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The below correspondence is more of historical interest than for learning. It is a "thanks, but not right now," response to Everett Warner, an artist who had served as a camofleur in the US Navy in the first world war. Despite the rejection here, he would be called back to service in WWII. He was one of the most important figures in US Naval Ship Camouflage.


Captain H.Williams U.S.N.
Bureau of Ships
Navy Department
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir:
         As you perhaps know, I was in charge of the Design Section of Navy Camouflage during the first World War. During the present growing emergency I have hesitated about offering my services. The problem of ship protection has become complicated by so many factors, that I was not sure that my own special experience could be utilized. I felt that I had done my trick at the wheel, and that others might attack the problem and perhaps solve it better than I could.

         Recently I have changed my opinion, and I realize that I may have information and training which would be of real value if the United States starts to paint ships as a measure of submarine defense. If my experience can be used effectively I shall be glad to place it at the disposal of the Navy Department.

         Nothing has contributed so much to my change of attitude as a recent news reel showing camouflaged British ships in Libyan Harbors. Apparently the Admiralty has decided that the tactical situation in the Mediterranean now warrants anti-submarine camouflage, and the ships were painted with "dazzle" designs. To my rather critical eye the designs were very poor. They looked like the hap hazard designs that we all made during the early months of camouflage. No underlying theory had yet been worked out, and it was all experimental. Commander Wilkinson, the British Camouflage chief, himself had no theory. After he returned to England we set to work to analyze the designs which seemed to produce the greatest deception as to course, and by the time the Armistice terminated the work we had something like a real system.

         Yet the British appear to be starting back at the beginning. If we initiate a similar ship painting program, I should not wish to have the Navy lose any of the benefit of the lessons learned during the last war. That is why I am now offering to do anything that I can.

         If you would like to have me call on you sometime for a talk, I am rather expecting to be in Washington some time during the next four weeks. If required I could make a special trip to Washington during the latter part of any week, as my main teaching load falls during the first half of the week.

Very truly yours

Everett Warner

S19-7 (DYr)   HAI/ahb



Dear Mr. Warner:

       This will acknowledge your letter of 14 April, 1941, regarding the question of dazzle camouflage.

       It has been decided not to make use of this type of camouflage on our ships, and while it is quite possible that later developments may bring it into use, at present no plans to that end are being made.

       I will refer your letter and a copy of this reply to the Research Division of the Bureau of Ships where camouflage questions are handled. If you are in Washington, I believe the officer in charge of the Research Division, Captain Lybrand Smith, would be glad to discuss the general situation with you.

       Please accept my thanks for your interest and desire to be of assistance to the Navy.

Yours very truly,
H. Williams
By direction


Mr. Everett Warner
Carnegie Institute of Technology
Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Via Ron Smith:
National Archives & Records Administration, College Park
Record Group 19, General Correspondence

Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.

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