Welcome to the U.S. Military Ashtray Museum. Within this site is the most comprehensive information resource ever complied on military ashtrays, with the purpose of documenting and preserving the history of these American treasures. Our ever-expanding collection currently has over 2,000 examples from every branch of service as well as from our home-front war effort. The information used to create this museum was sourced from first-hand accounts of over 1,000 servicemen or their families; industry expertise from numerous military historians and militaria collectors who, combined, offered centuries of knowledge; as well as our personal investigative work uncovering facts and stories previously lost to history. This is a pro-U.S. Military website, not a pro-smoking website. Enjoy!
Although not the first example in our Collection, this is the artifact that started our mission. It was placed at auction with a description reading: “Unknown militray ashtray, 4 Stars, possibly U.S. Navy?, U.S. Coast Guard?” Being the greatest example in our Collection of the lost history this site endeavors to re-discovered, we acquired and began research on this artifact, and located a January 1941 high definition photograph taken by famed WWII photographer George Stock, identifying this American treasure as: “Admiral Ernest J. King’s Ashtray” (see link below). Our research revealed that this ashtray was used aboard two of the most famous war vessels in U.S. Navy history, both used as Admiral Kings Flagships while serving as the Commander-in Chief (C-I-C) of the United States Atlantic Fleet during the darkest hours of WWII. First, aboard the Battleship USS Texas from February 1941 until April 22nd 1941, where he Commanded the longest battle of WWII, the Battle of the Atlantic. Second, aboard the Heavy Cruiser USS Augusta from April 23rd 1941 until December 30th 1941, which was the vessel Admiral King used to carry President Roosevelt to meet Prime Minister Winston Churchill for the Atlantic Charter Summit. Some of those historic meetings were held aboard the USS Augusta. One can only imagine the conversations made in the presence of this artifact. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/admiral-ernest-j-kings-ashtray-news-photo/50455755
Major General Le Roy H. Watson, who amongst other accomplishments in his storied militray career, commanded the 3rd Armored Division at the Battle of Normandy. But for his most historic command, he was personally selected by Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945 to be the Commanding General (C.G) of the International Militray Tribunal, commonly known as the Nurenberg War Trials. His orders from General Eisenhower was to ensure that no nazi leader escape justice. General Watson was successful in this mission, and not a single nazi escaped. The Nuremberg Militray Tribunal was without question the most important trail ever conducted in the history of civilization. Many of the top nazi commanders had already committed suicide, were executed by Hitler or been killed in action by wars end. The Nurenberg Trial was held exclusively for the remaining top natzi commanders still alive post war, like; the number two in command under Hitler Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring, Admiral Karl Donitz who succeeded Adolph Hitler as Chancellor, Head of the nazi party Martin Bormann, Minister of Armaments Albert Speer and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop to name a few. Under Hitler, these nazi war criminals, just as with Stalin in Russian, Tojo in Japan and shortly thereafter with Mao in China, committed the worst atrocities in recorded human history. Unfortunately, from this group only the nazis faced justice, during their lives.
These two incredible matching artifacts tell their own very touching story. They were made specifically for the Event of the surrender ceremony of the Japanese Empire aboard the Battleship USS Missouri on September 2nd, 1945 in Tokyo Bay to the Allied powers, represented and signed by Supreme Allied Commander 5 Star General Douglas MacArthur. These two ashtrays were ordered and designed by an unknown offcier serving on the Battleship USS Idaho, which was present at the Japanese surrender ceremony. The Battleship USS Idaho’s presence, along with numerous other U.S. Naval warships, was ordered by General MacArthur so that if an enemy action were to commence that it would be quickly defeated. The aluminum sand cast ashtray on the right has the surrender location and date proudly cast on its topside, with the name of his ship on the bottom and a pre-war naval offciers hat badge in the center. The use of the pre-war naval hatch badge in these two historic ashtrays was done so to signify both the beginning and end of the greatest war ever fought. The ashtray on the left has the name of the vessel and the year on the bottom, and proudly cast on the top is “Mother & Father”. What makes these two artifacts so compelling, other than that fact that both made for and were present at the surrender of the japanese empire, is what this offcier had in his mind after 4 long years of war, was honoring his “Mother & Father”. We salute this unknown officer.