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Captain Benton C. Decker, Acting Director of Naval Intelligence, Memorandum on Plants doing Naval Work in First Naval District, Boston, Massachusetts




August 21,1918          

From:        Director of Naval Intelligence.1

To  :       

SUBJECT:     Investigation and protection of plants doing Navy work in the First Naval District.2

Enclosures:  (3)

          1.   Attention is invited to the three interesting enclosures received from the Branch Office of Naval Intelligence, Boston, Massachusetts, outlining the methods employed in the more important plants executing contracts with the Navy Department in the First Naval District.

(Signed) Benton C. Decker.



1.   Reports are desired on anything and everything that might affect the output of the Plant, such as:

(a) Labor Trouble, threatened trouble or labor agitation.

(b) Deliberate attempts to delay production.

(c) Loafing on the part of employees.

(d) Attempts to damage machinery or product of the plant.    

(e) Any extraordinary happening which might effect the output of the Plant.

2.   In addition to the above, reports are desired on:

(f) Any suspicious employees.

(g) Any employees who make statements in favor of Germany or against the United States or its Allies, or who speak unfavorably of Liberty Loan, Red Cross, W.S.S.,3 or similar patriotic campaigns.

3.   In making reports on any of the above subjects, go into as great detail as possible. You cannot furnish too much information on any subject.

4.   Written reports are to be made at least once a week, even though you have nothing of importance to report.

5.   Matters of importance requiring quick action should be at once telephoned to this Office (Boston, Main 7409) and communicated to the Officer-in-Charge.

6.   Bear in mind at all times that you are a CONFIDENTIAL AGENT of this Office. Do not reveal your connection with this Office to anyone. Do not talk to anyone about cases or happenings which you may report to this Office. Give this Office ALL information, but give NO information to anyone else.

     READ, MEMORIZE AND RETURN. Do not carry this sheet in your pocket or leave where others can read it.

[New enclosure]

Dear Sir:

          We hope that you are fully alive to the importance of your recent appountment [i.e., appointment] as a CONFIDENTIAL AGENT of this Office.

          Through you this office expects at all times to be familiar with conditions in YOUR Plant.

          By being constantly on the alert you can render a very valuable assistance.

          It is absolutely essential that you report in writing to this Office at least once a week, if only to say that nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

          In your first report furnish this Office with your complete home address and home telephone number. If there is no telephone in your home, give the number of the telephone where you may be reached if necessary.

          Any further information you may desire on your duties will be furnished.

Very truly,             

Lieutenant (j.g.) USNRF 

Officer in Charge.4         

[New enclosure]



July 18, 1918.     

From:     Officer in Charge, Branch Office of

          Naval Intelligence, Boston, Mass.

To  :     Director of Naval Intelligence.

SUBJECT:  Investigation and Protection of Plants

          doing Navy work in the First Naval District.

     1.   This Office is inaugurating a system whereby it will at all times be in touch with conditions in Plants doing Navy work in the district covered by this Office.

     2.   Through the cooperation of loyal Americans employed in such plants or where necessary, by placing men in such factories, this Office hopes to be immediately informed of any enemy activities, threatened labor difficulties, and kindred matters.

     3.   In the larger and more important plants in the district, employing a large number of men, this Office plans to secure positions for reliable, loyal men, with the necessary experiences as assistants to the heads of protective or watchmen forces. These men will be on the pay roll of the plants, and for making daily reports to this Office of conditions will be paid one dollar a day in addition. Such plants as the Fore River Shipbuilding Plant and the Victory Plant at Squantum, will be handled in this manner.

     4.   In the smaller plants in the district, this Office plans to make arrangements with reliable, loyal men, already employed in these plants, or for whom positions may be secured, these men to make written reports to this office at least once a week, these men not to be compensated.

     5.   In the larger plants, men placed as assistant heads of the protective department, will have supervision of all other investigators placed in the plants.

     6.   This Office has taken the following steps in carrying out this plan:

     At the Fore River Shipbuilding Plant, Axel Johnson, who f who for several months past has been a Special Agent of this Office at Fore River, has been appointed assistant to the Chief of the Protective Force and is already making valuable reports to this Office. Johnson is well qualified for the work, having had 21 years experience in investigation and plant protection work, part of which experience was with the Pinkertons of New York and the W.J. Burns Detective Agency.

          At the Victory Plant, Squantum, William A. McNeil, a man of about 52 years, who has had 20 years police experience, and is an ex-Chief of Police of Winthrop, Mass., and Revere, Mass., will assume a position as assistant to the Chief of the Protective Force. Mr. McNeil is at present superintendent of Parks in Winthrop, Mass.

          At the Worhtington Pump & Machinery Corporation Plant, (Blake-Knowles Co.), East Cambridge, Mass., Walter White, a man of about 40 years, has already assumed a position as assistant Chief of the Protective Department. White has had about 15 months experience with the Massachusetts State Police, was formerly an inspector of munitions in a Bridgeport, Conn., plant and has had considerable experience as a deputy sheriff.

          At the Burgess Co., Marblehead, Mass., Superintendent Allerton Black of Plant #2, and Superintendent Frank L. Cary of Plant #1, both loyal Americans, are to report at least once a week to this Office on conditions at the Burgess Co.

     7.   There are also enclosed for your information copies of letters and instructions sent to informants by the Boston Branch Office.

(signed) Benton C. Decker.   

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 38, Entry 86, Box 1. Identifiers “A-6” and “WLT-WD” appear to the right on the first page just above the date. The heading is part of the official Navy Department stationary this document is printed on.

Footnote 1: Comm. Richard Welles was Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence, although Decker was apparently acting in his absence.

Footnote 2: The First Naval District was based in Boston, Massachusetts. For more on concerns about sabotage in shipbuilding plants, see: Reed to Welles, 15 May 1918.

Footnote 3: War Savings Stamps, a program to allow Americans to purchase specialized stamps as a means of funding the war effort.

Footnote 4: The officer in question did not include his name, and therefore has not been further identified.

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