Tuesday, September 1, 2020

VJ Day Artifact Series (Part 3): USS Missouri (BB 63) Telephone

 To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we asked our colleagues at our sister museums for some interesting artifacts that highlight unique aspects of the Navy during the war. This week we have an artifact on display at our sister museum, the National Museum of the United States Navy in Washington, D.C. 

Japanese Surrender Ceremony aboard USS Missouri, September 2, 1945. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

By Wesley Schwenk
Collections Manager, National Museum of the United States Navy

After being commissioned in 1944, USS Missouri (BB 63) joined the fleet outfitted with all of the regulation bells and whistles, including the telephone pictured here. The entirety of Missouri's service saw the use of this telephone. This Type D telephone, produced by the Automatic Electric Company, was built in its Chicago, Illinois plant. Not just the Type D, but many other phones made by this company were staples of United States Navy shipboard communication equipment. The phone gave the user the capability to speak with or take calls from various parts of the ship allowing for speedy responses and efficient decision making.

Type D telephone from USS Missouri (on loan to NMUSN from Curator Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Crewmen use a telephone in the radio room aboard sister ship USS New Jersey (BB 62) in 1944. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
This object is an interesting one in and of itself because of the missions and objectives that were communicated through it. That includes the vessel being attached to Task Force 58 in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, launching air strikes against enemy targets, and firing 16-inch gun bombardment support prior and during the Iwo Jima and Okinawa landings. This telephone also assisted in communications for the striking of the Japanese mainland in 1945 and cemented Missouri's place among the Pacific fleet. 
USS Missouri's mighty 16-inch guns roar in 1944. Six projectiles can be seen in flight to the right. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Finally, this object remained on board and in use for the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. This artifact allowed USS Missouri (BB 63) to succeed during World War II and eventually proved to be one small but important part of her 48 years of naval service.
The Japanese delegation arrive for the surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. (Naval History and Heritage Command) 

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