End of the War and United Nations Organization Duty
The End of the War
Admiral Turner preserved this eloquent statement by General MacArthur:
Peace has again come to the world. The full measure of gratitude and honor for the victory, which has made that peace possible, belongs to the men of the Armed Forces.
I know full well that the greatest reward that you can ask for your courage and devotion to Service is a speedy return to your homes, to your loved ones, and to the enjoyment of the peace that you have so richly earned. And I assure you that this reward will be yours as speedily and as effectively as the consolidation and securing of the peace can be accomplished through the orderly occupation of Japan and the demobilization of Japanese armed forces.
The answer to your question: 'When will I go Home?' depends to a major extent upon the manner in which those of us who are assigned to duty with the occupation forces carry out our mission.
We have fought and won a war to protect the rights of the individual--for freedom, tolerance, and justice for all the peoples of the world. Each of us must keep that constantly in mind.
Occupation of Japan must take place without unnecessary violence; without undue oppression. Property and personal rights of the Japanese people are to be respected. Looting, pillage, rape, and other deliberate violations of universal standards of human behavior would but stain your own high honor.
On the battlefield, you won respect at the point of the bayonet. It is the responsibility of each of you, by your conduct, behavior and performance of duty to maintain an equal respect as victors who believe in and practice the principles for which we fought.1
Tenacity of Purpose
The Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee was thoughtful enough to send Admiral Turner the following message:
PLAIN 161200 DEFERRED
WE OF THE HOUSE NAVAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HAVE WATCHED WITH GREAT ADMIRATION YOUR OUTSTANDING WORK AS AN AMPHIBIOUS COMMANDER IN THE OPERATIONS IN THE PACIFIC. OUR SUCCESSES ON LAND HAVE BEEN IN A LARGE MEASURE DUE TO YOUR SKILL, COURAGE AND TENACITY OF PURPOSE IN CONDUCTING THESE OPERATIONS. YOUR DEVOTION TO DUTY HAS BEEN AN INSPIRATION TO ALL OF US.
005017 AUG 45/RTT/14205 KCS/GR 70/PLAIN/NPN N$ 825/REP
RDO WASHINGTON ACTION/COMPHIBSPAC
The Turner Appraisal of the Japanese
Immediately after attending the Japanese surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on 2 September 1945, and returning to his temporary flagship, Admiral Turner signaled Rear Admiral James L. Hall, Commander Tokyo Force, asking whether there was a sedan on board which could be made available to take Turner to Tokyo. Rear Admiral Hall sent his aide ashore to ask General Eichelberger, the Army Area Commander, if there were any objection to Admiral Turner and himself driving into Tokyo. The General, diplomatically, did not say "yes" and he did not say "no." He said that the Army had not established patrols in Tokyo as yet and that the 1st Cavalry Division would not move into Tokyo for about a week.2
Despite this polite suggestion that the visit might be personally risky and better not be undertaken, the sightseers including Rear Admiral Hall and Captain James H. Doyle drove off, stopping first at a police station to get driving instructions as to how to get to the American Embassy and from there to the shrine of Admiral Tojo, victor of the Battle of Tsushima Straits in the 1904-1905 Russian-Japanese War. Admiral Turner had been taken to the Tojo Shrine during the official ceremonies connected with his visit when aboard the Astoria in 1939.
Vice Admiral Doyle recalled:
We went into a police station to get a road map. The police were very polite to us and we were very polite to them. When we came out of the police station, Admiral Turner said: 'When they surrendered, they really surrendered.'
As we stood in front of the Tojo Shrine, Admiral Turner made the amazing prediction:
'If we play our cards well, the Japanese will become our best and most worthwhile friends. They have certain fundamental virtues in their character which in time, I hope, will be appreciated by all worthwhile Americans. We should be most careful to respect their Gods and their traditions, and I hope they will come in time to respect ours.'
Admiral Turner bowed to the Tojo Shrine before departing. The rest of us sort of awkwardly followed suit.
When we went ashore in Kyoto a little later, we found the city, which was not a target for United States Army Air Force bombing, was largely unharmed, but a few areas had been mistakenly bombed. There the papier mache shacks had burned to the ground and there was the strong and bad odor of people buried under the rubble. Admiral Turner said:
'The American people will never appreciate how lucky they were not to have to fight the war, while their homeland was being bombed, like the Germans and Japanese.'3
Admiral Spruance told Rear Admiral James L. Hall in Tokyo Bay, soon after the signing of the Japanese Armistice, that both he and Fleet Admiral Nimitz were anxious to get Admiral Turner back home, since Turner had been under a tremendous strain for a long, long time.4
Soon after 2 September 1945, Admiral Nimitz thoughtfully wired Admiral Turner:
At such time in near future as you consider practicable, propose send you home on leave, with Wilkinson taking over your duties during your absence. Reply giving your estimate as to time you consider it will be feasible for you to depart.
Your . . . much appreciated but would greatly prefer remain on station until I can be permanently relieved. In Tokyo you indicated your desire for Type Commanders to proceed Pearl at an early date presumably in connection with matters concerned with demobilization which I consider important and complex. Estimate I can leave Manila about 20 September and for that purpose earnestly request I not be sent home on leave until a satisfactory demobilization program has been worked out for PHIBSPAC and at that time I be detached to other duty.
Mrs Richmond Kelly Turner with Mrs. George H. Fort, wife of Admiral Fort, Commander Amphibious Training Command U.S. Pacific Fleet; Mrs. W.L. Friedell, wife of Admiral Friedell, Commandant eleventh Naval District; and others at Navy Day Luncheon, San Diego, 27 October 1945.
Admiral Nimitz deferred to his junior's desires.
Prior to Admiral Turner's relief, the Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel sent to him as COMPHIBSPAC the names of three Flag officers with very broad amphibious command experience during World War II and asked COMPHIBSPAC to arrange the three names in order of his recormmendation as to which one should be his relief as Commander Amphibious Forces Pacific. His number one recommendation, Rear Admiral John L. Hall, was accepted by the Flag officer detailers in Washington.5
When Admiral Turner arrived at Pearl in early October 1945, he was handed the following message from Fleet Admiral Nimitz:
A hearty welcome to PEARL and a 'Well Done' to the man who not only know how, but did. 022129.
On 14 October 1945, Rear Admiral John L. Hall relieved Admiral Turner,
and he proceeded to Carmel, California for his month's leave, interrupted only by official participation in Navy Day ceremonies and speeches at San Diego, on 27 October 1945.
Temporary Detail--General Board
When Admiral Turner arrived in Washington, he was under orders to report to the Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel for further assignment. On 13 November 1945, he so reported and was immediately ordered to the General Board, which was used as a "Receiving Ship" for senior officers about to testify before the Congressional investigation into the Pearl Harbor attack, which began its sessions on 15 November 1945.
Prior to testifying, he had the opportunity to review his previous testimony given before the Roberts Commission on 19 January 1942, the Admiral Thomas C. Hart Inquiry on the 3rd and 4th of April 1944, and the Navy Court of Inquiry headed by Admiral Orin G. Murfin on 15 September 1944.
On this last date, Vice Admiral Turner had been subjected to considerable cross examination by the interested parties, Admiral Harold R. Stark and Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. Admiral Hart previously also had closely examined him in connection with the action taken or not taken by the War Plans Division of Naval Operations prior to 7 December 1941.
As indicated previously, there was no major difference in the testimony given on these three occasions with that given by Admiral Turner to the Congressional Inquiry Committee.6
Admiral Turner did not testify before the Admiral H. K. Hewitt Inquiry which convened in May 1945, as he was busily engaged fighting kamikazes at Okinawa or later in planning for the invasion of Japan.
United Nations Military Committee
Admiral Turner did not seek the United Nations Security Council Military Staff Committee detail. He had asked to be detailed as President of the Naval War College, but he was far from being the only aspirant to that high position
Portrait of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, USN, 1946.
in the immediate post-World War II period. That assignment was given to Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Turner's long-time commander during the Pacific War, and twice previously on the Staff of the Naval War College. Admiral Turner told me in 1961 that:
If the detail had been given to anyone else, I would have been really mad, but I didn't question Spruance's outstanding qualifications or the fact that he had first claim on the job.7
In late 1945, in writing to an Army general who had served with him during the Okinawa campaign, he had said:
I did not get the assignment as President of the Naval War College, as Spruance is to have that sometime in the spring. However, I have been ordered to duty which may be even more interesting . . . that of the United States Representative on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations Organization.8
Fleet Admiral Nimitz had written on Admiral Turner's fitness reports covering the 31 March 1944 to 12 March 1945 period:
Admiral Turner is well qualified for high naval command and also for important duties in connection with international politico-military affairs, and the formulation of national strategy.
During much of the time Admiral Turner was having a one month's cruise on the General Board, 14 November 1945-17 December 1945, and was preparing himself for his prospective appearance before the Joint Congressional Committee Investigating Pearl Harbor, Fleet Admiral Nimitz was in Washington preparing to take command of the Navy as Chief of Naval Operations. This office which Fleet Admiral Nimitz took over on 15 December 1945, traditionally has had the last naval word on the detail of senior Flag officers. Holding the opinion which Fleet Admiral Nimitz had expressed a year before in Turner's fitness report, the United Nations detail was a natural assignment for Admiral Turner.
It could have been rationalized that sending Admiral Turner to the United Nations Organization would provide a brainy, resourceful and tough opponent to deal with the Soviets at a crucial international meeting point. It also would afford an opportunity for an officer obviously exhausted physically from the war, but still mentally alert, to catch his breath.
Admiral Turner was detached from the General Board on 17 December 1945, and the same day reported to the new Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Nimitz, for duty as the representative of the naval member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Military Staff Committee in the United Nations Organization.
Before the year 1945 was ended, Admiral Turner was headed for London, England, to participate in United Nations affairs as an advisor to the United
Military Staff Committee of the United Nations, 17 January 1947.
Seated--Left to right: General Yo Ying Chen, China; Lieutenant General Pierre Billotte, France; Lieutenant General Alexander F. Vasiliev, USSR; Admiral Sir Henry R. Moore, United Kingdom; Admiral R. Kelly Turner, United States.
Standing--Left to right: Lieutenant General Mow Poinnn Tsu, China; Captain Tang Chin Liao, China; Rear Admiral Raymond Moullec, France; Colonel Henri Lanzin, France; Lieutenant General Andrei Sharapov, USSR; Vice Admiral Valentin L. Bogdenko, USSR: General Sir Edwin L. Morris, United Kingdom; Air Chief Marshall Sir Guy Garrod, United Kingdom; Lieutenant General Mathew B. Ridgway, United States; Brigadier General Charles P. Cabell, United States.
(United Nations, Department of Public Information)
States Delegation to the General Assembly at their first meeting in London. It was 22 March 1946, before Admiral Turner arrived in New York City and assumed his duties on the Military Staff Committee of the Security Council, United Nations Organization, as the representative of the Chief of Naval Operations in the latter's capacity as a member of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Military Staff Committee consisted of military personnel from the five permanent members of the Security Council (the United States, China, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.) These nations attached sizeable numbers of officers of their Army, Navy, and Air Forces to this Committee. The other two initial members of the United States Military Staff Committee were General George C. Kenney, U.S. Air Force, and Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway, U.S. Army.
It should be recalled that when Kelly Turner arrived in New York City in 1946, the organization now known as the "UN" was then known as the "UNO," the United Nations Organization.
Extracts from some of Mrs. Turner's letters of the March to June period of 1946 recall some of the uncertainties in regard to just where UNO Headquarters would be established.
The poor UNO. Nobody but San Francisco seems to want them.
* * * * *Nothing seems certain just where UNO will light. * * * * *Kelly leaves early and gets home late. Hasn't been home for dinner for two nights now. * * * * *Everyone is upset by the possible move to Lake Success. If they do, we will have to move to Long Island.
The letters also recall some of the post World War II problems, and indicate the center of Mrs. Turner's interest.
I have seen two lines in New York, several blocks long, waiting to buy nylons.
* * * * *I hate apartments. * * * * *I have a horror of newspapers. * * * * *The dogs are fine and seem very happy.
* * * * *I have never seen the dogs so hungry and so friendly with people. They let everyone pet them and don't seem at all afraid. * * * * *We are having thunderstorms and the dogs are unhappy.9
Admiral Turner's Staff
The senior naval officer on Admiral Turner's staff was Rear Admiral John J. Ballentine (1918). Rear Admiral Ballentine, a long-time naval aviator, had participated with Admiral Turner in the Gilbert Island campaign. He wrote:
My friend, Admiral Kelly Turner . . . insisted that the Navy order me as his Chief of Staff and Deputy. . . . I was not particularly happy over the change in orders, because I had developed into an old seadog and I wanted to get back to sea. However, this was something that had to be accepted, and I accepted it with good grace, principally because my old friend Admiral Turner was so insistent that I come and help him with this job.10
Admiral Ballentine told me:
Back in 1933, when Kelly was Exec of the Saratoga and I, as a lieutenant commander, was in command of a torpedo squadron (VT-2B) attached to the Saratoga, my squadron flew out for an operation after a period of shore basing.
The next morning, my personnel officer came to me and reported: 'Captain, the ship is giving our men a rough deal, inadequate living spaces, and messing facilities.'
I took a good look at the matter during the day, and after dinner that night, I went to the Exec's cabin. Kelly had the reputation of being a tough old so and so, and so I fully expected to be bawled out, when I presented my case. To my surprise, Kelly just asked for all the facts and then said: 'I don't know, but I'll look into it.' And the next day he did look into it, and called me in that evening and said: 'You were quite right. Your people were not getting a fair break and I have fixed it.'
Thus began a pleasant association with Kelly that lasted until his death. My fitness reports made out by Kelly and signed by the Skipper, Rufus Zogbaum, were the finest received by me during my whole career.
Mrs. Turner was a charming lady, kind and friendly.11
Vice Admiral and Mrs. John J. Ballantine, USN, at the time he was Commander Sixth Fleet.
Admiral Turner was also able to get three officers from his first Staff, PHIBFORSOPAC, assigned to the supporting organization for the Military Staff Committee. These were Captain James H. Doyle, USN, Colonel Harold D. Harris, USMC, and Commander John S. Lewis, USN. This trio had survived the severe "selection out" process which Kelly Turner applied to all who worked for him. They were not only intelligent but quick witted and sharp-tongued. They were loyal and could be depended upon to take care of the "Old Man" on those occasions when he needed taking care of. They watched over him, ensured that he was sober when it was at all desirable or necessary for him to be sober, and indulged him, when the press of affairs permitted. They picked his brains for early drafts of papers.12
The small staff of ten officers also included Captain Elliott B. Strauss (1923), Captain Denys W. Knoll (1930) who acted as Secretary to the Military Staff Committee of the United States Delegation, and Commander Thomas H. Morton (1933), Commander R.J.C. Maulsby (1932), Lieutenant
Colonel R.J. Hoey, USMC, and Lieutenant Paul A. Terry, USNR. Captain Strauss, Captain Knoll, and Commander Morton accompanied Admiral Turner to London.
Rear Admiral Strauss recalls his assignment as a captain to this staff, as follows:
When I was appointed to the Military Staff Committee, Admiral Art Davis [Arthur C. (1915)] advised me against taking the job. He said Admiral Turner was a difficult man and had reached a difficult stage of his career. I was not wise enough to take this good advice.13
Rear Admiral Strauss doubted that Admiral Turner was the correct man for the UNO billet. In fact, he was convinced that it was a very poor choice because of Admiral Turner's lack of sobriety or tact at chosen moments.
In this connection, the following story is told by Rear Admiral William C. Mott, currently Executive Vice President of the United States Independent Telephone Association.
The Chief United States Military Representative to the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations, Admiral Turner, attended one of the first organizing conferences of the U.N. in London in early 1946. That conference was attended, among others, by the United States Ambassador from [to] Turkey, Ambassador Wilson, United States Ambassador from [to] Greece, Ambassador McVeagh, and our Minister from [to] Syria, who was at that time, I believe, Mr. Wadsworth. John Foster Dulles marked this conference in London in a speech he later gave on the Senate floor at the beginning of the Cold War.
The night of his return from London, Admiral Turner and I were having dinner together at the Chevy Chase Club. I would guess that the President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union might have said that he had had too many cocktails, but cocktails or no his mind was as sharp as ever.
I had been telling him about a routine call received that afternoon from Stanley Woodward, who was then Chief of Protocol in the Department of State. Mr. Woodward had asked me in my capacity as Navy Liaison Officer with the Department of State whether it might be possible to furnish a small ship like a destroyer to send the body of ex-Ambassador Ertegun back to his native Turkey. The Ambassador had died here during the war and his widow was now requesting the United States to do for him as it had for Ambassador Saito of Japan and Lord Lothian of Great Britain, send his remains back to his native land. No decision had been made by the Navy with respect to this request, because it had come in too late that afternoon.
As I told the story, Admiral Turner went through one of those strange metamorphoses which I had observed in him so often during the war. His
whole demeanor changed. He dropped his knife and fork, and his whole physical and mental bearing seemed to change.
'That's it! We will go see Admiral Sherman (the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations) in the morning.'
Quite frankly, I didn't know what he was talking about, but I knew from experience that something was churning in that mind, a mind which never stopped its probing, its sifting, its relating of seemingly unrelated events to the solution of a major problem.
It seems that while in London, Ambassadors McVeagh and Wilson as well as Mr. Wadsworth had impressed upon Admiral Turner that if the United States didn't do something to shore up the crumbling countries in the Mediterranean basin they might soon go Communist. He remembered those conversations in London and related them to the story about Mrs. Ertegun's request. His idea was to convince the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, the Chief of Naval Operations, the State Department and the President that we should send the body of Ambassador Ertegun back to his native Turkey in the greatest funeral cortege ever known to man.
The very next morning he charged (and charged was always the word to describe him on a mission) in to see the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations and convinced him that the strongest representation should be made to the Chief of Naval Operations, the Department of State and the President of the United States that his proposed course of action for the funeral procession should be followed, and that he should be permitted to carry the ball for the project. Such was Kelly Turner's persuasiveness, his forcefulness, that he sold his idea all the way up the line. Historians will remember that the battleship Missouri became the funeral bier and the cruiser Providence and a squadron of destroyers went along to make calls in the major ports of the Mediterranean. So great was their reception that the Sixth Fleet was born. Many people feel that the Sixth Fleet kept the whole Mediterranean basin from becoming a Communist Lake. The idea was Kelly Turner's--one might say he had it in his cups.14
Because so much water has gone under the international bridge in the last twenty years, few remember that the Charter of the United Nations provided for military security forces, under the control of the Security Council, and that in 1946 and 1947 strenuous efforts were made by the United States to organize such military forces.
Admiral Turner turned to and, with the aid of all the other members of the United States Military Committee and of advisers from the State Department,
drafted a paper setting forth the principles which should govern the organization and use of the United Nations Armed Forces. This paper was circulated to all the other military delegations of the Military Staff Committee.
Admiral Ballentine recalled:
The Russians were there for the sole purpose of blocking anything of any consequence.
The United States Military delegation, properly considered that the first item of business before the committee was to organize the United Nations Armed Forces, and accordingly worked up a good paper on the principles governing the organization of the Armed Forces. We were not very coy about this and submitted copies to other delegations for consideration. The Russians said 'Oh, this is a very important paper, we must study it carefully.' Thereupon they refused to attend any meeting for six months because they were still studying the paper.
We had weekly meetings and the Russians just didn't attend. They didn't show.15
Major General Leslie C. Groves, U.S. Army, and Admiral Turner.
(Courtesy of Max Peter Haas, New York City)
Not only did the Soviet Union officers not attend the regularly scheduled weekly meetings of the Committee, but more importantly, they did not advise the other nations of their position in regard to the matter in any way.
The official record reads as follows:
12 April, 1946
The Military Staff Committee met at 11:30 on Wednesday, the 10th, two weeks after the previous meeting. There were no substantive matters to take up. The subcommittee of the Military Staff Committee dealing with the principles of military agreements [basic principles governing the organization of the United Nations Forces] has not been able to meet because the Soviet Delegation has not as yet submitted its paper.
* * * * *15 July, 1946
The Soviet Union has not yet done so, nor has it set a date for so doing.
* * * * *13 September, 1946
In the course of the conversation, General Kenny also learned from General Vasiliev that the Russian Representatives on the United Nations Military Staff Committee receive their instructions direct from Moscow and that no one in the United States, including Mr. Gromyko, can authorize any deviation from these instructions.16
In late September 1946, the Soviet Military Staff Committee submitted a paper which dealt only with the "Purposes of the United Nations Armed Forces," a small part of the overall problem, and indicated that they would not proceed further until this matter was commonly agreed on. This did not occur until 13 November 1946, when a subcommittee of the Military Staff Committee was directed to go to work on an eight point agenda.
Following this, the Soviet Military Staff Committee would not proceed with any part of the agenda until all previous parts had been commonly agreed on. And then they decided that no discussions of proposals could take place unless all five nations were prepared to discuss the matter. The Soviets then stated they were not presently so prepared.17
When they finally did state their position, it was one designed to provide a lopsided United Nations Armed Forces. The Soviet Union insisted that the five permanent members could each make only equal contributions to
the United Nations Armed Forces. Since China had no seagoing Navy to speak of--no carriers, no cruisers, no battleships and no submarines--this proposal meant that the United Nations Armed Forces, in effect, would have no seagoing naval power available, an essential element for peacekeeping operations, as had been repeatedly demonstrated during the last several hundred years, and continued to be demonstrated in the United Nations Assembly's peace-keeping operations in Korea during the British-Egyptian confrontation at Suez and even in darkest Africa.
However, the Soviets apparently became convinced, either during World War II or later, of the place of sea power as an instrument of national power, because in the last twenty years they have built a large Navy and a very large merchant marine, and are fast moving past the United States in strength at sea, and far exceeding the United States in the appreciation of sea power.
As Rear Admiral Strauss so well observed:
After the establishment of the Military Staff Committee, it soon became clear that, because of Russian intransigence it was impotent.18
The Atom Bomb
In 1946, the problem of controlling the use of the atom bomb militarily was another point for discussion with the Soviets, but since they didn't have the bomb and wouldn't have it for some years, this problem was given a lesser priority. With other Americans, however, the bomb had a very high priority. The questions were how the bomb was to be produced, handled and controlled by the governmental authorities of the United States, and
After Mr. Baruch presented his plan publicly to the Secretary Council in June, 1946, RKT became the unofficial military advisor to Baruch, working with such men as Baruch himself, Hancock, Swope, Oppenheimer, Ludecke.19
Mrs. Turner in a letter to the Admiral's sister, without a date, but written during this period, said:
All of Kelly's work is in New York. He always is at the meetings with Baruch on atomic bombs."
Mrs. Turner and her dogs. (Turner Collection)
Early meetings of the United Nations Organization in the United States, attended by Admiral Turner, were at Hunter College in New York City and later at the Sperry plant at Lake Success.
While Admiral Turner was on duty at the Headquarters for the United States delegation to the United Nations, this Headquarters was located at 210 W. 57th Street, New York City. The Military Staff Committee held its meetings on the fifth floor of the Fisk Building at 250 W. 57th Street where the U.S. Military Staff Secretariat had offices.
The Turner family lived at Hotel Suburban in Summit, New Jersey. Mrs. Turner gave an important reason for choosing this hotel:
They like dogs. . . . The walking is easy and the dogs seem to like it. . . .
However, there were disadvantages to the location, as Mrs. Turner's letters indicated:
My greatest problem is how I can leave the dogs long enough to get to New York and back. . . . It takes an hour and a half by train and ferry and then taxi.21
During this 1946 period, Admiral Turner wrote:
The work here is interesting, and rather new to the past experience of any of us. There is a very sincere desire on the part of practically everyone to make this United Nations thing work. Whether it will or not, remains for the future to disclose. In any case, I, for one, expect to view the situations that arise in a very realistic manner, and with due regard to past human experience.22
When asked to comment on the United Nations Military Staff Committee negotiations during the 1946-1947 period, Admiral Ballentine, who as previously indicated, was Deputy to Admiral Turner, said:
Diplomacy is completely frustrating to somebody like Kelly Turner and to me, because you fan the air, and fan a lot of papers, and get absolutely nowhere with it.
Kelly Turner held up very well under this frustrating experience. I admired him very much, because the task was hopeless to try to accomplish anything, but he kept trying, and kept his temper. I thought him an excellent negotiator.23
The Russians had come out of World War II in a powerful position, and every reasonable effort was being made at the council table to try to make reasonable people out of them. And it was natural to try to cultivate them socially, even though Mrs. Turner wrote: "The Russians are being pretty tough." She continued:
Took the Russians to the Rodeo. They all loved it, and it was a beautiful and very exciting show. . . .
* * * * *General Sharapov [Russian] wrote saying he had been here six months, and he thought he had seen the real America for the first time. * * * * *They are all pleasant personally, but . . . * * * * *Thursday, the Russian military gave a party and I wouldn't miss that. When we first came, they arrived early at every party and stayed late. Now they come to some and never appear at others. Never accept or decline. * * * * *Kelly moans a little over all the places we go, but he really likes it.24
One younger member of the Turner staff wrote that:
RKT and United Kingdom's Lieutenant General Morris were the only
Military Staff Committee members who 'talked turkey' to the intransigent Russians in plenary sessions.25
Vice Admiral Doyle relates the following:
Gromyko was the Soviet representative on the Security Council. Gromyko made a speech about various unresolved political and military matters. The Soviets had the soft pedal on. The speech read very well. The United States members of the Military Committee got a report right after listening to the talk, that Mr. Baruch thought everything was under control and the Soviets were coming around to our position and he was about to publicly welcome Gromyko's speech.
Admiral Turner quoting letter and verse, advised Mr. Baruch that the phrases used by Gromyko were not inconsistent with positions and purposes which the Soviet had advocated previously using different words which were nearly 100% the opposite of ours, and that Gromyko's speech was merely a lesson in semantics. Mr. Baruch accepted the advice, which turned out to be correct.26
At another time, Vice Admiral Doyle recalled:
Admiral Turner was really wonderful in dealing with the Russians at the U.N. The Russians were full of speeches which while appearing to yield on a point, in fact, hidden somewhere was a statement directly to the contrary. They were, also full of talk about dialectic materialism and other cant--which no one but Admiral Turner understood initially.
Admiral Turner was wonderful in spotting their contradictions. It was just like solving a crossword puzzle for him. He recognized all the trick phrases.
Turner requested my service at the U.N. I was pleased. He was not easy to serve with, but I think he was one of our all-time Navy Greats; great virtues overshadowed his faults.27
Making Allies of Enemies
During this period, Admiral Turner was a firm supporter of the policy of restoring Germany and Japan to a position in the family of nations and seeking to gain their support in trying to produce a more peaceable world. He strongly admired the willingness of the individual citizen of these countries to do a real day's work, and he admired the great technical ability of the Germans.28
Admiral Turner was far from being letter perfect in understanding basic communist doctrines when he went to the United Nations, but he read assiduously while he was there. He came away with the basic conclusion that the world was in for another Hundred Years War in the political and ideological fields, with the Soviets bringing every resource to bear to conquer the world through communization. In his retirement years he could not understand why the American people would not take the time to learn that the basic mission of the Soviets everywhere was to advance the progress of communism, and that any tactic or crime fitted into their moral structure, as long as it advanced their cause in the world.29
One of Admiral Turner's great frustrations at the United Nations Headquarters arose from the fact that always before when he had done planning work, it was done with the anticipation that the plans would lead to some real accomplishment. At the United Nations, he soon found that elaborate planning was frequently not even associated with a faint hope of accomplishing anything.
One co-working planner with Kelly Turner during an earlier period said, "Kelly Turner was thoroughly honest" in his planning and "you could be sure that any proposal Kelly made would be solid." But, the certain veto of his planning efforts by the Soviets was the height of intellectual frustration for Admiral Turner.30
The United States ended up World War II with a lot of military power and with a reasonable desire, among its top officials at least, to exercise it through the United Nations. It was most frustrating to Admiral Turner to witness the very real limitations which existed on the exercise of this power on a world-wide basis through the United Nations. Even worse, it was frustrating to witness the dissipation of our military power due to lack of any great interest in its use or maintenance by the American people.31
An examination of the official record shows that Admiral Turner received 14 sets of temporary additional duty speech-making travel orders during his
12 months on duty in New York with the United Nations and that, in addition, he was called upon to make a lot of speeches within the New York area to widely differing audiences. These did not call for "official travel."
One of his staff officers wrote:
To my knowledge, his speeches were invariably his own. He would ask us for background material and proofreading, but the words were his own, meticulously edited and re-edited by himself.32
An effective Flag Secretary kept the text of many of these speeches and the newspaper clippings relating thereto. The primary subject was the United Nations. Reading them today, it is clear that Admiral Turner hoped the United Nations would do far more to ensure world peace than it has accomplished in fact.
One newspaper reaction to one of his speeches is quoted from its editorial column.
Warriors Voice Plea For Peace
We regard it as a triumph for common-sense that during the last week two relatively important military events have taken place in Detroit without the rattling of one saber or the making of one jingoistic speech.
Admiral R. Kelly Turner, who came here to keynote the Navy Day celebration, is a sailor with a battle record which awes even those of his own rank and profession.
But the only battle cry which he sounded in Detroit was a call for greater earnestness, and willingness to sacrifice by the citizenry, on behalf of the new national policies and ideals which are embodied in the belief that we can work through UN toward world peace.
He appealed for a strong national military policy. Yet in so doing, he refrained from dwelling on war dangers to the United States or bringing into question the designs of other nations.
As he explained it, we have made a compact with other powers under UN Charter to work for certain objectives, the prime one being universal peace. The compact specifies four major military obligations on the part of the cooperating states.
In Turner's words: 'At present the United States does not have the strength to fulfill its treaty obligations. The failure on our part to carry our full military load will place heavier burdens on other states, will disturb any political equilibrium which may have been based on our expected national capabilities, and will delay the return of the world to stable conditions.'
* * * * *It is highly significant that this same question, whether lack of interest in the American citizenry and the unwillingness of our people to yield private
objectives to the larger aims of the nation was not becoming the chief block to peace, was raised in the national convention of ex-officers, the Military Order of World Wars.
Every action taken by the convention was consistent with this spirit of self-searching.
The sense of the body was that we need a new inner conviction that peace is attainable if we of the United States can give more to the making of it, and cure ourselves first, before pointing the finger at others.
We believe that in standing firm on that ground, the ex-officer society is showing the way to the nation.33
As his wife noted in her letters to his sister:
Kelly is very busy making speeches.
* * * * *Kelly flew to Washington this afternoon to testify before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee on reorganization. He worked so hard on his statement over the weekend. * * * * *Kelly is to make a Memorial Day Speech in Summit: Tuesday he spoke in New York at the Naval Graduates' luncheon.34
There is no evidence from Soviet contemporaries of Admiral Turner's impact on the Military Committee at the United Nations. But one civilian co-worker provides a pleasant note. At the time of Admiral Turner's death, the President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Joseph E. Johnson, wrote to Miss Lucile Turner as follows:
Fifteen years ago, as a relatively junior State Department Officer, I served on the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. working in the security field. I had the great privilege of seeing a good deal of your brother in my work, and came to admire him greatly. He was always most kind and friendly to me, and I count it one of the privileges of my life to have had that opportunity to know one of our great war leaders, who was also a very human gentleman.
One of the members of the naval staff during this UNO period of Admiral Turner's service, in commenting on him, mentioned:
The respect he earned (senior or junior, U.S. or foreign, civilian or military) by his brilliant mind, wide experience, and ability to express his ideas. To all, he was a gentleman.
He was a stickler for detail, but we all respected his keen mind. Doyle, Harris and Lewis were his strong men as they had served with him afloat. Knoll's
thinking was used by RKT with great effect because of Knoll's knowledge of the Russians and their language. By 1946, the RKT we had all heard of as a martinet etc., had considerably mellowed and was loved by his staff.35
Following World War II, under the urging of Secretary Forrestal, new legislation was enacted by the Congress lowering the statutory age retirement for all naval officers from 64 years to 62 years. This new requirement meant that Admiral Turner would be retired on 1 June 1947, and orders directing him to take a final physical examination before retirement were issued by the Bureau of Naval Personnel on 22 January 1947.
In mid-February 1947, Admiral Turner proceeded to the Naval Hospital, Saint Albans, New York, to receive his retirement physical examination. The doctors turned him in at the hospital for treatment of his arthritis, which was tormenting his back and neck. At the end of a month, a Medical Survey Board recommended that he appear before the Naval Retiring Board, which he did on 1 April 1947.
In view of the probable need for an early replacement at the United Nations, the Bureau of Naval Personnel got busy with finding a relief, and designated Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, who currently commanded our Naval Forces in Europe, with Headquarters in London. Admiral Turner was relieved by Admiral Hewitt, a class senior to him at the Naval Academy but nearly two years younger, on 31 March 1947, after just fifteen months in this interesting but frustrating detail at the United Nations.
At his retirement physical, Admiral Turner stated that he had suffered from "cricks in his neck" since before he was a midshipman, and with passage of years this had developed into arthritis with a vengeance. A letter to his mother way back in 1906 supports this medical history.
Some way or other, I got a crick in my neck, and have scarcely been able to use my right arm. It is an old trouble that I never told you much about. The last year in Stockton, I hurt my neck a little in a football game. Sleeping in a bad position brings it on. This is the worst I've ever had it.36
With the passage of the years and the strain of war, these cricks, augmented by strong arthritic pains, particularly in his back, had visibly affected
the Admiral's locomotion. Despite the fact that he wore a back brace, he no longer stood ramrod straight or moved quickly and easily.
Yet, despite his aches and pains, Admiral Turner worked right up to the day the whistle blew on his retirement. He wrote very well, worked with pencil. He had the greatest admiration for Admiral Spruance, and for Admiral Nimitz and savvy Cooke. They were, as he used to say, 'People that he could work with, no problems.'37
Although Admiral Turner reached 62 on 22 May 1947, it was 1 July 1947, before he was actually placed on the retired list.
Admiral Turner returned to his acquired "home state" of California for his retirement years, and in his own words:
In 1947, I bought a little place on the outskirts of Monterey (124 Soledad Drive). A surprisingly large number of Navy retired officers live here (six in my own N.A. Class) and the General Line School brings many Navy here. Of course there are many Army personnel both active and retired. I spend most of my time gardening but doing just as few useful things as possible.38
Table of Contents * Previous Chapter (24) * Next Chapter (26)
1. General MacArthur to the Armed Forces Pacific upon the occupation of Japan, 2 Sep. 1945, and retained by Admiral Turner in his personal files.
2. Interview with Vice Admiral James H. Doyle, USN (Ret.), 9 Feb. 1962. Herafter J.H. Doyle.
3. J.H. Doyle.
4. Interview with Admiral James L. Hall, USN (Ret.), 1 Nov. 1961.
6. (a) U.S. Congress, Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Hearings: Pearl Harbor Attack (79th Cong., 1st sess. part 23, 2 Jan. 1942. Pursuant to S. Con. Res. 27, 79th Cong.) (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 1084-1095, 1113. Hereafter cited as Pearl Harbor Hearings; (b) Ibid., part 26, pp. 263-87; (c) Ibid., part 33, pp. 876-89; (d) Ibid., part 4, pp. 1911-2063.
8. RKT to Major General A.D. Bruce, USA, letter, 14 Dec. 1945.
9. HST to LTT, letters, 27 Mar. 1946, 6 Apr. 1946, 9 Apr. 1946, 18 Apr. 1946, 5 May 1946, 20 Jun. 1946.
10. Interview with Admiral John J. Ballentine, USN (Ret.), 10 Nov. 1967. Hereafter Ballentine.
12. J.H. Doyle, Lewis.
13. Sdmiral Strauss to GCD, letter, 1 Nov. 1967. Hereafter Strauss.
14. Rear Admiral William C. Mott, USN (Ret.), to GCD, letter, 6 Dec. 1967.
16. U.S. Naval Representative (RKT), Military Staff Committee, United Nations, to Chief of Naval Opoerations, letters, 12 Apr. 1946, 15 Jul. 1946, f13 Sep. 1946, subj: Weekly Report of Military Staff Committee Proceedings.
17. RKT to CNO, letters, 15 Nov. 1946, 6 Dec. 1946, 3 Mar. 1947, subj: Weekly Report of Military Staff Committee Proceedings.
19. Rear Admiral Thomas H. Morton, USN (Ret.), to GCD, memorandum, Dec. 1967. Hereafter Morton.
20. HST to LLT, letter.
21. HST to LLT, letter, 26 Mar. 1946.
22. RKT to AES, letter, 8 Apr. 1946.
24. HST to LLT, letters, 27 Mar. 1946, 11 Jul. 1946, 17 Oct. 1946.
26. J.H. Doyle.
28. Staff Interviews.
30. Interview with Vice Admiral Vincent R. Murphy, USN (Ret.), 1 May 1961.
33. The Detroit News Editorial Page, Tuesday, 29 October 1946.
34. HST to LLT, various letters, 1946.
36. RKT to "My Dear Mother," letter, 7 Jan. 1906.
37. J.H. Doyle.
38. RKT to Audley L. Warburton, letter, 18 Jan. 1950. Allen AMR; Donavin, Harris, Hilliard, and Jukes were the 1908 classmates.