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Turner, Admiral Richmond Kelly Papers 

Dates: 1885-1961

Collection Number: COLL/575

Finding aid (PDF)

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of the papers of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner. It includes materials covering the full span of his Navy career, from his early experiences as a midshipman, his service during World Wars I and II, and his progression through the ranks to his appointment as Admiral. Papers from his youth, as early as 1893, are included as well as papers from his retirement years spanning 1947-1961.

The collection is organized in 17 series. Series I, Correspondence, contains Turner's official letters from 1910 (when in the grade of ensign) until 1964, three years after his death when an inquiry about some of his personal papers was made by Captain F. Kent Loomis, USN. The incoming and outgoing correspondence pertains to military matters throughout Turner's career and includes correspondence pertaining to an appointment at the postgraduate senior academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to study engineering.

Series II, Dispatches, includes incoming and outgoing notes from 1942-1943 during World War II. The notes contain information on ship placements throughout the Pacific as well as military tasks, and note that the tasks had been completed.

Series III, Biographical, spans from 1890 to 1947 and contains mementoes, childhood lessons, personal writings, and his biography. Of special note is a scrapbook containing favorite recipes, naval poetry, foreign currency, and places of worship that Turner had attended; and his thesis written during postgraduate work at the Naval Academy titled, "The Foreign Relations of the United States."

Series IV, Navy Career, includes change of duty orders, awards and commendations, information about USS Astoria's voyage to Japan to return Ambassador Saito's ashes, and his service with the War Plans Division. This series also contains a book of remembrance given to Turner after his retirement that includes pictures of military colleagues. Of note are the aviation flight log books from when Turner was earning his pilot's license, which record his progress over the course of eleven years. The series spans from 1908, when Turner first graduated from the Naval Academy, through 1957, the year he was presented with the nostalgic book of his military years.

Series V, Amphibious Operations, SOPAC, contains memoranda and orders, details of the Gilbert Island and Guadalcanal occupations, plans and reports, correspondence on landing craft, memos to and from officers concerning their duties, status of the enemy, and instructions relative to duties. Many of the reports contain information about the land, enemy whereabouts, and where the best locations would be to land ships and planes on the islands. Detailed accounts of enemy attacks and attacks on the Japanese are included as well. This series is filed in accordance with the Naval Filing Manual, 1941. The series spans the years from after Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the end of World War II in 1945.

Series VI, Action Reports, contains Amphibious Forces, including the FIFTH, and reports concerning several ships within the Pacific during 1942. The reports contain information about enemy location, plans of action, and information about the islands and their inhabitants. This series spans from September 1942 through August 1944.

Series VII, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, includes plans, organizations and regulations, rosters, and circular letters. The rosters contain lists of officers assigned to certain ships during WWII. This series spans from the year 1942 through 1945.

Series VIII, Operation Plans and Orders, includes operation plans for Task Forces 51, 52, 53, 61, 62, and 65. The series begins in July 1942 and ends in April 1945. Operations Plans and Orders also located in the following series: V, VI, and VII.

Series IX, Speeches and Articles, contains speeches written and delivered by Turner as well as other articles in which Turner was mentioned. Turner delivered his speeches to military academies, clubs and organizations, and on special occasions, such as Navy Day celebrations. He traveled throughout the U.S. extensively, especially after his retirement, giving speeches all over the country. This series spans from December 1913 through July 1958.

Series X, Newspaper Clippings, contains newspaper records pertaining to Turner from 1908, when he graduated from the Naval Academy, through his death in 1961. The newspaper articles detail Turner's military accomplishments, mainly during World War II and on board USS Astoria, and events of note within the Navy.

Series XI, Photographs, includes pictures of Turner's mother, sister, and himself during childhood, as well as photos of the United Nations, Iwo Jima, and Guadalcanal. The images date from early childhood through his retirement years. Many of the photographs are not dated, but have images from battles, social gatherings, and with fellow military personnel. Several of the negatives were retained as well and are listed in separate folders from the photographs. The dated photographs range from 1939-1969.

Series XII, Family Correspondence, contains personal correspondence between Admiral Turner and his wife, sister, and mother. The correspondence has an impressive spread from the age of 13 in 1898 through 1961, just one month before Turner's death. The correspondence from his sister, Miss Lucile Turner, spans after Turner's death to the year 1968. Miss Turner was assisting Vice Admiral George Dyer in his biography of her brother by sending personal and military correspondence to him for his research. Miss Turner had the hope that by releasing Admiral Turner's personal correspondence it would show his softer side and dispel the nickname "Terrible Turner" that was given to him from his time in the military.

Series XIII, Military Publications, contains several military guides, operations papers, and the Naval War College publication, Battle of Savo Island - strategical and tactical analysis, and tentative training guides. This series is subdivided between publications concerning the Army, Marines, and Navy. The series includes publications from 1922 through 1967.

Series XIV, Non-Military Publications, holds the investigation by Congress on the Pearl Harbor attack. The investigation by Congress includes a statement from Turner and an amendment he later made to his original statement. The series also includes the United States News and an article about the United States and the United Nations. The publications range from 1941 to 1955.

Series XV, Logs, contains communications logs, plot of events, staff logs, and quartermaster's logs. The logs are mostly handwritten and range in date from 1942 through 1945.

Series XVI, Subject Files, includes radio broadcasts, charts, and casualty reports. Of note is the radio broadcast given the day of the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. Turner's memorial contributions and membership in the Navy Relief Society are also documented under Miscellaneous. This series ranges from 1914 through 1954.

Series XVII, Oversized/Odd-Sized Materials, includes information from various series that were too large to fit in the folders/boxes to be included with the other series. Included are a Japanese autograph book, a book of record albums from the memorial for Hiroshi Saito in 1939, oversized photograph negatives and pictures, and slides showing maps of the South Pacific Ocean Area. This series spans from 1939 through 1945.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Papers of Richmond K. Turner, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.


18 cubic feet


Published: Wed Aug 11 14:43:53 EDT 2021