Francis S. Low papers
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains manuscripts, books, articles, personal writings and items, and photographs. They primarily document Low’s career in the Navy from the years 1915-1956, but also touch on his civilian and family life. A large portion of the collection refers to Low’s involvement in World War II, particularly his time serving with Admiral King.
The manuscript of Low’s autobiography (including family trees and a brief family history), as well as the order and scrap book contain the most in depth information regarding his Naval career. Together they provide a firsthand account of his service experiences along with a near complete chronology of his orders and career. Also found in the order and scrap book are newspaper clippings corresponding to events detailed in his autobiography, correspondence, and personal writings ranging from passages of books and poems to at-sea liquor recipes.
After Low’s death, his wife took custody of the papers, at which point some newspaper clippings were added to the collection.
- Creation: 1915-2000
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1915-1963
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.
Francis Stuart Low was born on August 15, 1894 in Albany, NY. He entered the Naval Academy in 1911 at the age of 16 after attending high school in Newton, MA. In the years following Low’s graduation from the Naval Academy in 1915, he completed training in submarine school and went on to command multiple submarines from 1917-1922.
In 1925, Low spent a year studying at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, followed by a yearlong post as an instructor at the Naval Academy. Starting in 1927 he served on the USS New Mexico for three years, after which he was sent to the Asiatic Station where he commanded the USS Paul Jones. In 1935 he returned to the United States to serve two positions in Navy Department until World War II, with a two year service as the Commander of Submarine Squadron 13 in between.
During World War II, Low worked closely with Admiral King, as Operations Officer and later as Chief of Staff of the 10th Fleet. He was eventually given command of the 16th Cruiser Division in early 1945. During this time, he played an integral role in anti-U-boat tactics, as well as assisting in strikes against the Japanese islands and mainland. Low was also tasked with the securing of Japanese Naval installations following their surrender in August of 1945.
Following the war, he served as a Commander in various capacities, as well as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics). Low’s final post was serving as the Commander West Sea Frontier and Pacific Reserve Fleet until his retirement in July 1956, after which he was advanced to the rank of Admiral. He retired to Oakland, CA with his wife, Alice Paul Requa Low (1900-1982), and passed away at the age of 69 on January 22, 1964.
Low’s decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Haitian Campaign Medal, Mexican Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Europe-Africa-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, Commendation Ribbon, Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Yangtze River Service Medal, WWI & WWII Victory Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, Order of the British Empire (Commander), Philippines Legion of Honor (Commander), Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Grand Officer), France Legion of Honor (Commander), as well as multiple commendations in regards to Gunnery and Battle Efficiency aboard the USS New Mexico.
Chronology of Naval Service
- 1915 June
- Graduated from the Naval Academy and appointed Ensign
- 1915 July
- Began service onboard battleship USS Connecticut
- 1915 December
- Joined torpedo class on the USS Montana
- 1916 July
- Began instruction on submarines aboard the USS Fulton in New London, CT.
- 1916 December
- Completed coursework on submarines
- Began duty on board D-3 Submarine
- 1917 June
- Took command of D-3 Submarine
- 1917 October
- Promoted to Lieutenant
- 1917 December
- Assigned to the Tactical Group of Submarine Chasers
- 1918 August
- Began duty on board O-9 submarine
- 1919 April
- Began duty in command of USS AL-1 submarine
- 1920 January
- Began duty in command of USS L-2 submarine
- 1920 March
- Began duty as Torpedo Officer of Submarine Division Five
- 1922 September
- Began duty in command of USS S-12 submarine
- 1923 August
- Removed from duty aboard USS S-12 and placed on sick leave for one month
- 1923 September
- Began duty as Flag Lieut. to Read Admiral M.M. Taylor
- 1925 June
- Attended the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, RI
- 1926 June
- Upon completing coursework at NWC, began instructing at the U.S. Naval Academy
- Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
- 1927 March
- Began duty as Asst. Fire Control Officer of USS New Mexico
- 1930 May
- Began duty as Officer in Charge at Recruiters’ Training School, Hampton Roads, VA
- Ordered to Asiatic Station and began staff duties with Submarine Squadron Five
- Served as commander of USS Paul Jones
- Promoted to Commander
- Served as Legislative Officer in the Bureau of Navigation
- Served as Commander of Submarine Squadron 13
- Served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
- Served as Operations Officer to Admiral King
- Promoted to Captain
- 1942 September
- Began duty as Commander of USS Wichita
- Promoted to Rear Admiral
- Served as Chief of Staff of the 10th Fleet for Admiral King
- 1945 January
- Appointed as Commander of Cruiser Division 16
- 1945 August
- Charged with the surrender of all Japanese Naval installations in Korea
- 1945 November
- Began duty as Commander Destroyers, Pacific Fleet
- 1947 March
- Promoted to Vice Admiral and made Commander Service Force, US Pacific Fleet
- 1950 February
- Appointed as Deputy Chief of Naval Operation (Logistics)
- 1953 March
- Began duty as Commander West Sea Frontier and Commander Pacific Reserve Fleet
- 1956 July
- Retired after 45 years of service and advanced to the rank of Admiral
2.1 Linear Feet (1 archival box, 1 half archival box, 1 oversized box, 1 artifact box)
Language of Materials
This collection contains manuscripts, books, articles, personal writings and items, and photographs primarily documenting Francis S. Low’s naval career. Low served in the Navy from 1915-1956, retiring at the rank of Admiral. He specialized in submarine warfare, playing an integral role in anti-U-boat tactics during World War II.
This collection is arranged alphabetically by document type, and then chronologically when applicable.
At the time of his death, his wife became the custodian of the papers, and what happened to them after that is unknown.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Tavistock Books, Alameda, CA, in October 2018.
No accruals are expected.
January 1965 Navy: The Magazine of Sea Power, and copies of USNI Proceedings were removed during processing. These materials can be found in the Naval Historical Collection.
This collections was processed and arranged by Willa Anderson in Oct 2018 according to current archival standards. As the collection was purchased from a third party, with little or no information regarding original order. Photographs were removed from original backings and placed in Mylar sleeves.
- Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965 -- Photographs (Person)
- King, Ernest Joseph, 1878-1956 (Person)
- Low family (Family)
- Naval War College (U.S.) (Organization)
- Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 -- Photographs (Person)
- United States Naval Academy (Organization)
- United States. Navy -- Submarine forces (Organization)
- Francis S. Low papers
- Dacs Finding Aid
- Willa Anderson, NHC Intern
- 2018 Oct 22
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note