Waltham, Massachusetts –
After spending about 15 minutes filling out the application for a NARA research card and viewing a PowerPoint introduction to the procedures and policies of the archives, I was allowed access to the secured research room. The staff were very polite and customer oriented. Because I had requested in advance the materials I wanted to search through there was a 4 shelf cart with the collections ready for me when I arrived.
They staff were very observant of my handling of the materials and my research was conducted in view of a proctor. I did not have to wear gloves; though the possibility to need them was present.
I was fore warned that I would not find what I had indicated I was looking for in my search and for the most part they were correct; ships logs are located in Washington D.C. But I knew this going in. My goals were to discover if the USS Solomons CVE-67 had been at the Boston Naval Shipyard in 1946, determine if possible where the second ships cruise logbook or any other log book covering the December 5th time frame might be. As a side note, if I could learn anything about the ships layout regarding the radar systems or find anything in the historical, public information or even the port directors logs about the Flight-19 search; it would be a plus.
The Navy’s loss of the planes and crews were big news, and yet there was no indication of any of it that I could find in the 5 hours I spent going through files.
It was not a waste of time though. Fortunately for me I was able to find one item right off the bat. The USS Solomons, CVE-67 was reported as present in the docks as of July 22nd 1946 as listed in the Boston Naval Shipyard Station Log HC1-95196087. But this log book is a simple verification by the Commanding Officer and Administrative officer, there was no history of the ships condition or release by the Captain. Of curiosity another ship listed as arriving 11 May 1946 was the USS Barnes CVE-20; another jeep carrier in the area of the Flight-19 search.
Many documents had been declassified and I did learn other items of interest. On 10/17/1945 just after the war, the Chief of Naval Operations E.J. King forwarded a new chain of command for Fleet Post War Operations. Of note is the Eastern Sea Frontier,down to Argentia and out to Bermuda, and the Gulf Sea Frontier. Both are indicated to be part of the US Army’s Eastern Defense Command. All bases within this command are listed as Support Elements bases no. 60-64. primary operational and administrative control to fall to Admiral King or the CNO. Of the other 6 commands (5 fleets) only the 12th Fleet (Europe) falls under the same control structure.
Other news of note: The Navy was heavily recruiting for pilot recruits around 20 September 1945 and it seems the Army and Navy were both competing to see who would come up with a better plan for National Security. The Navy plan being put forth by Admiral Forrestal himself to Senator Elb Thomas Chair of the Senate Military Affairs Committee.