George Laderbush Papers, 1931-2010

Collection number: MC 264
Size: 2 boxes (0.66 cu.ft.)

About George Laderbush (1923-1944)

George Robert Laderbush was born June 26, 1923 in Greenland, NH, the eighth of eleven children born to Albert and Stella Laderbush. He attended St. Patrick's Catholic School, where he played basketball on the school's team. He graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1941. After graduation, he worked for a time at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He entered the US Navy and trained as a torpedoman in Newport, Rhode Island before shipping off for active duty aboard the USS Flier. He served as a Torpedoman's Mate, Second Class in the Pacific Fleet and spent time in California, Hawaii, Australia, and Midway Island. On August 13, 1944, while making their way toward an enemy convoy in the South China Sea, the Flier hit a mine and sank. Forteen men survived the initial blast and sinking, though only eight made it to land and were eventually rescued. Seventy-eight men, including Laderbush, were killed. Citing the need to keep survivors safe, the Navy kept details of the disaster hidden from the public, listing the submarine only as having seen "recent action" in their official reports and press releases. George Laderbush and the other men who died were listed as "missing in action," until they were official declared "killed in action" on January 19, 1946.

George Laderbush was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart in "recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country."

About the George Laderbush Papers

This collection contains a mix of correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and documents relating to George Laderbush's death and the sinking of the USS Flier. The correspondence is mainly between members of the Laderbush family, primarily the eleven siblings. The photographs are mostly miscellaneous family photographs, including several of George and his brother Harry in uniform with other members of the family. Because every effort has been made to maintain the original order in which the family had arranged the documents, all papers relating to George Laderbush's death are housed together in one folder. These papers include: letters from the captain of the Flier, Commander John D. Crowley, to the Laderbush family about the sinking of the submarine; newspaper clippings from the press coverage of the event; some of the family's notes about the timeline of the intervening years between the sinking of the Flier and the official declaration of George's death; and the final letter that George wrote home before he left on his last patrol.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Folder], [Box], George Laderbush Papers, 1931-2010, MC 264, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donation: Marga Coulp, August 26, 2014 (Accession number: 2014.11)

See also: Harry Dufresne Papers, MC 118

Collection Arrangement

Materials are arranged by type, then by chronology: papers first, photographs second, and compiled scrapbooks third. Oversized materials are located in a second box on the oversize shelves. Papers related to George Laderbush's life are in the first three folders, death in the fourth and fifth, and the legacy of the USS Flier in the sixth.

Collection Contents

Series 1: Papers

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1Correspondence, 1941-1947 and undated (8 letters)

Several letters between Cora Laderbush and her siblings; holiday letter from George Laderbush to the Dufresne family sent in 1942 from Newport, RI where he was training in Torpedo School with the US Navy; letter from George sent from the USS Flier, undated; several letters regarding a divorce between Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Holley in 1947

Box 1, Folder 2Composition book containing a list of books read by George Laderbush, 1931-1940
Box 1, Folder 3Portsmouth High School diploma, June 1941; Navy Department, Bureau of Navigation Service Schools, Torpedo School certificate, April 1943
Box 1, Folder 4Papers relating to George Laderbush's death:
  • List of survivors of the USS Flier
  • January page of a pocket calendar with the date of the official declaration of Laderbush's death marked in red
  • Undated letter to Cora (sister) from George Laderbush sent from Fremantle, Australia just before he shipped out on his final service mission
  • Letter from John D. Crowly, commanding officer on USS Flier about the report of "missing in action," does not say much due to Navy silence on the topic, Oct 28, 1944
  • Letter from Cora M. Holley (sister) to Commander Crowley, Nov 9, 1944
  • Letter to Dot and Ray from Joe Lia, a friend of George Laderbush's, contains no details due to Navy silence, Jan 25, 1955
  • Letter from Commander Crowley to Mr. and Mrs. Laderbush containing full story of the disaster, Dec 19, 1945
  • Newspaper clippings (all photocopies): "8 Surviviors of U.S. Sub Flier Tell of 2-week Ordeal in Jap Waters," Boston Sunday Herald, Dec 3, 1944; "Fight Hunger and Heat for 14 Days," Boston Sunday Post, Dec 3, 1944; "Portsmouth Navy Yard Gold Star Heroes," The Portsmouth Periscope, May 25, 1944; "Mystery Clouds Loss of Sub," "29 Jap Ships in Record Haul," picture with caption, "Loss of Sub Announced," and correction notice, all undated and unsourced; certificate of the "recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States," signed by John F. Kennedy
Box 1, Folder 5Memorial plaque presented to the Laderbush family from the city of Portsmouth in recognition of George Laderbush's service and death, May 1947
Box 1, Folder 6Papers relating to the finding of the wreckage of the USS Flier in 2010:
  • "On Eternal Patrol - Lost Submariners of World War II" from memorial website, and collection of print-outs from USS Flier website
  • "USS Flier (SS 250)," information on sinking and story of survivors from USS Redfin website, undated
  • "Navy confirms sunken sub in Balabac Strait is USS Flier," press release from the Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office, Feb 1, 2010
  • "USS Flier (SS 250) August 13, 1944 - 78 Men Lost," Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, undated
  • "U.S. submarine, sunk in 1944, found," Honolulu Adertiser online, Feb 2, 2010
  • "Closure at Last," Foster's Daily Democrat, Feb 3, 2010

Series 2: Photographs

Box 1, Folder 7Miscellaneous photographs
  • 1: George Laderbush and his basketball team, 1937-1938
  • 2: Portrait of George in uniform (3 copies), 1943
  • 3: Portrait of George in uniform (different from e.3), 1943
  • 4: George Laderbush and Harry Laderbush (brother) in uniform (2 different pictures in one envelope), undated
  • 5 George Laderbush, Harry Laderbush (brother), their father, undated
  • 6: Millie (sister), George Laderbush, Cora (sister), Harry (brother), Doris (sister), undated
  • 7: Harry Laderbush, undated
  • 8: George Laderbush, undated
  • 9: George Laderbush, undated
  • 10: George Laderbush with Uncle Tom and Auntie Gertrude, undated
  • 11: Unidentified man and woman, undated
  • 12: Family picture at Holly and Ernie wedding, undated

Series 3: Scrapbooks

Box 1, Folder 8Scrapbook kept in the 1930s by Cora (sister): contains newspaper clippings, business cards, train timetables, letters and postcards, and some pictures
Box 1, Folder 9Scrapbook kept in the 1930s by Cora (sister): contains newspaper clippings, business cards, train timetables, letters and postcards, and some pictures

Series 4: Oversized Materials

Oversize Box 1
Oversize Box 1, Item 1Purple Heart medal, and several other medals and awards for service
Oversize Box 1, Item 2Certificate given with the Purple Heart in recognition of the award and the sacrifice it represents
Oversize Box 1, Item 3Letter from Harry S. Truman presented with the Purple heart
Oversize Box 1, Item 4Oversized photograph: George Laderbush and the 12th Batallion Torpedomen at the US Navy Training School, Newport, RI, undated, names and addresses of everyone pictured are handwritten on the back
Oversize Box 1, Item 5Oversized photograph: George Laderbush and his class at the US Navy Training School, Newport, RI, undated


Letters & Postcards
Military Papers
Newspapers & Publications
Photographs, Slides & Negatives