13, 1945 Type 01 Model 180 Nissan Truck Operating Manual; No. 23 October 8 Effect of the Body of Habitual Drinking of Hard Water (Shansi Province); No. 24 October 10, 1945 Medical and Geographical Survey of North China; No. 26 October 17, 1945 Gas Protective Equipment; and, No. 28 November 27, 1945 Crossing Marshy Ground and Special Transportation Equipment.

PACMIRS Technical Service Translations No. 32, January 7, 1946, entitled Chemical Warfare Notes, provided translation of three sections of a 1943 file of chemical warfare reference material, mainly relating to the storing, preserving, and using chemical warfare material under tropical conditions.  Actual combat use of toxic smoke by the Japanese was described in PACMIRS Technical Service Translations No. 33, Use of Toxic Smoke Candles and Shells in the Northern Shansi Province Operations, March 8, 1946. This was a translation, requested by the War Crimes Office, Army Service Forces, and the MIS Scientific Branch, of a December 1938 document issued by the Operations Department, North China Area Army.  The document is a compilation of data of a report that contains a resume of the results achieved through toxic smoke, a chart outlining operations, a critique of the tactics employed, and detailed accounts (illustrated by a situation map) of seven actions in which toxic smoke was used.   PACMIRS Technical Service Translations No. 34, dated March 18, 1946, was entitled Chinese Employment of Chemical and Bacteriological Warfare against the Japanese.  This was the transaction of a 1941 Japanese intelligence report (by Research Section, Toku Kwantung Defense Army 3036 Unit), presenting “evidence that during the China Incident the enemy has skillfully and secretly carried out chemical and bacteriological warfare activities against personnel, animals, natural resources, water and food supplies.”  The report declared that Russia was preparing to launch bacteriological warfare in the event of hostilities with Japan.  PACMIRS noted that the ‘evidence,’ much of it sketchy, lists half a dozen instances of chemical tactics, 10 cases of bacterial contamination of water, and about 45 examples of food and water poisoning.[15]

Throughout 1945 and early1946 PACMIRS published many translation series as “limited distribution” publications.[16]  One such publication series that was published in 26 issues between June and November 1945 contained mostly firing table information.[17]  LD Translations W, published in April 1946, dealt with heavy industry and minerals in Manchuria.[18] LD Translations S, published between March 15 and April 9, 1946 dealt with the Soviet Union and contained such titles as Chain of Command of the Soviet Far Eastern Army, Soviet Chemical Warfare, Water Transportation in Eastern Siberia, and Soviet Airborne Raiding Units, April 9, 1945.[19]

One limited distribution series entitled Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations E, contained translations on documents relating to a variety of topics, including Soviet and British use of land mines, allied espionage agents in Burma, communists in North China, maps of military resources of Sian Area and its vicinity, a Military Topographic Survey of the Northern Regions, PACMIRS map of Japanese Colonization in Manchuria, a report on the military geography of Sankiang Province, Manchuria, and a listing of mining properties in Manchuria.[20]

One of the E Series (No. 11, Document 2806) was “A Discussion of Bacteriological Warfare” that had been requested by the Military Intelligence Service Scientific Branch, probably in December 1945.  This was a complete translation of a Japanese pamphlet on bacteriological warfare. It gave examples from World War I and the 1937 China Incident.  Russian interest in this type of warfare was stressed. The original pamphlet was undated, with neither the author nor the issuing authority specified.  This six-page pamphlet noted that the Chinese Army, infected wells with cholera germs when the Japanese Army broke through Shanghai in the summer of 1937 and made the great drive toward Nanking. In the winter of 1937, the pamphlet continues, Japanese soldiers found glass bottles filled with anthrax germs in the creek in the vicinity of Chia-ting. Again at Kowkung (Chinchiang), the pamphlet asserts, Chinese Army troops sprinkled cholera germs in wells when they retreated, with the result that there was a sudden outbreak of cholera. “Speedy and accurate countermeasures saved the men of the Imperial Army from harm, but innocent civilians fell victim to the venom of this invisible death” the pamphlet asserts.  The pamphlet states that observation of Chinese bacteriological warfare showed that their methods closely resembled the methods used by Soviet Russia.  The pamphlet noted that bacteria had not yet been used in the war between Germany and Russia and that judging from this, the Soviet Union might be planning to let the Chinese experiment in such warfare, so as to use it against the Germans later at a decisive period; or the Soviets may have abandoned the use of bacilli in Europe, where medical facilities and ideas were more advanced, planning instead to set the stage for bacteriological warfare in Manchuria and China.[21]

PACMIRS was scheduled to be vacated by the War Department on April 15, 1946, as the lease for the property where it was situated was scheduled to be terminated.  During March plans were developed to move it to the Pentagon and this plan was agreed to by the Secretary of War in mid-March 1946.[22]  But at some point in late March or early April a decision was made to relocate PACMIRS to the WDC.  On April 17 PACMIRS and the WDC were merged into a single operational entity under the name Washington Document Center. [23]

[1] Of the 160 staff in August 1945, ten were stationed at the Washington Document Center. Most of the personnel were U.S. military but there were also twelve British Army and Navy and twenty-four Canadian Army personnel assigned to PACMIRS. Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for August 1945, p. 2, File: AGAR-S-1455A, Record and Non-Record Material Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives in 1968 (Pomrenze Collection), Entry UD-282-BB 9 (NAID 6922180), National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, Record Group 242 (hereafter cited as RG 242).

[2] Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for March 1945, p. 4 and for August 1945, pp. 4 and 7, File: AGAR-S-1455A, Record and Non-Record Material Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives in 1968 (Pomrenze Collection), Entry UD-282-BB (NAID 6922180), RG 242.

[3] See memorandums in Decimal 350.03 March 1-December 31, 1945, Decimal Files 1941-1948, Entry NM3 47B (NAID 1367076), Records of the Army Chief of Staff, Intelligence (G-2), Records of the Army Chief of Staff, Record Group 319 (hereafter cited as RG 319).

[4] These publications included PACMIRS Air Translations, Bulletins, Technical Service Translations, Transfer Lists, and four separate Limited Distribution Translations. Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for August 1945, pp. 10, 14, File: AGAR-S-1455A, Record and Non-Record Material Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives in 1968 (Pomrenze Collection), Entry UD-282-BB (NAID 6922180), RG 242.

[5] Secret Project for Scientific Branch MIS (GD 901-GD 950), PACMIRS, Camp Ritchie, MD August 17, 1945, Folder: PACMIRS Camp Ritchie GD 901-GD 950, Publications Files (”P” File) 1940-1945, Entry NM84 79 (NAID 1557240), Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, Record Group 165 (hereafter cited as RG 165); Folders: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Accession Lists, ibid.

[6] Memorandum, Col. S. P. Marland, Jr., Chief, PACMIRS to The Commandant, MIS Language School, September 26, 1945, Decimal 350.03 March 1-December 31, 1945, Decimal Files 1941-1948, Entry NM3 47B (NAID 1367076), Records of the Army Chief of Staff, Intelligence (G-2), RG 319; Memorandum, Capt. Kenneth M. Himes, Adjutant, PACMIRS, Camp Ritchie, Maryland to The Commandant, MIS Language School, December 3, 1945, ibid.

[7] Memorandum, Col. Abe McGregor Goff, Assistant Director, War Crimes Office to Chief, PACMIRS, Subject: Japanese Military Police, August 20, 1945, File 116-11, Set-Up Files 1945-1957, Entry A1 145 (NAID 1692305), Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army), Record Group 153 (hereafter cited as RG 153); Memorandum, Lt. Col. B. E. Sackett, War Crimes Branch, Manila, GHQ US Army Forces, Pacific to Brig. John W. Weir, and others, Subject: Coordination of War Crimes Activities Between Washington and Manila, October 18, 1945, File 103-1B-114, ibid; Memorandum, C. B. Warren, Jr., to Director, War Crimes Office, Subject: Facilities and Personnel Available for War Crimes Assistance in Pacific Theaters, November 29, 1945, File 103-1B-117, ibid; Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for August 1945, p. 7, File: AGAR-S-1455A, Record and Non-Record Material Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives in 1968 (Pomrenze Collection), Entry UD-282-BB (NAID 6922180), RG 242; Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for September 1945, pp. 9, 12, File: AGAR-S-no number, ibid.; Military Intelligence Service, Pacific MIRS Monthly Report for October 1945, pp. 9, 10, 12, 13, File: AGAR-S-1458A, ibid.

[8] PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series Folder: PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series, Publications Files (”P” File) 1940-1945, Entry NM 84 79 (NAID 1557240), RG 165; and in Box49, Law Library Files 1944-1949, Entry A1 135 (NAID 6921676), RG 153.

[9] Memorandum, Col. Joseph V. Hodgson, US Commission, UNWCC to the Judge Advocate General, Subject: Transmittal of PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series No. 1, December 10, 1945, File 116-11, Set-Up Files 1945-1957, Entry A1 145 (NAID 1692305), RG 153; Memorandum, Capt. Bertram W. Tremayner, Jr., Executive, War Crimes Office to Supervisor of Reports, MIS, Subject: PACMIRS War Crimes Information Series, January 9, 1946, ibid.

[10] PACMIRS Bulletin No. 80A March 8, 1946, Document L-311, Law Library Files 1944-1949, Entry A1 135 (NAID 6921676), RG 153; Memorandum, Maj. Gen. O. P. Nichols, Director, Civil Affairs Division, to Col. Joseph V. Hodgson, US Commission, United Nations War Crimes Commission, Subject: PACMIRS Bulletin No. 80A, March 8, 1946; March 25, 1946, File 116-11, Set-Up Files 1944-1949, Entry A1 145 (NAID 1692305), RG 153.

[11] Memorandum, 1st Lt. Henry W. Jarvinen, Assistant Chief, Document Group to Capt. George B. Brown, PACMRIS, Camp Ritchie, Maryland, Subject: Japan Institute Material, December 7, 1945, Decimal 350.03 March 1-December 31, 1945, Decimal FileS 1941-1948, Entry 47B (NAID 1367076), RG 319.

[12] Memorandum, Brig. Gen. Edwin L. Sibert, CIA to Chief, Division of Foreign Activity Correlation, December 30, 1947, Decimal, 894.414/12-3047, Central Decimal Files 1910-1963, Entry A1 205H (NAID 302021), General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59.

[13] Memorandum, P. H. Lash, Jr. for Col. R. F. Ennis, Chief, Intelligence Group, Military Intelligence Division, G-2, War Department General Staff, War Department to Commander-in-Chief, Far East, October 10, 1947, Decimal 314.4, Japan, Project Decimal Files 1946-1948, Entry NM3 47D (NAID 1663425), RG 319; Memorandum, Brig. Gen. C. A. Willoughby, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, GHQ, Far East Command to Director of Intelligence, General Staff, U.S. Army, Attn: Col. Ennis, October 30, 1947, ibid.; Memorandum, Col. R. F. Ennis to Commander-in-Chief, Far East, January 8, 1948, ibid.

[14] PACMIRS Summary, No. 1, March 29, 1946, File: PACMIRS Summary, Publications Files (”P” File) 1940-1945, Entry NM84 79 (NAID 1557240), RG 165.

[15] PACMIRS Technical Service Translations, File: PACMIRS Technical Service Translations, ibid.

[16] Nos. 84-86 were Accession Lists of Field Diaries published at the request of the Historical Branch, MIS, between December 21, 1945-March 1, 1946.  Files: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations A No. 61-No. 86, ibid; File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations B, No. 27-No. 40, ibid.

[17] File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations (ORD), No. 2-No. 26, ibid.

[18] File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations W, No. 2-No. 3, ibid.

[19] File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations S, No. 1-No. 5, ibid.

[20] File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations E 1 thru E No. 15, ibid.

[21] PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translation E, No. 11, Doc No. 2806, “A Discussion of Bacteriological Warfare” January 10, 1946, File: PACMIRS Limited Distribution Translations LD Translations E 1 thru E No. 15, ibid.

[22] Memorandum, Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 to President, War Department Manpower Board, March 11, 1946, File: AGAR-S-1365, Record and Non-Record Material Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives in 1968 (Pomrenze Collection), Entry UD-282-BB (NAID 6922180), RG 242; Memorandum for approval and approvals, Maj. Gen. C. H. Bonesteel, President, War Department Manpower Board, March 12, 1946, approval endorsement by Secretary of War, March 19, 1946, File: AGAR-S-1362, ibid.

[23] Memorandum, R. L. Hopkins, Col. To Col. C. A. Krug, Subject: Plans for PACMIRS, April 18, 1946, File: 020.AGO (GMDS), Decimal Files 1941-1948, Entry NM3 47B (NAID 1367076), RG 319.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is considered one of the great motion pictures produced by the American movie industry.  In 1989, the Library of Congress added this masterpiece to the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The movie, starring James Stewart as Jefferson Smith (the “Mr. Smith” of the title), tells the story of a political innocent who becomes a Senator and is caught up in shenanigans and corruption in Washington but ultimately prevails.  “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” premiered in Washington on October 17, 1939.  Despite some early controversy surrounding its portrayal of the American political system, “Mr. Smith” quickly became an uplifting and popular hit.  Most of the initial objections came from the community of politicians portrayed in a less than flattering light by the movie.

After viewing the motion picture, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph P. Kennedy sent a telegram to Will Hays, a leading force in the motion picture industry.  Hays was head of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, an organization aimed at improving and protecting the image of the movie industry.  Earlier in his career, Kennedy had spent time in and made major investments in Hollywood and probably believed he was qualified to judge the movie.  Kennedy sent the following telegram to Hays on November 12, 1939:

Will Hays
Motion Picture Producers
44th Street, New York City

I have just seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  STOP.  I consider this one of the most disgraceful things I have ever seen done to our country.  STOP.  To permit this film to be shown in foreign countries and to give people the impression that anything like this could happen in the United States Senate is to me nothing short of criminal.  STOP.  I am sending a copy of this wire to the President of the United States.


Ambassador Kennedy's Telegram re: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

Ambassador Kennedy’s Telegram re: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

In response, Kennedy received a telegram from Harry Cohn and Frank Capra, respectively head of Columbia Pictures and director of the movie.  They wrote, in part, as follows:

Because we value your good opinion and judgment greatly we are deeply concerned with expressions conveyed in your cable to Hays.  Newspaper opinion throughout country editorially as well as in reviews have boldly and enthusiastically stated “Mr. Smith” has great patriotic lift.  We do not believe this picture could have been given such vast acclaim as it has received if content or theme were either unpatriotic or constituted attack on our form of Government.  We believe and countless newspaper comments agree that picture develops theme of true Americanism showing how under our democratic procedures least experienced of peoples representatives could arise in highest legislative halls, expose political chicanery and through existing Senate rules and with sympathetic aid of presiding Senatorial office make justice triumph over one crooked Senator.

Cohn and Capra closed their telegram with positive quotations about the movie from the New York Times, the Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Boston Transcript, the Atlanta Constitution, the Cleveland News, and the Cincinnati Inquirer.  They also mentioned that the Hearst newspaper chain viewed the movie favorably and encouraged readers to see it.  The quotation of reviews ended by noting that the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae “states in its review that this is great screen achievement which only a Democracy could present.”

The records include no subsequent documentation so it appears that the matter ended there.

Kennedy’s reputation as a diplomat is not a positive one.  After World War II broke out in September 1939, he took a defeatist attitude and was ultimately forced out of his position in November 1940.  In retrospect, it seems clear that Ambassador Kennedy’s comments as a movie critic were as astute as the analyses of the international situation he made as a diplomat.

[Source:  All documents quoted and reproduced here come from File 840.6 in the 1939 GENERAL RECORDS of the U.S. Embassy in Great Britain (Entry UD-2599A, NAID 1667799), part of RG 84: Records of Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.]