Dear Mr. Lowe,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
Military records in the custody of the National Archives do not include the record of assignment and operational activity of individual pieces of equipment. Under normal Department of Navy records management procedures, such documentation would be destroyed after initial administrative use. In general, documents such as inventories, deliveries, shipments, and general distribution are not retained as a permanent record. Equipment lists and supply inventory of units are not retained either.
If you know the manufacturer of the knife, there may be some general information about the manufacture or order of that type of weapon. For example, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series General Correspondence Records, 1944-1945 in the General Records of the Department of the Navy (Record Group 80) that contains a file for the P16-1 Imperial Knife Company and a file for the Ulster Knife Company. We also located the series General Correspondence, 1918-1966 in the Records of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts (Navy) (Record Group 143) that contains information about the “L4-1/Schrade, Geo, Knife Co., Inc.” Plus, the series Technical Manuals and Related Documentation in the Records of the Naval Ship Systems Command (Record Group 344) includes the file Woodworking Machinery, Cutterheads and Knives; Yates-American Machine; 391-0442, 1941. These records have not been digitized. For access to and information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
Finally, we suggest that you contact the Naval History and Heritage Command to see if they can offer any additional assistance.
We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
[Some information provided by Nate Patch, Subject Matter Expert.]