Roger Pineau Collection
Career naval officer, Captain Roger Pineau, USNR, attended the US Navy Japanese Language School at the University of Colorado during World War II. As a junior officer, Pineau served in Naval Intelligence in the Naval Communication Annex in Washington, D.C. from 1943 to 1945, where he worked in code-breaking operations. After the war, Pineau served as an interpreter and analyst with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in Japan and was assigned by the Office of Naval Intelligence to the Washington Document Center until 1947, when he was transferred to the Office of Naval History. In this capacity, he served until 1957 as assistant to Navy Rear Admiral and Harvard University historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, during which time he helped research and write the fifteen volume work, History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II. He graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1954.
In 1950, Pineau retired to the inactive naval reserve. After 1957, Pineau served in the State Department as Chief of Far East Current Intelligence., the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the State Department as Social Science Officer for Cultural and Educational Affairs. From 1965 to 1972, he worked at the Smithsonian, becoming the managing editor of the Smithsonian Institution Press. He was then recalled to active duty as Director of the Navy Memorial Museum in the Washington Navy Yard until his retirement in 1978.
He came to be frustrated by the lack of any historical mention of the US Navy Japanese Language School and the significant wartime contributions of its graduates in decryption, interpretation, and translation of intercepted Japanese naval radio communications. Not only had Japanese Language Officers had played an important role in handling and interrogating Japanese POWs, in naval intelligence, and in occupation tasks during the Pacific War, they also had important post-war roles. JLOs had been instrumental in the capitulation of bypassed Japanese units, following the Emperor’s surrender. They assisted in the mass repatriation of Japanese POWs from all over the Pacific, China and Southeast Asia. In addition, many served in the Occupation of Japan. Still, there was little, if any mention of the Navy Japanese Language School in Navy literature or in World War II historical literature, partly due to the absence of available archival information in naval historical holdings, and partly explained by the continued restriction on WWII intelligence documents.
After his retirement in the late 1970s, CPT Roger Pineau decided to rectify the absence of any mention of the School and its graduates by researching and writing a book on the subject. He soon found that neither the US Navy nor the National Archives held very many records on the school, so he began his effort by writing to his USN JLS classmates and other graduates, seeking their recollections, documents and scrapbooks. Pineau also contacted the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, for JLS entrance lists and other available documents. He and classmate William Hudson organized USN JLS reunions in 1976 (Washington, DC) and 1992 (University of Colorado at Boulder). By this time, his correspondence and reunion activity had built a substantial research file on the sensei, attendees, and operation of the School. Aside from gathering most of the relevant naval records and reports, he was able to pull together hundreds of WWII photographs, many individual files of correspondence and memoirs, as well as school texts, some 20 linear feet in all. Unfortunately, CPT Pineau’s health did not permit him to finish his research.
Upon his death in November 22, 1993, his extensive research collection on the US Navy Japanese Language School was donated to the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, becoming the core of the US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project. This collection contributed heavily to the publication of two scholarly works on the subject, several articles and a video interview project at the archives of the Pacific Basin Institute of Pomona College. None of these projects, or the subsidiary collections we acquired, would have been possible without the efforts, research, and files of Captain Roger Pineau.