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Edwin T. Layton papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-069

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of fifty-one boxes of published and unpublished research source material, as well as a small collection of personal papers.

Series I, published material, contains a variety of research materials collected by Layton. It is divided into four subseries. Select volumes of Senshi Sosho, the official Japanese History of World War II, along with portions that were photocopied and hand bound by Layton form the first subseries. This material is in Japanese. Books, including works on naval intelligence, Japanese ship lists, both in English and Japanese, comprise subseries II. Subseries III contains copies of journal and magazine articles, book reviews and chapters of books on intelligence and military topics for the World War II period, as well as portions of a U.S. Naval Institute Oral History with Captain Joseph Rochefort. Strategic area planning maps of the Pacific Ocean are in subseries IV.

Series II, unpublished material, contains, for the most part, documents that can also be found in the records of the National Security Agency located in the National Archives. Subseries I contains histories (SRH) treating aspects of radio intelligence in the war; memoranda of the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, as well as minutes of Committee meetings; OP-20 reports on Japanese Grand Maneuvers; Japanese reports on allied communications; a Naval Security Group history and the War Diary of the Combat Intelligence Unit covering the years 1941–1947. Subseries II houses Japanese Naval Radio Intelligence summaries of Japanese naval activities for the years 1942–1945, designated SRNS. Miscellaneous records pertaining to Japanese Naval Communications for 1942 (SRNM) are in subseries III. Translations of Japanese naval messages, 1941–1942, appear in subseries IV. Subseries V contains CINCPAC messages for 1942 along with Layton’s handwritten notebooks with comments on the messages and a Japanese diplomatic message of April 17, 1941. All of the above material is in English. Cassette tapes of oral history interviews with Layton conducted by Pineau and Costello, draft chapters of And I Was There, excerpts from ships’ logs, translations of accounts of naval operations in the Pacific Ocean area, notecards, research files, photographs, maps, personal letters, and articles comprise the final subseries.

Series III, personal papers, 1924–1976, contains a number of items, including correspondence regarding the establishment of the Layton Chair of Intelligence at the Naval War College, Layton’s retirement from the Navy, and an oral history interview conducted by the Naval Institute. Biographical material, certificates, books, pamphlets, photographs, maps, and a draft copy of


  • Creation: 1924 - 1986


Language of Materials

Materials are in English and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

Edwin T. Layton was born in Nauvoo, Illinois, on April 7, 1903, son of George E. and Mary C. Layton. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1924 and served for the next five years in the Pacific Fleet in USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48) and USS CHASE (DD-323).

In 1929, he was one of a small number of naval officers selected for Japanese language training. He was assigned to the American Embassy in Tokyo as a naval attache where he remained for three years, the last four months of which he spent in Peiping, China, as assistant naval attache at the American Legation. His linguistic ability and fluency in Japanese proved to be assets as his career progressed and as World War II loomed on the horizon.

During the 1930s, Layton served two tours of duty in the Navy Department’s Office of Intelligence, in 1933 and again in 1936–1937, and a three-year stint in the battleship PENNSYLVANIA where he received commendations for gunnery excellence. He returned to Tokyo in 1937 for a two-year period as assistant naval attache at the American Embassy there. A one-year tour of duty as Commanding Officer of USS BOGGS (AG-19) followed.

When war was declared on December 8, 1941, Layton was Combat Intelligence Officer on the staff of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In this capacity, he was in charge of all intelligence in the Pacific Ocean area and, with his staff, evaluated Japanese naval, air, and sea capabilities and intentions. This information was vital in planning naval campaigns against the enemy and contributed to the success and ultimate victory of American fighting forces in the Pacific theater of war. He accompanied Admiral Nimitz to Tokyo Bay when the Japanese formally surrendered on September 2, 1945.

Layton remained on the staff of the Pacific Fleet until February 1945 and then returned to the United States for a three-year tour of duty as Commander of the U.S. Naval Net Depot at Tiburon, California. Intelligence work beckoned again, this time a two-year assignment as the first Director of the Naval Intelligence School in Washington D.C.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Layton’s specialty in intelligence was again required, and he spent six months as Intelligence Officer on the staff of the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District in Hawaii. His evaluative skills and keen interpretation of events were vital during the early stages of the conflict. In 1951, he again assumed the position of Fleet Intelligence Officer on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific for a two-year period.

In 1953, with the war over, he was assigned to the staff of the Joint Chiefs where he was Assistant Director for Intelligence, then Deputy Director. His last duty before retirement was Director of the Naval Intelligence School at the Naval Receiving Station, Washington, D.C. He retired in 1959 with the rank of rear admiral and immediately joined the Northrup Corporation as Director of Far East Operations in Tokyo, Japan, 1959–1963. He retired from Northrup in 1964 and moved to Carmel, California. Layton died in 1984, a year before his book, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets, written with co-authors Roger Pineau and John Costello, was published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Rear Admiral Layton’s medals and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal and Commendation Ribbon; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the United Nations Service Medal; and the Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation.

The Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, honored Layton in the 1960s by naming the Chair of Naval Intelligence after him.

His wife Miriam and two sons and four daughters survive.

Career Outline

Born, 7 April, Nauvoo, Illinois.
Graduated, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Commissioned Ensign.
USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48); USS CHASE (DD-323), Watch Officer, Torpedo Officer, First Lieutenant, Assistant Gunnery Officer, Stores Officer, and Commissary Officer.
American Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, Naval Attache, and Japanese language instruction.
American Legation, Peiping, China, Assistant Naval Attache.
Navy Department, Office of Naval Intelligence.
USS PENNSYLVANIA (BB-38), Senior Watch and Division Officer.
Navy Department, Office of Naval Intelligence.
American Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, Assistant Naval Attache.
U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander-in-Chief, Combat Intelligence Officer.
Promoted to Captain.
U.S. Naval Net Depot, Tiburon, CA, CO.
Naval Intelligence School, Washington, D.C., Director.
Staff, Commandant, 14th Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, District Intelligence Officer.
Staff, Commander Naval Forces Far East, Force Intelligence Officer.
Staff, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Fleet Intelligence Officer.
Joint Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff for Joint Intelligence.
Promoted to Rear Admiral.
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Staff of Intelligence, Washington, D.C., Assistant Director.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deputy Director for Intelligence.
U.S. Pacific Fleet, Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief.
Naval Intelligence School, Washington, D.C., Director.
Retired from the U.S. Navy, 1 November.
Northrup International, Tokyo, Japan, Director of Far Eastern Operations.
Died, 12 April, Monterey, CA.


52 boxes (includes oversized items )


Correspondence, letters received regarding Naval Institute oral history and Naval War College Chair of Intelligence, 1970–1975; Miscellany, including yearbook, Japanese texts, maps and charts, programs, certificates, USN commissions, and photographs, 1924–1984; Research source materials used in writing And I Was There, including published volumes of Japanese War Series, Senshi Sosho, 1967–1975,Pacific Mobile Radio Intelligence Unit Reports, 1942–1945; Books, Japanese monographs, military intelligence pamphlets, magazines, oral histories and maps; Unpublished materials, including various SRH histories, 1942–1947; SRNS, Japanese Naval Radio Intelligence Summaries, 1942–1945; SRN, Translations of Japanese Naval Messages, 1941–1942; SRNM, Japanese Naval Communications, 1942; CINCPAC messages, 1942; Tapes of interviews conducted by authors,1970–1983; Ships logs and action reports, 1941–1942; Translations of Japanese War History, 1942–1944; Notes and notebooks on WWII events and Japanese Intelligence; Photographs and personal letters; Promotion certificate to Rear Admiral; Drafts, Letters, memoranda and book reviews of And I Was There; Pacific Mobile Radio Intelligence Unit Reports, 1942–1945; Miscellaneous lists of diagrams, maps and biographies.


This collection is arranged into the following series:

Series I.
Published materials
Series II.
Unpublished materials
Series III.
Personal papers, 1924-1976

Custodial History

The papers of Edwin T. Layton, naval officer and intelligence specialist, were presented to the Naval War College Foundation for deposit in the Naval Historical Collection by his widow, Mrs. Miriam Layton of Carmel, California, in 1986 and 1987. Captain Roger Pineau, USNR (Ret.) was instrumental in transferring the research source materials that Layton collected and that he and his co-authors used in writing And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets.

Existence and Location of Originals

Some of the copied documents found within this collection are hed in the records of the National Security Agency at the National Archives.

Related Materials

Oral History Typescript of Edwin T. Layton, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1970.


  • Layton, Edwin, Pineau, Roger and Costello, John. And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1985.
  • Layton, Edwin T. “Rendezvous in Reverse,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. No. 79 (May 1953), 478–485.
  • ———. “24 Sentai–Japan’s Commerce Raids,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. No. 102 (June 1976), 53–61.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US