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Francis S. Low papers

Identifier: MSC-360

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.

Biographical Note

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.

Custodial History

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.

Related Materials

Guest lectures, RG 15, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Separated Materials

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.

Processing Information

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.

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

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US