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Guide to the Brooklyn Navy Yard oral history collection ARC.003

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Amy Lau, Mary Mann, Aliki Caloyeras, and Margaret Fraser

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on  , September 3, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

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Oral History Interview with Ernest Thompson, May 18, 2009

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Thompson (1917- ) was born in Byronville, Georgia and grew up as the oldest of six children in Americus, Georgia. For the first five years of Thompson's life his father worked as a farmer. When the family moved to Americus Thompson's father worked for a lumber company. Upon graduation from high school in 1936, Thompson enlisted in the Navy and went to boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia. Before World War II, Thompson was assigned to the Tennessee battleship. In 1940, Thompson left the service and got married. He took a job as a laborer in Los Angeles for the Sub-Pacific Railroad and was promoted to boilermaker apprentice where he learned about steelwork and ironwork. He then went to work for the city of Los Angeles and got called back into service as a second class petty officer and was quickly promoted to first class based on his work experience. He was given orders to go to Philadelphia to take classes on engineering spaces in Navy ships. Upon completion of school, he chose to work on the Missouri and moved to the Flushing Avenue Barracks in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in March 1944. Thompson worked on the engineering spaces of the Missouri throughout World War II in No. 4 Boiler Room and was onboard Missouri during the surrender of Japan.

Scope and Contents

During the interview, Ernest Thompson (1917- ) talks about growing up in Georgia and why he decided to enlist in the Navy. Thompson describes the jobs his brothers did during World War II. He discusses how his work as a boiler apprentice helped his career working in engineering spaces in the Navy. He describes life at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and living and working in the engineering spaces of the Missouri. He recounts, in great detail, eating breakfast onboard the Missouri the morning of the surrender of Japan. He also recounts his experience trying to get home to southern California at the end of World War II. Interview conducted at the U.S.S. Missouri Reunion in Virginia on May 18, 2009. Interview conducted by Daniella Romano.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Organizations

  • New York Naval Shipyard
  • Missouri (Battleship : BB 63)

Subject Topics

  • Engineering
  • Engineers
  • Warships
  • Navy-yards and naval stations
  • Shipbuilding -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Shipyards -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Virginia