Oral History Interview with
John H. Tolan, Jr.
Served as a naval officer, assigned to the Office of Chief of Naval, Operations, conducting liaison with Congressional. Committees, especially the "Truman Committee" (Select Senate Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program), 1943-45; and Special Assistant to the Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1945-46.
San Francisco, California
March 5, 10, and 17, 1970, and February 8, 1974
By James R, Fuchs
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
John H. Tolan, Jr.
San Francisco, California
March 5, 10, and 17, 1970, and February 8, 1974
By James R, Fuchs
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Interview Transcript …………………………1-227
TOLAN: Is there anything that is of particular interest to you?
FUCHS: Oh, yes, I think anything you have about the Navy Department work with the Truman Committee.
TOLAN: My experience as liaison officer between the Truman Committee and the office of the Chief of Naval Operations did not start until August 11, 1943. My Naval service began February 13, 1943. After Pearl Harbor, I worked with the War Production Board, San Francisco, until volunteering for Navy.
Senator Truman was named Chairman of the Committee March 1, 1941 and resigned when he became Vice-Presidential candidate August 3, 1944.
So, I was liaison officer for just about a year while Senator Truman was still the Chairman.
For the following year, until my departure in September 1945 to join the staff of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion under Mr. John Snyder, Senator Mead chaired the Committee.
There is little that I can tell you about Navy liaison before my appointment. It seems that there had been four different systems to cover the Committee and all had met with general dissatisfaction. Career naval officers or civilian aides to Secretary Frank Knox had found the assignment risky to their standing in the Navy or too onerous and unrewarding. Organizationally, Congressional investigation had been the task of the Judge Advocate General's office. This arrangement had been formalized by Secretary Knox, December 16, 1942. Apparently it simply did not work well. Investigating Congressmen, Senators or Committee staff people would telephone, write or visit Navy offices, shore establishments, or factories to make formal or informal inquiries. Too often, the Secretary or Under Secretary, and sometimes the Chiefs of Navy bureaus or
offices would find themselves summoned to Capitol Hill to give testimony, much to their surprise. They had to appear voluntarily for if they refused there was always the threat of subpoenas being issued with attendant bad publicity.
FUCHS: Congressional authority to issue subpoenas to compel testimony was somewhat limited, wasn't it?
TOLAN: Traditionally, subpoena power was limited by the necessity of obtaining passages of a House or Senate resolution granting that power in connection with a specific investigation. Senator Truman's "Select Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program" was authorized to issue subpoenas by Senate Resolution 71, passed February 13, 1941.
By 1943 a number of standing committees had asked for, and had received, subpoena authority. Thus, they could issue subpoenas either as a full committee, or acting as a subcommittee. Often committees or subcommittees thereof would authorize their Counsel or Chief Investigator to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of records simply by a phone call to
the committee or subcommittee chairman. In 1943 our office tried to get a total of all the Congressional subpoena powers potentially being waived at us from Capitol Hill. We counted about 53 separate groups, select committees, joint committees, standing committees (those empowered to report legislation) and all the various special subcommittees.
Admiral Lewis L. Strauss in his book Men and Decisions writes of his experience with a subpoena issued by the Chief Investigator of the House Naval Affairs Committee in the summer of 1941. It was a bolt out of the blue.
FUCHS: Who was Admiral Strauss at that time?
TOLAN: He was General Inspector of Ordnance. He was a Lieutenant Commander, a former partner of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., in New York, and a Naval Reservist since World War I. He had been called to active duty in 1941 and assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance. Chief Investigator Edmund Toland (no relation) of the House Naval Affairs Committee evidently had some suspicion that Strauss might have a conflict of interest due to his
banking background. It turned out to be the kind of fishing expedition that the Truman Committee always avoided.
FUCHS: The issuance of a subpoena was very threatening, wasn't it? What did Commander Strauss do?
TOLAN: Subpoena power was threatening but the ultimate sanction was being held in contempt of Congress and being fined or imprisoned or both. This is how Admiral Strauss tells the story: "Late one afternoon two young men with credentials identifying them as attaches of the (House Naval Affairs Committee) arrived at my office and presented a demand for the contents of my desk and my files. As this was before we were at war and quite late in the afternoon, counsel for the bureau had left for the day and no one was in the office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy. Under protest, therefore, I surrendered what the subpoena called for, although the only items in my desk were some undeposited Navy salary checks and several letters from my wife. The files were too voluminous for the two agents to carry off, so they
were sealed in place.
In the course of conversation while they did this, the two young men mentioned the fact that they were Army Reserve officers who had been borrowed from the War Department by Counsel for the Naval Affairs Committee. They were thoroughly disgusted by their assignment. Subsequently, I learned that the Military Affairs Committee borrowed naval officers for similar surveillance of the War Department. The following morning I walked into the office of the Under Secretary of War and expressed my indignation at this practice. Judge Patterson agreed that it was outrageous to have officers of one service to police the other, and promptly recalled the two officers in question from the Naval Affairs Committee. I heard nothing more of the inquiry. The House Committee had found nothing to disturb it. My personal correspondence was returned intact. Captain Albert G. "Chuck" Noble was then my immediate superior and when word reached him of the incident, he sent me a note. 'You should have called me at home,' he wrote. 'I would have gotten a few Marines and chucked these fellows out of the window.’”( Lewis L. Strauss., Men and Decisions, Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962 ,. pp. 150-51. Strauss later served both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower as a member and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee.)
FUCHS: How would your office have handled Commander Strauss' predicament when you were committee liaison?
TOLAN: Well, first of all, during wartime the two investigators would have been stopped by the Marine security guards at the Navy Department front door. Commander Strauss would have had notice that they were coming. Secondly, under Chief of Naval Operations order dated September 19, 1943, the two men would have been directed to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for clearance by our office. Third, I would have told them that civil process could not be served on a Navy officer or enlisted man without "permission to come aboard," which means Captain Noble would have had to grant permission to the subpoena of his subordinates. ( On March 26, 1944, Chief Investigator Bertram R. Gross served subpoena powers on two Navy officers who were cost inspectors at Alabama Drydock and Repair shipyard. The officers called me at my hotel in Mobile, Alabama. I told them to send the subpoenas back to Gross, and called Gross and told him that the Committee would have to have permission of the commanding officer under whom the men were serving. I then called Senator James E. Murray, Chairman of the investigating subcommittee of the Senate Military Affairs Committee and asked to see him in his room. I told him the men were prepared to testify voluntarily, would bring all their records, that the subpoena was totally unnecessary, and the reasons why I had aborted the attempt to serve the officers. Needless to say the subpoenas were withdrawn. Bertram Gross, later on in the war, was the able draftsman of the Contract Settlement Act of 1944 C55 Stat.649). It was the general law covering the termination of war contracts. After the war, Gross became a member of President Truman's Council of Economic Advisors.)
Fourth, I would have called Chief Investigator Toland or Chairman Vinson of the House Naval Affairs Committee and would have told them that it was not necessary to issue a subpoena, that the Officers of the Navy were always willing to transmit records or give testimony without a subpoena.
FUCHS: What about the Secretary of the Navy's order setting up your office? What did it provide?
TOLAN: I have a copy of the order. It was our charter. As you can see, it was addressed to the entire Navy. We became the clearing house for all congressional investigating committees. The Secretary drew a tight knot. As far as I know, there was no slippage. The order was clear, final, and it worked out in practice. If you don't mind, it might be appropriate to copy the full text into my statement at this point.
2 November 1943
From: The Secretary of the Navy
To: Chiefs of Bureaus and Offices, Navy Department
Commandant, U. S. Marine Corps
Commandant, U. S. Coast Guard
Commandants, All Naval Districts
All Shore Stations
Subject: Requests for Information from Congressional Committees, procedure for handling.
(a) SecNav ltr JAG:mm, dated 16 December 1942
(b) VCNO l ltr Op-50F-DR Serial 450-F, dated 29 September 1943.
1. To enable the Navy to give the most complete and effective service possible to the various Congressional Committees authorized to conduct investigations pertaining to the Navy, a section for clearing Committee inquiries has been established by the Chief of Naval Operations.
2. All requests for information received from the various investigating Committees of the U. S. Senate and U. S. House of Representatives or their staff members, either to the bureaus and offices of the Navy Department, or to Navy field activities, shall be forwarded to the Chief of Naval Operations, who will see that necessary action is taken on such requests.
3. This directive shall not alter the procedure which has been heretofore followed with regard to requests from Congress for the Navy Department's comment on pending legislation.
DISTRIBUTION: 6, 7, 8
l0b, c, d, e, f, g, i, j , k.
1, m, n. s, u, x, bb, cc;
11, 12, 14a, b, c, d, e, s, t.
FUCHS: I notice in the first paragraph of the order your
activities were limited to "Congressional Committees authorized to conduct investigations pertaining to the Navy."
TOLAN: Yes, we became the control mechanism for all Navy investigations by the Congress. What was not disturbed was the Secretary's reliance on the Judge Advocate General Rear Admiral Thomas L. Gatch, to have constant cognizance of everything that Capitol Hill was doing. All the officers and civilians doing Hill work, or by appointed representatives, gathered at the Judge Advocate Generals office (Admiral Thomas Gatch) for a 7:30 a.m. meeting almost daily. If I was traveling, Lt. Abbott, or Captain Kennedy attended, and as I recall, we never missed a meeting. Admiral Gatch would call on each of us in turn, to give a report of our concerns and especially of any possible conflicts with other liaison personnel.
FUCHS: Who made up this interdepartmental group?
TOLAN: In addition to the Judge Advocate General, who presided, Commander Earl Chesney from the Bureau of
Supplies and Accounts -- the Bureau which controlled all appearances before Senate and House Appropriations Committees; W. John Kenney of the Office of General Counsel (which handled preparing reports on pending legislation such as proposed bills to authorize Navy expansion); our office (OP50F), and sometimes as many as ten other officers who may have had special problems with Capitol Hill at that moment.
Commander Chesney had a staff located in the House Office Building which handled congressional correspondence, plus a myriad of appeals for Navy service by various individual Representatives and Senators.(Commander Chesney was later located in the East Wing of the White House in the office of Naval Aide to President Truman.)
FUCHS: When did you hear about the reorganization of congressional investigations liaison, and your selection to join the new office?
TOLAN: The last week of July, 1943, I had been ordered to New York Navy Yard, Boston Navy Yard and Hartford, Connecticut. (See Exhibit "A". The Office of Procurement and Material, Contract Distribution Branch, was in EROS, Executive Office of the Secretary, under UNSECNAV James Forrestal). Since I had entered the Navy there had been almost constant travel to Navy Yards and other shore establishments expediting contract redistribution to small business.
When I returned to Navy headquarters, Lt. Commander Kennedy called me to his desk. He had a peculiar gleam in his eye. He said, 'Lieutenant Tolan, you are about to join the real Navy, and I hope you appreciate fully what that means. Where you are going you will hardly see another Reserve officer -- everybody will be Regular Navy, Academy graduates."
I asked, "Where could that be?" It seemed pretty clear it wouldn't be in Washington.
He said, "You and I are going to be ordered to a new section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. That's Admiral Ernest J. King and Vice-Admiral Frederick J. Horne, you know."
"Besides," he continued, "we will have to get some additional help. We'll be handling the Truman Committee and all other investigations. In order to overcome the reluctance of Navy people to cooperate, we will be asking help for the line Navy, CNO. Everyone is going to listen. Our approved complement is 23 officers, but I don't think we will need that many."
So, on August 11, 1943, I received orders to move and did so the following day.(See Exhibit "B," copy of orders changing duty.) We didn't start to
do any real work with the other Navy offices until after Admiral Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations signed his letter to all hands on September 29, 1943. Secretary Knox's letter of November 2, 1943 reconfirmed the entire reorganization.
But we started to work with the Truman Committee as soon as we moved. Commander Kennedy had me spend about two days on Capitol Hill scouting out our new assignment.
FUCHS: What did Commander Kennedy tell you he wanted?
TOLAN: Well, I found out later that he was about to have a heart-to-heart conference with Vice-Admiral Horne about how he planned to put CNO in the investigating committee business -- how he proposed to get these committees off the Navy's back. He asked me to find out two things, 1) What made the Truman Committee so powerful, and 2) How we could keep Secretary Knox and Under Secretary Forrestal from being asked, repeatedly, to testify before the various committees so they could concentrate on winning the war. Committee appearances took too much time, and even more time in preparation for the hearings.
FUCHS: Where did you go, and what did you report?
TOLAN: I went to Capitol Hill to acquaintances that could be relied upon, many of whom worked or had worked, on the staff of various committees. My findings were that the Truman Committee staff were extraordinarily competent and that the Senate members of the Committee were, for the most part, devoting a great deal of time and attention to work on the various Truman subcommittees
Many of the people I talked with claimed that the Truman Committee Senators had an unique cross-section of other important committee assignments. Since the other committee work was mainly on standing committees of the U. S. Senate, the legislative bodies, they could influence proposed changes of law. (A special investigating group like the Truman Committee could not report legislation.) It seemed very likely what the Truman reports advocated would wind up promptly as new laws, emerging on the Senate floor from the standing committees
When I returned to the office with a copy of the current Congressional Directory it was an easy task to dictate a report for Commander Kennedy to take to
Vice-Admiral Horne. The list of important standing committee assignments of the various Senators on my list was impressive. They could not only investigate our mobilization for war, they could influence appropriations, authorizations of war plants and munitions, and enact controls over Navy operations.
The Truman Committee had everything it needed to be effective, especially on Senate Appropriations and Senate Military Affairs.(See Exhibit "C" Truman Committee assignments to important standing committees.)
FUCHS: How did you respond to the request for a plan to keep Secretary Knox and Under Secretary Forrestal off Capitol Hill?
TOLAN: Commander Kennedy supplied that answer. He ordered OP50F staff to practically live on Capitol Hill, get to know every member of the committees and each of the staff. Most of all OP5OF should set up a system to anticipate investigations, analyze their inquiries, visit naval installations in advance of proposed Committee field trips. In fact, his proposal was to get out in front of the committees and clean things up
before formal hearings or the issuance of subpoenas summoning Navy personnel. He added additional instructions, "If we know enough about a committee inquiry, we should be able to persuade then to question Bureau Chiefs, or Department heads. In that event, they'll get a better answer from someone immediately responsible. The thing they won't get by not having Secretary Knox or Under Secretary Forrestal, is widespread publicity. That may be a problem with some committees but I don't believe it will be with Senator Truman."
FUCHS: How did this turn out?
TOLAN: As you are aware, it was a logical and sound plan. Chairman Truman avoided embarrassing the Armed Services. He always gave them a chance to clean up their act, particularly when they took blame if the blame was theirs. In great measure we were helped by his personal respect for Secretaries Knox and Forrestal. Oh, we got off the track in a couple of cases. On those two occasions we wound up in extensive hearings, subpoenas by the dozen, and even speeches about our
troubles on the floor of the United States Senate. ((a) Corrigan, Osburn & Wells, executive committee hearings, May, June, July & August 1944. Public hearings, March, May June 1944.
(b) Norfolk Navy Yard, Manpower utilization, Congressional Record, Monday, January 22, 1945. p. 383 et.seq.)
FUCHS: What was done about staffing OP5OF? I believe you said you were authorized a complement of 23 officers?
TOLAN: Yes. Well, after Commander Kennedy set up the office with one executive secretary who had extensive Navy experience, then we had the Bureau of Personnel send us four WAVE yeomen (maybe "yeopersons" in today's language); I recommended getting Lt. John W. Abbott from sea duty in the Armed Guard.
Commander Kennedy then made the rounds of all Navy Chiefs of the various Bureaus. He told the various Admirals, "I want to be able to reach you on a moment's notice. Will you please designate one of your staff, someone in wham you have complete confidence, to work with OP5OF and give our requests top priority?" That move really gave us several extra men. Rather than being located in our office, they were in critically important offices throughout the Navy. They had immediate access to the Admirals.
They could use their Commanding Officer's power to see that we got prompt and accurate answers. They could, when needed, attend the early morning meetings in the Judge Advocate General's office. (Among that group of officers, the ones most frequently relied upon by OP50F were:
(a) Lt. Minor Hudson, Counsel to the Chief, Bureau of Yards and Docks, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell;
(b) Lt. Comdr. Frank C. Nash, Counsel to the Chief, Bureau of Ships, Rear Admiral E. L. Cochrane;
(c) Lt. Edward Fillion, Special Asst. to Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics, Rear Admiral D. C. Ramsey;
(d) Lt. Alfred C. Wolf, Special Asst. to Chief, Shore Establishment Division, Rear Admiral C. W. Fisher;
(e) Lt. E. Kensen WAVE, Special Asst. to Chief, Bureau of Ordnance, Rear Admiral W. H. P. Blandy.)
FUCHS: When were you and Commander Kennedy joined by Lieutenant (j .g.) John Abbott?
TOLAN: Lieutenant Abbott was an Armed Guard officer on the S.S. Monterey, a large troop transport. This vessel was so fast it could outrun German submarines. Abbott liked his duty. He said, "Jack, you hardly ever see a steak here in Washington. Aboard ship I can have steak three times a day."
On my recommendation, Commander Kennedy had him ordered down to Washington from New York when the Monterey was in port. They were both professional newspaper reporters before joining the Navy, and hit
it off perfectly. Commander Kennedy, upon completion of the interview, had orders cut for John Abbott to report to OP50F, Washington. (See Oral History Interview with John Abbott, the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri, December 1970, pp. 3 et.seq. Abbott's recollection was that he came on duty in 1944. However, I distinctly remember his presence during the Canol hearings, which took place in September, October and November, 1943.) I didn't know it at the time, but our OP50F team was assembled. It remained Kennedy, Abbott and Tolan until September 1945. Early in 1945 we were sent additional help, Commander Eugene C. Carusi. He had been a Navy Beachmaster on Omaha Beach when our forces hit the coast of France in 1944. The second day of the landing, while still on the Beachhead, Commander Carusi took a spent 20 mm bullet through the chest. They despaired of his life, but almost miraculously, he survived. After months of recuperation he was sent to OP50F.
Commander Carusi was a native of Washington, D.C. His family was highly respected. By the time he arrived, Commander Kennedy had been promoted to Captain, U.S.N.R. Both Kennedy and Carusi were members of the prestigious Metropolitan Club. However, they really saw very little of each other as Captain Kennedy was in North Africa, the Middle East, the European Theater and the Pacific Theater of Operations
for almost all of 1945. (See Oral History Interview with John A. Kennedy, The Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri, April 13, 1974, p. 10.) While Kennedy was away, I was named Acting Chief of OP50F. Commander Carusi was extremely valuable when working within the Navy Department, forcing prompt responses to Committee inquiries. He never made a trip out of Washington with the Senators or Congressmen in my memory.
FUCHS: Perhaps at this point, now that your team has been assembled, you could summarize anything you might have on the biographical background of the "players" that helped its effectiveness
TOLAN: Well, let's start with Captain Kennedy. John A. Kennedy was an award-winning reporter and eventually publisher of the Washington Times-Herald. He came to our office already familiar with congressional investigative procedures. He was a trusted Hearst Publishing Company executive. He had been assigned by William Randolph Hearst to many important and confidential positions. He had been Mr. Hearst's legislative lobbyist to win approval in various Western States for the construction of Boulder Dam.
Kennedy was an extremely alert and sophisticated person. He had more contacts, almost, than the Capitol Hill telephone switchboard. Secretary Knox was a Chicago Hearst executive, and a longtime personal friend. He knew Kennedy to be a most competent political analyst, and seemed always to follow his advice no matter who else held contrary opinions in the Navy Department. Captain Kennedy, for his part, confined his advice to political matters. So, OP50F always had the ear of the Secretary, if needed.
Kennedy was a highly organized individual. There wasn't a frivolous bone in his body. His power of steady concentration when faced with perplexing problems -- particularly personality problems -- always amazed me. He would sit in front of a clean desk, sometimes, and just think quietly for over an hour on his next move. I don't believe I ever saw him do anything, including appearing at a hearing, travel with the Committee, set up a guest list for a social gathering, or play golf, without having given thought to the occasion in advance.
Captain Kennedy started Truman Committee liaison
when already acquainted with the Chairman. He owned radio stations at Charleston and Parkersburg in West Virginia and had a luxurious home in Charleston. Mrs. Kennedy was the great-granddaughter of the late Senator Davis of West Virginia -- a founder of Davis, Elkins University. One of the most important Senators on the Committee, and also on the Military Affairs Committee, was West Virginia Senator Harley Kilgore. 1t would be almost an understatement to say that Captain Kennedy had the confidence of Senator Kilgore. There was a warm personal relationship. He soon earned the respect and friendship of almost every other member of the Committee.
Captain Kennedy was a skilled public relations professional. That is just exactly what the Navy needed on Capitol Hill.
Captain Kennedy also had recent experience which had clearly indicated to him that the National Defense effort was in serious trouble. I believe he had hopes the Truman Committee might put the public opinion whip to ineptness in both the military and civilian organizations, although he kept any such opinion to himself.
After Pearl Harbor, Captain Kennedy was appointed
West Virginia State Director of the War Production Board -- a field office operation which would foster grave doubts as to Washington central office competence.
After being commissioned a Lt. Commander in the Naval Reserve, he was sent to Philadelphia. He ran into Secretary Knox on the golf course while, of course, he was in Navy uniform. Knox ordered him to Washington. He was assigned to the Contract Distribution Branch, Office of Procurement and Material, Executive Office of the Secretary. He reported to civilian Frank Folsom but actually he was working for James Forrestal, Under Secretary of the Navy.
In "giving small business the business" as he called the activities of the Contract Distribution Branch, he had already set up his own liaison with the Senate Small Business Investigating Committee under Senator James E. Murray of Montana. I was working with him then. When OP50F was created we were preparing a special hearing for the investigating committee. I'll talk more about this as we go along with our interview.
FUCHS: Lieutenant John Abbott also had newspaper experience, didn't he?
TOLAN: Yes, Abbott was a journalism graduate from Marquette University, He had worked several years covering the California legislature, for both the United Press and Associated Press. He knew Capitol Hill intimately. After coming to Washington, he had been Chief Investigator and report editor for my father, Congressman John H. Tolan of California, Chairman of the House Committee Investigating the Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens and, later, the so-called Tolan Committee Investigating National Defense Migration.
Lieutenant Abbott was a skilled writer and editor. We had many reports of the Truman Committee given to us for review, in advance of publication. This kind of a rush job was very little challenge to his talents. He was sorely needed by OP50F and the Navy. He eventually wound up in Secretary Forrestal's immediate office as a public relations aide.
Lieutenant Abbott made friends readily. This ability gave us a great deal of needed information from
Committee staff members as to what was ahead for the Navy. Sometimes it was good news, but more often it was distressing information. Early tip-offs gave us time to get at the problem in advance of formal committee action.
FUCHS: I understand you were a lawyer by training.
TOLAN: Yes, I am a member of the District of Columbia Bar. My Juris Doctor degree is from Catholic University of America in Washington. I also took part of my legal education at the University of California and Georgetown University Law Schools. Like Captain Kennedy in West Virginia, I volunteered for Navy service when I was District Manager for Production, War Production Board, San Francisco.
Let me share with you some of my background which was helpful in defending the Navy during various congressional investigations. First, I knew the geography of the country and was at ease making travel arrangements for the committees. After graduation from St. Mary's College, California, I went to work in a bank. Then I became Secretary to a Regional
Sales Manager (11 Western States) for the Johns-Manville Corporation and accumulated a thorough knowledge of the Far West. My father was elected to the 74th Congress in November, 1934, the same year Senator Truman won his first election.
Every family member had been involved in the congressional campaign. In December 1934 we drove to Washington. I had wanted to start law school. So, in January, I started taking evening classes at Georgetown University and worked days helping in my father's office.
During primary and general election battles, I left law school and shuttled back and forth from Washington, D.C. to Oakland, California.
Although we had local leaders on our election committees, my mother, Mrs. Alma Tolan, ran the campaign headquarters offices. My job was to write the literature, banners and billboards. Also, I wrote the press releases, helped raise money, and, when the meeting schedules became really crowded, I spoke for my father at political meetings.
Senator Truman had only one reelection campaign
in those years before the war. Senators have a six year term. Congressmen run every two years. My father had three tough primary battles, and three final elections to win during those same six years. He was elected from a traditionally Republican district. Congressman Tolan was the first Democrat elected in 50 years.
So, I went back to Capitol Hill in Navy uniform. It helped me to understand, from experience, how, every day, 96 Senators and 435 Representatives were thinking of their next test at the polls -- survival. Elections always interrupted a number of things. It took six years for me to complete my legal education.
Third, I knew the legislative process. When working on the House side my father had me draft proposed legislation. He believed it was a valuable adjunct to law school. I often brought my work for review of the House Legislative Counsel. When the bills were referred to Committee, sometimes my father would arrange with the Committee Chairman for me to give testimony supporting the proposed legislation. This was unusual, but he seemed to delight in
assigning me this kind of challenging task. Many of the investigations we had to face in OP50F were conducted by standing committees or subcommittees of the House and Senate. Their hearings were conducted to assemble the facts on proposed legislation. To prepare witnesses for the Navy one had to read and understand the proposed legislation. That training was very useful. In tandem with background information about the individual Senators or Congressmen who might be questioning the witnesses, we frequently influenced the shape of proposed laws. In support, we could always call on Navy lawyers from the Judge Advocate General's Office, the Procurement Legal Division (H. Strove Hensel and W. John Kenney), and various counsel in the bureaus.
FUCHS: What was your investigating committee experience. That was a special type of committee, wasn't it?
TOLAN: Yes, in the Senate they are called "special" committees. In the House they are called "select" committees. They can recommend statutory changes. They can hold hearings, subpoena witness, make official reports on the various subjects they are
directed to study, but they can't report a bill to the floor for enactment. Essentially, they are a temporary body set up by Senate or House resolution. On the other hand, standing committees, the ones that report proposed legislation are generally permanent. They are established when each body adopts rules of procedure.
Early in his career, my father was appointed by Speaker William Bankhead to the Select Committee to Investigate Pension Plans. The Chairman was C. Jasper Bell of Missouri [the same man who crowded Harry Truman out of the chance to run for the House of Representatives in 1934).
This investigating committee went after Dr. Francis Townsend and his Townsend Pension Plan organization. My father befriended Dr. Townsend, an elderly, gentle, and sometimes naive Californian. After much personal abuse by the Committee, Dr. Townsend was held in contempt of Congress, tried and convicted in the U. S. District Court, and jailed. National sympathy for the Doctor escalated. In a sense, President Franklin Roosevelt overruled the Committee and the House. He gave Dr.
Townsend a pardon and set him free.
I never missed a hearing of the Bell Committee if my law school class schedule would permit my attendance.
FUCHS: Then there was the Tolan Committee?
TOLAN: Yes, the Tolan Committee is really another historic committee. Its work ran quite parallel to the Senate Truman Committee. The Tolan Committee made its final report in January 1943.(See Exhibit "D”, House Report No. 3, 78th Congress, 1st Session, "Final Report of the Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration," January, 1943, 'United States Government Printing Office.)
If you don't mind, I would like to come back to the Tolan Committee later on in this statement when I discuss how it worked closely with Senator Truman's committee. The findings and recommendations of the two committees led one writer to say, "The Tolan Committee was the House equivalent of the Truman Committee.”(Donald H. Riddle, The Truman Committee. New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1964. p. 9)
I had three years of close working experience with the Tolan Committee. I had drafted the original authorizing resolution in December 1939. After a lot
of hard work by my father, the committee was approved on April 22, 1940. By the time I was assigned to the Truman Committee staff director, Dr. Robert K. Lamb, had completed his work on the House side and was staff director of the "Special Senate Committee to Study and Survey Problems of Small Business Enterprises" (Murray Committee).
The point is that the three officers in OP50F, on being assigned to the Truman and other investigating committees, were not strangers to Capitol Hill. We were prepared to go to work but we couldn’t possibly have known about the thousands of miles of travel and the hundreds of hearings and staff conferences we were to face.
As intended by official orders, OP50F, the Clearance Section, was a communications bottleneck between the Congress and the Navy. That put us "in the middle." Only at times could we satisfy both sides. Captain Kennedy certainly put us in a position where we had to know what was going on. Each of the several investigating committees agreed with the Captain and the Secretary of the Navy that they would address or telephone requests, first to our office. A constant stream of letters and phone calls started at that moment. We got quick responses. Consequently, with a few exceptions, our
service function was satisfactory.
FUCHS: How well did you get to know the Senators on the Committee?
TOLAN: We got to know them very well, especially during Committee travel. Trips by rail were funded by the Committee. Trips by air were on military transports supplied alternately by Navy and the Army Air Force. Captain Kennedy traveled with the Committee in North Africa, Lt. Commander Abbott circumnavigated the world in 1945. I went with the Committee through the Caribbean, Panama Canal Zone, Bermuda, Azores, France, England, Germany, Italy and North Africa. Every time we left Washington, we had to obtain travel orders from the Bureau of Naval Personnel. I'll attach a series of these orders showing our continental and overseas destination.(See Exhibit "E", attached. Official Travel Orders.) The orders show thousands of miles of travel to almost every state, and many repeated trips to military and naval bases.
After mid-1943, Senator Truman cut down somewhat on his Committee travel. Captain Kennedy and I were with him on one trip to Seattle. I left the party at Seattle and so did Senator Truman. The Wallgren subcommittee went on with Captain Kennedy to Kiska and Attu in the outer
The most traveled Truman Committee members with whom I became closely acquainted were Senators Mead, Kilgore, Ferguson, Ball, Brewster and Tunnell.
Unless we were attending public or executive committee hearings we seldom had Washington contact with the Senators. But our work with the staff members of the committees was constant.
FUCHS: Did you have much contact with Senator Truman?
TOLAN: If you had to see Senator Truman, personally, you would be in some kind of deep trouble. As I will tell you as we go along, there were various social and official contacts. But I avoided a crisis with staff where I would have to go over their heads to the Senator. Sometimes, at the opening or closing of executive committee hearings, which were usually held in a small committee room in the Senate wing of the Capitol, we might have a brief word or two with Senators. As you well know, once Senator Truman got to his office in the early morning, he was all business. He had to be. Besides seeing Missouri constituents and answering correspondence, he had more standing committee meetings than he could attend, let along the study and work involved
in the hearings and reports of the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
My warmest personal relations with the Senators occurred during travel, as I have mentioned. If Senator Truman had traveled more, it would have been Captain Kennedy's inclination to have made those trips. Anyway, if I had a real problem, I would have approached Senator Truman through Harry Vaughan or Matt Connelly.
FUCHS: I would like to hear more about Hugh Fulton and the rest of the staff. Before we go into that, tell me about some of the Senators who were most helpful to the Committee and Senator Truman.
TOLAN: Well, because of the years in my father's office, I arrived for work with the Truman Committee already acquainted with quite a few Senators. Of course, there were Senators Hiram Johnson and Sheridan Downey from California; Senators Carl Curtis and (later) John Sparkman who had served on the Tolan Committee in the House.
Senator James Mead had been a Representative from New York for some time before being elected to the Senate. My brother, George Tolan, and I got acquainted with him
playing paddle-ball in the House gymnasium. We used to work out with him two or three times a week before he left the House.
The Truman Committee worked by subcommittee. Senator Mead was a very frequent subcommittee chairman. That meant, with Senator Truman's acquiescence, that he conducted the hearings in specific areas of investigation, and authored the subcommittee report to the full Committee membership, At that point Senator Truman would iron out any differences among the other Senators, and staff would put the report in final shape for presentation to the United States Senate. As a kind of reward for the subcommittee chairman's hard work, the final Senate report of the full Committee would be printed with the subcommittee chairman's name as the author. Usually that Senator would rise on the floor of the U.S. Senate and present the Truman Committee report, summarize the findings in a speech. Other interested Truman Committee members, and very frequently Senator Truman, would join in the ensuing debate.
Senator Mead had a fine talent for Senate debate. His speeches were well organized and very persuasive. I liked him. A year after I was assigned as Navy
liaison to the Committee, he succeeded Senator Truman as Chairman. Senator Truman felt he had to resign when he became a candidate for Vice President. Although it came to be called the "Mead" Committee, and Rudolph Halley succeeded Hugh Fulton as Counsel, the Committee did not make a fresh start, by any means. For another year, when I left to work with the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, the Senate Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program was still working on hearings, studies and reports which had been started under Senator Truman's chairmanship.
FUCHS: Senator Kilgore filed quite a few reports, didn't he?
TOLAN: Yes, Senator Kilgore conducted many hearings and filed many Committee reports. He was from West Virginia, as I have said. That made him Captain Kennedy's territory. Also, Lt. Abbott had known him from the Tolan Committee liaison. But he was so active, all of us got to know him extremely well. As in the case of Senator Mead, Senator Kilgore
contributed substantially to the Committee's reputation, and, as far as that was concerned, to Senator Truman's renown.
Kilgore, as were Truman and Wallgren, was on the Senate Military Affairs Committee. Many of the reports called for new and corrective legislation. Kilgore, more than the other Senators, would get bills drafted to incorporate Committee recommendations. After many of the bills were filed in the Senate legislative hopper, they were referred to the Sedate Military Affairs Committee. The three Democratic leaders would push the proposed changes in law. Success, by congressional enactment, was almost assured from the start. Out of this reservoir of power and prestige came such laws as "Renegotiation of War Contracts,(65 Stat. 7 (This citation is from the Korean war version. The original war contract renegotiation law was enacted as part of the National Defense Appropriation Act of 1942. Here, again, one can see the importance of standing committee assignments of Truman Committee members. Truman, Mead and Burton were on the Senate Appropriations Committee.) “Contract Settlement Act of 1944" (Termination of Contracts); (55 Stat. 649.) and the "War Mobilization Act of 1944."(78th Congress, 2nd Session, Public Law 458, Oct. 3, 1944.)
Senator Kilgore was hard-working and always seemed to find the time to travel and attend hearings with the
Committee. He had chronic sinusitis and flying always seemed to stir up the inflammation. On two or three trips I had to stop everything and get him to a naval dispensary for treatment and nose drops. On one trip, Lt. Commander Abbott was blamed for losing Senator Kilgore's luggage. There is hardly anything more distressing than a Senator arriving at a hotel without clean shirts, probably about to address a public gathering. Captain Kennedy was quite unforgiving about such a liaison mishap. It was a good thing that Senator Kilgore was an understanding and tolerant gentleman at all times.(In 1946, Senator Kilgore succeeded Senator Mead as Chairman of the Committee.)
Senator Ferguson was the most active Republican on the Committee. You have been told about his acting as a one-man Grand Jury investigating corruption in Detroit.(Oral History Interview with John W. Abbott, Harry S. Truman Library, March, 1970, p. 140.) Again, when Committee reports suggested follow-up changes in law, it was important to have bipartisan advocacy in the standing committees of the Senate.
In addition to his Truman Committee membership, Senator Ferguson was on six other committees, the most
important being the committees on the Judiciary and Immigration. As far as the war effort was concerned, he was very useful testifying for passage of bills in such committees as Naval Affairs, Military Affairs, and Appropriations.
In marked contrast to Chairman Truman, who was very much to the point, and sometimes astonished witnesses by his ability to ask a simple question to clear up complex testimony, Senator Ferguson was a good man to delve deeply into incomplete testimony. Often this cross-examination was conducted in a very tough manner as he explored motives of witnesses, confusion of authority, or when he was making an effort to uncover corruption or stupidity.
The Republican membership of the Truman Committee, Senators Ferguson, Brewster, Burton and Ball gave the reports and recommendations bipartisan credibility. Ferguson was the hardest working member of this Republican group. Perhaps it was because he carried a lighter Senate work load, but I feel it was because of his intense interest and his personal admiration of Senator Truman.
Senator Ferguson had an insatiable thirst for detail, not only when questioning witnesses, but for studying surroundings during inspections of war plants or during travel. He would crowd extra tours into an already jam-packed Committee schedule. He always included me into these forays, grinning archly when I seemed not ready to join him.
We had a slack morning in Marrakech, French Morocco in June 1945. He got me out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to make a side trip to the tiny village of Ourika in the Atlas Mountains. He had rounded up an Army car, and a Red Cross guide. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience. We saw an entire village existing on crusts of bread. We went into their houses. They didn't have a wall peg upon which to hang clothes because all the clothes they had were on their backs. No beds, no mats, earth floors, no doors or windows in the various openings. There was only one earth oven for the village with only enough fuel to bake twice a week. We had enjoyed a 14-course dinner the night before in the palace of the Pasha of Marrekech, El Glaoui.
FUCHS: Senators Mead, Kilgore, and Ferguson were the greatest contributors to Senator Truman's work, in your opinion?
TOLAN: I think so. Perhaps they were the ones handling most of the matters that affected the Navy. Later, after Senator Mon Wallgren was elected Governor of the State of Washington, a lot of work was shouldered by his successor in the Senate and on the Committee, Senator Hugh B. Mitchell. He had been a member of the House of Representatives, thus, I knew him before he came on the Committee. He was a studious, capable and effective member. It became a distinct pleasure to work with him.
Of course, regardless of anything else, Senator Truman was the key to all Committee activity. He set the program. He established the priorities. He directed the staff -- the place where almost everything started.
FUCHS: How well did you get to know Committee Counsel Hugh Fulton?
TOLAN: I got to know him a lot better, personally, after
he left the Committee than I did when he was still on the job.
FUCHS: How did that happen?
TOLAN: Well, we got off to a rather awkward start when I went to his office in August, 1943. I had been advised by people who were in a position to know that I should be wary of Fulton. I wasn't wary enough. Right off we got into an argument over Henry J. Kaiser's Permanente Magnesium plant at Cupertino, California. Actually, I didn't and couldn't dispute Fulton's knowledge about magnesium. He had just finished a series of hearings on the subject.(Hearings, Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense program, Part 20, August 1943.) But I was dubious about Mr. Kaiser being an unchallenged leader in shipyard production. I knew more about the Kaiser Yards at Richmond, California, and Portland, Oregon, than Mr. Fulton. He kept talking about magnesium miracles and I kept talking about shipbuilding non-miracles. After a few minutes we broke off the discussion and I headed back to the Navy Department quite upset with myself.
The reason I didn't get to know him better at
that time was due, in part, to the remote location of his office. He had a large northeast corner room in the Senate Office Building shared by Rudolph Halley and a couple of secretaries. The bulk of the Committee staff was spread all over the same building. Some were in the basement -- others with a large pool of typists, in a large inside room in the same building. Hearings were held in the Senate Caucus Room. If I had to deliver Navy replies to a Committee inquiry I could discover who wrote the letter by telephone and would carry the response direct to the staff investigator involved. So, there wasn't much need to see Hugh Fulton on a day-to-day basis. When we received a printer's galley proof of a pending Committee report for check by the Navy as to accuracy of facts, then I might take our comments direct to Fulton's office. If there were problems with the Committee findings, the basic recommendations, or with security, there might be discussion. It was never an occasion for chit-chat.
FUCHS: With whom did you have most of your dealings?
TOLAN: For the full two years of Committee liaison, probably Rudolph Halley and George Meader.
FUCHS: Where did you begin? What staff helped you the most?
TOLAN: Matthew J. Connelly, the Chief Investigator. Matt was a friend from the House side of the Capitol. He had worked as a field investigator for the House Appropriations Committee during their examination of the $4,880,000,000 New Deal work relief program. I believe he was also involved in the Indiana 2% Club inquiry. Matt had come to Washington from Massachusetts in mid-depression. He told me he expected to get employment through the office of Senator David I. Walsh. Somehow he got the cold shoulder from Senator Walsh. He always resented that slight, so he worked on the House side. When Senator Truman received Senate authorization for his new Committee, Matt was delighted to get the job.
It was in the House Committee work that Matt became acquainted with the means to get staff payroll
subsidized by Government departments. .You found the personnel you wanted. Then you called on Executive agencies where there was an interest in your Investigation and checked as to whether or not they had unfilled positions in their budget. If they had such a position, you asked them to hire your applicant. The moment that person was employed the agency or department would "misassign" or "detail" the person to your congressional committee.
Using this method my father's committee hired about $60,000 in payroll in 1940 to stretch a skimpy House appropriation of only $23,000 for the first year.
When Matt Connelly was first employed by Senator Truman there was only $15,000 in the Committee fund for operations.
Hugh Fulton's salary alone was going to take half of that amount. What about the cost of travel, reporters for hearings, supplies, and a hundred other expenses? Matt solved the problem by borrowing payroll.( Margaret Truman, Harry S. Truman. New York, William Morrow Company, Inc., 1973,
The Committee, after the first few months, had no trouble getting all the Senate operating money needed. The practice of getting employees "on loan" was later stopped, it seems to me.
FUCHS: Harold Robinson took over as Chief Investigator, didn't he?
TOLAN: The first year OP50F was in business, Robinson became prominent. John Abbott had more contact with Robinson than either Kennedy or myself. Matt Connelly had the close personal ties with Chairman Truman. While we never asked Matt to use his personal influence that I can remember, Matt was always our potential backstop. Of course, I knew Robinson, knew his background as an ex-F.B.I. accountant. I admired his work, enjoyed his company, but never happened to travel with him or work closely with him as an investigator of the Navy Department.
Both Connelly and Robinson contributed, in their own way, to Senator Truman becoming a national figure. Matt handled some of Senator Truman's political career which arose out of Committee achievements. Robinson,
with Fulton, Halley, Meader and Flanagan, by their force and detailed fact gathering, wrote incontrovertibly valid reports. Supporting Senators, and a chairman confident of their work, took those reports to the Congress, the press, and the Nation. The results appalled everyone, including Senator Truman. After all was said and done, the Committee staff provided Robert Hannegan with the powder charge with which he loaded the Truman catapult.
FUCHS: What were your experiences with Rudolph Halley?
TOLAN: I could talk for a considerable length of time about Mr. Halley. Until Hugh Fulton left the Committee on September 15, 1944, he and Halley were a somewhat frightening team. When I come to recounting some of the specific Navy investigations it will be explained why I say "frightening." Both men were enormously informed about American industry before they headed the Committee staff. They were quick learners about Government, and frequently astonished OF50F.
Halley, once again like Fulton, found no one or no situation awesome. He showed this in his Truman
Committee work, and later, with the Kefauver Committee.
We were sufficiently wary of Rudolph Halley so that when he would telephone Jack Abbott or myself to come up to the Capitol to see him, we would go together. It turned out to be a very prudent course of action.
FUCHS: You mentioned George Meader, what about his work?
TOLAN: I traveled a great deal with George. In a way, he was a loner. He liked field work. He stayed close to his desk and did almost all his own drafting of preliminary committee reports. When he turned over investigative results to Fulton and Halley they could go right into executive or public hearings.
George Meader had a sort of persistent, bulldog way of working. He was more thorough than others. He was appointed Assistant Counsel July 1, 1943, a month before Captain Kennedy set up OP50F.
George Meader was a linguist. When we went through Europe after V-E Day, I kept close to George. In the Azores, he could speak Portuguese; in Paris, French; in Cologne, German; in Florence and Rome, Italian. Besides, he was fluent in Spanish.
I asked him, "How did you accomplish this language facility?" He told me, "In Michigan University and Law School, I would never date a girl that couldn't speak a foreign language. Right now, in my apartment, is a Spanish-speaking cousin of Senator Chavez of New Mexico, I won't allow him to speak English when we are at home."
When George Meader investigated the accumulation of excess Navy stocks, due to wasteful, inadequate inventory controls, he found us extremely vulnerable. We traveled to every Navy supply base in the country. We were not accompanied by any Senators, but, when George got back to Washington and wrote his report, the Navy was in deep trouble with the Truman Committee.
George Meader was appointed executive assistant to then Chief Counsel Rudolph Halley on August 1, 1944, and Chief Counsel, August 1, 1945. In 1948 he was elected to the House of Representatives as a member of the Republican Party. He served with distinction. I still hear from him when he comes to San Francisco.
FUCHS: Did you have any such experiences with Francis
Flanagan who eventually became Chief Investigator succeeding Connelly and Robinson?
TOLAN: Yes, I traveled extensively with "Frip" Flanagan. That was his nickname. He was a Committee staff man on the trip to France, England, Germany, Italy and North Africa in June 1945. I delivered Navy answers to Mr. Flanagan's desk in the Senate Office Building. The Committee asked for regular reports on Hull fractures involving Liberty ships. These reports were assembled by Vice Admiral R. R. Waesche, Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard. Inasmuch as the Coast Guard was a part of the Navy during the war, the reports were delivered to OP50F for transmittal to the Committee. My recollection is that I delivered these reports to Francis Flanagan. By the time I left the Navy, detail of hull fractures of over 600 Liberty ships were in the Committee's hands. Some of the vessels split in half. I recall one at a Portland dock and the other one at sea near the Aleutians.
Francis Flanagan was an ex-FBI agent as was
Robinson. But Flanagan was a lawyer rather than an accountant. He was vigorous, competent, and a good man at writing reports. Flanagan became Assistant Chief Counsel, December 1, 1945.
FUCHS: Were there any women on the staff?
TOLAN: Two were notable as far as I was concerned. One was an investigator of manpower utilization and war labor problems. That was Agnes Strauss. She was married while on the Truman Committee staff to Lt. Commander Alfred C. Wolfe, U.S.N.R. who was the OP50F liaison in the Navy Shore Establishments Division. Agnes Strauss had called on OP50F for the answer to a large bundle of questions on Navy manpower policy as well as a complex statistical report. It was an almost overwhelming task for Lt. Commander Abbott and myself. We asked Rear Admiral Charles W. Fisher and a Captain Crisp for permission to take Lt. Commander Wolfe directly to Miss Strauss on Capitol Hill. They agreed. I took Wolfe up to the Committee denizens. Miss Strauss and Lt. Commander Wolfe, from the very first, seemed to enjoy working together over
a period of several weeks. In fact, they married, had three fine children. They continued to live in Washington, D.C. after the wax. Wolfe had a succession of important jobs in the Truman administration -- Interior Department and the Inter-American Development Bank. When I left the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion in 1946, Wolfe took over my position as special assistant to Director John W. Snyder.
Agnes Strauss Wolfe was a vigorous investigator and pulled her weight in a field usually crowded with men. The Committee's highly critical and effective manpower reports were substantially based on her work.
The second important woman to OP50P was Margaret "Peggy" Bucholtz, the hard working and alert committee secretary. She ran the hearing schedules, and was responsible for recording assignments of the various investigators. Almost daily Abbott or I would have to call Mrs. Bucholtz to ascertain who was doing what, when they were going to do it, and sometimes, how they were going to do it. If we had a valid reason for obtaining information, without violating confidential material, Peggy could supply the answers to our questions without delay. She was a great time-saver for OP50F.
As the Committee grew in fame, the tip-offs of corruption and war production bottleneck complaints became overwhelming in number. Peggy controlled files and prevented utter chaos.
FUCHS: What about Walter Hehmeyer?
TOLAN: Walter handled Committee press relations very effectively. But the only reason OP50F had to deal with Mr. Hehmeyer was to pick up copies of Senator Truman's statements, press releases and advances of Committee reports.
Lt. Commander Abbott, due to experience with United Press and Associated Press had the most contact with Walter Hehmeyer. In late 1945, with a veteran Capitol Hill reporter, Frank McNaughton, Walter Hehmeyer wrote This Man Truman. It was published by Whittlesey House [McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.).
Well, that's about all the staff that I can recall who were involved with Navy matters. If there were others that worked on the tank landing craft hearings or the faked steel plate inspections, it
was before the organization of OP50F.
When Captain Kennedy and I started our work in August 1943, we found that the Truman Committee's and its staffs' reputation for fearlessness had run into a lot of fearless Navy Department civilian and uniformed heads of the various divisions. For instance, Rear Admiral Edward L. Cochrane, Chief, and Rear Admiral Earl W. Mills, Assistant Chief, were the hard-driving heads of the Bureau of Ships. Earlier Truman Committee hearings and reports had already compelled a reorganization of the Bureau. They were both competent men but they regarded Committee inquiries about possible corruption, procurement and ship production log-jams, etc., as intrusive, based upon dubious sources of information, and largely a waste of time. With their strong backing, their Counsel and our liaison, Lt. Commander Frank C. Nash, was particularly obdurate. OP50F would type up transmittal letters to Lt. Commander Nash. I would carry them to Nash's office. With an obvious show of distance, Nash would open the right-hand bottom drawer of his desk and throw the Committee request into it, slam the
drawer closed and glance up at me with a guileless smirk. Nash had been a professor at the Georgetown Law School when I had attended classes there. So I knew him, but that acquaintanceship didn't seem to help. I kept telling him, "When I bring you one of Senator Truman's requests for information, you have our clearance to pick up the telephone, call up Hugh Fulton or Rudolph Halley, and at least acknowledge receipt. Tell them the answer will take some time, but that the Bureau will get out an early reply. That will give you a month, easily." I had used this, "we will get right on it" method quite successfully.
Nash kept stacking up the Truman Committee inquiries, without answering most of them. On the day I was discharged from the Navy in 1945, I called on Frank Nash. He said good-bye in his jovial manner. As I headed out the door, he said, "Wait a minute." I turned around. He reached into that bottom drawer. He wrapped both hands around a big stack of papers, picked them up, and unceremoniously dumped them in the wastebasket. He said, "And good-bye, Truman Committee."
Well, I guess the Truman-Mead mail, so filled with hundreds of complaints had swamped their follow-up systems. Nash's assistant, Lt. William Able, has been quoted as saying Lt. Commander Nash often skipped OP50F and dealt directly with the Truman Committee. It's my story that Nash skipped everyone. After the war, Nash became General Counsel of Todd Shipyards Corporation in New York.
In January, 1945, events finally caught up with the Bureau of Ships (and Nash). The Committee, by hearing and debate on the U.S. Senate floor, chewed up Norfolk Navy Yard in a dreadful manner. As we go along, I'll show you an exhibit concerning this fiasco. Shattering as this experience was for OP50F, when the dust finally settled, I was promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander. In large part, I could thank the Bureau of Ships.
FUCHS: In your opinion, what usually put the Truman Committee on the Navy's trail?
TOLAN: Captain Kennedy, Lieutenant Abbott and I were assigned to get answers to the Committee questions.
Most of the time we had little information as to whom, or what, was behind the inquiries.
Walter Hehmeyer wrote that the Committee received "as many as two hundred tips a week in the mails, but has discarded nothing that appeared to bear possibilities of turning up faulty production, laziness or malicious mismanagement."(Frank McNaughton and Walter Hehmeyer, This Man Truman. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1945. p. 99, 100.)
Now and then we would get a hint. Complaints from Navy yards and other shore establishments could be traced to the military or the civilians working there. Some complaints came from disgruntled war contractors. The press would frequently feed the Committee, and hope for a scoop if something was turned up that was provable and printable. We had second-guessing and carping officers in the Navy Department who leaked information to reporters like Drew Pearson and the Committee. In my belief, hundreds of enlisted men kept up a staccato of tips by "letters to the editor" or by letters to Congress. Members of the Senate would forward such mail to the Truman Committee and stand by, waiting for action by that powerful body. (That's why Lt. Commander Nash's attitude was so
risky. The chances of follow-up were very great if the Committee was giving service to some foot-stamping colleague of Senator Truman.)
We didn't concern ourselves about the sources of hundreds of Committee complaints. We had the simple assignment of assisting the Committee, and, to the best of our ability to defend the Navy when the Navy was right. Above and beyond that, we were able to help keep Secretary Frank Knox.. and later, Secretary James V. Forrestal, off Capitol Hill and out of the glaring publicity which was always the inevitable result. It was like trying to fight slander or libel. If you publicize the charge you raise questions about the adequacy of your answer to the charges.
If you were summoned before the Truman Committee, you had to be very lucky to come out ahead of the game. There were few winners. No wonder the Navy agreed to give "complete cooperation"
FUCHS: What was the first investigation in which you saw the Truman Committee function?
TOLAN: The first, where I had the opportunity to watch Chairman Truman, Hugh Fulton, Committee members and staff, from almost on the inside, was the Canol Project inquiry.
As my travel orders show, (See Exhibit "E” Orders dated June 28, 1943 for travel to begin August 3', 1943.) from August 3, to September 15, 1943, I took an extended trip to Chicago and the West Coast. I was gathering witnesses for a hearing on Navy subcontracting for small business. This hearing was held by the Senate Small Business Committee (Senator James E. Murray, Chairman) on October 25, 1943.
Captain Kennedy had received a telephone call from the Committee to provide copies of correspondence, or any other information, as to whether or not the Navy had ever approved Canol.
Captain Kennedy dug up the Navy letter supporting Standard Oil of California's opinion that the Canol Project was unnecessary.
Captain Kennedy called both Lieutenant Abbott and me into conference. He said, "The Army is in real trouble on this. They may try to shift some of the blame on the Navy as being unable to supply the
Alaska Defense Command with petroleum products. Get up on the Hill and follow this investigation as close as possible. Keep the Navy out of it, but if the Committee or the Army tries to pull us in, then pass the word and I'll inform Vice Admiral Horne and Secretary Knox."
That order provided Abbott and me with a ringside seat. We attended all the off-the-record Executive Committee hearings, the public hearings, and had a chance to read the Committee's report to the Senate in draft form. The report on Canol was filed in December 21, 1943.
Later on the Navy got in almost as bad a jam or two as the Army in Canol. The Army made a quick pass at the Navy's inability to ship oil to Alaska. But our response was, "We were never even asked about the problem -- if there was a problem of getting petroleum up the Inland Passage."
There has been so much written about the Canol investigation that there is no need for me to burden this record with repeating much of what is already in print.
OP50F was observing the Truman Committee playing "hard ball" for the first time. They pulled out all stops. What caused this, of course, was Lt. General Brehon B. Somervell's uncompromising position that he had the right to find a strategic need to pump oil from the Arctic Circle. He felt there was no need fox the War Production Board or the Petroleum Administration for War to review his decision.
Lt. General Somervell, as head of the War Department Services of Supply was in enough trouble -- basic policy trouble. Vice Admiral Samuel M. Robinson Chief of the Navy Office of Procurement and Material had a similar job. Despite the Truman Committee demand that War Production Board Chairman Donald M. Nelson, take full control over military procurement, Nelson left actual procurement remain in the hands of these two officers in the military. (Herman Miles Somers, Presdential Agency -- OWMR. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1950. p. 47 et. seq.)
Lt. General Somervell had much to lose, and eventually did lose procurement policy to the Office of War Mobilization.
Vice Admiral Robinson was very cooperative with OP50F. We were on hand for his weekly meeting where
the most pressing production bottlenecks were revealed. Sometimes there were serious questions about relations with the War Production Board and the various czars such as Secretary Harold L. Ickes (Petroleum Administration for War), War Manpower Commissioner Paul B. McNutt; and Office of Rubber Director William M. Jeffers, etc., etc., etc.
It was at one of Vice Admiral Robinson’s staff meetings that I first heard of the "Manhattan Project." No one knew it was creating atom bombs. Everyone was mystified that this Army project had a higher priority rating for obtaining lead -- overriding the Navy's critical need for lead batteries in our submarine fleet.
Vice Admiral Robinson felt that the Congress had a right to question procurement policy and the impact of contract placement. Even if he didn't have that position, Secretaries Knox and Forrestal would not have given him support. On the other hand, Lt. General Somervell, convinced of his right to independent judgment in contract placement, had the full and complete support of Under Secretary of War Robert B. Patterson.
The Truman Committee public hearing, during which Under Secretary Patterson testified, was supposed to vindicate Lt. General Somervell. It didn't. As I sat listening to the testimony, I could hardly believe what was being said. Patterson was not prepared for the cross-examination. If he had been in the executive committee hearing, as I had been, or if what was already on the record had been reported to him, he would have known that Lt. General Somervell's case was hopeless.
At one point he broke into a Senator's questioning, asking "What are you laughing at, Mr. Fulton?" He got an answer from Fulton he didn't really want. It is almost the first rule of congressional hearings that, no matter how hard-pressed you become, you never pick on the Committee staff. (Canol Committee Hearings, Part 22, p. 9696 et. seq.)
Under Secretary Patterson opened the hearing with a prepared statement. When he read, "The War Department is proud of Canol...Canol was a bold undertaking," I could hardly wait to return to the Navy and report that quote to Captain Kennedy. I rushed into Captain Kennedy's private office. I said, "You
won’t believe how Patterson started off his defense of General Somervell. He came out with the flat-footed statement that the Army is proud of Canol." Kennedy looked up with interest and replied, " That's the doctrine of apparent frankness."
I stepped back to our outer office and told Lieutenant Abbott the story, and Captain Kennedy's reaction. We were enormously amused. Abbott said, "That's really great. After you have been in a few hundred hearings in the Congress, you realize there are lots of doctrines. Only I've never thought about calling a witnesses' defense ploys 'doctrines.'" I replied, "Let's think of some more ‘doctrines.’”
We did. After a short time we had about fifteen doctrines. When Matt Connelly heard about the doctrines, he joined us inventing new ones.
When Senator Homer Ferguson heard about our little game, he was not only amused, but said, "That would make a good magazine article.” I responded, "That's okay with us. We can't patent the idea, but we'll write up a draft and you can submit it under your name."
So, we didn't get the Navy into any trouble in the Canol investigation. With somewhat scrambled editing, however, Senator Ferguson got an article on the "doctrines" in Liberty Magazine. (Exhibit "F", Liberty Magazine article, entitled "You Can't Fool Us Senators" by Homer Ferguson, (U.S. Senator from Michigan). Date of article is uncertain, probably December 14,)
Senator Ferguson added a few doctrines of his own, such as "the Cook's Tour." "Paul Revere-ing," however, was only used by Lieutenant Abbott and myself as a description of advance visits to military establishments to get ready for a committee visit.
On January 22, 1945, in a speech on the Senate floor about Norfolk Navy Yard, Senator Mead used the phrase "Paul Revere" while giving a description of Committee investigations being treated to a cover-up of conditions in the Yard. Lieutenant Abbott and I hardly could have imagined that our descriptive term, created in jocularity, would wind up in such formal precincts. (Congressional Record -- Senate -- January 22, 1945, p. 384.)
FUCHS: Were you on the Committee trip to the Canol Project in Alaska and the Yukon Territory?
TOLAN: No, Jim. The Navy was not in the picture at all until the Committee got back to Washington. In off-
the-record executive hearings, they began to look at the options or alternatives General Somervell might have had available to supply Alaska with petroleum products. One answer was Navy protection of commercial tankers. The Army never consulted the Navy.
General Somervell had clear authority to make what turned out to be a monumental mistake. It seems to me, that after Pearl Harbor there might have been some justification in the General's mind for not counting on the Navy.
He could have imagined, quite easily, that the troops being mobilized in Alaska could have become stranded. Heating oil was very important in that vicious climate, not to mention motor fuel. and aviation gas.
Here was a plan to open up at Norman Wells a new oil field in late 1941. As I recall the testimony, the estimated cost to refine and deliver that oil over a new 625 mile pipeline was $25,000,000. The final costs were $146,000,000 to $160,000,000, roughly estimated. The total bill did not include a great
deal of money spent on military manpower and supply. I also recall that 22 lives were lost. The diversion of critical manpower, of scarce materials, and skilled management talent was a shocking loss to the total war effort.
The first crude oil reached Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, April 16, 1944 -- at least two years behind the original schedule. Not until October 31, 1944 was the first 100 octane gasoline produced.
The refinery at Whitehorse was closed April 5, 1945. One tanker playing the Inland Passage to Skagway, Alaska, over a three-month time, could have delivered the total war output of Canol. (Report No. 10, Part 14, The Canol Project, December 21, 1943. Senate Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.)
After 2 ½ years of effort occupying 4,000 troops and 12,000 civilian workers, the refinery was sold for junk. (
Donald H. Riddle, The Truman Committee. New Brunswick , N.J. , Rutgers University Press, 1964. pp. 117 et. seq.)
On February 7, 1982, I had a talk with the man who ran the Canol Project for Standard Oil of California. His name is William B. Bramstedt. Since we became friends during the last few years we have talked often about Canol.
Bill was the president and general manager of Standard of Alaska -- a subsidiary of Standard of California. (WILLIAM B. BRMSTEDT, 1201 California Street, San Francisco, California 94109.) Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson appointed this firm to design and oversee operations of the refinery and pipelines.
The refinery at Whitehorse and the various petroleum product lines were all built at the same time Bill told me. One line ran East to Watson Lake; one line Northwest to Fairbanks; and a line to the Coast running to Skagway. The Skagway line carried bunker fuel for ships and motor gasoline.
One of the persistent stories about Canol was that it was underdesigned -- that the line to the refinery at Whitehorse was only four inches in diameter. Mr. Bramstedt says that the line was six inches about two-thirds of its length, and four inches the last one-third of the route.
Later on a line was extended to Haynes, Alaska, which carried aviation gas. Russian pilots ferried fighter planes from Alaska to Siberia and thence to the Russian front. Mr. Bramstedt says the Russians were aloof to the point of discourtesy. It was impossible
to get to know them. However, the Cano1 Project fueled the American Lend-Lease P-51 planes for their ferry trip to battle Germany. The Russians brought along their own maids and cooks to their headquarters at Fairbanks. None of them would speak to the Americans.
Mr. Bramstedt said that the Northeast Service Command under General Worsham "did nothing for us." They did guard the line and the refinery, however.
He also said that General Somervell felt under intense pressure after the Truman Committee hearings. At one time, two of Standard of Alaska employees borrowed an Army automobile to take a recreational trip up the Alaskan Highway. They had permission from the Army to do so. The two men were caught in an avalanche and lost the car. In a routine report General Somervell heard of the accident. He telephoned from Washington, D.C. and demanded of Mr. Bramstedt that Standard of Alaska immediately reimburse the Army for the value of the automobile. Mr. Bramstedt says, "I never expected a personal call from General Somervell. He was very concerned and very abrupt. We gave General Wozaham the check. I didn't understand why he
was so overwrought about the cost of this accident, but he certainly was."
Mr. Bramstedt's conclusions about Canol were: "It was a wild-hair scheme -- an unnecessary boondoggle and Standard of California had told them so from the beginning. But at that time we were accused of protecting our West Coast markets from Standard of New Jersey (Imperial Oil Company of Canada) and the Army wouldn't listen to us. Canol turned out to be a disastrous diversion of critical skilled and unskilled labor and strategically important materials. Obviously we were not worried about a small oil field on the Arctic Circle at Norman Wells, Yukon Territory. Before the war, this tiny refinery only operated part of the year to produce kerosene for the natives along the MacKenzie River. It never was an important field and despite what you tell me of Under Secretary of War Patterson's prediction of finding reserves of 50 to 100 million barrels, we never pumped over 7,500 barrels a day."
Mr. Bramstedt is now retired as a vice-president of Standard Oil of California. After he returned from
Alaska he went to the Middle East and became chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cal-Texas Oil, Company.
FUCHS: That was an interesting sidelight, running into the actual designer and operator of the Canol project. Everyone who has written about the Truman Committee has given some attention to Canol. Why did you find it so important?
TOLAN: It was the first experience OP50F had with the Truman Committee where Senator Truman, the other Senators and Hugh Fulton went all out -- travel, executive hearings, public hearings and a hard-hitting report to the United States Senate. In a sense we cut our eyeteeth on an investigation where the Navy was not on the defensive.
However, Canol was a turning point for the Committee because it furnished, once and for all, incontestable proof that the Committee had been right all along about War Production Board Chairman Donald L. Nelson. Nelson, over Committee protests, had delegated procurement control to the Armed Services. He refused to withdraw that delegation. Canol was proof positive that the
authority, in General Somervell's hands, had resulted in rampant waste that was seriously detrimental to the war effort.
The Truman Committee had been fact gathering about the procurement controversy since it had started work in 1941. In January, 1943, Chairman Tolan of the House Committee on National Defense Migration had again urged the House to pass his bill, H.R. 7742 to create the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. This legislation had been introduced by Chairman Tolan in October 1942. Senator Kilgore introduced companion bills S. 2092 and S. 2871. Senator Claude Pepper of Florida was a cosponsor of S. 2871. After five Chairmen of Special Senate and House groups came out in support of the Kilgore-Pepper-Tolan bills, (Senator Truman, Senator Kilgore (Subcommittee on Military Affairs); Senator Murray (Special Committee on Small Business); Senator Pepper (Subcommittee on Manpower of Committee on Education and Labor); and Representative Tolan (Select Committee on National Defense Migration).) President Roosevelt pre-empted everyone by establishing the Office of War Mobilization by Executive Order 9347, on May 27, 1943.
Thus, War Production Board Chairman Donald Nelson was made subordinate to James P. Byrnes, former Senator, Supreme Court Justice and then head of the Office of Economic Stabilization. Byrnes was called "Assistant President" as the new Director of War Mobilization.
In retrospect, Nelson had an almost impossible assignment when he tried to move in on the military procurement territory, procurement needs were established by the strategy formulated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They outranked Donald Nelson with President Roosevelt.
O.W.M. Director Byrnes had a sustained struggle over the procurement issue all through the balance of 1943. The Canol project investigation was part of the continuing reminder to get procurement under his control or suffer the same fate as Donald Nelson. ( See Herman Miles Somers, Presidentia1 Agency -- OWMR. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1950. p. 73 )
Finally, regardless of the O.W.M. Executive Order, Congress acted. The President was compelled to approve a new act creating the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion on October 3, 1944. (78th Congress, 2nd Session, Public Law 458.)
In Canol the Truman Committee came up with incontrovertible arguments against letting military procurement run wild. Captain Kennedy, Lieutenant Abbott and I were very impressed by the Committee's power to explore ineptness.
The press had a field day. Vice Admiral S.M. Robinson, the Chief of Navy Procurement and Material was
interested in our reports to him. Vice Admiral Frederick Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations followed closely Captain Kennedy's description of the Army's embarrassment from Secretary Stimson on down. OP50F began to get better cooperation from everyone in the Navy when we asked for prompt replies to Truman Committee inquiries.
General Somervell prevailed in one aspect of the Cano1 Project. The Committee with all its hearings and reports was not able to stop the project. General Somervell had obtained a decision from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Canol was "strategic." Chairman Truman had promised that his Committee would not interfere with the conduct of the war. Somervell suffered little more than a loss of confidence in his judgment. Who knows, Under Secretary Patterson, but for Canol, might have been chosen the first Secretary of Defense when President Truman and the Congress consolidated the Armed Forces. As we all know, President Truman selected former Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal for that position.
FUCHS: What were your principal concerns with Truman
Committee inquiries during the fall of 1943?
TOLAN: They asked us, repeatedly, to explain why certain production schedules in war plants were not being met. The Maritime Commission had jurisdiction over the building of merchant ships. The Navy was rushing the production of landing craft, auxiliary vessels, destroyer escorts, destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers and battleships like the New Jersey, Iowa and Missouri. The Army was struggling with transports, shell plants, tank production and training facilities.
It wasn't a very good answer to the Committee that our lagging production was due to shortages in materials, manpower, and lack of facilities to produce. Senator Truman and the staff members wanted specifics. It was very tempting to blame the War Production Board, the War Manpower Commission, the Office of Price Administration's rationing, or the many other civilian agencies.
However, if the Navy took the blame, we had to tell the Committee how the problem was being corrected.
One had to keep assuring the Committee, and the public, that the Navy was doing its part to win the war. OP50F found that a Truman Committee inquiry could initiate a great deal of reorganization, instill a new sense of emergency, and, not infrequently, arouse some tempers.
FUCHS: Do you recall what raised some of the tempers?
TOLAN: Yes. When the Chief of Procurement and Material, Vice Admiral Robinson, at the instance of the Truman Committee and several others investigating committees, issued orders that top priority must be given to the use of small plants, there was, as Captain Kennedy put it, "a great deal of fussing."
Sub-paragraph (3) of the original Truman Senate Resolution, authorized the Committee to investigate 'the utilization of the facilities of small business concerns, through subcontracts or otherwise.” ( Senate Resolution 71, 77th Congress, 1st Session, March 1, 1947.)
The aircraft and the automobile industries that operated great assembly plants were accustomed to subcontracting, although "small business concerns" were not generally included. Navy shore establishments
liked to do all their own work. Some of the manufacturing was secret and all the production plans were stamped "secret." This became an excuse more than a reason for not redistributing the war work to small plants. Another explanation was that an adequate supply of trained supervisors and inspectors was not available to control geographically scattered war contracts.
FUCHS: How could these objections be overcome?
TOLAN: For smaller plants, with under 500 employees for instance, it was burdensome to put in security procedures and arrange for clearance. Fences, gates, and guard had to be added to the plant. Employees had to be "cleared." Pressure from procurement officers, backed up by the Secretaries of the Army and Navy and the several congressional investigating committees soon broke through that objection.
The shortage of competent inspectors was solved by more recruitment, more training, and eventually, more pay. Even the largest war plants struggled with this problem. The Truman Committee found shoddy
inspection and corruption. (Committee Report No. 10, Part 10, July 10, 1943. )
FUCHS: I believe there were many objections to the use of smaller plants, weren't there?
TOLAN: Yes, at a very early date, the Truman Committee began to study the problem of military procurement officials complete neglect of existing small plant capacity. (Hearings, Part 6, August 1941.)
The Committee discovered that small plants were prevented from participating in the war effort by: a) Too short notice to give them enough time to compile competitive bids on unfamiliar work; b) lack of equity capital, short and long term credit; c) access to, and unfamiliarity with, military plans, specifications, and contract procedures; d) refusal of the military procurement officers to execute negotiated contracts with small firms; e) inadequate accounting and cost estimating skills; f) in plants with less than 100 employees the machine tools or other facilities were not balanced to deliver a complete product; and, g) lack of the ability to furnish a performance bond.
FUCHS: How was this sort of obstacle course challenged successfully?
TOLAN: It had to be challenged, and overcome. In attendance at that first Committee hearing in August 1941, was a great personal friend of Senator Truman, Mr. Lou E. Holland of Kansas City. He familiarized the Senator with the conditions of hopelessness and low morale among small plants in the Midwest. He then approached Congressman Tolan.
By November 26, 1941, Mr. Holland apparently with Senator Truman's help, was able to testify before the Tolan Committee, that his pool of smaller plants had received a $268,000 Navy contract for bore sights. (Hearings, Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration (Tolan Committee) Part 23, p. 8930 et. seq.) As president, Mid-Central Associated Defense Industries, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Holland gave a lengthy recital of his troubles trying to find work for competent but idle, small manufacturers.
At that same hearing, Chairman Tolan supported Mr. Holland's view that too few contractors were getting all the defense work. He said, "Mr. Chairman. Before I left Washington on Monday, I received the following
information from different offices in Washington: In August of this year (1941) 48.4 percent of the Army orders went to 10 states. In September the percentage rose to 70.8. In October it rose to 85.4 percent. With the Navy 56 companies in the United States held 45 percent of the contracts. Now, Mr. Odlum (Floyd B. Odlum, Chief, Division of Contract Distribution of the Office of Production Management) is in favor of taking care of the small plants for at least a period of six months to give them a chance to adjust themselves. Mr. Nelson of S.P.A.B. doesn't agree with him, but you will agree with me when I say this. We, in Washington, have got to get into our heads that after all is said and done, civilian morale is just as important as Army and Navy morale. You can't separate them."
He was bringing out an interesting point: even in the mobilization era of 1941, the only advocates for a fair share of goods and services for the civilian economy were in the Congress. After Pearl Harbor, the Truman, Tolan, and other investigating committees had to fight constantly to keep civilian needs equitably met.
I read the reports of Mr. Holland's troubles. When I started to work for the War Production Board in January 1942, the idea he first propounded -- incorporating the pool of plants into a single business organization -- seemed feasible and basic.
By 1942 Congress had taken this problem of small contract distribution in hand. They passed a law creating the Smaller War Plants Corporation. (Public Law 603, 77th Congress.) As I have said earlier, Lou B. Holland became the first president of S.W.P.C. In time he was replaced by General Robert Johnson. Senator Truman was personally upset by this shift, as Holland was his good friend.
FUCHS: Did you have anything to do with the Smaller War Plants Corporation?
TOLAN: Yes. Before I went into the Navy, I was District Manager, Production, W.P.B. Concurrently with that position I was appointed District Manager of S.W.P.C. Oscar L. Starr (formerly with Caterpillar Tractor Company) Deputy Regional Director, was in charge of S.W.P.C. for California.
Mr. Holland telegraphed Mr. Starr for information which might be included in his testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee on December 15, 1942. Mr. Starr asked me to prepare the reply for Mr. Holland. (See Exhibit "G”)
Mr. Holland had asked us to pass along to him a description of any problems. I wrote of the need for a uniform contract procedure for small business. I recommended the Mare Island Navy Yard's "Type C" contract which I had helped develop. We hoped Mr. Holland, with Senate help, would prevail upon the U.S. Maritime Commission to authorize the use of the Mare Island type contract, particularly in the massive Kaiser West Cost shipyards. "Type C" was a form of negotiated contract. We were getting millions of dollars of shipbuilding and repair work out of Mare Island in a steady flow. The work from Kaiser was interrupted frequently due to the Maritime Commission's insistence on fixed price contracts.
Not until September 18, 1943, did Donald M. Nelson, Chairman of the War Production Board direct "Placing War Contracts by Negotiation':" This order
authorized preference for small plants. Further, it approved payment of higher prices if that became necessary to get the work to small business. (See Exhibit “H".)
Three days later, on September 21, 1943, Senator Ferguson introduced S.J. Res. 80, "A Joint Resolution to prohibit the use of cost-plus-a-fixed-fee system of contracting in connection with war contracts."
FUCHS: Was the Ferguson Resolution ever considered by Congress?
TOLAN: Not to my knowledge. Senator Ferguson realized that there were procurement situations where, if you wanted the work done at all, you had to use cost-plus-a-fixed-fee. One of the most frequent occasions was when you wanted to direct that the work be done by small plants, or by a pool of small plants. His resolution provided a general exception to the outlawed form of contract where "The head of such Department personally certified that, because of lack of precedents or experience upon which to base fixed prices, it is necessary to use the cost-plus-a-fixed-fee system of contracting." ( See Exhibit "I".)
Senator Truman blamed many of the scandals he uncovered on the cost-plus form of contract. My conviction was that the waste of money discovered by Senator Truman was not always correctly attributed to the cost-plus contract.
FUCHS: Can you explain that?
TOLAN: Yes, first, the worst abuse was the open letter contract. This was a simple directive to proceed with the work. Then, it was anticipated, after the production was underway, the parties to the contract would "negotiate" a fixed price, or unit price, contract. That was really cost-plus. Of course, Congress tried to fix this runaway situation by a law providing for the renegotiation of war contracts, and., also excess profits taxation.
One of the largest profit contracts I heard about in World War II was for a fixed price per unit of 5,000 houses to be built in six months near Norfolk (Virginia) Navy Yard. The contractor, with whom I was later associated after the war, was the Barrett Construction Company of San Francisco.
FUCHS: Was this an open letter contract?
TOLAN: No, it was a fixed price per house. The contractor produced 50 to 75 finished houses per day for shipyard workers. The heating system failed. The job was so profitable that the contractor put in all new furnaces, at no charge to the Navy. Then, later, he had to give about one-half of his earnings back in excess profits tax.
FUCHS: Would cost-plus-a-fixed fee have been more in the public interest?
TOLAN: Not necessarily. But it certainly would not have been more profitable, in my opinion.
My concern was with very small plants -- normally under 100 employees. They were established small firms, normally in rural cities where their employees were already housed, and their skills available without having to provide training programs at Government expense.
Senator Truman was a nationally recognized Champion of the small manufacturer. In 1942 and 1943 they were
going bankrupt by the hundreds of thousands. They could not get materials for civilian production. They had to lay off their skilled workers. It seemed unpatriotic for them to stand by with idle machinery when the nation was in an all-out war for survival.
These plants were scattered in large and small cities. They were supposed to survive on "trickle down" subcontracts from the various industrial giants. The work was there, but almost entirely out of reach.
During all of 1942 the Navy and the Army built up a staff of advisors on procurement in every O.P.M. and star production Board field office. These uniformed liaison officers aided both small businesses and the actual military procurement officials. I'll enclose a description of their operation, (Exhibit 'J" "Some Additional Reasons why the Naval Advisor program should be Continued.")
The Naval Advisor -- W.P.B. liaison was not always effective. I am attaching a typical refusal. This rejection was by the Navy Bureau of Ships. The memorandum shows that the Bureau did not want to direct the large prime contractor (Dravo) to subcontract to a smaller plant. Refusing a direct Navy purchase, Captain Wyncoop told me, "Let them go back to Dravo." ( Exhibit "K" Memos to Captain Kennedy, April 14 and April 16, 1943.)
As a result of this sort of refusal to take care of competent smaller plants, Commander Kennedy appealed to Assistant Secretary Ralph A. Bard. Bard had jurisdiction over the manpower shortage problems. Captain Kennedy said, "At least we can compel our own Navy Yards to farm out more work." Bard took his advice. On June 16, 1943, the Bureau of Ships issued a general order. (Exhibit “L” Bureau of Ships Order, dated ,June 16, 1943.)
Assistant Secretary Bard's affirmative subcontracting policy was applauded by the hundreds of naval advisors in the various War Production Board field offices. The Bureau of Ships effectively pushed forward the negotiated ''Type C" contract (estimated cost-plus-a-fixed-fee). Once this form of contract was in place, one simple work order after another could be issued by the Navy Yard Production Officer or the Supervisor of Ship Building in each of the 14 Naval Districts. Instead of an interrupted flow of work, there was a steady demand for the qualified small plant facilities.
FUCHS: Was the Truman Committee following the Navy efforts
to do more subcontracting?
TOLAN: Absolutely. The Truman Committee and staff were concentrating on overseeing all war procurement, especially the share directed to small business. However, they were not conducting hearings on this topic. If the other House and Senate investigating groups decided to take up a topic, and they were underway with their inquiry before the Truman Committee, Senator Truman would obviously let them proceed. His Committee would simply stand by.
Subcontracting was the subject of a number of hearings, at that time, by the Senate Small Business Committee (Murray) and the House Small Business Committee (Congressman Wright Patman of Texas, Chairman).
In addition, we had a constant demand for help by individual Senators and Congressmen. A typical response to such an inquiry is attached. (Exhibit "M" Copy of letter dated December 17, 1943 to House Majority Leader John W. McCormack.)
In this case the pressure was put on the Navy by Regional Director Richard C. Cooke of the War Production Board, Boston. Regional Director Cook,
in turn, had the weight of the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives (later Speaker), Congressman John W. McCormack, backing him up. You may rest assured that Lt. Commander McGregor and I rushed to Boston to tend to that problem. As you can see from the contents of this letter, we had some difficulties.
For nearly a year I traveled and surveyed small plants. For instance, on July 24, 1943, I was on an extended trip in West Virginia trying to locate facilities for Brooklyn Navy Yard, N.Y. The Yard sent Lieutenant (j.g.) E. D. Jones of the Farming-Out Board with us. We reviewed the facilities of 27 plants along the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. (Exhibit ''N" Copy of letter dated July 24, 1943 reporting on survey of potential small plant facilities.)
We continued to review the Farming-Out Boards at various Navy Yards -- Bremerton, Washington, Mare Island, California; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and various other Navy establishments such as the Advance Base Depots of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. These depots supplied the Navy Seabees, the civilian construction battalions. A copy of our
review of Norfolk Navy Yard (Virginia), dated November 26, 1943 is attached. (Exhibit "O" Report on Norfolk Navy Yard.)
Between trips we were busy with many other requests for data on the various Navy activities, The Truman Committee was requiring about 70 percent of OP50F's time and attention. Attached is a copy of a typical request for information from the House Naval Affairs investigating subcommittee. (Exhibit "'P" Bureau of Aeronautics Plane Crash Statistics.) They wanted flight statistics, "causes of crashes in student training and aircraft operation." The date of this inquiry is February 7, 1944.
We were frequently drawn into issues involving proposed legislation -- some of which were the result of Truman Committee studies. Attached is a copy of a letter I wrote to Captain Lewis L. Strauss of the Industrial Readjustment Section, Bureau of Ordnance, dated January 1, 1944. The Truman Committee, and the other committees, were concentrating already on postwar surplus property disposition policy. (Exhibit "Q" Letter regarding Senate Bill 1609 addressed to Captain Lewis L. Strauss, Bureau of Ordnance.)
This letter illustrates what I have described earlier as the useful connection between Senators
uncovering corruption or abuse of power; as members of investigating bodies, and also being in powerful positions on the right standing committees, That's where corrective legislation can be reported for passage to the entire Senate. In this case Senator James E. Murray, Chairman, had control of competent staff on his Small Business Investigating Committee. He had them draft a proposed law on surplus machine tool disposition. He introduced a bill. He knew in advance that it would be referred to the Senate Military Affairs Committee, of which he was also a member. Hearings were assured. In this case he started with machine tools, but the ultimate laws on properties included everything in the Surplus Property Act. (78th Congress, 2nd Session, P.L. 457, October 3, 1944.)
FUCHS: Was Senator Murray friendly toward the Navy?
TOLAN: Yes, he was. We did very comprehensive studies which showed clearly that we were giving small plants as much work as could be expected. It should be remembered that scandals and maladministration of the war were Truman Committee territory. Murray
headed the Small Business Investigating Committee. He fought for small plants quite effectively. Once the Smaller War Plants Corporation was created, Senator Murray kept up a very active surveillance of S.W.P.C’s nationwide pattern of field offices. There was, of course, continuing work to be done on a number of other small business problems such as rationing, price controls, obtaining draft deferments for key workers, and, of course, war materials priorities and allocations.
As you have observed, no doubt, I had strong convictions that small plants could shorten the time it would take the Allies to become victorious.
While working for the War Production Board T made a study of small plants with serious troubles due to interrupted schedules. The war work they were capable of performing was ship subassembly fabrication, mainly for U. S. Maritime Commission shipyards such as Kaiser, Bechtel and Bethlehem.
As you can see from this spread sheet they were small operators, with under 100 employees. (Exhibit "R"
a) C. L. Stancliff letter dated Dec. 11, 1942.
b) Summary of Efforts to Find Subcontracts in Maritime Commission Shipyards.)
They could not obtain a negotiated "Type C” contract as the Maritime Commission refused to use this procurement procedure.
The Maritime Commission's merchant shipbuilding program had a great deal of work that small plants could perform -- if they had a fair chance to obtain it. The Commission was not opposed to getting some of the work out of the shipyards for public opinion and the Congress would not permit such a policy. On the one hand, the Commission gave its large shipbuilders cost-plus-a-fixed-fee prime contracts. On the other hand, it insisted on fixed-price bidding from all subcontractors. This blocked, generally, the, placing of profitable work with the smaller plants.
All the ships had some need for furniture, bunk beds, storage lockers, etc., which was of great interest to small cabinet shops or those who normally made store fixtures. However, the large shipyards had carpenter shops. They didn't want to farm out the work, but when the critical shortage in skilled manpower developed, they wanted the War Manpower
Commission to issue high labor recruitment priorities so they could pirate the labor from small producers. This would put the small plants out of business, regardless of their competence. They were also reluctant to contract with pools of small plants.
FUCHS: This became a political issue?
TOLAN: A running political furor with the Truman Committee as well as most of the Senators and Congressmen.
FUCHS: How did OP50F handle this for the Navy?
TOLAN: We had every Navy Yard and Shore Establishment organize "farm-out" Boards. We negotiated "Type C" contracts with pools, so that simple work orders were issued for each job under the blanket master contract. Then, we set up a reporting system on our effective placement of war work with small businesses. Finally, we went to Congress with a complete "Jack Horner" report.
FUCHS: What kind of a report is that?
TOLAN: It's an old descriptive term in the Navy. The first time I heard it was when I was telling Vice Admiral Frederick Horne about bringing several officers from Navy Yard Farm-out Boards to testify before the Senate Small Business Committee. He said, "Oh, a Jack Horner report." I returned to our office and asked Captain Kennedy the same question you asked. He said, "You know the nursery rhyme, don't you? Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie. He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said, "Oh, what a good boy am I'" I felt nonplussed, to say the least.
FUCHS: Did the Truman Committee, which always opposed the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, raise any objection to the Navy "Type C" contract?
TOLAN: No, they never did. They could excuse any procedure if it was an effective means to get the small manufacturer into the war effort, to help him survive, to retain manpower at home and away from the over-crowded war production centers. Above all, waste should be under control.
During my earlier experience with pooling of plants at the War Production Board, San Francisco, I had written an article for California Magazine. The idea needed pushing in every possible way. (Exhibit 'S" "'Successful Small Plant Pooling," by John H. Tolan, Jr, W.P.B. Pooling Specialist, California -- Magazine of the Pacific, September, 1942.)
Just before I left the War Production Board to start Navy duty, Reader's Digest gave our pools some wonderful national publicity. The author, Frank J. Taylor, was a thorough investigator in his own right. Reader's Digest had him travel with me to various California cities for two days. The article appeared in Forbes' Magazine under the title, "What Can Lodi Do." Reader's Digest then digested its own article, back to itself. (Exhibit "T", "Bringing Small Shops Into War Production," by Frank J. Taylor, Reader's Digest, January, 1943.)
I was given more credit than I deserved. There were about ten or twelve engineers in W.P.B., several procurement officers, bankers, naval advisors, and others who were most helpful in making the pools successful. Oddly enough, these men were not mentioned in the article.
FUCHS: Did the article arouse much interest?
TOLAN: Indeed it did. There was a great deal of mail both to me, personally, and to the San Francisco War Production Board office. I'll attach a few of these letters. (Exhibit "U" a) Letter dated Feb. 4, 1943, from W.A. Martin, Sweetwater, Texas; b) Letter dated Feb. 1, 1943, from Atty. Jacob I. Horowitz on wooden hull barges, Machias, Maine; d) Letter dated Jan. 6, 1943, from "Don Juan of California", Los Angeles, Calif.; d) Letter dated Jan. 12, 1943, from Alfred Williams, Pittsfield, Mass.; e) Letter dated Jan. 14, 1943, from Elmer E. Shreven, Muncie, Indiana; f) Letter dated Jan. 13, 1943, from J. W. Malmquist, War Production Board, Minneapolis, Minn.; g) Letter date Jan. 28, 1943 from U.S. Representative Joseph O'Hara, M.C., Minn.) They show the intensity of feeling that ran very high about the neglect of small business. There was no way to follow-up on these inquiries. I was off to Navy duty. But once in the Navy, I was determined not to forget about the pools. My assignment was to the Contract Distribution Branch. Once there ample opportunity was provided for me to carry on.
FUCHS: Did any of the pools get into difficulty?
TOLAN: Not to my knowledge. If they were set up right they avoided contingent liability for non-performance of individual members. Also, each pool corporation, along with a list of its officers and directors, had to be cleared by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. This made it possible for businesses,
which were normally competitive, to price their products by a joint effort.
All the plant facilities were inventoried. All the skilled manpower cataloged. The Navy provided inspectors and cost accountants to verify the quality of the work done and to certify that the costs were really incurred. The fee, or profit, was fixed at the outset by estimating the cost. If the work cost more than expected, the profit was not increased. If the estimated cost was too high, any windfall could be recaptured by the law on renegotiation of war contracts.
FUCHS: So then you gave the Congress your "Jack Horner" report?
TOLAN: Yes, to the Senate Murray Committee investigating the problems of small business. When the Committee hearing was printed we had it available to answer public inquiries, other 5enate and House committees, and to circulate it in the Navy to stimulate more interest in farming out work. Enclosed is a copy of the cover sheet of these hearings, a list of the
Committee members as well as a list of the witnesses. (Exhibit "'Y". Facsimile of title page, Committee membership, list of witnesses and exhibits, and a portion of Captain Kennedy's testimony. Senate Committee to Investigate the Problems of Small Business, Hearings, Part 30, Oct. 25, 1943.)
Although I also testified briefly at this hearing, my main job had been the selection of the witnesses and preparing all the exhibits.
FUCHS: By this method of anticipating a Committee investigation, OP50F kept the Navy out of trouble
TOLAN: Yes, and Secretaries Frank Knox and Under Secretary James Forrestal off Capitol Hill.
However, right after that, we got into trouble with the Truman Committee with subpoenas, and both executive and public hearings.
FUCHS: How did that come about?
TOLAN: Because of a "tip" to the Committee by Mr. James H. Rand of the Remington-Rand Company.
Assistant Chief Counsel Rudolph Halley called me one day to come up to his office in the Senate Office Building. When I arrived he said, "I have need for some real cooperation from the Navy. You have a Commander John D. Corrigan in the Bureau of Ordnance. He is an engineer in charge of the inspection
and compilation of production reports on Navy Ordnance contractors. Remington-Rand, the typewriter company, was awarded a very large contract for manufacturing the Norden bombsight. The Navy was authorized and constructed a new Government plant at Elmira, New York. They turned it over to Remington-Rand to produce the bombsight. Remington-Rand has not been meeting production schedules. There has also been some criticism as to the quality of the workmanship.
"Now, for some time, Commander Corrigan and his inspection team has been very critical of the Remington-Rand operation. They recommended that the Navy cancel the Remington-Rand contract, repossess the plant and turn the contract and the plant operation over to Carl Norden, the investor of the bombsight. Commander Corrigan, according to our information, originated the recommendation that the plant be turned over to the Norden firm and that the Remington-Rand Corporation have its contract cancelled. His recommendation was approved by the Assistant Production Director of the Bureau of Ordnance, Commander H.M. Briggs. Further
approvals of these recommendations followed by Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, Chief of Bureau; Admiral S.M. Robinson, Chief of the Office of Procurement and Material; Under Secretary James V. Forrestal; Secretary Frank Knox; and finally, the president of the United States: Remington-Rand lost the plant and its contract.
"Now, Lieutenant, Mr. James H. Rand, one of the toughest industrial tycoons in the country, blames Commander Corrigan for all his troubles. You see, Commander Corrigan has a 50 percent interest in the industrial engineering firm of Corrigan, Osburne and Wells. Mr. Rand believes it can be proven that if Remington-Rand had hired the firm of Corrigan, Osburne & Wells as an outside consultant, the Navy would have accepted Rand's plans to correct his production problems.
"For some time Mr. Rand has employed private detectives to obtain evidence that Commander Corrigan is passing confidential information to his partner, Wells. This has happened with various Navy contractors who have production trouble. Mr. Wells calls on the
firms in question. If they hire Corrigan, Osburne & Wells, they are certain to. get more favorable reports from the Navy. Naturally, this is the section headed by Commander Corrigan.
"I can tell you that the Committee has some voluminous reports -- the product of more than 20 private agents. We want the contents of Commander Corrigan's locked desk in the Bureau of Ordnance. We want all his personal correspondence. We want it now."
I said, "How do you expect me to get his files?"
Rudolph Halley said, "Move immediately. We know the evidence is in his desk. If you don't make a real effort to clean this up right now, the Committee will send investigators, with Senate subpoenas. We'll get the information anyway. However, we are giving the Navy an opportunity to cooperate with the Committee."
Halley concluded his request in a very serious and intense manner, "Under Secretary Forrestal has promised Senator Truman complete cooperation. This means that we want a commitment that anything you find in Commander Corrigan's desk that is related
to the firm of Corrigan, Osburne and Wells, or to the Remington-Rand operation, will be turned over to the Committee."
I returned to the Navy Department and reported Halley's request to Captain Kennedy. He couldn't see anything wrong with Halley's demands. In turn, he reported to Admiral Horne. He came back to the office and contacted the office of the Chief of Naval Intelligence. He asked them to detail an officer to open Commander Corrigan's desk.
In the late afternoon O.N.I. sent over a Lieutenant, Edward P. Boland, Jr. (son of Congressman Boland of Pennsylvania). Lieutenant Boland and Captain Kennedy checked with Admiral Blandy, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, and received permission to check Commander Corrigan's desk.
That evening, in my presence, Lieutenant Boland opened the desk. There, in a folder, were copies of a number of letters Commander Corrigan had sent to his partner, Mr. Wells. Halley had been accurately informed. The letters contained lists of plants that were having production bottlenecks and that were
behind schedule. Some of the lists he transmitted to Wells were classified "restricted." One of his letters warned Wells that the information was classified and told him to destroy the information.
Lieutenant Boland took possession of the file and returned to O.N.I. The next morning at the regular 7:30 a.m. meeting in the Judge Advocate General's office I told what had occurred. We had Lieutenant Boland present. He verified that Mr. Halley had been correct in his prediction as to what would be found in Commander Corrigan's desk.
Admiral Gatch inquired, 'What is going to happen to Corrigan?"
Boland replied, "He is to be suspended from duty and confined to the limits of Washington."
Admiral Gatch observed, "Then that probably means someone is thinking of a court-martial. I don't see court-martial here at all. This looks like a civil conspiracy suit. His partner is a civilian. We can't punish him. This should go to the Department of Justice for trial in the Federal District Court."
W. John Kenney of the General Counsel's office broke in, "Yes," he said. "It is not a Navy matter now. And also, what about the letters and other evidence found in Corrigan's desk? Is it proper to turn it over to the Committee?"
Admiral Gatch responded, "I don't believe we can hand any evidence to the Committee. I think that the Department of Justice would agree with me that this might prevent the successful prosecution of this case. The 'chain of evidence' would be broken."
Lieutenants don't argue with Admirals. I reported to Captain Kennedy that we were going to be in deep trouble with Truman Committee staff and very likely with Senator Truman himself.
Captain Kennedy went to Under Secretary Forrestal and tried to get Admiral Gatch's decision reversed. Forrestal's inner council of advisors all supported Admiral Gatch. Captain Kennedy was left to tell Halley that he would not get the evidence. Halley was outraged. He was told that the Judge Advocate General objected on the grounds that the Committee would break "the chain of evidence." Halley was
astounded. He said he would call back, and broke off the connection.
In about twenty minutes Captain Kennedy got a call from both Hugh Fulton and Rudolph Halley. They said, "Chairman Truman wants Admiral Gatch to meet with the full Committee in the Capitol at 3 p.m. Bring the evidence. If you want a subpoena, we'll send one down. It may not be just for Admiral Gatch. It will probably include the Secretary." Captain Kennedy agreed to supply the Admiral without service of subpoena.
That morning, after Captain Kennedy told Admiral Gatch of the summons, there was great bustling and conferring in the Navy Department. An attempt was made to get someone in the U.S. Department of Justice to back the Admiral's legal position. They left the Admiral out in the cold.
FUCHS: Who supported the Admiral in the Navy Department?
TOLAN: His own J.A.G. officers, of course. Also W. John Kennedy and H. Struve Hensel of the Office of Procurement Legal Counsel. Finally, in Under Secretary
Forrestal's immediate office, Lt. Commander John Sonnett, an attorney, (In 1945 Sonnett directed one of the Pearl Harbor investigations.) (On the eighteenth of April (1945) Forrestal met with the new President. He informed Truman that Admiral. H. Kent Hewitt had been selected to pursue the Pearl Harbor investigation. ‘I told him that I felt I had an obligation to Congress to continue the investigation because I was not completely satisfied with the report my own Court had made…' "...Although Admiral Hewitt was the nominal head of the inquiry and would do much of the interrogation, the real work was carried on by John F. Sonnett, a Special Assistant to Forrestal...
"John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor And. Its Aftermath. Garden City, New York, Doubleday Company, Inc., . pp. 134, et. seq.)
Admiral Gatch's supporters were not as sophisticated a group of advisors as might be supposed. They seemed to resent the Committee staff, especially. Where they really failed to help Admiral Gatch was by not producing help from the Department of Justice. Truman, Fulton and Halley had the real inside contacts in that department.
FUCHS: How did Admiral Gatch come through the executive hearings
TOLAN: As I mentioned before, the Admiral was just off sea duty. He had brilliantly fought Battleship “X” (the South Dakota) in the Pacific. His legal knowledge,
particularly as to sea law, courts-martial, Navy regulations, etc., was thorough. But when it cane to civilian court practice -- and here we had an argument over evidence -- Admiral Catch had no experience whatever.
Mr. Fulton and Mr. Halley, as always, were armed to the teeth. In addition, they had all the allegations assembled due to the work of Mr. Rand's twenty detectives.
Except for renewing the demand of the Committee that the evidence found in Commander Corrigan's desk be surrendered forthwith, neither Fulton or Halley interrogated the Admiral. Chairman Truman presided. He simply told the Admiral that the Committee was going to get the Corrigan files immediately. He told the Admiral that subpoenas were ready to be issued.
Admiral Catch tried his "chain of evidence" argument. The Senators pounced on him. I felt sorry for him. It looked like the Navy was trying to shield Commander Corrigan. Admiral Catch, in my opinion, was resentful of the short notice of the executive session. One might assume, also, that he felt Commander Corrigan would be justly punished, if guilty as charged,
either by the Navy or the federal judicial system. With the Truman Committee using the evidence, Commander Corrigan was gong to be tried twice for the same crime.
In any event, Admiral Gatch was sitting across the table from several experienced Judges, who also happened to be United States Senators. They were Judge Connally of Texas, Judge Kilgore of West Virginia, Judge Hatch of New Mexico, Judge Burton of Ohio, and Judge Ferguson of Michigan. They all agreed as to the legal invalidity of Admiral Gatch's "chain of evidence" viewpoint.
When they excused the Admiral, Chairman Truman stood up and announced that a Committee subpoena for production of the evidence would be served on the Secretary of the Navy.
The Navy surrendered the Corrigan correspondence.
FUCHS: Did you attend the hearings?
TOLAN: Yes, from the first crack of Chairman Truman's gavel in the crowded Senate Caucus Room to final adjournment. Lieutenant Abbott was with me.
FUCHS: Do you recall any sidelights of particular interest?
TOLAN: Well, everybody became confused at the outset. Chairman Truman called the roll of witnesses that were expected to be present. He called, individually for Corrigan, Osburne, and Wells. Only Corrigan and Wells answered, "Present." Hugh Fulton was sitting next to the Chairman. The Senator turned rather sharply to Fulton and demanded, "Where’s Osburne?" Before Fulton could answer, Wells, standing at the witness table broke in and said, "There is no Osburne."
The Chairman said, "Where is Osburne, is he deceased?"
Wells replied, "No." Then he added, "He never existed."
The Chairman interrupted, "Then why do you call yourselves Corrigan, Osburne and Wells?"
Commander Corrigan broke in, "We thought the name sounded good. We just picked it out. There is no Osburne."
Suddenly there was sustained laughter throughout the large chamber.
Fulton, Halley,, and the investigating staff, plus Senators Hatch, Kilgore, Ferguson and others, put on a classical congressional public hearing. (Hearings, Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, Part 24, May 1944.)
The record is very complete, Corrigan's difficulties are spelled out in minute detail. Senator Truman expressed his outrage at the bold misconduct of Commander Corrigan.
FUCHS: In what way?
TOLAN: Senator Truman demanded the Navy court-martial the Commander immediately. It was the only occasion in Committee operations where I saw such an angry reaction. Normally, Senator Truman rather quietly directed the Committee to expose only the facts. Responsible authority was expected to correct maladministration and impose discipline.
If the Department failed to do what the facts demanded, it would face another hearing and a great deal more unwanted publicity.
FUCHS: How did the Navy respond?
TOLAN: Well, by the time Senator Truman demanded the court-
martial proceedings, all the evidence in the hands of the Navy against Corrigan and Wells had been turned over to the Department of Justice. Then, of course, the Committee forwarded its record and its exhibits to the United States Attorney. Corrigan and Wells were brought before a grand jury, indicted and tried in the U.S. District Court in New York. I believe they were convicted but do not remember what kind of sentence was imposed. Admiral Gatch was proven correct in his analysis. It was a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government of the full and faithful services of an employee. Wells was a civilian and couldn't be disciplined by the military. Corrigan was never court-martialed. He was through with his naval service, of course. In the hearing he had waived his rights not to testify on the grounds of self-incrimination. He was pretty defenseless.(Hearings, Part. 24, May 1944 pp. 10506-7.)
FUCHS: Did the Committee again try to raise discipline problems with the Navy?
TOLAN: Yes, on one occasion. It was a matter of discipline regarding abuse of authority by a Reserve Captain at
the Brooklyn Training Station in New York.
Rudolph Halley met me one day in the Committee office when I was talking to George Meader. He said, "I have a series of complaints from enlisted men at Brooklyn Naval Training Station. I'm going to let you clean this up and report back to the Committee what you have done about a certain Navy Captain."
I agreed, of course. Halley continued "according to these sworn statements from the enlisted trainees, their Captain borrows the rationed tires and the rationed gasoline from the Navy Relief station wagon. He has the tires and gas transferred to his personal Buick. Then, each weekend, he travels to Philadelphia to visit his wife, round trip from New York."
"The enlisted men are worried about the Captain blocking their graduation from the school, so this must be kept confidential. They are resentful about the violation of rationing, but beyond that, the Captain makes them change the tires, and transfer the gasoline each Friday. Then, on Monday, they have to get the tires off the Captain's car and back on the Navy Relief station wagon."
"We believe the enlisted men," Halley concluded. "Get someone up to Brooklyn and find out what is going on."
FUCHS: Did you go up to Brooklyn?
TOLAN: No, and it was fortunate that I didn't. When I got back to OP50F I dictated a memorandum to Yeoman Mildred Summeral, one of our best WAVE stenographers. As an enlisted subordinate she was just as indignant as Rudolph Halley. This memorandum was then transmitted to Rear Admiral L.E. Denfeeld, Chief of Naval Personnel. (Later, Chief of Naval Operations.)
The next morning I was surprised to look up from my desk and see Captain [Roscoe H.] Hillenkoetter, Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel, walk through the door. He asked to see Captain Kennedy. When I brought him in, Captain Kennedy asked me to remain with them in his office.
Captain Hillenkoetter said, "About the only way we can unravel this matter is to convene a Board of Inquiry at the 3rd Naval District Office in New York. In view of Truman Committee interest, we are going to do that immediately. This is also deemed necessary because of
the civilian uproar over tire and gasoline rationing."
Captain Kennedy assented and that was all we heard for about three weeks. Again, quite early one morning, Captain Hillenkoetter walked into OP50F. He put a fairly large file on my desk and said, "Take this file and put it under lock and key. Don't send it to the Truman Committee. You and I will hope they don't ask for it -- at least until after the war. We ask you to forget it. We hope the Committee forgets it."
FUCHS: What had happened.
TOLAN: That's what I asked. Captain Hillenkoetter said they convened the Board of Inquiry in New York. This is a procedure preliminary to drawing specifications and charges and holding a court-martial. Such a Board must be composed of officers of equal rank to the accused. Inasmuch as the Naval Training Station officer was a Captain, all the Board members held the rank of Captain or Admiral. It was an awesome tribunal.
Captain Hillenkoetter said, "We found that six enlisted trainees had sent affidavits to the Truman
Committee. We called them all before the Board of Inquiry. When they found themselves in front of all that gold braid, every one of the trainees changed their story. That cleared the Captain.”
I asked Captain Hillenkoetter, "What did the Board of Inquiry recommend?"
His response was, "We couldn't believe it. They recommended that the charged Captain receive a citation for doing an excellent job. They also recommended that the six enlisted men be given a court-martial for perjury involving their affidavits to the Truman Committee."
I told Captain Hillenkoetter I wanted the answer to three questions: 1) Were the enlisted men going to be court-martialed? 2) Were the enlisted men going to flunk their naval training? 3) What was going to happen to the offending Captain? I added that Senator Truman was going to have to protect these kind of "leaks" to his Committee. Besides, who could ask for a more volatile political situation than this: fighting for abused enlisted men.
Captain Hillenkoetter answered my questions as
follows: "1) The men will never be court-martialed. We are going to disregard the Board of Inquiry's findings; 2) There will be nothing on their record, they will soon graduate from their training courses and be assigned to sea duty according to regular routine; 3) The offending Captain will be transferred from Brooklyn. He will probably be sent to the pacific and assigned to a mountaintop for some quiet watching for Japanese fleet movements."
FUCHS: Did the Truman Committee ever ask for a report?
TOLAN: No. Mr. Halley's file "tickler" system failed in this case. The file was still locked up when I left OP50F in September 1945. It was eventually turned over to the Judge Advocate General's Office.
FUCHS: Well, this wasn't an investigation of the Committee where there was no result. Something did happen. If the Committee had made the proper follow-up it would have been almost inexplicable. Do you have any other experiences where nothing happened in a matter where the Committee made an inquiry?
Yes, one in particular. Historians put the blame for the Pearl Harbor debacle on six men: President Roosevelt; Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson; Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox; General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff; Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations; and, to some extent, Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Historians do not blame Admiral Husband E. Kimmel for America being "caught with its pants down." For several days and in one case, several weeks before Pearl Harbor, various agencies decoded messages from the Japanese which clearly indicated that an attack was contemplated and imminent. Not until after World War II was any doubt expressed about the responsibility for the loss of the Pacific Fleet. The blame was pinned on, and held on, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, and General Walter C. Short, Army Commander in Hawaii. They had never received copies of the decoded messages. The world was shocked by the attack's results.
"Eighteen ships were sunk or seriously damaged,
including eight battleships....At the airfields, 188 planes were destroyed -- 96 Army and 92 Navy. Of the 2,403 killed, 2,008 were Navy, 109 Marines, 218 Army, and 68 civilians. Nearly one-half died on the Arizona. ( John Poland,. Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath. Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1982. p. 13.)
No public figure ever uttered a word of doubt about Admiral Kimmel and Admiral Short were to blame. Both were in total disgrace. Their resignations were almost compelled. They were put on retirement pay of $6,000 a year and told to "settle yourself in a quiet nook somewhere and let old Father Time help this entire situation," as Admiral Stark told Admiral Kimmel. ( John Poland,. Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath. Garden City, New York, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1982. p. 43.)
Public hatred of Admiral Kimmel and General Short was so universal that I was stunned when I heard Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox put in a good word for the Admiral. This startling occurrence was the result of a Truman Committee inquiry. The kind word was expressed in confidence to Captain Kennedy and myself. But, out of concern and kindness, a letter to Kimmel had been written by the Secretary. Explaining such a letter would have stirred up a hornets'
nest of buzzing reporters.
The inquiry was started by investigating reporter Drew Pearson, who wrote the syndicated column "Washington Merry-Go-Round." (His Capitol Hill bird dog was an aggressive young fellow by the name of Jack Anderson.)
Again, I was called to Rudolph Halley's office. He said, "Lieutenant, Drew Pearson has a story that Secretary Knox has written a personal letter to Admiral Kimmel giving him permission to work for a Navy contractor. As a result of this letter the Admiral is working in New York for a salary of $25,000 a year for the Frederic R. Harris Engineering Company. Pearson says Mrs. Kimmel also is working for the Harris firm for another $25,000 annual salary. Harris is a retired Admiral, formerly Chief of the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks."
FUCHS: Did Halley seemed surprised?
TOLAN: Yes, but when he came up with Secretary Knox's name, I was alarmed. It meant a direct approach to the Secretary. I hoped he hadn't written any such
letter. If he had, we might be asked to conceal this fact from the Committee.
FUCHS: How could you have accomplished that?
TOLAN: Only by involving Chairman Truman and by asking his help to cut off Pearson. That seemed unlikely as Halley concluded, "Pearson wants to get a copy of Secretary Knox's letter. He wants the Truman Committee to get it for him. We are getting a wonderful press from Pearson but we may, or may not, want to get into this. However, we would like to know whether or not such a letter exists. You can tell Captain Kennedy Pearson will probably break his story, with or without the letter, in about two weeks. He says he has clear proof about Admiral and Mrs. Kimmel working for Admiral Harris.
This meeting with Rudolph Halley occurred in early afternoon of Wednesday, April 26, 1944. A Navy car and driver was waiting for me outside the Senate Office Building. I was driven back to our office at 19th and Constitution Avenue. Captain Kennedy was away from his desk, so I dictated a
When Captain Kennedy returned he read the memorandum carefully. He didn't ask me any questions. He simply picked up the telephone and told Secretary Knox's aide that he wanted to see the Secretary as soon as possible. Ten minutes later, Captain Kennedy called me to his office and said, "The Secretary is ready to see me. You had better come along."
When we were ushered into the imposing office, Secretary Knox was alone at his desk, reading some reports. We took chairs to the side. He said, "Just a moment, John, I'll be right with you.''
When the Secretary shoved the reports into his "out" file, Captain Kennedy introduced me and said, It's another Truman Committee inquiry. I think Lieutenant Tolan can tell you about it."
I thought I was there to answer any questions. It was natural to expect Captain Kennedy to describe the problem. He was sitting right there with my memo still in his hands. It was the first time I had ever seen Secretary Knox at close range.
Well, as I started to talk, Secretary Knox was still sitting forward at his desk, his head tilted toward us. When I mentioned Drew Pearson, his shoulders turned. When I told him about the purported letter he had written to Admiral Kimmel, he gave the desk a shove and his stocky body, chair and all, swung about. The high-backed leather chair was very large. The Secretary was a short man. From the moment of his turn, the Secretary's feet dangled above the floor. I was slightly distracted but finished my report.
FUCHS: Had he written the letter?
TOLAN: Yes, he had. But he made no offer to make a copy of it available. Instead, he spoke very solemnly to Captain Kennedy. "John," he said, "I wrote the letter. Admiral Harris and Admiral Sanford came in one day to tell me how very sad it was that Husband Kimmel was becoming physically and mentally deteriorated by his idleness. They spoke of his many talents. They had work for him in their engineering firm. They wanted me to write him a letter and give him my permission
to take the job. I wrote the letter. I'll just have to take the consequences."
"You see, John," he added, "Husband Kimmel is a very old and warm personal friend. I feel very sorry for him."
"Mr. Secretary," Captain Kennedy inquired, "I have a memorandum here. Do you want it? Or would you like me to respond to the Committee in any way?"
The Secretary thought for a moment. Then he said, "Give it to Adlai. (Adlai Stevenson was his confidential assistant and speech writer.) Lieutenant Tolan says Drew Pearson won't break the story for several days. Adlai will have time to draft a statement. I'll talk to him about it. Just give him the file."
Still pensive, he continued, "We'll have to let the chips fall where they may. That's all there is to it. I only hope that the day Drew Pearson breaks the story will be the same day our forces hit the coast of France. It will be buried in the back pages."
(Although Captain Kennedy and I had been, given security clearance up to "stop secret" we never had been told the approximate time for D-Day. It was about the most closely guarded information during World War II.)
Captain Kennedy and I returned to our office. He didn't call Adlai Stevenson until the next morning in order to give the Secretary time to speak first. At that time, Captain Kennedy gave me the file and asked me to deliver it to Stevenson. I had anticipated meeting him with great pleasure. When I walked into his third floor Navy Department office, I was surprised that there was no secretary. He was sitting far across the room writing before a bright window that faced south.
Without turning, he said, "What is it?"
I said, "I'm Lieutenant Tolan. I have this file on the Admiral Kimmel matter."
Adlai Stevenson didn't even turn his head, but told me, "Just leave it on the desk out there."
Well, I really did "meet" him later during his campaigns.
FUCHS: Did he ever write the statement of explanation by Secretary Knox?
TOLAN: He didn't get the opportunity. The file was put in his hands on Thursday morning, April 27, 1944. On Friday, evening, April 28, 1944,:our gallant Secretary, Frank Knox, died in that same chair, in that same office, of a heart seizure.
FUCHS: Did the story of the letter remain a secret?
TOLAN: It has never been made known. Two recent books verify the fact that Admiral Kimmel worked for Admiral Harris. (Op. cit, p. 48.
See also, Cordon R. Prange, At Dawn We Slept. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981. p. 612.)He went to work about June 1942. Although he kept an office at the Harris firm, he took leave in the fall of 1943 to prepare his defense against a Navy inquiry. It was conducted from February 22 to June 15, 1944 by Admiral Thomas C. Hart, Retired. This preceded two additional Navy Boards of Inquiry, and, finally from November 15, 1945 to May 31, 1946, the Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack continued to try Admiral Kimmel. He was never cleared of the blame.
Drew Pearson, after Secretary Knox's death was left without a story. Naturally, I never talked with Mr. Halley again about the letter -- never told him there was a letter. The grim reaper took care of our anxieties.
Lt. General Walter C. Short went to work for the Ford Motor Company in Arizona about a year after Pearl Harbor. This wasn't much of a story for Pearson. He never wrote about General Short. The Kimmel-Knox liaison was the kind of story he really wanted. He had an excellent start. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Knox flew to Hawaii. In his report to President Roosevelt upon his return, he did not blame Kimmel or Short. The Army was responsible for the defense of Hawaii but, evidently, Knox did not berate General Short. Inside the Navy the files on Pearl Harbor were sealed. Knox had the secret files opened for Admiral Kimmel. Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, was replaced by Admiral King. Admiral Stark was sent to London as Commander, Naval Forces, Europe.
But Secretary Knox, at the direction of the
President, gave Admiral Kimmel the orders terminating his naval career. They could not give him what he had a right to expect -- a court-martial. Such a trial would have revealed the fact that the Japanese codes had been broken. Admiral Kimmel was as defenseless and trapped as the Pacific Fleet had been at Pearl Harbor.
On August 20, 1944, ,Admiral Kimmel wrote an indignant letter to Vice President-elect Truman. (Copy printed in Husband F. Kimmell, Admiral Kimmel 's Story. Chicago, Henry Regnery & Co, 1955. pp. 183-4 ) In an article in Collier's Magazine, (Harry S. Truman, ''Our Armed Forces Must be Unified," Collier’s, August 26, 1944. pp. 16, 63, 64.) the Senator had bolstered his case for the unification of the armed services by writing that part of the problem at the time of Pearl Harbor was that Admiral Kimmel and Admiral Short were not in close touch with one another. In his letter to Senator Truman, Admiral Kimmel vehemently denied this. He says that the Senator never answered his letter.
FUCHS: Perhaps the Admiral was hoping to get the Truman Committee to start an investigation of his case?
TOLAN: Perhaps, but to some degree Admiral Kimmel turned out to be "the goat."
The Frederic R. Harris Company was investigated by the House Naval Affairs Committee in late 1943. OF50F was called in because the New Jersey Shipbuilding Company had fallen hopelessly behind schedule. It was being relied upon to produce most of a certain type of landing craft, the LCI (L)'s. [Landing Craft Infantry (Large)].
New Jersey Shipbuilding Company had its construction ways at Barber, New Jersey. The firm was a joint venture of Todd Shipyards, Barber Asphalt, and Frederic R. Harris Engineering Company. The Naval Affairs Committee investigator (whom I knew to be a Navy officer in civilian garb on loan by the Navy to the Committee) said, "New Jersey Shipbuilding doesn't know how to get these landing craft delivered. Admiral Harris retired before the war as Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. He has a partner with him who was his successor as Chief of BuDocks -- an Admiral Sanford. If these two ex-Admirals are so important to the war effort that the Navy has given them over
$90 million in contracts, why doesn't the Navy call them back to active duty? At an Admiral's salary, they would be saving the taxpayers a lot of money, Find out why the Navy hasn't taken them out of retirement."
I went to Vice Admiral S.M. Robinson, Chief of Procurement and Material. "With all due respect, sir," I said, "I must ask you a peculiar question."
When I put the investigator's inquiry, Admiral Robinson answered, "We didn't take those two Admirals back in the Navy because they are the best drydock designers and builders in the world. We're not the only ones using their services. They completed the British battleship and aircraft carrier drydock at Singapore in record time. The same goes for Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound. They served their time in the Navy. They're better off, and we're better off, for them to be just where they are. In addition, Todd Shipyards has put one of their top men in New Jersey Shipbuilding. His name is Gilbride. We'll get that production going. Besides, Chairman Carl Vinson of the House Naval Affairs knows both Admirals
Harris and Sanford. He wouldn't be interested in what is being suggested. You can tell that investigator just what I’ve said."
I cleared the matter with Captain Kennedy and did exactly what the Admiral had suggested. OP50F never heard another word or complaint about Admiral Harris.
FUCHS: Did you have similar respect for Admiral Robinson's opinions?
TOLAN: Yes, I did. He had a direct and open manner with me. He was somewhat like Senator Truman in his quick comprehension of facts. Then both these men would produce a simple and clear conclusion. To me, on many occasions, it seemed to result in an oversimplification. I felt this way about Admiral Robinson once when he was speaking to his morning staff meeting. Almost everyone responsible for purchasing Navy requirements was represented. I was there to report on the Truman Committee's investigation concerning production bottlenecks. The Navy liaison officers to the War Production Board were answering complaints from the
group that Chairman Nelson was not giving the Navy sufficiently high priorities to get needed steel, aluminum, lead, and other essential materials. Everybody was in crisis.
Then, as Director of the Navy Office of Procurement and Material, Vice Admiral Robinson took over. He said, "The whole problem is very simple for the Navy. All you have to have on your minds is ships. How many ships do you have in operation? How many ships are going to be delivered in the future, and when? Then you know how many men you need to operate those ships. Everything starts at that point. You know all the demands those ships will create -- the landing craft, the training stations, the clothing, the food, the fuel, the guns, the ammunition, the shore establishments, even the drydocks. When we are asked to justify our requirements, then your answer is that our demands are essential to support the fighting ships of our Navy."
When a Vice Admiral sums things up in that manner, there can be no further argument.
FUCHS: Did you have doubts?
TOLAN: Yes. I didn't think that I could use the Admiral's approach to inquiries from the Truman Committee that were on the desks of OP50F at that moment.
For instance, Assistant Counsel George Meader was studying our inventory controls. He had a "tip" that the Navy was buying heavy overcoats for every one of its officers. A large part of the fleet was in the tropics. Investigator Agnes Strauss Wolfe had complaints from our shipyards that draft-deferred workers were either standing around doing nothing, or were assigned non-essential tasks.
In the next few days I was going to be presenting these Truman Committee complaints to Admiral Robinson.
To give you a better idea of what was so troublesome about the Admiral's summation, let me attach a couple of exhibits.
First is a list entitled, "Symbols of U.S. Navy Ships." (Exhibit "X") It shows every type of vessel. Listed are forty-four kinds of auxiliary vessels such as transports, hospital ships, tenders, mine sweepers, ammunition ships, oil tankers, etc,
There are sixteen ships that fight: battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, mine layers, etc,
There are twenty-two types of landing: craft; twelve types of submarine chasers and torpedo boats; and thirty-four types of miscellaneous lighters, barges, floating workshops, ferry boats, etc.
The next attachment is marked "confidential" and held that security classification during World War II. It is titled, "Strength of U.S. Fleet and Ship Construction Program." It is subtitled, "Authorized and Planned (Excludes Lend-Lease Except Destroyer Escorts)." (Exhibit "Y” Fleet Strength to December 31, 1944.)
A comparison of this second list with the first will show many more types of craft were in the Navy's inventory than were counted in the "Strength of the U.S. Fleet."
Nevertheless, in the last column of Exhibit "Y," a mind-boggling total emerges. Under this column headed, "Estimated on Hand, December 31, 1944" were 1,669 combatant vessels; (By 1982, the number of combatant vessels had diminished to less than 500 ships.) 2,223 patrol craft; 776 mine craft; and 54,356 landing craft.
FUCHS: How did Admiral Robinson react to all the pressure from the investigating committees?
TOLAN: He was cool-headed and always completely in charge. He had only one rival as an administrator in the entire Navy. That was Vice Admiral Frederick J. Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations. In an entire lifetime, one is extremely fortunate to watch such men at work.
However, like Senator Truman, their power to untie knotty problems with utterly simple conclusions can be a little shattering to people who have a hunger for complex problems.
FUCHS: Have you any illustration of the way Admiral Horne would simplify the complex problems of the war effort?
TOLAN: Yes, Vice Admiral Robinson, as Chief of Procurement and Material delivered the tools of war to the Chief of Naval Operations. (Admiral Ernest J. King was both the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet CCTNCUS) and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was in charge of the Navy side of all the battles.)
Admiral Horne, as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, actually ran CNO in World War II. He took over the hardware from Admiral Robinson and the trained manpower from the Bureau of Personnel. Then, he organized the entire delivery, system. He selected the men, the manner and means to insure fleet readiness.
FUCHS: As a part of CNO, OP50F reported directly to Admiral Home?
TOLAN: Yes, and I brought him a great deal of disturbing news from Capitol Hill. Despite this, he was readily accessible to me just as Senator Truman was always available to his staff.
One afternoon I was talking to him about a Truman Committee trip to the Caribbean bases acquired from England. The Committee wanted to see what had been developed in the islands which defended the Panama Canal. President Roosevelt had traded 50 World War I destroyers for 99 year leases on sites for various military installations.
On leaving the interview, I asked him, "Admiral, I have noticed how much time you spend drawing organization
charts. You seemed to spend many hours drawing all those lines and boxes on those big sheets of paper. What is the necessity for the frequent changes?"
He answered, "It isn't the drawing of the boxes that takes my time. It is the selection of the names that go in the boxes. Sometimes, in order to use the right man to his full capacity, you have to change the boxes."
A simple direct answer. He didn't need 1,000 words to tell me how hard it was to maintain control.
In my opinion, Senator Truman, Admiral Robinson and Admiral Horne could not tolerate people who appeared to be overwhelmed by details, flustered by too many facts, figures, or personalities.
These leaders were not contemplative. They had a thirst for order. Their first priority in wartime was, "Well, where do we go from here to get the job done?"
They were time misers. They wanted brief answers to their short questions. They wanted conclusions and recommendations. Then, they made the decisions.
FUCHS: Did you find them abrupt?
TOLAN: Not unpleasantly so. All three men were courteous. They were short on chit-chat. They were not social conversationalists. Senator Truman, of course, was regarded as quite abrupt by some witnesses.
Lieutenant Abbott and I could not possibly attend all the hearings at this stage. We were traveling a great deal. Sometimes it was with the Truman Committee or its staff. Sometimes we covered the same ground twice. First, we would visit a Navy establishment ahead of the Committee. Second, we would follow up during the Committee's trip.
FUCHS: Were you "Paul Revere-ing?"
TOLAN: You could call it that. However, on one particular occasion, we couldn't "Paul Revere." The Committee called one afternoon and asked for a Navy airplane to fly them to Norfolk Navy Yard. Mr. Halley said, "Now, don't even call the Yard to warn them. Just tell the Admiral we will be in his office at 10 a.m. tomorrow."
I ordered the plane. I made the one call to Norfolk and had my orders prepared. Only Admiral Horne was advised of my departure. Captain Kennedy was out of town.
Our plane took off from Anacostia N.A.S. the next morning before 8 a.m. We arrived at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, at 9 a.m. January 17, 1945, Wednesday.
The Committee Inspected the Navy Yard until late afternoon. They obtained rooms in a downtown hotel. This surprised me. But I was even more surprised when they told me to stay out of the hotel, that they didn't want any Navy officers in uniform to be around.
After their dinner, they held a secret session. They put many Navy Yard civilian employees under oath. They collected the same kind of resentful testimony that could be duplicated in any war plant at the time. However, there was a startling new result. By Monday afternoon, the Committee discoveries at Norfolk wound up in debate on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Ferguson
introduced the Navy defense, a letter from Under Secretary of the Navy; Ralph Bard. (Congressional Record - Senate, 79th Congress, 1st Session, January 22, 1945.pp. 383-399.)
The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot covered the Senate proceedings. The next day they published in their "letters to the editor" column, the following: "A reader submits these verses after pondering Senator Mead's statement: 'our Committee did not receive the customary treatment provided by the "Paul Reveres" because we appeared on short notice.
“Listen, my children, and you shall hear,
of the crisis which lacked a Paul Revere; '
Twas early in January, Forty-five,
When Washington Snoopers began to arrive
Ah, woe to the infamous month and year!
For where, oh where, was Paul Revere?
No lantern shone in the belfry high,
To warn of the danger coming nigh,
No signal rang, no bell was tolled,
As the Committee came down like a wolf on the fold.
They prodded the shirkers who peacefully snored,
They seized on each tell-tale checkerboard,
While snappers succumbed, and leading-men cried,
This dauntless Committeemen poked, probed and pried;
The quartermen quaked and foremen took fright
And masters turned grey in a single night;
While with many an "Ah," and a gleeful "oho!"
The fearless Committee went on with the show.”
They snooped on the ships, and they dove in the docks;
They turned up the waste-baskets, peeped in the clocks;
Sniffed in the "reading rooms", spied in the showers,
While every poor boondoggler quaked at their glowers;
Then they went home, with satisfied looks,
And set it all down in their little black books.
Now where it will end no man can foretell,
But 'tis rumored the Navy is buying a bell;
And likewise a lantern, to hang in a tower,
To warn of committees, with Washington power,
And gold-braid authority gravely decided
To purchase a horse, get a man who can ride it -
For captains agree the procedure is clear;
What the Navy Yard needs is a good Paul Revere!
Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Jan. 28."
FUCHS: Did the Senators have valid charges?
TOLAN: Yes, they did. They were not listening to any explanations by the Navy. Norfolk was an industrial complex that employed 38,000 workers. At the time they were attempting to recruit 4,000 more. Armed with the same detailed confidential reports from the War Manpower Commission, and many written "tips" from Norfolk workmen, they knew just what they wanted to find before they left Washington.
Norfolk Navy Yard not only built ships such as aircraft carriers, etc., but it was the largest Navy
repair facility on the East Coast. Ship repair included dry docking. In 1944 Norfolk had repaired 2,458 ships, some battle-damaged. The ebb and flow of repair work was their best explanation for the overmanning. However, this did not placate the Senators one whit. The Committee staff had prepared for this "raid" for months, even before Vice President Truman resigned from the Committee.
FUCHS: Who was the Naval Shipyard commander?
TOLAN: Admiral "Jocko" Clark. He had just assumed command the day before we arrived, January 17th.
At the outset I was very confident that we could get along quite well. I relied on the presence of the former commander, Admiral Felix Xerxes Gygax, with whom I was well acquainted. We missed him by one day. He would have had every experienced officer on hand when we arrived. However, Admiral Clark, a complete stranger to me, met us entirely alone that morning. He was just off sea duty. Apparently his dog had missed him very much. He kept scratching on the door to get in. The Admiral would interrupt
the meeting, go to the door and let the dog in. After another interruption while the dog jumped in his lap to lick his face, the dog would scratch the door to get out. This poignant business was repeated three or four times.
Chairman Mead said, "We want to go to several parts of the Yard."
Admiral Clark said, "I have been directed to give you complete cooperation. Do you want me to go with you? Or may I have my aide escort you?"
Senator Mead answered, "It won't be necessary for you to come, but we will need several escorts to find our way. The Committee will break up into subcommittees. The five Senators will split up. We will need five escorts."
That was arranged. Then the Senators tried to question the Admiral about the operation of the Yard, about the manpower needs, about the number of ships under construction or repair.
Admiral Clark said, "I just came on duty yesterday. But, after lunch, or any time this afternoon, if you will return to my office, I'll have
people here to answer all your questions.
When the Committee left, I hung back for a moment and asked the Admiral to be sure and have the Production Manager in his office on their return, as well as all other key uniformed personnel.
I couldn't divide myself five ways, and had to let four Senators be unaccompanied by anyone from OP50F. I needed Captain Kennedy and Lt. Commander Abbott on that occasion.
So, I followed subcommittee Chairman Mead, Rudolph Halley and their entourage. I missed seeing all the men standing idle on the decks of the aircraft carrier Shangri La, (Later joined the U.S. Fleet. Decommissioned January 30, 1971. Mothballed at Philadelphia Navy Yard.) which was under construction.
We entered the gigantic machine shop. Among other things, it was turning out diesel engines and spare parts. There was no idleness. It was an impressive sight. It was not mentioned during the Senate floor debate. But I knew the Committee had complaints that private diesel engine manufacturers wanted this work. They claimed that the Norfolk Yard should shut down this competitive Government diesel
manufacturing for the .duration of the war. Later, we joined Senator Ferguson in the carpenter shop. We viewed the oyster shucking board, the chess boards, the lucite cigarette boxes and purse handles. A young unmarried and draft-deferred war worker was carving out elaborate tables and chairs for the civilian Ships Masters' private dining room. The details are covered in the Senate debate, a copy of which I have attached. (Exhibit "Z'' Copy of Senate Debate, Norfolk Navy Yard.)
We went to lunch at the Commissioned Officers' Mess. The Admiral apologized for the food, but he said, "I wanted you to eat just what the men are eating."
We were served a cold hamburger sandwich, scraggly salad, and jello desert -- no way to treat five hungry United States Senators.
That was bad enough, but the meeting at Admiral Clark's office was disastrous. This was to be the opportunity for the Committee to get at least some answers to the charges of overmanning, waste, and mismanagement.
FUCHS: How did that happen?
TOLAN: Well, everyone was there. They were all ready to start talking when fire whistles and sirens began to go off. Even before the first Senator's question, Admiral Clark ordered, "Find out where that fire is."
An ensign poked his head in the door and called out, "Pier fire at St. Helens." St. Helens is an auxiliary facility to Norfolk. A pier fire is very difficult to extinguish.
The Admiral said, "You men better get on that fire."
The room cleared. The Admiral again apologized to the Senators for being unable to answer their questions. The Senators left. They returned to their hotel and began to take secret testimony from Navy Yard civilian employees. Early the next morning, we flew back to Washington. That was on Thursday.
FUCHS: To whom did you report on your return to the Navy Department?
TOLAN: Well, on Friday I was reporting to or attending one emergency meeting after another. It went on
all day long.
At 7:30 a.m. we had our regular meeting in Admiral Gatch's office. Lieutenant William Able was there from the Bureau of Ships, the headquarters control over Norfolk. Lieutenant Alfred C.. Wolf was there from the Shore Establishments Division, which had responsibility for manpower problems. They went back to their Admirals who began calling Norfolk direct.
W. John Kenney, from procurement Legal Counsel Struve Hensel's office was there. He was indignant. He blasted the Committee. He asked who was in charge of the investigators. I told him Committee Counsel Rudolph Halley. Before the day was over Struve Hensel recommended that Secretary Forrestal issue a public statement accusing Rudolph Halley of bias and prejudice against the Navy. Again, a proposal to violate the first rule of Committee liaison: never attack the staff. I heard about this plan and had Admiral Horne intercede with the Secretary's office. The idea was scrubbed. Secretary Forrestal turned the entire Navy defense over to Under Secretary
Ralph Bard. OF50F was relieved of the responsibility of preparing the Navy defense. Then it was learned, late Friday, that the Senators were skipping the normal process of holding public hearings and the printing of a report to the Senate. Rather, they planned to take the scandals directly to the Senate Chambers on Monday. In answer to a Committee request, OF50F arranged to have the "evidence" flown up from Norfolk for the occasion.
FUCHS: During the Senate debate did any of the Senators try to help the Navy?
TOLAN: Yes, at the start of the session. The Navy had asked Senator David T. Walsh of Massachusetts, Chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, to be present on the Senate floor and take the Navy's part. The great Boston Navy Yard was in his state. Before the debate was half over, Senator Walsh was just as critical, perhaps more so, than the investigating Senators.
FUCHS: Were Captain Kennedy and Lieutenant Abbott distressed by the Committee's attack?
TOLAN: Yes, Lieutenant Abbott was with me at almost every meeting. We both knew these were big stakes in this particular game. As I have said, Captain Kennedy was out of town with another investigating committee. When he got back to Washington, I told him the whole story. He said, "They didn't want to listen to your advice, Lieutenant Tolan. Perhaps they will listen if the Navy gives you the rank of Lieutenant Commander."
Captain Kennedy planned to spend several months in the Pacific. He left me in charge of OF50F. With Admiral Horne's help, Captain Kennedy had me spot promoted to Lieutenant Commander. It was somewhat ironic. I may have deserved promotion, but certainly not for my work in the Norfolk Navy Yard debacle.
FUCHS: You were talking about "big stakes" a few moments ago. What were they?
TOLAN: The manpower requirements were not being met, at that time. Selective Service took care of drafting servicemen. There was no drafting of skilled manpower for the essential war industries.
The Army and Navy were urging the President to obtain national service laws. ("The President, convinced that the war still had a long way to go, kept hammering for national service legislation even while he was getting ready for Yalta. On January 17, 1945, he wrote and publicized a letter to the Chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee reemphasizing the need. In it he enclosed a letter signed by General Marshall and Admiral King, pointing out that national service legislation was necessary to ensure that war production would be maintained at an uninterrupted rate. The Battle of the Bulge made the need even more pressing.
"On the same day that the President made his second request of the Congress for national service legislation, January 6, 1945, a bill was introduced in the Congress to carry out his recommendations. It provided that any draft registrant between eighteen and forty-five who left an essential job without good reason, failed to take an essential job within a specified time, should be immediately classified as available for induction in the armed forces. This measure was popularly known as the "work or fight" bill. It passed the House of Representatives on February 1, (1945) by a vote of 246 to 167.
"In the Senate, it became bogged down in a number of substitute proposals and amendments. As finally written by the Conference Committee, the bill provided, among other things, fines and jail sentences for workers who voluntarily left jobs in war-essential activities without approval of the Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. Organized labor protested strongly against these 'job freeze' provisions. But the Conference Report was adopted in the House of Representatives on March 27, by a narrow vote.
"By the time the Conference Report came to a final vote in the Senate the American armies were across the Rhine River in full force, racing their way through Germany. Russia was hammering westward toward a meeting with the Allied troops. The Senate became convinced that the need for this drastic manpower legislation had passed; it rejected the Conference Report and the legislation was dead." Samuel I. Rosenman, Working With Roosevelt, Harper Brothers, New York, 1952. pp. 515 -16.) O.W.M.R. Director James Byrnes had issued a "Work or Fight" order. If skilled men would
not enter war plants, or attempted to leave war work, they could be drafted into military service. The proposed law on conscription almost passed.
FUCHS: Did the Norfolk Navy Yard inquiry seem particularly applicable to this controversy?
TOLAN: It did to us. If the Navy wasn't using the men it had practically drafted into the Yard, then the case for universal service legislation or the "Work or Fight" order would be hard to argue. Here the Navy was being charged with not using the men, or worse, assigning them to nonessential trivia.
The military was supporting civilian conscription. Organized labor and the farmers were pleading for more essential civilian production, such as food, fuel, tires, replacement parts for farm equipment and passenger cars. The fighting over this issue was intense on the home front from mid-1943 to mid-1945. The Committee checked Hunters Point Naval Shipyard at San Francisco. Lieutenant Abbott escorted them. Except for a lot of publicity on the "crap shooting" by the workmen, the Committee began, at that point,
to turn to other war plants, and away from the Navy.
FUCHS: No doubt you were relieved?
TOLAN: Very much so. Corrigan, Osborne and Wells, and the Norfolk Navy Yard investigations were the two low points in the OP50F-Truman Committee liaison.
On Saturday, September 4, 1943, one of my pools, Central California War Industries at Fresno, California, received the Army-Navy "E" award. (Exhibit "A-A," Copy of article, “M.I. Sub-Contractor Wins Army-Navy 'E’” Mare Island Navy Yard Grapevine, September 3, 1943.)
Senator James E. Murray, Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee was the honored speaker. The Mare Island Commandant, Admiral W.L. Fridell, made the presentation. I drafted Senator Murray's address and escorted him from Washington to Fresno. A copy of the speech is attached, (Exhibit "A-B," Copy of speech of Senator James E. Murray, Fresno, California, September 4, 1943, also copy of Army-Navy "E" Invitation to Ceremony.) as well as the invitation to the ceremony. For a change, everybody was proud and happy.
Individually bestowed were 556 Army-Navy "E" lapel pins on men and women from 28 Fresno plants. Only four plants had over 25 employees, Before the
end of World War II they turned out several millions of dollars worth of war production. But, as one wag observed, "Lieutenant Tolan, that really wasn't a pool. It was a puddle."
FUCHS: Were you traveling a great deal of the time?
TOLAN: Yes, Jack Abbott and I took turns on Committee trips. One of us, of necessity, had to be in Washington at all times. Once in awhile we would travel with Captain Kennedy. I had some unusual trips with him. I have enclosed copies of some Navy travel orders (Exhibit "E"). The justification for the travel given in the orders was not always Truman Committee investigations. Nevertheless, as we visited with some of the notable civilian and military leaders of World War II, the subject of Senator Harry S. Truman was bound to arise. Captain Kennedy was one of the first of the Truman enthusiasts.
FUCHS: Any particular notables?
TOLAN: Yes, I was along on visits to Bernard Baruch and William Randolph Hearst.
In May, 1943, Captain Kennedy and I watched the testing of new tank landing craft at Virginia Beach. Our next stop was the Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina. En route, Captain Kennedy and I were guests at the Baruch plantation, "Hobcaw," near Georgetown, South Carolina. Mr. Baruch's daughter, Belle Baruch was our hostess. In the evening she arranged for two other guests and me to go frog-hunting. I missed the after-dinner conversation, but helped supply the frog-leg breakfast. As Mr. Baruch and the various guests were well acquainted with Captain Kennedy, they would ask, "What are you doing in the Navy, John?" The story of congressional investigations and the progress of war production would follow. Then, they would generally ask questions about Senator Truman.
Later, on a trip to San Francisco, I drove Captain Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy to "Wintoon," the Hearst summer estate on the McCloud River near Mount Shasta in Northern California. The large guest complex is about a mile down river from the Tyrolean village where Mr. Hearst lied and had his network of communications to his corporate empire.
Mr. Hearst worked all night. In the late afternoon he had time set aside to visit with his guests. Captain Kennedy and Mr. Hearst conferred privately for about an hour one late afternoon. I went dry fly fishing for trout on the McCloud River Hearst preserve. I had good luck. We had trout for breakfast.
As you can see from my travel itinerary, we made innumerable trips to the Navy Yards and shore establishments on the East and West Coasts, and many visits to the bases in the Gulf States. OP50F had a class three priority for air travel. However, many trips were by rail.
OP50F liaison often was with committees other than the Truman Committee. However, the Truman span of inquiry was so broad that OP50F would have had a difficult time, during any inquiry, not to be involved with the Truman Committee studies. For instance, on June 8, 1944, I went to five East Coast cities. The orders read "...for liaison with the Senate Military Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on War Contracts, Investigating Terminations of Brewster Aeronautical
Corporation contract." War contract termination policy was a continuing Truman Committee study throughout. World War II.
Many of the Truman Committee field trips were made to uncover the facts about the military hoarding of tires, tractors, trucks, and other items which were in critical need on the home front.
FUCHS: Did you uncover any hoarding?
TOLAN: Yes, but the Committee had a hard time proving it. Oh, they often detected what appeared to be over-buying, American agriculture was screaming for tractors. The Committee thought they were stacked away in the Navy's Advanced Base Depots (they supplied the Seabees, the Construction Battalions). There were only three such overseas supply centers: 1) Gulfport, Louisiana, 2) Port Hueneme, California; and 3) Joliet, Illinois. I went with Assistant Counsel George Meader to all these places. He found thousands of tractors and bulldozers, either on the bases or on order. But there was no way to prove that they would not be
What the Committee did do was to stop the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks from placing more orders until they reorganized their inventory records. Meader told me one day, "I have a 'tip' that the Seabees have ordered a hammer, screwdriver, and a pair of pliers for every man in the outfit."
Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of BuDocks commented, "I hope he proves that. I'll get rid of whoever is responsible if it turns out to be the truth."
Even at this time, mid-1944, we could see the disposal of surplus war properties was going to become a postwar nightmare. During that year, several congressional investigating committees started hearings on the policy questions incident to the equitable and expeditious disposal of war surpluses. They didn't wait for V-E Day.
The Truman Committee's investigation of waste, due to lack of inventory control, could anticipate the surplus property disposal problems. They increased their field trips, held hearings, and finally issued a comprehensive report on the United States
Senate. ( Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense program, 79th Congress, lst Session, Report No. 110, Part 2, "Disposal of Surpluses Other Than Industrial Plants," March 22, 1945)
On January 29, 1944, at the Navy Yard, New York, Margaret Truman was the sponsor for the launching of the battleship U.S.S. Missouri. She was showered with champagne as the crew on the forepeak pulled up the broken bottle. Senator Truman's speech had been cut short because the Navy admirals took too much time with preliminary ceremonies. The Senator was more than a little testy about the way Margaret and he had been treated. (Margaret Truman, op. cit. pp. 159, 160.)
Two days later I answered the telephone at OP50F. Senator Truman was on the line. He said, "Lieutenant, the newsreels took a lot of pictures of my daughter launching the Missouri. The Missouri State Society is giving a party at the Shoreham Hotel tomorrow night, please get some of those films and arrange to show them at the party. Mrs. Tolan is invited to come with you."
I told him we would be there. It was already late in the afternoon. It wasn't until the next morning that I located any film. The Navy Yard had
no developed pictures. Finally, Pathe News agreed to send pictures down from New York.
About 4 p.m. the day of the event; I picked up a Navy photographer's mate, projector, screen, and a can of film and headed for the Shoreham. We set up and ran a test to see what we had. There were no pictures of the majestic Missouri. It was just a short shot of Margaret swinging the champagne bottle and getting showered with foam as they pulled the broken bottle away. Then, there were eight repeats of the same short film clip. I went home to pick up Mrs. Tolan in total disgust.
We arrived at the Missouri State Society early. Senator Truman was the President of the Society and was master of ceremonies. When the Truman family arrived, I pulled the Senator aside, told him what had happened, and asked him if he still wanted the pictures run. He answered, "'Yes, Lieutenant, just run what you have, run it all."
I said, "But, Senator, it is simply eight repeats of the same short clip."
He said, "Run it. It will be all right."
He liked it. We ran the eight repeat shots. He had us run them again. Margaret sang several numbers very beautifully. We enjoyed the rest of the pleasant party.
FUCHS: That is quite interesting. Were the Senators ever critical of OP50F?
TOLAN: No, I think we were always helpful to them. We supplied copious amounts of data on at least a hundred different subjects. We made them relatively comfortable during arduous travel schedules.
Within the Navy we had nothing but acceptance, support, and cooperation from the admirals. We helped them prepare their testimony. Prior to each hearing we would sit down with them and discuss the background, interests, and personal bias of each Senator before whom they were to appear. When hearings started, I would place a chart before them which would identify each Senator or Congressman present. This helped them answer questions by addressing each Member of Congress by name.
During the Navy Department upheaval over the
Norfolk Navy Yard "raid," I can recall one of the Secretary's many lawyers calling to tell us how to run OP50F.
FUCHS: Who was that?
TOLAN: I would prefer that he remain nameless. I have an old note here in my files which I will attach to this statement. (Exhibit ”A-C")
FUCHS: What did he complain about?
TOLAN: About our fraternizing with Senators and Committee staff -- socializing. He meant Captain Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy. They had a fine home overlooking the river at Charleston, West Virginia. They had a big town house in Washington. One summer, the Kennedys rented a country place near Poughkeepsie, N.Y.. It was wartime. The entertainment was simple. Many important people were guests besides Senators and Congressmen -- many Navy people and civilian leaders.
This particular complainant said, "I am sure that was Secretary Knox's original idea (socializing)"
Then, speaking about Norfolk, he continued, "This is
a sample of police court tactics, and we’ve got to deal with the Committee the same way. We've got to be more dignified and snore distant in our relations."
I protested, but he went right on, saying, "I've come to the conclusion, and it's absolutely evident, that these people have no interest in getting at the truth:"
FUCHS: What did he expect you to do?
TOLAN: Be less cooperative with the Committee, I guess. We never heard from him again after the Senator floor debate on Norfolk.
FUCHS: How did the press treat OP50F?
TOLAN: The press was always criticizing Secretaries Knox and Forrestal. We were not mentioned, except for one occasion. It was by Drew Pearson, in the "Washington Merry-Go-Round," January 13, 1944. He wrote, "Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, is a great talker about efficient use of manpower. But it looks as if he was an even greater believer in avoiding public criticism.
"For months now he has stationed one of the Navy's
astute officers with nothing to do but keep an eye on the highly critical Truman Committee. The officer is Captain John Kennedy, former ace Washington newsman and owner of a chain of radio stations.
"Kennedy was once a star Washington operator for Hearst, won the Pugsley award for top Capitol news-sleuthing, now owns two broadcasting chains in Ohio and West Virginia, “However, the Navy keeps him occupied playing golf with Senator Ferguson of Michigan, a member of the Truman Committee; flying to Alaska with Senators Truman and Kilgore, and running back and forth between the Navy and the Senate trying to paint a favorable side to Truman Committee questions.
"Kennedy, an able man, does an A-1 job. But most people seem to think that Navy manpower was recruited to fight, rather than cushion criticism.
"Knox, however, is an expert on criticism-cushioning. He also keeps the son of Congressman John Tolan of California busy doing odd jobs on Capitol Hill., and advising the Navy about how to think that man power way. Tolan, also is an A-1
man, but he thought he got into the Navy to fight, not to scratch Congressmen's backs." (Exhibit ''A-D”)
FUCHS: Were you involved in any of the Committee investigations of the lend-lease program?
TOLAN: Yes, the Committee trips, which I have mentioned, to the Caribbean and to Europe were concerned with lend-lease. On the Caribbean trip the Senators wanted to discover whether the United States had acquired long term property rights to military bases. President Roosevelt had traded World War I destroyers for some 99-year leases. We had spent millions on port facilities, airports, roads, water systems, buildings, etc. However, in their travels, the Committee always had several subjects on their agenda.
FUCHS: Which trip did you take first?
TOLAN: From March 25, 1945 to April 14, 1,945, Senator Mead took the Committee to the Caribbean. The Navy provided the airplane, I represented the Office of Chief of Naval Operations and made all
the arrangements. The War Department liaison and the Navy had all of the area and base commandeers on hand to meet with the Committee at the various stops on our island-hopping tour. There were no stenographers. Hearings were informal, but thorough.
FUCHS: Did the State Department have any representatives with you?
TOLAN: Not on the plane. But we asked them to join the party during visits to territories where they had representatives. The Truman-Mead Committee reports summarize these travels in detail. It was the first time we had a close look at the Boeing B-29. They used the broad stretches of the Caribbean to train pilots and navigators for future flights over Japanese targets. Loaded with fuel, added armor, and bombs, the B-29 could just barely lumber into the air. Unobstructed take-offs were possible from the flat island bases in the Caribbean. We saw the new B-29's at Batista Field, Cuba; Barinquen Field, Puerto Rico; Coolidge Field, Antigua Island; Beane Field, St. Lucia Island; and Waller Field, Trinidad.
The Committee had lengthy conferences and facilities inspections at Guantanamo Bay, .Cuba; San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands; Curacoko and Aruba Islands in the Netherlands Antilles; Panama City and Colon, Panama Canal Zone; and Vernan Field, Jamaica.
In San Juan, we talked with Governor Rexford Guy Tugwell for most of one afternoon.
At Trinidad, the British Governor gave a reception and invited about two hundred local citizens. When he introduced the Senators, he said, "We must be kind to these people. After all, they are going to be here for ninety-nine years."
Someone shouted from the rear of the room, "Ninety-seven"
FUCHS: Did you find much actual resentment of the American presence?
TOLAN: At Port of Spain, Trinidad, there was sharp criticism. The Navy took over a large spice and citrus plantation which had been an important factor in Trinidad's economy. Also, the Navy had established
an elaborate Bachelor's Officers Quarters at Trinidad's only beach resort. In response to this criticism the military decided to build a new beach club in another location. An almost useless road was built to the new location at great cost and the loss of several American lives. Once this tale of woe was started, one complaint after the other followed. The Senators were glad to leave Trinidad. They were not there on a diplomatic mission, but to check on the island as a part of the defenses of the Panama Canal.
On this trip we had the pleasant company of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of War, Julius H. Amberg. You could aptly describe him as the Captain Kennedy of the War Department. Day to day work was handled by Colonel Miles H. Knowles, Colonel Alexander P. Gates, and, from time to time, Colonel C. H Dyson of the Army Air Forces. Julius Amberg kept a complete diary of this trip. I had a bound book of photographs made up as a souvenir of the Caribbean inspection and gave one to each Senator. In the front of the book I included a copy of the Julius Amberg diary.
FUCHS: And you travel often with Miles Knowles and Alex Gates?
TOLAN: I traveled a great deal with both of them. When the Army Air Force supplied the Committee with an airplane, Colonel Knowles would run the schedule. When the Navy, in turn, furnished the plane, I would be in charge. We became fast friends. The Navy ran the Caribbean trip. A series of different Army Air Force planes took us to Europe and North Africa. Senator Mead was the subcommittee chairman on the Caribbean inspections. He did not accompany the Committee to Europe. Senator Harley Kilgore was the Chairman of that subcommittee.
FUCHS: As I recall, that trip followed closely the surrender of Germany, didn't it?
TOLAN: Yes, we left Washington for Bermuda, the Azores and Paris only ten days after V-E Day. When we arrived in Germany thousands of war refugees still lined the roads. Our men were not allowed to fraternize with the Germans. They were being court-martialed for this offense on a wholesale
basis. An old friend who was a lawyer in private life was ordered from his Signal Corps unit and assigned to try these cases. It was a thankless and impossible job. His name was Captain Max M. Hayden of Fresno, California. He worked on Capitol Hill as Secretary to Representative B. W. Gearhart before World War II. I was able to telephone him at Brunswick. He was too busy with fraternization trials to meet us.
FUCHS: Aside from the Committee report, do you have any particular highlights of this trip?
TOLAN: Yes, I do. However, there are so many highlights that it might be best to mention just a few of them.
As we flew at low altitude over Omaha Beach, on the Channel Coast of France, we had an Army Colonel describe, step by step, the entire assault.
The same exciting experience occurred at Morte Cassino, Anzio, the mop-up of the Ruhr, Fedala Beach in North Africa and South of Cologne where the Rhine River crossing was detailed to us.
At Brunswick, Germany, we spent a long evening
talking with General Simpson about the need for universal military service during peacetime.
The entire conquest of Italy was described by General McNarney in the map room at his headquarters in Florence, Italy.
We met with General Eisenhower at the "little red schoolhouse," SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces) in Rheims, France. He refused to help the Senators travel to Berlin. But he had the top staff officers take us to his "war room" and give us the full story of the Battle of the Bulge.
In London I reported to the Commandeer, Naval Forces, Europe, Admiral H. R. Stark. After Pearl Harbor he was removed as Chief of Naval Operations and sent to Europe. He wanted to know what the Committee had in mind for the Navy. I told him they wanted to know how much of our tremendous stock of munitions could now be used in the fight against Japan. He rounded up witnesses who testified practically no ammunition could be transshipped to Japan.
Counsel Rudolph Halley had brought along a
New York U. S. District Court reporter, a Mr. Louis Benson. When we reached Paris, Lt. Colonel Knowles was ordered to furnish Mr. Benson some typewriters so that the testimony which had been taken at Bermuda and the Azores could be transcribed before his notes got cold.
In Paris we were quartered in General Eisenhower's guest house, a large chateau located near the palace of Versailles. Early in the morning I was awakened by a racket outside my window. I looked down and saw that an Army truck had backed up to the garage. Being unloaded were three metal-strapped boxes, each stencilled "Typewriter, Underwood, Pica." Supervising the terrible tussle to get the boxes open were Senators Harley Kilgore of West Virginia, Homer Ferguson of Michigan, and Joseph Ball of Minnesota. Also present were two flustered enlisted men, Mr. Benson and "Frip" Flanagan. The steel straps were cut and a very noisy nail-puller helped pry open the boxes. Inside, the typewriters had been wrapped with heavy waterproof paper. The paper, in turn, had been completely sprayed with plastic. Pocket knives were brought out. The
typewriters were all second-hand and somewhat battered.
When they set up the first machine, the carriage wouldn't slide. Another tussle, the keys were jammed on the second.
It took another five minutes to open the third box. There was no typewriter at all. Inside the waterproof paper and plastic was a large rock
Senator Ferguson exclaimed, "Look closely here, Harley. I'm positive this is a West Virginia rock!”
This was a very awkward start of two very bad days of Committee hearings for the Army. The sessions were held at "Com-Z" Headquarters for Army supply activities in Europe. The first witness was General John C. H. Lee, Commander. I hoped that the Senators would not mention any material identification problems in the open hearing. But the "rock boxed like a typewriter" was too tantalizing. General Lee heard all about it during sharp questioning. There remained, happily, many more important topics upon which the Senators had been prepared to ask the questions.
In an open camp outside Leghorn, Italy, we saw
130,000 German prisoners in one compound.
We went to various locations to study early postwar problems -- such as the pre-release treatment of Allied prisoners. One RAMP (Returned Allied Military Prisoners) Camp in France provided new clothes, baths, medical checkups and five meals a day to over 5,000 soldiers who had just been liberated.
What this sort of efficient treatment meant to these tattered and starved soldiers was indirectly evaluated by a W.R.A.C. (Women's Royal Army Corps -- the English equivalent of American WAAC). This uniformed driver of one of the Senator's automobile was standing with our group in the stern of a Bristol Ferry one early morning. The King had decorated her with the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire). During the Nazi bombing of London she was an ambulance driver. She was helping with rescue work and came upon the lifeless body of her own father.
That day at Bristol she was telling us that, as she was about to leave London to pick up our party, her brother had come back home. He had been captured
in Crete, and had been a German prisoner for almost four years. She told us that he had been wounded and had lost an arm.
Senator Kilgore inquired, "How did you think he was”?
She answered, "Well, Senator, I think he came back frightfully pro-American."
The Senator became very interested. He asked, "Well, how did that happen?"
"Oh," she said, "I don't know. They probably gave him a bit of chocolate and took him in."
FUCHS: Can you remember her name?
TOLAN: WRAC Denise Lightbody. She was one of the fivers on the short auto trip from Bristol to Burtonwood Supply Center -- a U.S. Air Force facility.
We were only away from Washington from May 17, 1945 to, June 9, 1945. We broke up into subcommittees in Germany. The rest of the time our party kept together. We saw generals, admirals, ambassadors such as John Gilbert Wynant and hundreds of lesser rank. We had a private audience with Pope Pius in his Vatican library.
One day at the historic palace of the King of Naples, at Caserta, Italy, we entered a great hall which must have been the grand ballroom. It was fitted with desks and typewriters. The high ceiling was decorated with elaborate frescos. In the highest and farthest corner a G.I. had posted a sign which read, "What are you looking up here for?"
My eyes were filled with the sights, the wonders, and the people we met on this trip. We had a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. The Committee kept right on working wherever we went. All of us have remained indebted to Senator Harry S. Truman for the day in February 1941 when he rose on the floor of the U.S. Senate and offered the resolution which created the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense program.
FUCHS: When you returned to Washington, was your Navy service terminated?
TOLAN: Not for three more months. On September 2, 1945, Japan signed the unconditional surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Captain Kennedy was
present. I was being ordered to meet him. for a tour of the Pacific, I will attach copies of the preliminary correspondence. (Exhibit "A-E") We were to. go to Tokyo, Kobe, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines -- and just about everywhere else that had a part in the pacific theater of war. But the atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki cancelled our trip. At least it was indefinitely postponed.
FUCHS: Were your Committee travels at an end?
TOLAN: No, I was in charge of one more transcontinental flight. When Secretary of War Stimson asked Senator Truman not to investigate the Manhattan Project, he made a bargain. He apparently told the Senator that, in exchange for his promise to drop the Manhattan inquiry that he, as Secretary, would see that the first non-involved person to see the Manhattan Project would be the Truman Committee.
August 14, 1945 was V-J Day. Before the end of August the Secretary of War made good on that promise, The Navy supplied the airplane, a DC-3.
We flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on our way
to Pasco, Washington, and nearby Richland, location of the Manhattan Project plutonium plant. (We stopped at Albuquerque because some of the Senators wanted to see the graveyard for World War II aircraft which had been established at the airfield. There were hundreds and hundreds of B-17's, B-26's, B-24's and a few B-29's. We had seen some of these planes at Casablanca in June. Their crews were flying them home. The grim surplus property problem was beginning to appear.)
At Richland, Washington, the Manhattan project reserve covered over 100,000 acres. A satellite city had been constructed, It was filled with "permanent" demountable houses for which I found another use when working for the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.
At the headquarters, a Brigadier General of the Engineer Corps was very brief. He said, "General Groves had told me that you are to tour this facility. That has been arranged. You are the first outsiders ever admitted. You will ask no questions. You will get no answers, in any event."
The drivers were all Army Intelligence officers. They said absolutely nothing. There were three gigantic plants scattered over several miles of roads. We were not told that they were producing plutonium. At the entrance to each plant we were logged in and out. We were given white gowns, paper covers for our shoes, and radiation dosimeters were fixed to our jackets. At each plant there were tremendous water cooling towers. In the control rooms we saw the scientists handling the material with remote control robot-type "hands." There were long control panels filled with instruments. When I returned home it would have been quite wise to have purchased Minneapolis-Honeywell stock.
We were driven down to the bank of the mighty Columbia River. Situated there, was the largest fish hatchery that one could imagine. All the water discharged by the Manhattan plants was pumped through this hatchery to check any possible damage to the salmon which run the Columbia River.
We flew on to Seattle. The following evening we started an all-night flight back to Washington.
We had to drop Senator Ferguson off at Detroit along the way. At dawn we had breakfast at the Army Air Field at Rapid City, South Dakota. It had been a terribly stormy flight -- St. Elmo's fire and much turbulence. As usual, I got a pillow, removed one of the seat arm rests, and slept through the whole flight.
However, I was restless after we left Detroit, bound for Washington. Over the Allegheny Mountains we lost ground contacts. For about an hour I rode up front with our pilots, Lieutenants Carter and Ringer. Once I asked, "Where are we?" They answered, "Hopefully, over the Atlantic." I said, "Why don't you have your radio earphones on?" They handed me a set. All I heard was a loud roar of static. We were being blown all over the sky. We finally got down safely at Columbus, Ohio.
FUCHS: Early in your statement, you told of working in the White House immediately after the war. To whom did you report?
TOLAN: To Director John W. Snyder of the Office of War
Mobilization and Reconversion. He was called "Assistant President.:" It was organized in 1944 under the first Director, James F. Byrnes. The offices were in the East Wing of the White House.
FUCHS: Did you see much of the President?
TOLAN: At that time I had very little direct contact with anyone in the Oval Office. I saw more of Harry Vaughan and Matt Connelly than I did of the President. Again, I was traveling almost constantly for six months. I was the only person ever assigned to field operations in the history of O.W.M.R.
Most of the time I spent at the White House involved checking in with Director Snyder or his deputy, Hans Klagsbrunn. My title was "Special Assistant to the Director." Specifically, my assignment was to carry out that section of the law which provided that O.W.M.R. was to "consult and cooperate with State and local. governments, industry, labor, agriculture, and other groups concerning reconversion problems and methods of achieving the objectives of the Act..."
Robert Nathan, Deputy Director for Reconversion in O.W.M.R. was a, good friend of mine. When the Attorney General of California, Robert W. Kenny, first suggested any employment to Mr. Snyder's immediate predecessor, Fred M. Vinson, Bob Nathan paved the way for me. Actually, I had been called out of the Navy by a letter from O.W.M.R. Director Vinson. By the time I was discharged from the Navy, Vinson had been appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Truman.
FUCHS: How long had Judge Vinson been the head of O.W.M.R.?
TOLAN: Only three months. He was the second Director. I arrived in September. With the appointment of Snyder, and Hans Klagsbrunn as the Chief Deputy, Bob Nathan's influence had receded. He resigned by the end of 1945.
When "the natives were restless" and political pressure for action outside Washington arose, Deputy Klagsbrunn would call me to his office and we would go over the problem. I began to put out fires of discontent all over the country about the way
reconversion was being handled by the Truman Administration. I found myself traveling constantly. When the new Housing Expediter, Wilson Wyatt,. was assigned to O.W.M.R., Mr. Snyder called me to his office. He said, "The President has just sent Wilson Wyatt, former Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky to O.W.M.R. He will be the new Housing Expediter. Please see him immediately and give him all the help that you can." Suddenly I was, getting trip assignments from both Klagsbrunn and Wyatt. Six months later I was offered the position of 1946 Statewide Campaign Director for the California Democratic Party. It gave me an opportunity to return home after almost four years. When I resigned from O.W.M.R. Mr. Snyder seemed to think I was embarking on a rather risky venture. He was correct in his assessment, but I have never regretted my return to California at that time.
FUCHS: Did you feel you had been effective at O.W.M.R.?
TOLAN: Yes, I gave the Administration some important information by overseeing Federal Agency program operations at the grass-roots level. This was
especially true in respect to surplus war property and the start of a new housing program. It was helpful to have the White House prestige. I was very careful not to involve either Mr. Snyder or President Truman in any controversies. I took all my ideas for policy and program changes back to Washington. Mr. Snyder was not for issuing a lot of directives to executive agencies. When such action was indicated, I made written recommendations.
FUCHS: Did you have contact with State Governors?
TOLAN: Yes, sometimes groups of Governors. They wanted discounts and priorities set up so that the State government needs could be met by an early distribution of surplus war property.
I was assigned no staff. But Director Snyder and Deputy Director Klagsbrunn permitted me to recruit a team of Federal experts from the various departments and agencies.
The Governors, mayors, and county officials needed public explanations of the Truman Administration's proposed plans. I set up meetings in
various regions. I would bring along my team of Washington experts. In turn, the Washington travelers would get their regional and local offices to send representatives. The Governors would issue invitations to their key state, county, and city leaders. Then, we would have a panel around a large conference table.
FUCHS: What role did you play?
TOLAN: I was the Federal "convenor." Representing the White House and O.W.M.R., I would be co-chairman with a selected Governor. The Army and the Navy sent along their top people to describe what surplus material eventually would be made available. Naturally, local government representatives wanted buses, trucks, jeeps, bulldozers, graders, lumber, etc. They even wanted clothing and plumbing supplies for their state and county institutions. They all wanted deep price discounts, and, most of all, priority of delivery before general civilian distribution was started. The demands for quick action by Washington were strident. I felt sorry
for the president. There had not been enough planning. As one historian has written about O.W.M.R.: "The surplus property path was difficult and rough. It was marked by general disapproval and criticism in contrast to the good fortunes of O.C.S. [Office of Contract Settlement). The task was more complex, had less previous experience on which the program might be based, and did not have the advantage of clear-cut advance planning. The formal administrative attachment of the Surplus Property Administration to O.W.M.R. ended in January 1946 when the President transferred the functions to R.F.C.'s War Assets Board, later to become the War Assets Administration,, " (Herman Miles Somers, Presidential Agency -- OWMR. Cambridge, Harvard University press, 1950. p 181.)
The "eyes and ears" of my team, coupled with our field hearings (almost Truman Committee in tradition) brought back reports to Mr. Snyder and the various agencies which contributed substantially to the formation of the War Assets Administration.
FUCHS: Can you recall some of the members of the team?
TOLAN: Yes, the most consistent help and attendance was
received from; 1) ,Tames J. Wadsworth, assistant to General Littlejohn. General Littlejohn was a Deputy Administrator to William Clayton, Administrator of the Surplus War Property Administration. "Jerry" Wadsworth was the son of New York Congressman Wadsworth (the only man ever to serve as United States Senator, and later, as a U.S. Representative), Wadsworth moved on to the War Assts Administration when it was organized by President Truman. Much later he served as Deputy to Henry Cabot Lodge, Ambassador to the United Nations. 2) David L. Krooth, General Counsel for the National Housing Agency. With Krooth, after the National Housing Expeditor, Wilson Wyatt started to work, I was able to cut a great deal of red tape. Krooth is still an outstanding Washington housing expert in private law practice. 3) Lt. Colonel David B. Gideon, Army real estate expert. David Gideon was an Army liaison to the Truman Committee during the war and traveled with us in the Caribbean and at Paris; Caserta, Italy; and throughout North Africa. David Gideon from Oakland, California became a life-long friend. Today he practices law in San Francisco.
All the other departments and agencies rotated their "team" members. However, I always asked for Krooth, Wadsworth and Gideon.
We had five Governors from Southern States at a convention-sized meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Once, in San Francisco, the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington attended. I was co-chairman with California's Governor, Earl Warren.
I always seemed to get requests at these meetings to give personal attention to a particular local problem. At the San Francisco meeting, the Executive Secretary to the Governor of Oregon pleaded with me to visit him at Albany. In that state the position he held is not secretarial. He was the State administrator, something like a city or county manager, only at the State level.
When I reached his office, he said, "I don't want to tell you about this. I just want you to see for yourself. Come with me."
He took me to a large institution which housed men and women who were acutely ill, mentally. He showed me a ward for women. There were nearly 100
patents in this one section. Most were bedridden. "Now look at this," he said. "There is only one water closet and sink for this entire ward. They use this one bathroom in relays. Now, step over to this window."
I walked over to a window which looked out over the beautiful Willamette River Valley.
''Now down there about five hundred yards is an empty barracks building," he continued. "The Army used it to house a company of soldiers during the war. They were here o service the barrage balloons which were flown to protect the Portland war plants. It has been closed down for nearly a year."
I asked, "Do you want the building?"
He answered, "No, it is only scrap lumber now. What I want are the seventeen toilets and sinks. Inasmuch as Oregon taxpayers will have to pay to haul them up to this building and get them connected, I want to get them for nothing. The people have been taxed for the war and to pay for this plumbing. I don’t see why they would have to pay again, Now you tell me, Mr. Tolan, how do
I get that plumbing right now so I can move it this short distance up the hill?"
At that time the only real answer was to suggest theft of U.S. property. I couldn't do that, I just stood there silent and helpless in the midst of that scene of human misery.
FUCHS: When did you start to work on the postwar shortage of housing?
TOLAN: Just about the first week at O.W.M.R. It was before Wilson Wyatt, the Housing Expediter, arrived at O.W.M.R.
Deputy Director Hans Klagsbrunn asked me to go up to Burlington, Vermont. He told me, "The Mayor is quite prominent in the National League of Cities. He wants us to do something about all the vacant officers' quarters at Fort Ethan Allan. It has been closed by the War Department. He wants to come to Washington but would prefer that O.W.M.R. send someone up there on an inspection."
I took the overnight train to Boston, and the rickety Boston & Main Railroad coach to Burlington.
The city is located on the shores of Lake Champlain. When I got off the train it was very cold. I shivered more than from the weather when Mayor Burns' welcoming party turned out to be a large crowd.
That was my first and last trip alone. After that, with few exceptions, I enlisted an entourage of Federal experts.
We drove out to port Ethan Allan. The numerous three-story brick officers' quarters, were standing empty. Each unit could easily have been renovated and converted to flats for three families.
"Now look over there," Mayor Burns asked me and the large retinue of public officials. He pointed, ''There is the University of Vermont. It is within walking distance. Our servicemen are returning. They will want to finish their education under the G. I. Bill of Rights. We have the classroom space. However, there is no housing, particularly for the veterans with wives and families. Now what is the President going to do? Is he going to let these sound and permanent houses stand vacant?”
I replied, "Let's get back to your office. I have some work to do on the telephone. I'll do what I can right from here."
FUCHS: Did you get any results?
TOLAN: I had to stay over an extra day to make all the phone calls. The War Department had to agree to declare Fort Ethan Allan surplus. Next, all Federal agencies had to have a chance to say whether or not there was a continuing national need to use the property. For this I called the Surplus Property Board. They agreed to streamline their procedures.
Then I got in touch with the National Housing Agency. That was my first contact with Counsel David L. Krooth. He went to work untangling legal authority. Could we make this a Public Housing project? Would Burlington establish a Public Housing Authority? Was there authority in the organic law of Vermont to form an authority?
Mayor Burns seemed happy and hopeful when I left. Everybody concerned was cooperative. President Truman got the credit for some fast action. I got many more trips.
In about three months the returning G.I.s were moving in with their families.
FUCHS: Was there any permanent program which developed from the O.W.M.R. efforts?
TOLAN: Basically, yes. The Housing Act of 1946. was a completely new and comprehensive approach. The president signed it into law after the Congress spent months in debate. Wilson Wyatt had written the national housing goals for the Administration.
The "team" which I had assembled continued to pioneer solutions to postwar housing problems.
Earlier in this account I have described seeing thousands of "permanent" demountable plywood homes at the Manhattan Project town of Richland, Washington. After V-J Day the atomic bomb production was curtailed. The need for plutonium and uranium 235 (from Oak Ridge, Tennessee) was no longer acute. The "company town" of Richland was shut down. Most of the houses stood empty.
When this surplus property issue developed we were called out to Portland, Oregon. We met
with the top education executives of the States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. They asked, "How about our picking up and trucking those Richland demountable houses? We would like to move them to our state universities and agricultural colleges. They would provide student and faculty housing for the returning war veterans. We have thoroughly discussed the cost of moving, new sites, streets, utilities, and the building of new foundations. Nine college campuses are ready to participate."
Our Federal group thought the idea was dramatic and sound. We asked for a chance to confer privately. When the meeting was reconvened, I asked a question, "How much will you pay for the Richland houses?"
They told us they wanted them at no cost. We told them, "Get us some sort of price. If you are willing to pay some money our policy problem in Washington will be solved more easily."
FUCHS: What happened?
TOLAN: I went back to Washington. About 4 p.m. I requested an appointment with Housing Expediter Wilson
Wyatt, His secretary replied, "How about 2:30?"
I said, "A1l right, I'll be in your office at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon."
"No," she said, "2:30 a.m. tomorrow morning."
That was when I learned that Wilson Watt worked all night like William Randolph Hearst.
FUCHS: When did he sleep?
TOLAN: I don't know. Sometimes he would see me during the day. In less than a year President Truman abolished his job. Anyway, Mr. Wyatt liked the Northwest veterans housing plan. The houses were sold to eleven colleges. The discount price, F.O.B. Richland was $200 for a one-bedroom unit; $300 for a two-bedroom unit and $400 for a three-bedroom unit. The schools paid the expense of moving and renovation.
FUCHS: Were they good houses?
TOLAN: They were sound houses. The plywood sections were sturdy, well insulated, and if maintained, they were good permanent shelter. At Clearfield, Utah, near a major Army Supply Center, the same
kind of houses were moved, enlarged, and remodelled on full basements. Purchased from the Government by a private developer, a delightful new community was built there some years after World War II.
FUCHS: Was Mr. Snyder familiar with your work?
TOLAN: Mr. Snyder, at that time was described as a man "who was not in the market for any new business.” Yes, he knew what I was doing. One day I was reporting to Hans Klagsbrunn. Mr. Snyder met me in the outer office. He shook hands, looked at me in a bemused manner and asked, "Well, young man, what are you getting us into now?" There was no time for an answer. He was on his way to the Oval Office.
However, I am fairly certain that Mr. Snyder was quite doubtful about the White House having any field operations. At one time, the predecessor agency of the Office of Management and Budget was of great help to me when I was the California, Arizona, and Nevada Director of the Office of Price Stabilization. However, one Congressman in the House Appropriations Committee killed these White House outposts. He was
Representative Tom Steed of Oklahoma. In my opinion, governmental inefficiencies in the field are detected and corrected more quickly if you have permanent observers who get to know the local officials.
FUCHS: During your O.W.M.R. service did you lose all contact with the Congress?
TOLAN: No, my father was still serving in the House. He was never defeated. He simply retired in January 1946. When on Capitol Hill, I would visit with Rudolph Halley, George Meader, and Francis Flanagan.
On one occasion, the Army was very slow to help on a surplus property logjam. The Senate Committee on Small Business helped us to get prompt action.
FUCHS: Did you completely reverse your former role in the Navy -- change from the defensive to the offensive?
TOLAN: Yes, I believe you are correct. The Army thought I was quite offensive.
FUCHS: Where did this happen?
TOLAN: In San Diego. The Mayor, Harley Knox was a red-tape cutting champion. He evidently filed a strong protest with Wilson Wyatt, who was the former mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. I was sent to San Diego.
FUCHS: What was he protesting?
TOEAN: The fact that the Army would not demolish a large cantonment, Camp Callan, which was located on City of San Diego property. The City had been bequeathed a long stretch of Pacific Ocean beach which was situation on its northern boundary. The deed had a restrictive convenant which provided that it could only be used as park and recreation land, or title would revert to the estate of the testator.
Early in World War II, the Army went into Federal court and condemned a leasehold on this park land "for the duration of the war." When the war was over, the Army was obligated to restore the property to its original condition or "in lieu of restoration" to pay money damages to the city in an amount sufficient to permit the city to cover the cost of demolition and cleanup of the Camp Callan site.
FUCHS: How much money would be involved?
TALAN: When I first arrived at San Diego, Mayor Knox tried to get us involved in that issue. I saw Camp Callan. It was composed of a great number of dilapidated barracks, mess halls, motor pools, rifle ranges, parade grounds, and all the furniture inside the buildings. The Army wanted the city to accept about $800,000 in lieu of restoration." They didn't want to clean up the site. However, if the city would take the money, all salvage sales proceeds would be recoverable by the municipal treasury. They might get their $800,000 back. This solution was not good enough for Mayor Knox. He was a canny and aggressive politician. He wanted the Army to draw up bid proposals and, after firm bids were taken, then start price negotiations. The Army kept getting appraisers to estimate the cost of restoration. Mayor Knox and the Army were in a big argument. They were about $1,000,000 apart.
Then the Mayor came up with a brilliant idea, and, incidentally with overwhelming political
pressure. He said, "Let's, give the returning G.I.s a great opportunity to use all these materials to build homes for themselves. Let them get buildable lots. Then, they can form teams and pull these buildings apart. All the lumber, plumbing, wiring, hearing and other materials will be a great start on their homes, We will sell everything to them that they can use at salvage prices. We will give them credit for their labor."
I asked him, "Who will run this circus? You can't be expecting the Federal Government to set up such a task force with civil servants?" Knox replied, "just give us Camp Callan for nothing. We will run the job. We will keep books and split the net proceeds 50-50 with the Federal Government."
When I reported to Hans Klagsbrunn what the Mayor wanted, he said, "That makes too much sense to be possible. I'm not going to bother Mr. Snyder with this. However, go back to Wilson Wyatt and see if he can work out some simple way for the Army to get out of this for cash -- as little cash as possible."
Again, I saw Wilson Wyatt in the wee small hours of the morning. He was President Truman's Housing Expediter but this whole proposal seemed to be incomprehensible to him. I told him the Army wanted no part of Mayor Knox's scheme.
I suggested a way out. "If we can keep it confidential (and that couldn't be guaranteed), how about getting the Senate Small Business Committee to hold a hearing in San Diego. The members will be more than ready to get into this self-help-for-veterans housing issue. Let the Committee make a recommendation to the Army. I'll act as the control point for you. But you will have something upon which to base your decision. (Exhibit "A-F" 1946 Cartoon by Huffine, "We're from the Senate Small Business Committee.")
"Well," he said, "that sounds very political and risky. Don't tell anyone that I suggested this. It's your idea."
I replied, as I went out the door and into the night, "Mr. Wyatt, it is not as risky as the Republican Mayor of San Diego charging that President Truman doesn't want to help the returning veterans to get housing."
FUCHS: That Committee was under the chairmanship of Senator Murray. Inasmuch as he was also on the Senate Military Affairs Committee, the Army topside was bound to listen, Did you, get him to go to San Diego?
TOLAN: Within a week Senator Murray and his Committee entourage were in San Diego. After a tour of Camp Callan, and hearing the city officials and the Army officers, their report supported Mayor Knox.
FUCHS: Did San Diego get the Camp at no cost?"
TOLAN: No, the Army said they did not want a 50-50 split. They set a flat purchase price of $250,000. San Diego paid the price. After the Army and all the expenses were paid, the Camp Callan site was cleaned. up and the park restored. The veterans salvage housing plan worked out very successfully. To top it off, Mayor Knox was reelected.
FUCHS: O.W.M.R. was involved with many postwar crises. Did you have other assignments?
TOLAN: Yes, I was involved in the task of trying to
estimate the impact of postwar unemployment.. The shipyards, aircraft plants, munitions works, etc., were shut down. O.W.M.R. had trouble, getting statistically sound data, Research was needed, especially about the West Coast. Someone had to be found that could rush the work. I believe the first outside contract by O.W.M.R. was the result. It was executed with the University of California, Berkeley. I located a Professor Samuel C. May, of the Institute of Government Relations. He did a study of war plant lay-offs. His estimates were alarming -- too alarming. War workers had saved money. They didn't stand around in unemployment lines. They took long vacations. They left the war plants and went back from whence they came. Many remained behind in states like California, particularly the racial minorities. Others returned to the Midwest and Southern states. Later they came back again. G.I.s, who formerly had military sojourns on the West Coast, fell in love with the climate and settled mostly, in California. But the throbbing crisis that the university predicted never came about.
FUCHS: You became very interested in housing.
TQLAN: Yes, that was something, for which Wilson Wyatt was partly responsible. There was a young and eager man whom I met often in the Wyatt office. His name was Frank Cortwright. He was forming a trade association he wanted to call the National Association of Home Builders. Mr. Cortwright was trying to start out from absolute scratch. The very large home builder belonged already to the American Association of General Contractors. They didn't need Mr. Cortwright. Essentially, however, homebuilding, nationally, is made up of thousands of small builders. Most of them finish no more than 50 homes a year. Mr. Cortwright's idea was to go after the little man, get him to join, and get him some skilled help in Washington, For several years, when I was a national director of Mr. Cortwright's association, the convention attendance would number from 40,000 to 50,000 homebuilders.
Wilson Wyatt was so attentive to Mr. Cortwright's entreaties, I have always thought of Wilson Wyatt
as one of the real founders of the National Association of Homebuilders. Thus, President Truman also was entitled to credit for this very important: voice being heard in the national government..
FUCHS: How long were you with O.W.M.R.?
TOLAN: I left in March, 1946. I made one last trip. At the O.W.M.R. office one day I received a telephone call from Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California.
The voice was that of my old friend and hunting companion, Lt. Commander Darwin Bryan. He asked me, ''What do you think has happened?"
"I don't have the least idea, Dar," I replied. "What has happened?"
Bryan said, "Your old pool, 'Sacramento War Industries' has been awarded the Army-Navy 'E.' Admiral Friedell wants you to come over to the award ceremony at Sacramento. You and Governor Earl Warren will be the main speakers. Can you come?"
When I got clearance from Hans Klagsbrunn, Lt. Commander Bryan was told I accepted, with pleasure.
Then I had to write the speech. I told Joseph A. Livingston and Harold Stern at the O.W.M.R. office we shared in the Washington Office Building on 15th Street (both were later appointed Deputy Directors of O.W.M.R.), about my assignment and that I wanted to make a very strong presentation.
''Well," said Livingston, "just tell us what you want to say."
I gave about a five-minute summary of my proposed talk.
“That's fine," said Livingston. "Now go home and put it in writing."
The next morning I was back with the script. He asked me to read it to him. I did. "Well," he scowled, "that isn't what you said yesterday. Try again."
By the time I traveled to Sacramento, the speech was a tight eight-minute summary of what the Truman Administration would do to continue to help small business concerns.
Because so many people were getting Army-Navy "'E" lapel pins, the ceremony was held in a Capitol park.
Governor Warren was a good speaker. He knew many of the people involved, He gave them all hearty congratulations.
During my speech I watched Commander Elmer J. Towle of San Francisco. He had been the Senior Naval Advisor in the San Francisco War Production Board office. He was deeply religious. Since War Production Board days he had been an enthusiastic booster of my career, He sat in the second row, apparently transfixed. I was hoping he would be pleased with what I had to say and how it was said.
Admiral Friedell fixed the lapel pins on over a thousand war workers. Then, he announced, "We have a big surprise to close this fine program. The famed baritone, Mr. John Charles Thomas is in Sacramento. He has agreed to sing for us."
John Charles Thomas stepped up to the stage. There was no orchestra, He sang "The Lord's Prayer" a cappella, It was a magnificent rendition. When he finished, there was complete silence, then thunderous applause. As the crowd swept forward the speakers advanced to the front of the stage.
My friend, Commander Towle, rushed up to me and clasped me with both hands. "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful," he exclaimed. "Wasn't John Charles Thomas wonderful?" It was some time later that he finally agreed that my speech had been satisfactory.
When I got back to Washington, it was tine to say my good-byes to the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. I finally moved home.
FUCHS: What happened to the California campaign?
TOLAN: The Democratic ticket was defeated. Attorney General Robert Kenny lost when Governor Earl Warren was reelected. Congressman Jack Shelley missed out on his try for Lieutenant Governor. He was later elected Mayor of San Francisco. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown lost his first try for Attorney General, but won four years later. He became, subsequently, Governor of California for two terms. Will Rogers, Jr., the United States Senate candidate, was defeated and never tried politics again. The New Deal was gone. The Fair Deal, as yet, was undeveloped.
I joined the law firm of Hudson & Creyke,
Washington, D.C, When. I was still in the Navy, my father had moved my admission to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. The head of the Washington law firm was Minor Hudson, formerly counsel to Admiral. Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. He had teen through many Truman Committee investigations with OP50F.
When Commander John Abbott left his Navy job as Chief of Public Relations for the 13th Naval District in Seattle, Washington, we set up a governmental relations consulting firm in San Francisco. I commuted back and forth to the Washington, D.C. law offices.
FUCHS: Did you continue to see President Truman'.
TOLAN: I can remember two very pleasant visits to the Oval Office. One was with my sister, Sister Providencia, a nun in the Order of the Sisters of Charity of Providence. Her vocation was to work with the Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest. She wanted to see the President about the plight of ”her Indians."
Matt Connelly set-up an appointment. When we arrived at the White House, the Chief Usher took us to Matt's desk. Matt took us down the hallway to the passageway door of the President's office. Matt said, "There is a lot going on. Today is the first visit of the new Prime Minister of Great Britain, Clement Attlee."
We waited a moment and President Truman came from his desk when Matt Connelly opened the door. After exchanging greetings, Sister said, "Mr. President, I am here from Montana to testify before a Senate committee and to get help for my Indians."
The President said, "Is there anything I can do?"
“Yes," Sister responded, "there is a case pending in the Supreme Court. I would like you to tell the Attorney General to help the Indian claimants."
The President asked, "Is the United States the defendant in this case?"
Sister answered, "Yes, Mr. President."
He said, "Well, Sister, you can be sure that I will tell the Attorney General to do everything in
his power to help the defendant."
Sister Providencia was too keyed up by the interview to be crestfallen. The President continued, "Sister, it has been fine to meet you know your father and mother. But I must go now. The Prime Minister has arrived and is in the Cabinet Room. You go back and tell all the other Sisters that you and the President kept the Prime Minister waiting."
FUCHS: That was interesting and quite typical of the President. What was the second meeting about?
TOLAN: It was supposed to be about the upcoming 1948 campaign. It turned out to be somewhat vague, as far as the President was concerned. In July of 1947, a Redding, California State Senator, Oliver J. Carter, was elected Chairman of the California Democratic State Committee. John Abbott and I spent a great deal of time helping Chairman Carter run his State headquarters in San Francisco. We traveled with him around the State.
On a trip to Washington, which involved
conferences with William Boyle of the Democratic National Committee, I asked Matt Connelly to arrange a meeting for Chairman Carter with the President, I visited with Matt while the State Chairman spent the allotted fifteen minutes in the Oval. Office. When Mr. Carter came out, State Department’s Dean Acheson was waiting and Carter introduced himself. I waited for Matt to reappear. When he came back I asked, "What did the President say about Carter?"
Matt replied, "Al he said was, 'What did that fellow want?"' I told Matt he didn't want anything. He had never met the president. Before long the President needed Chairman Carter. He was a Truman enthusiast at the 1948 convention and in the California campaign that followed. I understood the President's reaction to Mr. Carter. In the Presidency, one seldom meets callers who don't want something.
About a year after the 1948 campaign, Oliver Carter did want something. Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee cleared Carter for an appointment as U.S. District
Court Judge for the Northern District of California. President Truman gave him the appointment. Judge Carter became nationally known for the way he conducted the Patty Hearst trial. Tragically, he passed away while the numerous appeals of that case were still in the court.
In 1948, as you probably know, the biggest problem of the campaign was money. Of all the political tasks in the book, I hate to raise money. It is difficult and thankless. Dewey was so far ahead in the polls that the political donors were very wary. I agreed to try the California Central valley empire. Mostly big farmers, they were playing things "awfully close to the vest." I went down to Bakersfield. It was almost hopeless. I only took in enough money to pay for my expenses. We had signed radio broadcasting contracts. The station wanted cash. As usual, Los Angeles, with 45 percent of the vote in one county, was demanding money from Northern California headquarters.
Chairman Carter had, what he thought was a great idea. He said, "Jack, go after the Creeks.
Let's form nationality committees for Truman. The Truman program saved Greece from Communist-domination. Form Greek-American Committees for Truman. Go to Stockton, Merced, Fresno and Sacramento, find prominent Greeks to head these special committees."
I tried out his idea in Stockton. One wealthy owner of a chain of grocery and produce stores was a Democrat and prominent citizen of Greek extraction. I said to him, "You know what president Truman has done for Greece. We want you to head a Greek-American Truman-for-president organization to raise money for his reelection."
He responded, "Come back tomorrow."
When I met him the next day, he gave me a check for $1,000. I thanked him and asked, "What about heading the Greek-American Committee?"
Quite flatly he said, "Mr. Tolan, I'm no Greek, I am an American."
So much for hot campaign ideas.
FUCHS: Did the idea ever go over?
TOLAN: Not as far as I was concerned. It appeared to
me the entire idea, whether Chinese-American, Spanish-American, or whatever, was essentially nonproductive. The Greek-American in Stockton was right about it.
FUCHS: Did you go to the 1948 convention at Philadelphia.?
TOLAN: No. I had crowded in a day during Navy duty at Chicago in 1944. Of course, my interest was in Senator Truman being nominated as the vice presidential candidate. But it was impossible to make any sense out of the individual delegate's role. I tried to talk to every delegate possible about Senator Truman. But it seemed a kind of futile business. I lost interest in attending a convention unless one could be a part of a candidate's group of insiders.
Instead of becoming delegates to the 1948 convention, John Abbott and I decided to donate the cost of 50,000 color souvenir postcards to the California delegation. We needed a color transparency of the president. Matt Connelly arranged a time to take the picture at San Francisco's
Fairmont Hotel. John Abbott has described this event and speaks of the President's personal generosity about allocating enough time for our photographers. (Oral History of John W. Abbott, Harry S. Truman Library. p. 147 et. seq.)
I was present at the picture-taking .session with John Abbott, Matt Connelly, and our fine photographers, Stone and Steccatti of San Francisco.
The color postcard was printed in Berkeley, California by James J. Gillick & Co. They had a newly patented process in four colors. In addition to working with the three primary colors, they added a fourth screen in black. Even today, this reproduction is as bright as when it came off the presses. (Exhibit "A-G'' Souvenir color postcard portrait of President Harry S. Truman, dated "Philadelphia, July 15, 1948.")
On my next trip to Washington, I went over to Matt Connelly with a proof of the postcard and said, "Now we have to have a direct quotation from the President to print on the back of the card. It must be very short and to the point kind of a 30 second theme of the campaign. The President is the best short statement man in the world. Can you get us something for this card?"
Matt liked the picture. When I returned to pick up the statement he told me the President also had liked the photograph.
The 50,000 postcards were printed with the President's message and a facsimile of his signature. The message read:
“…All the people know the DEMOCRATIC PARTY, is the people's party, and the Republican Party is the party of special interest and it always has been and always will be...
...We are the defenders of the stronghold of democracy and of equal opportunity, the haven of the ordinary people of this land, and not of the favored classes or the powerful few."
S/ Harry S. Truman
July 15, 1948
FUCHS: That sounds like the President. Were these souvenirs used at the Convention?
TOLAN: Two large packages, which were being stored on the platform between Pullman cars of the campaign
train, did not make the complete trip. This was an early campaign "dirty trick." The packages were heaved out the car door and into the Great Salt Lake.
FUCHS: Who would do that?
TOLAN: I heard that they were some tipsy James Roosevelt partisans who were willing to sacrifice President Truman's nomination. Harold McGrath, State Chairman Oliver Carter's aide, told me the story.
FUCHS: Was James Roosevelt an open and avowed candidate?
TOLAN: The convention train was formed at San Francisco. The Southern California delegates came up north and joined the rest of the group to begin the crosscountry trek. James Roosevelt was not an open candidate at that time. As he started out from Los Angeles and, again, at San Francisco, he was recommending that the Convention dump President Truman and nominate General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Democratic candidate. Of course, he did not have any acquiescence from General Eisenhower.
By the time the train crossed the Sierra
Nevada it became apparent that James Roosevelt was for James Roosevelt.
Captain Kennedy, with press credentials from his newspaper, the San Diego Journal, boarded the train at Ogden, Utah. At Salt Lake and Denver, Captain Kennedy helped put square wheels on James Roosevelt's bandwagon. (Oral History of John A. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman Library. p. 61 et. seq.)
FUCHS: Were you able to help in the campaign?
TOLAN: John Abbott, Captain Kennedy, and I became very busy in the campaign. Jack and the Captain did a lot of writing. I continued to help raise funds and gave many speeches. There was one speech which I remember quite well.
FUCHS: Where was that made?
TOLAN: In the large auditorium of the California State Veterans Home at Yountville. It is situated in the beautiful Napa Valley and filled with retired servicemen.
I arrived in mid-afternoon. I was surprised to find the auditorium crowded as campaign meetings
for president Truman and the Democrats usually were not well attended. I stood on the stage in front of the curtain and tried to keep my remarks short but emphatic. I covered the president's record in the White House and as a United States Senator. Of course, the local Democratic candidates had to be mentioned.
When I finished, the entire audience stood up and gave a great cheer. I was stunned and smiled smugly in appreciation. Then, something going on behind me caused me to turn around. Harold McGrath had raised the curtain. Stacked on the stage were about fifty cases of chilled beer. The audience kept roaring and whistling.
As we left, I asked Harold, "Why didn't you tell me about the beer. I wouldn't have tried so hard."
He replied, "Oh., I thought you knew. The Party always does that up here. How do you think we get the big crowd?
To me it seemed pragmatic but a bit undignified.
FUCHS: Did you board the "whistlestop" train?
TOLAN: Yes, when the President came to California, I got on the train at Reno, Nevada, and stayed on through Northern California until we arrived at Fresno. Because I knew all the local leaders, my assignment was to control the musical-chair admissions to the guest car. They would take a short ride, meet the President, and have pictures taken as they stood with him on the rear platform.
After we left the State Capital city of Sacramento, I was asked by the speechwriters to look over a draft of the Presidents remarks to be made that evening at Lakeside Park in Oakland. The subject selected was the private utility monopoly of water. The speech was strongly worded. I told the President that the speech was right but Oakland was the wrong place to use it. Oakland had its own public water system. The supply was controlled by the East Bay Municipal Utility District and piped down from the Mokelumne River in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The President would have been criticized for not being familiar with the local scene had he
used the speech. It was quickly changed.
The crowds kept growing. The President's attack on the 80th Congress seemed to take hold. The train-side crowds kept shouting, "Give 'em hell, Harry:" We felt encouraged.
Nevertheless, on election day the San Francisco Truman headquarters on Market Street were gloomy. As everyone knows, the press, the radio, and the polls all forecast a victory for Governor Dewey. Harold McGrath came into the office and told us there was 100 to 1 money available if we wanted to bet on Truman. No one took advantage of the wonderful odds.
The State Democratic office was practically empty. The telephones were silent. Only eight faithful Trumanites showed up.
FUCHS: Who was there on the last day of the campaign?
TQLAN: In addition to McGrath, Chairman Oliver Carter; Womens' State Chairlady, Mrs. Charles B. Porter; National Committeewoman, Mrs. Edward H. Heller; John Abbott; Joseph Paul, our radio expert; San
Francisco County Chairman, William M. Malone; and yours truly.
The next day we celebrated the President's victory and the fact that Harry Truman had carried Northern California, although he lost statewide.
FUCHS: Did you serve the Truman Administration there after?
TOLAN: Yes, due to run away inflation, the Congress created the Office of Price Stabilization during the Korean war. John Abbott and I remained partners in business until that national emergency arose. I felt positive we would be called back to Navy duty as we were Reserve officers. Michael V. Disalle, the Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, was brought to Washington by President Truman as his Price Administrator.
The Democratic State Central Committee submitted my name to Mr. Disalle for the position of Regional O.P.S. Director in California, Arizona and Nevada. Even though I had permanent Federal Civil Service qualifications, there was some trouble about my
being appointed. However, I did not ask for White House Intervention.
FUCHS: Who objected?
TOLAN: Gael Sullivan at the Democratic National Committee. He thought Northern California was getting too much patronage and wanted a Los Angeles man, out of the aircraft industry, a Mr. Bert Matthews. I was in Washington on law business at the time. National Committeewoman, Mrs. Edward Heller, was also in Washington. She heard of the problem from the California State Democratic office. They said that they were requested to send in an endorsement for Matthews. Mrs. Heller went to see Bill Boyle at the Democratic Committee and said that if I did not receive the appointment she would resign from the National Committee.
Senator Pat McCarran heard about the dispute from Mrs. Heller. He called me to his office. When I arrived he picked up the telephone and called Mr. Disalle. He said, "Mike, if John Tolan is not appointed to that job there will be no need
for you to show your face on Capitol Hill."
Administrator Disalle signed my appointment that day and telephoned the news to San Francisco. I took the next plane home.
I had made some stout friends on Capitol Hill during my liaison service to the Truman War Investigating Committee.
FUCHS: How long did you hold that position?
TOLAN: From February 1951 until April 1953. I resigned after the Eisenhower victory and before price controls were lifted.
FUCHS: Did it turn out to be a difficult job?
TOLAN: Very difficult. It practically made me earn an advanced degree in economics. I set up District O.P.S. offices in California at San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego; in Nevada at Reno and Las Vegas; in Arizona at Phoenix and Tucson. Soon we had over 1,200 employees, and over 400,000 businesses under price controls.
The Truman Administration put in several innovative programs to better administer the harness on prices. Some of them were tested in our region. I was shuttling back and forth to Washington. Despite our uncomfortable start Mike Disalle and I became very good friends.
FUCHS: Did you get along with the other Regional Directors?
TOLAN: All but one. She was actually the Deputy Regional Director from New York. She turned out to he quite obdurate, and had a sort of foot-stamping approach to the other Regional Directors during our many Washington meetings. At one time or another, she took on almost everyone. One day she got thoroughly squelched. She almost shouted at one of the Regional Directors, "That's a crazy idea. Tell. me where are you from -- just where are you from?"
The Regional Director paused, looked her in the eye. There was a kindly, benign smile on his face when he answered, "Independence, Missouri, Ma'am Independence, Missouri!"
No one offered to help her regain her composure
after that exquisite riposte.
FUCHS: Yes, President Truman had put Independence, Missouri on the map.
TOLAN: That's about all I have to tell you about the Truman experiences. I left the Government for the next fifteen years and built housing subdivisions. Later I did some White House service (without compensation) for the Office of Civilian Defense and the Office of Emergency planning during the Johnson Administration. Later my Federal service was as Assistant Regional Administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in San Francisco. I was in that position only six months when I was appointed Deputy Mayor of San Francisco.
The memories of the Truman Committee are still fresh. Only yesterday I recalled standing in that massive building at the Nazi Proving Ground at Hillersleben, Germany. We were looking at the 35" shell of the giant World War II "Big Bertha." The gun mount was five stories high. The object of the gun was to shell London from the coast of
France. American precision bombers never let the Nazis complete the construction of the gun emplacement in France.
We won the war. As a United States Senator and as our President, Harry S. Truman had a hand in seeing that we did.
Allen, Robert S. and Shannon, William V. The Truman Merry-Go-Round. New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc., 1950.
Byrnes, James F. Speaking Frankly. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1947.
Kimmel, Husband E. Admiral Kimmel's Story. Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1955.
McNaughton, Frank and Hehmeyer, Walter. This Man Truman. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1945.
Prange, Gordon R. At Dawn We Slept. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981.
Riddle, Donald H. The Truman Committee. New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1964.
Rosenman, Samuel T. Working with Roosevelt. New York, Harper & Brothers,1952.
Somers, Herman Miles. Presidential Agency, OWMR. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1950.
Strauss, Lewis L. Men and Decisions. Garden City, New York, Doubleday F Company, 1962.
Toland, John. Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath. Garden City, New York, Doubleday Company, Inc., 1982.
Toulmin, Harry Aubrey, Jr. Diary of Democracy. New York, Richard R. Smith, 1947.
Truman, Margaret. Harry S. Truman. New York, William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1973.
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
A B C
D E F G
H I J K
L M N O
P Q R S
T U V W
Abbott, John, 17-18, 19, 24, 25, 32, 36, 38, 46, 48, 51, 52, 53, 56, 59, 60, 64, 65, 73, 109, 138, 144, 149,
Able, William, 56, 147
Acheson, Dean, 211
Alaska Defense Command, World War II, 60, 66-69
Amberg, Julius H., 167
American Association of General Contractors, 203
Army-Navy "E" Award, 152, 204
Ball, Joseph H., 33, 39, 171
Bankhead, William, 29
Bard, Ralph A., 87, 140, 148
Barrett Construction Company, San Francisco, California, 84-85
Baruch, Belle, 154
Baruch, Bernard M., 154
Bell, C. Jasper, 29
Benson, Louis, 171
Blandy, W.H.P., 101, 103
Boland, Edward P., 103, 104
Boulder Dam, 20
Boyle, William M., 211, 223
Bramstedt, William, 67-71
Brewster, Owen, 33, 39
Briggs, H.M., 100
Brown, Edmund G., 207
Bryan, Darwin, 204
Bucholtz, Margaret, 52-53
Bureau of Ships, U.S., 54-58, 86-87
Burton, Harold H., 37, 39, 109
Byrnes, James F., 72, 73, 150, 180
California Magazine, 96
Camp Callan, San Diego, California, 197-201
Canol Project, inquiry re, 59-74
Caribbean bases, lease from Great Britain by U.S. in World War II, 164-168
Carter, Oliver J., 210-213, 221
Carusi, Eugene C., 19, 20
Central California War Industries, 152
Chavez, Dennis, 49
Chesney, Earl, 10-11
Clark, "Jocko," 142-146
Cochrane, Edward L., 54
Collier's Magazine, 128
Congressional Committees, subpoena power of, 3-10
Connally, Tom, 109
Connelly, Matthew J., 34, 44-45, 46, 64, 180, 209, 211, 214, 215, 216
Contract Settlement Act of 1944, 7
Cooke, Richard C., 88
Corrigan, John D., 99-105, 108-112
Cartwright, Frank, 203
Curtis, Carl, 34
Denfeld, Louis E., 114
DiSalle, Michael V., 222-225
Downey, Sheridan, 34
Dyson, C.H., 167
Education and Labor Committee, U.S. Senate (manpower), 72
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 170, 217
Europe, Truman Committee visits, 1945, 168-175
Farming-out Boards, 89, 94-95
Ferguson, Homer, 33, 38-41, 64-65, 83, 109, 111, 139-140, 145, 163, 171, 172, 179
Fisher, Charles W., 51
Flanagan, Francis, 47, 50-51, 171, 196
Folsom, Frank, 23
Forbes Magazine, 96
Forrestal, James V., 13, 15, 16, 23, 58, 62, 74, 99, 101, 102, 105, 107, 147, 162
Fort Ethan Allen, 189-191
Frederick Harris Company, 120, 123, 126, 129
Fridell, W.L., 152, 204, 206
Fulton, Hugh, 34, 36, 41-43, 45, 47, 48, 63, 106, 107, 108, 110, 111
Gatch, Thomas L., 10, 104-109, 112, 147
Gates, Alexander P., 167
Gearhart, B.W., 169
Gideon, David B., 186
Gross, Bertram R., 7
Groves, Leslie, 177
Gygax, Felix X., 142
Halle, Rudolph, 36, 43, 44, 47-49, 99, 102-108, 111, 113-114, 117, 120-121, 127, 128, 138, 144, 147,
Harris, Frederic R., 120, 123, 126, 129-131
Hart, Thomas C., 126
Hatch, Carl A., 109, 111
Hayden, Max M., 169
Hearst, William Randolph, 20, 154-155
Hehmeyer, Walter, 53, 57
Heller, Mrs. Edward, 221, 223
Hensel, H. Struve, 28, 106, 147
Hewitt, H. Kent, 107
Hillenkoetter, Roscoe H., 114-117
Holland, Lou E., 79-82
Horne, Frederick J., 12, 13, 15, 60, 74, 95, 103, 135-139, 147, 149
Housing Act of 1946, 192
Housing, post World War II, 189-195, 197-201, 203
Hudson & Creyke, 207-208
Hudson, Minor, 208
Ickes, Harold L., 62
James J. Gillick and Company, 215
Jeffers, William M., 62
Johnson, Hiram, 34
Johnson, Robert, 81
Jones, E.D., 89
Kaiser, Henry J., 42
Kaiser West Coast Shipyards, 82
Kennedy, John A., 10, 12-23, 25, 31, 32, 34, 36, 38, 46, 48, 54, 56, 59, 63-64, 73, 74, 76, 87, 95, 103, 105,
106, 114, 115, 121-125, 131, 144, 149, 153-155, 161, 163, 175-176, 218
Kenney, W. John, 11, 28, 105, 106, 147
Kenny, Robert, 181, 207
Kilgore, Harley M., 22, 23, 36-38, 41, 72, 109, 111, 163, 168, 171, 172
Kimmel, Husband E., 118-121, 123-129
King, Ernest J., 12, 127, 135
Klagsbrunn, Hans, 180, 181, 182, 183, 189, 195, 199, 204
Knowles, Miles H., 167, 168, 171
Knox, Frank, 2, 8-9, 13, 15, 16, 21, 23, 58, 60, 62, 99, 101, 118-124, 126-127, 161-163
Knox, Harley, 197-201
Krooth, David L., 186-191
Lamb, Robert K., 31
Lee, John C.H., 172
Lightbody, Denise, 173-174
Littlejohn, Robert, 186
Livingston, Joseph A., 205
McCarran, Pat, 211, 223
McCormack, John W., 89
McGrath, Harold, 217, 219, 221
McNarney, Joseph T., 170
McNaughton, Frank, 53
McNutt, Paul V., 62
Manhattan Project, 176-178
Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, 82, 204-207
Maritime Commission, U.S., 82, 92-93
Marrakech, Morroco, Truman Committee visit to, 1945, 40
Marshall, George C., 118
May, Samuel C., 202
Mead, James, 2, 33, 34-36, 37, 41, 65, 140, 143-144, 164
Meader, George, 44, 47, 48-49, 113, 133, 156, 157, 196
Metropolitan Club, Washington, D.C., 19
Mid-Central Associated Defense Industries, Inc., 79
Military Affairs Committee, U.S. Senate, 37, 72
Military Contracts, World War II, 82-87, 93-95
Military procurement, World War II, 61-62, 72-78, 86-89
Mills, Carl W., 54
Missouri State Society, 158-159
Missouri, U.S.S., launching of, 1944, 158-159
Mitchell, Hugh B., 41
Monterey, U.S.S., 18
Moreell, Benjamin, 157
Murray, James E., 7, 23, 31, 59, 72, 88, 91-92, 152, 201
Nash, Frank C., 54-56
Nathan, Robert R., 181
National Association of Home Builders, 203-204
National Defense Migration, U.S. Senate Committee on, 30-31, 72, 79
National Housing Agency, 186, 191
Nelson, Donald M., 61, 71, 72-73, 80, 82, 132
New Jersey Shipbuilding Company, 129, 130
Noble, Albert G., 6, 7
Norden, Carl, 100
Norfolk (Va.) Navy Yard, 139-149
Norfolk Virginia Pilot, 140-141
Odlum, Floyd B., 80
Office of Price Administration, 75
Office of Price Stabilization, 222-225
Office of Production Management, 80
Office of War Mobilization, 61, 72
Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 2, 36, 52, 73, 150, 179-207
O'Hara, Joseph, 97
Patterson, Robert P., 6, 62-64, 70, 74
Patman, Wright, 88
Pearl Harbor investigations, 107, 118-128
Pension plans, U.S. Senate Committee to Investigate, 29
Pepper, Claude H., 72
Petroleum Administration for War, 61, 62
Pope Pius XII, 174
Presidential campaign, 1948, 211-222
RAMP (Returned Allied Military Prisoners), 173
Rand, James H., 99, 101
Reader's Digest, 96
Remington-Rand Corporation, 99-112
Robinson, Harold G., 46
Robinson, Samuel M., 61-62, 73-74, 76, 101, 130, 131-133, 135-138
Rogers, Will, Jr., 207
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 29-30, 72, 73, 101, 118, 127, 136, 150, 164
Roosevelt, James, 217-218
Select Committees, U.S. House of Representatives, 28-29
Selective Service, legislation re, 149-151
Shelley, Jack, 207
Short, Walter C., 118, 119, 127, 128
Simpson, William H., 170
Small Business Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, 88
Small Business, U.S. Senate Committee on, 23, 31, 59, 72, 88, 91-92, 95, 98, 152, 200, 201
Smaller War Plants Corporation, 81, 92
Snyder, John W., 2, 5, 179-180, 182-183, 195
Somervell, Brehon B., 61, 62-64, 66, 69, 72, 74
Sonnett, John F., 107
Soviet-U.S. Alaska ferry service of aircraft, World War 11, 68-69
Sparkman, John J., 34
Special Committees, U.S. Senate, 28-29
Standard Oil of Alaska, 68-70
Standard Oil of California, 67-70
Stark, Harold R., 118, 119, 127, 170
Starr, Oscar L., 81, 82
Steed, Thomas, 196
Stern, Harold, 205
Stevenson, Adlai E., 124-126
Stimson, Henry L., 118, 176
Strauss, Agnes, 51-52, 133
Strauss, Lewis L., 4-7, 90
Summeral, Mildred, 114
Surplus Property Administration, 185
Surplus property, disposal of, 157
Surplus property, legislation re, 90-91
Taylor, Frank J., 96
Thomas, John Charles, 206
Todd Shipyards, 129, 130
Tolan, Alma, 26
Tolan Committee, 30-31, 72, 79-80
Tolan, George, 34
Tolan, John H., Jr., background, 1-2, 25-28
Tolan, John H., Sr., 24, 26-27, 29, 72, 79-80, 196
Toland, Edmund, 4, 8
Towle, Elmer J., 206, 207
Townsend, Francis, 29-30
Townsend Pension Plan, 29
Bureau of Ships, U.S., investigation of, 54-58, 86-87
Truman, Harry S.:
Canol Project, investigation of, 59-74
press treatment of naval liaison staff, 163-164
Remington-Rand Corporation, probe of, 99-112
subcommittees, role of, 35
trips of, 32-33, 136, 138-146, 153-156, 164-179
uniqueness of, 14-15
war plans, investigation of contract awards and production of quotas, 75-81, 85-98
Chairman of Truman Committee, fairness as, 16
Truman, Margaret, 158, 159, 160
Forrestal, James V., appoints first Secretary of Defense, 74
Forrestal, James V., meeting with re Pearl Harbor investigations, 107
Kimmel, Husband E., letter from re Pearl Harbor probe, 128
leadership as Chairman of Truman Committee, 41
military contracts, dislike of cost-plus type of, 84
Missouri U.S.S., and newsreels of launching, 1944, 158-160
Remington-Rand hearings, presides over, 108-111
small business, support for, 85
Tolan, John H., Jr., contact with, 33-34
Tolan, John H., Jr., visits with in White House, 208-211
Truman Committee, tenure as chairman, 1, 36
Truman Committee witnesses, reaction to, 137-138
Tugwell, Rexford G., 166
Tunnell, James M., 33
Vaughan, Harry H., 34, 180
Vinson, Carl, 8, 130-131
Vinson, Fred M., 181
Wadsworth, James J., 186
Waesche, R.R., 50
Wallgren, Mon C., 37, 41
Walsh, David I., 44, 48
War Assets Administration, U.S., 185, 186
War Manpower Commission, U.S., 75, 93-94, 141
War plants, small, 75-81, 85-89, 96-98
War Production Board, U.S., 1, 25, 61, 71, 72, 75, 81, 82, 86, 87, 92, 96, 97
Warren, Earl, 204, 206, 207
Washington Times-Herald, 20
Winant, John G., 174
Wolfe, Alfred C., 51-52, 147
Women's Royal Army Corps, 173
Wyatt, Wilson W., 182, 186, 189, 192, 193-194, 197, 199, 200, 203-204
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