Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
Arthur L. Maher was born on 1 August 1901 at Utica, New York. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy on 18 June 1919. Commissioned an Ensign on 8 June 1923, Maher was first assigned to USS Utah and later served on the battleship Pennsylvania. He joined the destroyer USS Bulmer in the Asiatic Fleet, and while onboard received his promotion to Lieutenant (jg) on 8 June 1926. Duty on the destroyer Hopkins and cargo ship USS Sirius followed his departure from Bulmer.
Maher was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois when his commission as a Lieutenant became effective on 1 September 1931. He later returned to the Asiatic Fleet, serving on the gunboat Guam on the Yangtze Patrol until February 1934. At the outbreak of World War II, Maher was serving on USS Houston (CA-30). A Commander, he was the ship's Gunnery Officer when she was sunk off Java in March 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Straits.
Maher was the senior officer to survive the sinking of Houston, and was captured by the Japanese in the mountains of Java on 12 March 1942. First held in a native jail in Serang, Java, he was transferred to a Japanese military hospital on 25 March. On 5 April, he was taken to Batavia and put on a transport ship bound for Japan. The transport arrived on 4 May, and Maher was taken to the Japanese Naval Military Interrogation Camp at Ohuna. He remained there until 3 December 1943, when he was transferred to Camp Omori, near Tokyo. Maher was liberated from the Omori prisoner-of-war camp on 29 August 1945.
Upon his return to the United States and following a period of hospitalization, Captain Maher was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, DC. He reported to the destroyer tender Hamul in December 1946 as commanding officer, and assumed command of USS Portsmouth in December 1947.
By 1950, Maher had returned to shore duty, serving with Naval Operations in the Navy Department. He soon returned to sea, assuming the duties of Chief of Staff to Commander, Mine Sweeping Force Western Pacific and then Commander, Mine Force Pacific.
He held these duties until 7 June 1952, when he was detached to the 11th Naval District as Inspector General. Despite his wish to remain on active duty, Maher was transferred to the retired list on 30 June 1953 with the rank of Rear Admiral. Admiral Maher died on 7 February 1994 in Phoenix, Arizona, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains personal and official papers of Rear Admiral Arthur Maher. It is divided into five series. In the first series, Orders, 1926-1953, are copies of Maher's orders, assignments to temporary and additional duties, and the attached endorsement sheets. Though the material in this series covers the entire span of Maher's Navy career, it is incomplete and there are often gaps of several years. The Orders series is arranged chronologically.
Series II, Correspondence, is largely official correspondence. There is a small amount of personal mail as well. This series dates from 1945 to 1984, but is extremely fragmentary. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.
Maher was deposed several times regarding his time spent as a prisoner-of-war. In the Testimony series, 1945-1948, are copies of affidavits given by Maher and transcripts of testimony taken by the Judge Advocate General for the War Crimes Office.
Series IV, Miscellaneous, contains copies of the Japanese surrender documents and notes for several of Maher's speeches to various civil organizations about his wartime experiences.
In the last series, Publications, are three documents on the USS Houston. Two are by Samuel Milner, Inscription for a Shrine to the USS Houston (CA-30) and The Undefeated: An Epic for Our Time. The third is USS Houston: Ghost of the Java Coast by Captain Walter G. Winslow, USN (Ret.). This series is arranged alphabetically by title.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Arthur L. Maher, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
0.25 cubic feet
3 July 2003