World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ernest King

Article Id: WHEBN0000447637
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ernest King  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: WikiProject Aviation/Maintenance/Cleanup listing, Harm's Way (novel), ANZAC Area, Battle of the Atlantic, Ralph Waldo Christie
Collection: 1878 Births, 1956 Deaths, American 5 Star Officers, American Military Personnel of World War I, Anti-British Sentiment, Burials at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery, Chiefs of Naval Operations, Commanders of the Order of Vasco Núñez De Balboa, Congressional Gold Medal Recipients, Grand Croix of the Légion D'Honneur, Grand Crosses of the Order of George I, Grand Officers of the Order of the Crown (Belgium), Honorary Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau, Naval War College Alumni, People from Lorain, Ohio, Recipients of the Croix De Guerre (Belgium), Recipients of the Croix De Guerre (France), Recipients of the Croix De Guerre 1939–1945 (France), Recipients of the Military Order of Italy, Recipients of the Navy Cross (United States), Recipients of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Recipients of the Order of Abdon Calderón, Recipients of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Recipients of the Order of the Sacred Tripod, United States Naval Academy Alumni, United States Naval Aviators, United States Navy Admirals, United States Navy World War II Admirals
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ernest King

Ernest King
Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN
Birth name Ernest Joseph King
Nickname(s) "Ernie"
Born (1878-11-23)23 November 1878
Lorain, Ohio
Died 25 June 1956(1956-06-25) (aged 77)
Kittery, Maine
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1901–1956[1]
Rank Fleet Admiral
Commands held United States Fleet

Spanish–American War
Mexican Revolution

World War I

World War II
Awards Navy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Sampson Medal
Other work Naval Historical Foundation, President

Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King (23 November 1878 – 25 June 1956) was Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (COMINCH) and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) during World War II. As COMINCH-CNO, he directed the United States Navy's operations, planning, and administration and was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the U.S. Navy's second most senior officer after Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, and the second admiral to be promoted to five star rank. He served under Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and later under James Forrestal.


  • Early life 1
  • Surface ships 2
  • Submarines 3
  • Aviation 4
  • World War II 5
  • Retirement and death 6
  • Analysis 7
    • Response to Operation Drumbeat 7.1
    • Other decisions 7.2
  • Personal life 8
  • Dates of rank 9
  • Awards and decorations 10
    • Foreign awards 10.1
  • Namesakes 11
  • References 12
  • Biography 13
  • External links 14

Early life

King was born in Lorain, Ohio, on 23 November 1878, the son of James Clydesdale King and Elizabeth Keam King.[2] He attended the United States Naval Academy from 1897 until 1901, graduating fourth in his class. During his senior year at the Academy, he attained the rank of Midshipman Lieutenant Commander, the highest midshipman ranking at that time.[3]

Surface ships

While still at the Academy, he served on the USS San Francisco during the Spanish American War. After graduation, he served as a junior officer on the survey ship USS Eagle, the battleships USS Illinois, USS Alabama and USS New Hampshire, and the cruiser USS Cincinnati.[4]

King returned to shore duty at Annapolis in 1912. He received his first command, the destroyer USS Terry in 1914, participating in the United States occupation of Veracruz.[5] He then moved on to a more modern ship, USS Cassin.

During World War I he served on the staff of Vice Admiral Henry T. Mayo, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. As such, he was a frequent visitor to the Royal Navy and occasionally saw action as an observer on board British ships. It appears that his anglophobia developed during this period,[6] although the reasons are unclear. He was awarded the Navy Cross "for distinguished service in the line of his profession as assistant chief of staff of the Atlantic Fleet."[7] It was after World War I that King affected his signature manner of wearing his uniform, with a breast-pocket handkerchief under his ribbons (see image, top right). Officers serving alongside the Royal Navy did this in emulation of Admiral David Beatty, RN. King was the last to continue.[8]

After the war, King, now a captain, became head of the Naval Postgraduate School. Along with Captains Dudley Wright Knox and William S. Pye, King prepared a report on naval training that recommended changes to naval training and career paths. Most of the report's recommendations were accepted and became policy.[9]


Before World War I he served in the surface fleet. From 1923 to 1925, he held several posts associated with submarines. As a junior captain, the best sea command he was able to secure in 1921 was the store ship USS Bridge. The relatively new submarine force offered the prospect of advancement.[10]

King attended a short training course at the Naval Submarine Base New London before taking command of a submarine division, flying his commodore's pennant from USS S-20. He never earned his Submarine Warfare insignia, although he did propose and design the now-familiar dolphin insignia. In 1923, he took over command of the Submarine Base itself.[11] During this period, he directed the salvage of USS S-51, earning the first of his three Distinguished Service Medals.


In 1926, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), asked King if he would consider a transfer to naval aviation. King accepted the offer and took command of the aircraft tender USS Wright with additional duties as senior aide on the staff of Commander, Air Squadrons, Atlantic Fleet.[12]

That year, the United States Congress passed a law (10 USC Sec. 5942) requiring commanders of all aircraft carriers, seaplane tenders, and aviation shore establishments be qualified naval aviators or naval aviation observers. King therefore reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida for aviator training in January 1927. He was the only captain in his class of twenty, which also included Commander Richmond K. Turner. King received his wings as Naval Aviator No. 3368 on 26 May 1927 and resumed command of Wright. For a time, he frequently flew solo, flying down to Annapolis for weekend visits to his family, but his solo flying was cut short by a naval regulation prohibiting solo flights for aviators aged 50 or over.[13] However, the history chair at the Naval Academy from 1971 to 1976 disputes this assertion, stating that after King soloed, he never flew alone again.[14] His biographer described his flying ability as "erratic" and quoted the commander of the squadron with which he flew as asking him if he "knew enough to be scared?"[15] Between 1926 and 1936 he flew an average of 150 hours annually.[16]

King commanded Wright until 1929, except for a brief interlude overseeing the salvage of USS S-4. He then became Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics under Moffett. The two fell out over certain elements of Bureau policy, and he was replaced by Commander John Henry Towers and transferred to command of Naval Station Norfolk.[17]

Rear Admiral King arrives on board the USS Lexington in a new SOC Seagull in 1936.

On 20 June 1930, King became captain of the carrier USS Lexington—then one of the largest aircraft carriers in the world—which he commanded for the next two years.[18] During his tenure aboard the Lexington, Captain King was the commanding officer of notable science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, then Ensign Heinlein, prior to his medical retirement from the US Navy. During that time, Ensign Heinlein dated one of King's daughters.[19]

In 1932, King attended the Naval War College. In a war college thesis entitled "The Influence of National Policy on Strategy", King expounded on the theory that America's weakness was Representative democracy:[20]

Following the death of Admiral Moffet in the crash of the airship USS Akron on 4 April 1933, King became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and was promoted to rear admiral on 26 April 1933.[21] As bureau chief, King worked closely with the chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Rear Admiral William D. Leahy, to increase the number of naval aviators.[22]

At the conclusion of his term as bureau chief in 1936, King became Commander, Aircraft, Base Force, at Naval Air Station North Island, California.[23] He was promoted to Vice Admiral on 29 January 1938 on becoming Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force – at the time one of only three vice admiral billets in the US Navy.[24] Among his accomplishments was to corroborate Admiral Harry E. Yarnell's 1932 war game findings in 1938 by staging his own successful simulated naval air raid on Pearl Harbor, showing that the base was dangerously vulnerable to aerial attack, although he was taken no more seriously than his contemporary until Dec. 7, 1941 when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the base by air for real.[25]

King hoped to be appointed as either CNO or Cominch, but on 15 June 1939, he was posted to the General Board, an elephants' graveyard where senior officers spent the time remaining before retirement. A series of extraordinary events would alter this outcome.[26]

World War II

King's career was resurrected by his friend, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Harold "Betty" Stark, who realized King's talent for command was being wasted on the General Board. Stark appointed King as Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet in the fall of 1940, and he was promoted to admiral in February 1941. On 30 December 1941 he became Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet. On 18 March 1942, he was appointed Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), relieving Stark. He is the only person to hold this combined command. After turning 64 on 23 November 1942, he wrote a message to President Roosevelt to say he had reached mandatory retirement age. Roosevelt replied with a note reading "So what, old top?".[27] On 17 December 1944 King was promoted to the newly created rank of fleet admiral. He left active duty on 15 December 1945 but was recalled as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy in 1950.

Retirement and death

After retiring, King lived in Washington, D.C.. He was active in his early post-retirement (serving as president of the Naval Historical Foundation from 1946 to 1949), but suffered a debilitating stroke in 1947, and subsequent ill-health ultimately forced him to stay in naval hospitals at Bethesda, Maryland, and at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. He died of a heart attack in Kittery on 25 June 1956.[28] After lying in state at the National Cathedral in Washington, King was buried in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland. His wife who survived him, was buried beside him in 1969.


King was highly intelligent and extremely capable, but controversial. Some consider him to have been one of the greatest admirals of the 20th century;[29] others, however, point out that he never commanded ships or fleets at sea in war time, and that his

Military offices
Preceded by
Harold R. Stark
United States Chief of Naval Operations
Succeeded by
Chester W. Nimitz
  • "Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King". Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. 1 June 1996. Retrieved 2007-12-30.  Ernest King's biography on official U.S Department of the Navy website.
  • O'Connor, Jerome (February 2004). "FDR's Undeclared War". Naval History magazine (U.S. Naval Institute). Retrieved 2007-12-30.  An article documenting the "sons of bitches" quote and other relevant facts.
  • 24 Armed Trawlers of the RNPS 'Churchill's Pirate's' were sent to protect the US coast in 1942.

External links

  • Borneman, Walter R. (2012). The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy and King – The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea (Hardback). New York: Little, Brown and Company.  
  • Buell, Thomas B. (1995). Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King.  
  • Gannon, Michael (1991). Operation Drumbeat. New York:  
  • Jordan, Jonathan W. (2015), American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II (NAL/Caliber 2015).
  • King, Ernest; Whitehill, Walter Muir (1952). Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record.  
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1947). Volume I. The Battle of the Atlantic, September 1939 – May 1943. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.  


  1. ^ U.S. officers holding five-star rank never retire; they draw full active duty pay for life.Spencer C. Tucker (2011). The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 1685.  
  2. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, p. 3.
  3. ^ Morison, The Battle of the Atlantic, p. 51.
  4. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 10–12, 15–41.
  5. ^ Martin Folly, Historical Dictionary of US Diplomacy
  6. ^ Gannon, Operation Drumbeat, p. 168.
  7. ^ "Full Text Citations For Award of The Navy Cross to Members of the US Navy World War I". 
  8. ^ Young, Frank Pierce. "Pearl Harbor History: Building The Way To A Date Of Infamy". Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 54–55.
  10. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, p. 58.
  11. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 62–64.
  12. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 187.
  13. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, pp. 190–193.
  14. ^ Huston, John W. (2002). Maj. Gen. John W. Huston, USAF, ed. American Airpower Comes of Age: General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold's World War II Diaries. Air University Press. p. 359.  
  15. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, p. 76.
  16. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 228.
  17. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 211.
  18. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 214.
  19. ^ William H. Patterson, Robert A. Heinlein: A Learning Curve'
  20. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, pp. 226–227.
  21. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, pp. 240–242.
  22. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 249.
  23. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 266.
  24. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 279.
  25. ^ Rebekah. "The Day that Will Live in Infamy…but it didn’t have to.". The USS Flier Project. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  26. ^ King and Whitehill, A Naval Record, p. 295.
  27. ^ David B. Woolner, Warren F. Kimball, David Reynolds: FDR's World: War, Peace, and Legacies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p.70.
  28. ^ Borneman. Page 463.
  29. ^ a b "Sea Classics. Mike Coppock. September 2007. ''ERNEST J. KING: WWII'S SALTIEST SEA DOG?'' page 5.". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  30. ^ Gannon, Michael (1990). Operation Drumbeat. Harper. pp. 388–389 & 414–415.  
  31. ^ "Sea Classics. Mike Coppock. September 2007. ''Ernest J. King: WWII'S Saltiest Sea Dog?'' page 6.". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  32. ^ Skates, John Ray (2000). The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb.  
  33. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, p. 223.
  34. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, p. 573.
  35. ^ Heinl, Robert (1966). Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations.  
  36. ^ Clay Blair (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939–1942. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 653–54. 
  37. ^ Graybar, Lloyd J. (1996). Quarterdeck and Bridge: Two Centuries of American Naval Leaders.  
  38. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1947). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. I: The Battle of the Atlantic: 1939–1943.  
  39. ^ Timothy J. Ryan and Jan M. Copes To Die Gallantly – The Battle of the Atlantic, 1994 Westview Press, Chapter 7.
  40. ^ Gannon, Operation Drumbeat, 1990, pp. 391, 414–415.
  41. ^ Buell ch 22
  42. ^ Buell ch 30
  43. ^ Lord Ismay, The Memoirs of General Lord Ismay (1974) p. 253
  44. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1957). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. XI: Invasion of France & Germany: 1944–1945.  
  45. ^ Pogue, Forrest C. (1973). George C. Marshall: Organizer of Victory 1943–1945. Viking Adult. p. 305.  
  46. ^ Bowen, James. Despite Pearl Harbor, America adopts a 'Germany First' strategy. America Fights Back. The Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal (Pacific War Historical Society). 
  47. ^ Simkin, John. "Ernest King". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  48. ^ Gray, Anthony W., Jr. (1997). "Chapter 6: Joint Logistics in the Pacific Theater". In Alan Gropman. The Big 'L' — American Logistics in World War II. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  49. ^ "Captain McVay". USS Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  50. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 12, 17, 26.
  51. ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 56, 452.


The guided missile destroyer USS King was named in his honor. A major high school in his hometown of Lorain, Ohio, also bore his name (Admiral King High School) until it was merged with the city's other high school in 2010. In 2011 Lorain dedicated a Tribute Space at Admiral King's birthplace, and new elementary school in Lorain will bear his name. Also named after him is the Department of Defense high school on Sasebo Naval Base, in Japan. The dining hall at the U.S. Naval Academy, King Hall, is named after him. The auditorium at the Naval Postgraduate School, King Hall, is also named after him. In 1956, schools located on the U.S. Naval Bases and Air Stations were given names of U.S. heroes of the past. The Sasebo Dependents School was named after the famed World War II Hero, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King. Thus, the official name of Ernest J. King School, Navy 3912, FPO San Francisco, California, became effective School Year 1956/57. Recognizing King's great personal and professional interest in maritime history, the Secretary of the Navy named in his honor an academic chair at the Naval War College to be held with the title of the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History. King Dr at Arlington National Cemetery is named in honor of Fleet Admiral King

Grave of Admiral King


Grand Cross of the National Order of the Légion d'honneur (France) 1945
Croix de guerre (France) 1944 (attachment(s) unknown)
Commander of the Order of Vasco Nunez de Balboa (Panama) 1929
Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy 1933
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Italy 1948
Order of Merit, Grande Official (Brazil) 1943
Order of Naval Merit (Cuba) 1943
Estrella Abdon Calderon (Ecuador) 1943
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (United Kingdom) 1945
Order of the Sacred Tripod (China) 1945
Grand Cross of the Greece) 1946
Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown (1948)
Croix de Guerre (Belgium) (1948) (attachment(s) unknown)
Knight Grand Cross with Swords of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands) 1948

King was also the recipient of several foreign awards and decorations (shown in order of acceptance and if more than one award for a country, placed in order of precedence):

Foreign awards

Navy Cross
Gold star
Gold star
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (w/two gold stars)
Spanish Campaign Medal
Sampson Medal
Mexican Service Medal
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal (w/Atlantic Fleet campaign clasp)
American Defense Service Medal (w/Atlantic Device)
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal


Naval Aviator

Awards and decorations

All DOR referenced from Buell's "Master of Sea Power", pp. xii–xv.

King never held the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) although, for administrative reasons, his service record annotates his promotion to both lieutenant (junior grade) and lieutenant on the same day.

Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral Vice Admiral Admiral Fleet Admiral
O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11
Never Held 26 April 1933 29 January 1938 1 February 1941 17 December 1944
Ensign Lieutenant (junior grade) Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
7 June 1903 Never Held 7 June 1906 1 July 1913 1 July 1917 21 September 1918

Dates of rank

While at the Naval Academy, King met Martha Rankin ("Mattie") Egerton, a Baltimore socialite, whom he married in a ceremony at the Naval Academy Chapel on 10 October 1905.[50] They had six daughters, Claire, Elizabeth, Florence, Martha, Eleanor and Mildred; and then a son, Ernest Joseph King, Jr. (Commander, USN ret.).[51]

Personal life

Another controversy involving King was his role in the court-martial of Captain Charles B. McVay III.[49]

In spite of (or perhaps partly because of) the fact the two men did not get along,[47] the combined influence of King and General Douglas MacArthur increased the allocation of resources to the Pacific War.[48]

Following Japan's defeat at the Battle of Midway, King advocated (with Roosevelt's tacit consent) the invasion of Guadalcanal. When General Marshall resisted this line of action (as well as who would command the operation), King stated the Navy (and Marines) would then carry out the operation by themselves, and instructed Admiral Nimitz to proceed with preliminary planning. King eventually won the argument, and the invasion went ahead with the backing of the Joint Chiefs. It was ultimately successful, and was the first time the Japanese lost ground during the war. For his attention to the Pacific Theatre he is highly regarded by some Australian war historians.[46]

Contrary to British opinion, King was a strong believer in the Germany first strategy. However, his natural aggression did not permit him to leave resources idle in the Atlantic that could be utilized in the Pacific, especially when "it was doubtful when — if ever — the British would consent to a cross-Channel operation".[44] King once complained that the Pacific deserved 30% of Allied resources but was getting only 15%. When, at the Casablanca Conference, he was accused by Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke of favoring the Pacific war, the argument became heated. The combative General Joseph Stilwell wrote: "Brooke got nasty, and King got good and sore. King almost climbed over the table at Brooke. God, he was mad. I wished he had socked him."[45]

...tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy; but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy the Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill's powers of advocacy, and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific.

General Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to Winston Churchill, described King as:[43]

The employment of British and Empire forces in the Pacific was a political matter. The measure was forced on Churchill by the British Chiefs of Staff, not only to re-establish British presence in the region, but to mitigate any impression in the U.S. that the British were doing nothing to help defeat Japan. King was adamant that naval operations against Japan remain 100% American, and angrily resisted the idea of a British naval presence in the Pacific at the Quadrant Conference in late 1944, citing (among other things) the difficulty of supplying additional naval forces in the theatre (for much the same reason, Hap Arnold resisted the offer of RAF units in the Pacific). In addition, King (along with Marshall) had continually resisted operations that would assist the British agenda in reclaiming or maintaining any part of her pre-war colonial holdings in the Pacific or the Eastern Mediterranean. Roosevelt, however, overruled him and, despite King's reservations, the British Pacific Fleet accounted itself well against Japan in the last months of the war.[42]

It should be noted, however, employment of long-range maritime patrol aircraft in the Atlantic was complicated by inter-service squabbling over command and control (the aircraft belonged to the Army; the mission was the Navy's; General Marshall's request) an additional month's production of landing craft to support Operation Overlord. Moreover, the priority for landing craft construction was changed, a factor outside King's remit. The level of sea lift for Overlord turned out to be more than adequate.

Other decisions widely regarded as questionable were his resistance to the employment of long-range USAAF B-24 Liberator on Atlantic maritime patrols (thus allowing the U-boats a safe area in the middle of the Atlantic — the "Atlantic Gap"), the denial of adequate numbers of landing craft to the Allied invasion of Europe, and the reluctance to permit the Royal Navy's Pacific Fleet any role in the Pacific. In all of these instances, circumstances forced a re-evaluation or he was overruled. It has also been pointed out that King did not, in his post-war report to the Secretary of the Navy, accurately describe the slowness of the American response to the off-shore U-boat threat in early 1942.[40]

Other decisions

Operation Drumbeat (or Paukenschlag) off the Atlantic Coast in early 1942 succeeded largely because the U.S. Navy was already committed to other tasks: transatlantic escort-of-convoy operations, defending troop transports, and maintaining powerful, forward-deployed Atlantic Fleet striking forces to prevent a breakout of heavy German surface forces. Navy leaders, especially Admiral King, were unwilling to risk troop shipping to provide escorts for coastal merchant shipping. Unscheduled, emergency deployments of Army units also created disruptions to navy plans, as did other occasional unexpected tasks. Contrary to the traditional historiography, neither Admiral King’s unproven yet widely alleged Anglophobia, an equally undocumented navy reluctance to accept British advice, nor a preference for another strategy caused the delay in the inauguration of coastal escort-of-convoy operations. The delay was due to a shortage of escorts, and that resulted from understandably conflicting priorities, a state of affairs that dictated all Allied strategy until 1944."[39]

In King's defense, noted naval historian Professor Robert W. Love has stated that

By August 1942, the submarine threat to shipping in U.S. coastal waters had been contained. The U-boats' "second happy time" ended, with the loss of seven U-boats and a dramatic reduction in shipping losses. The same effect occurred when convoys were extended to the Caribbean. Despite the ultimate defeat of the U-boat, some of King's initial decisions in this theatre could be viewed as flawed.[38]

It was not until May 1942 that King marshalled resources—small cutters and private vessels that he had previously scorned—to establish a day-and-night interlocking convoy system running from Newport, Rhode Island, to Key West, Florida.[37]

Instead of convoys, King had the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard perform regular anti-submarine patrols, but these patrols followed a regular schedule. U-boat commanders learned the schedule, and coordinated their attacks to these schedules. Leaving the lights on in coastal towns back-lit merchant ships to the U-Boats. As a result, there was a period of disastrous shipping losses—two million tons lost in January and February 1942 alone, and urgent pressure applied from both sides of the Atlantic. However, King resisted the use of convoys because he was convinced the Navy lacked sufficient escort vessels to make them effective. The formation of convoys with inadequate escort would also result in increased port-to-port time, giving the enemy concentrated groups of targets rather than single ships proceeding independently. Furthermore, blackouts were a politically sensitive issue—coastal cities resisted, citing the loss of tourism revenue.

At the start of US involvement in World War II, blackouts on the U.S. eastern seaboard were not in effect, and commercial ships traveling the coastal waterways were not travelling under convoy. King's critics attribute the delay in implementing these measures to his Anglophobia, as the convoys and seaboard blackouts were British proposals, and King was supposedly loath to have his much-beloved U.S. Navy adopt any ideas from the Royal Navy. He also refused, until March 1942, the loan of British convoy escorts when the Americans had only a handful of suitable vessels. He was, however, aggressive in driving his destroyer captains to attack U-boats in defense of convoys and in planning counter-measures against German surface raiders, even before the formal declaration of war in December 1941.[36]

Response to Operation Drumbeat

Admiral King at the Atlantic Conference in 1941.

It is commonly reported when King was called to be COMINCH, he remarked, "When they get in trouble they send for the sons-of-bitches." However, when he was later asked if he had said this, King replied he had not, but would have if he had thought of it.[34] On the other hand, King's view of press relations for the US Navy in World War II is well documented. When asked to state a public relations policy for the Navy, King replied "Don't tell them anything. When it's over, tell them who won." [35]

There was a tongue-in-cheek remark about King, made by one of his daughters, repeated by Naval personnel at the time that "he is the most even-tempered person in the United States Navy. He is always in a rage." Roosevelt once described King as a man who "shaves every morning with a blow torch."[33]

He was... perhaps the most disliked Allied leader of World War II. Only British Field Marshal Montgomery may have had more enemies... King also loved parties and often drank to excess. Apparently, he reserved his charm for the wives of fellow naval officers. On the job, he "seemed always to be angry or annoyed."
— Ray, J, The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb[32]

He was demanding and authoritarian, and could be abrasive and abusive to subordinates. King was widely respected for his ability, but not liked by many of the officers he commanded. [31]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.