Secretaries of the Navy in World War II.


It is a truism that wars are won by the victories of fighting men in battle. With the ever-growing complexity of warfare the fighting man at the front has, however, become more and more dependent on the man in the rear who plans the strategy of war and makes the arrangements for supplying the man at the front with the weapons and other means he needs to win battles. In the case of the Navy during World War II these were administrative duties of the Navy Department for which the Secretary of the Navy, as the direct representative of the President, was responsible.

Fortunately, when war became imminent, the Navy Department required no basic change in organization to go from peace to war. Such modifications as were made consisted principally of adding an Under Secretary to the uppermost civilian administrative hierarchy, bringing about the long overdue merger of the two shipbuilding bureaus, strengthening the authority of the Chief of Naval Operations, and setting up coordinating mechanisms manned largely by outstanding business and professional men brought into the Navy Department from civilian life for the period of the war.

Tremendous expansion of the existing organization was of course necessary to administer a Navy that grew twentyfold in manpower during the war. In addition the percentage of the total manpower needed in the Navy Department to accomplish its administrative tasks had also grown. During the Civil War, one man in the Navy Department sufficed to administer the activities of about 700 men in the operating forces. During World War Ii, the ration had risen so that one man in the Navy Department was needed for about every 70 men in the operating forces.

Information concerning administration problems and their solution in former war emergencies would have been of much help in getting the nation off to a good start in preparing for possible involvement in World War II. But there was a great dearth of such information in American historical literature. To avoid recurrence of the situation a Government-sponsored program to record the history of World War II was set up shortly after we got into the war.

In the case of the Navy Department, the program was divided into two parts: Operational History, and Administrative History. This volume deals with the history of the Administration of the Navy Department in World


War II. The author has drawn heavily on the several hundred volumes of history dealing largely with the administration of the organization components of the Naval Establishment prepared by them as part of the history-writing program.0

It was wisely decided to condense and to publish in a single well-documented, fully-indexed volume this sector of World War II naval history, thus making the material more readily available to those in the Naval Establishment and to others seeking knowledge in the future as to how things were done in World War II and why they were done as they were. In this way was served the utilitarian aim of the history-writing program of making the experiences of World War II available as a guide for the future.

The exhaustive research that has gone into the preparation of the History of the Administration of the Navy Department in World War II, is a tribute to Admiral Furer and his associates in the project. His reporting and comments on this period of great national crisis will, unquestionably, generate controversy because of the very nature of the subject matter. All may not share his viewpoints, but everyone, I believe, will recognize the earnestness and sincerity of his efforts.

Charles Edison



The purpose of history is to learn from the past so that we may shape a better future efficiently and with least waste from trial and error. In few Naval areas can this study be more important than in the administration of the Navy Department, for good or bad administration at the top of an organization reaches down into every ship and station, large or small.

Early in World War II, various proposals were made for keeping histories of the war. The development of appropriate histories of naval activity in World War II appears to have been the result of the interest and foresight of a number of people in and outside the Navy. Considerable credit for getting a program of administrative history started belongs to Dr. Pendleton Herring1 who was a leading spirit among the many historians and administrators in responsible positions who stimulated this program for the whole government.

Within the Navy, farsighted men saw the need not only for preserving records of administrative problems and decisions, but also of presenting them in a suitable historical study for the benefit of better administration


in the years ahead. A principal reason for the volume here presented (stipulated at the outset in the terms of reference setting up the World War II program) was that it be a reference work and guide for the future.

In the Navy Department, excellent progress was made in collecting material and in preparing first drafts of administrative histories of a large number of commands as well as various elements of the Navy Department. The presentation of information in these was quite spotty ranging from scholarly documents (such as U.S. naval Administration, World War II, Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development, prepared by Admiral Furer) to ones that are of some use but inadequate as histories.

In setting up the program, the decision was made to produce, as a keystone of the administrative histories, a well-documented, well-written, comprehensive, but relatively condensed administrative history of the Navy Department that would serve for future guidance. This project actually got under way but went through various vicissitudes that failed to produce a satisfactory manuscript. In 1951, the Navy Department through the efforts of Rear Admiral John B. Heffernan reached a happy solution of this knotty problem in obtaining Admiral Furer to take over the uncompleted job. He combined the qualities of a high caliber naval officer with a high caliber historian and in fact had already written an outstanding history of this type in the account of his own office's functioning through World War II.

Most naval officers, whether in technological or in operational duties must use the methods of historic research and analysis without which good studies or histories cannot be written. Before developing technological or operational plans, an officer must critically examine all pertinent facts, and in his earliest subordinate years must express them in clear, well organized presentations, soundly evaluated. Some officers have talents in analysis and expression better than others, or may be forced to develop them more through exercise. Near the top of this group comes Admiral Furer.

Admiral Furer's naval career was a varied one that called upon his analytical and scientific-technical abilities in many ways. First of all, he had served in the Navy Department throughout World Wars I and II. In the second war he had an especially responsible position of developing research and coordination between the Navy and scientist. His contacts took him into may parts of the department and he faced many administrative problems in all echelons.

His other duties in this country and overseas have included extensive experience as a Naval Constructor in technical and managerial capacities at Navy Yards, including a tour of duty as industrial manager, Cavite and


Olongapo in the Philippines. He spent four years on a United States Naval mission to Brazil, was technical assistant to the Naval Attachés;s London, Paris, Rome and Berlin for the two years just before World War II, and served on the staff of Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet between the wars. All of these jobs have profited from his ability to analyze and express himself in writing in a markedly superior manner. This has been recognized in that he has been called upon to write many articles on technical subjects for Encyclopedia Americana.

In these varied jobs, he gained broad experience in naval administration and its development through the first half of the century. This experience, with his inherent balanced judgment, gives him a strong sympathy for civilian control and at the same time clear recognition of the essential conduct of professional affairs by professional officers.

To Rear Admiral Heffernan, my able predecessor, belongs the credit for obtaining Admiral Furer's services. Under Admiral Heffernan's overall supervision, the project had gone far towards fruition before I came to this busy office. It has been a pleasure and a profit to work with Admiral Furer. His scholarly research, his unflagging efforts to bring in the views of participants still alive, his persistent investigation of every problem, his skill in distilling the essential facts out of mountains of information and misinformation, and his lucid writing, have produced a work of much merit.

As Admiral Furer points out in the Preface, he received the assistance of many in the Naval History Division in the many years of work that have gone into this manuscript; and in the final stages of preparation for publication he had the excellent services of Rear Admiral Duvall who has helped forge a good manuscript into a good book. But essentially this study of wartime administration is Admiral Furer's own wise and able work.

I have read this manuscript in its various stages and each time have been impressed that what could be a dry recital is instead a most interesting one. Admiral Furer has dealt with a vital subject in a vital manner filled with substance and value. All those who come in uniform or as civilians to the Navy Department can profit from reading this useful book.

E.M. Eller
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.)
Director, Naval History Division



When Rear Admiral John B. Heffernan, the Director of the Naval History Division, asked me to write a history of the administration of the Navy Department in World War II, I was not overenthusiastic about undertaking the task. The history-writing program, sponsored by the Bureau of the Budget and approved by President Roosevelt, was expected to cover in considerable detail the entire war effort, both civilian and military. In accordance therewith hundreds of volumes of narrative histories dealing with every sector and phase of Naval Establishment administration had been written by 1950, a few somewhat later. Many were voluminous; the history for example of one of the bureaus runs to over 7000 typescript pages. These narrative histories provide for the scholar and the research worker of the future a wealth of documented source material on the administration of the Navy Department during World War II. Why was anything more needed? The answer was that condensing the narrative histories to usable form as contemplated by the Navy history-writing program still remained to be done.

After weighing many considerations, Admiral Heffernan decided that a one-volume history would provide sufficient coverage to bring into focus the multifarious activities of the Naval Establishment that had demanded adminisitrative attention at the departmental level during World War Ii. He felt that a factually accurate, fully indexed, well-documented single volume history would be put to more frequent and more fruitful use in the offices of the Naval Establishment especially in the Navy Department, than a work of many volumes reposing most of the time on the shelves of libraries. The seeker after more details would be guided to the places where wider coverage could be found by the documentation and bibliography forming part of the one-volume work.

That concept of the purpose and scope of the work appealed to me; so I undertook the task. But I fully realized that much more than summarization and selection of pertinent matter from the narrative histories would be necessary; in fact, that the work in at least two particulars would have to cover more ground than covered in the narrative histories.

There was first the need for outlining the background of the various pieces of administrative machinery with which the Navy Department entered World War II. Information of that kind was essential to an understanding of the policies and administrative practices that were followed by the Navy Department during the war. The difficulty lay in the universal


experience that no work of history attempting to cover a specific period of time ever begins early enough or ends late enough to be wholly rounded.

A second field requiring greater coverage than given in the narrative histories was the one concerning the relationships between the Navy Department and certain of the special agencies set up by the President to handle the war emergency, such as the War Production Board, its predecessor agencies, and the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Placing the emphasis where it belongs is another of the problems in writing a condensed book on a very broad and complex subject such as this one. To do this with any degree of success requires careful rationing of the limited space available for covering the many sectors demanding attention. In this endeavor no two people are likely to agree completely on the order and degree of importance of the various administrative factors that played a part in winning World War II. The actual war experience of the individual writing the history, his personal contacts with participants, and the information he acquires through written records and communications media, all play a part in molding his approach to the subject and the conclusions he reaches.

Some will say that I have placed undue emphasis on the logistics factor in modern warfare, and therefore on the importance of the part that science played in developing new weapons and devices that were of significance in winning the war. The indispensability of operating experience, afloat and ashore, and its concomitant of rotation in duty, as the basis for sound administrative practices has also appealed to me as of major importance; this and the incentives needed for naval personnel to take up specialized careers in the Navy.

Organization charts are of great help in describing the mechanisms of administration, and have been used extensively in this book. In the interests of insuring authenticity the official charts prepared at the time by the respective activities themselves have been used to illustrate the text rather than specially prepared charts. in the matter of size, fold-in charts have been avoided and so has drastic photographic reduction, as it impairs legibility. It was therefore found necessary in the case of some charts to omit or contract certain details such as subdivision, descriptive matter, etc. The majority have however been reproduced directly from the originals.

Illustrations have been limited to the photographs of those individuals who, during the war, occupied the uppermost level of administrative positions. There were of course many others in the Navy Department who held positions of as great responsibility even though of less authority. There have been included also a number of photographs illustrating the end products of naval administration; ships and aircraft at the fighting front and personnel in action.

A chronology arranged in three parallel columns is provided at the end


of the book to keep the student of administrative history in convenient touch with contemporaneous global war events and situations.

The steady interest, active support, and constructive criticisms of Rear Admiral Heffernan and of his successor, Rear Admiral Eller, Directors of the Naval History Division, converted the tasks of authorship into a stimulating and rewarding experience, for which I am particularly grateful to them. They were often put to it to find for me the clerical assistance and office facilities called for by my contract with the Navy Department, as clerical help is never plentiful in the History Division, and office space is always at a premium.

I am indebted for help in writing this book to more people than I have space to name, but to no one more than to Commodore Dudley W. know. My indebtedness to him goes, however, much further back than this book. It spans a lifetime and began in the spring of 1902 when I, a midshipman less than a year out fo the Naval Academy, reported to him, a Lieutenant Junior Grade, who had just assumed command of the USS Shubrick, a torpedo boat in reserve at Port Royal, S.C. The boat was to be placed in commission, a green crew broken in and after a few weeks of training and some trial runs was to be taken to Norfolk, Virginia. My assignment was actually for temporary duty, and ended with the arrival of the Shubrick in Norfolk, as I was headed for the Construction Corps, but the duty under Dudley Know was so stimulating and his leadership so inspiring that I almost changed my mind about leaving the line to become a Naval Constructor.

We were not again thrown together in a similar relationship, but I became and remained his grateful beneficiary and admirer as he developed through the years into the clearest thinker and most convincing and literate write of our time on sea power and allied subjects and on our own naval history. Through his writings and work on special boards he also made lasting contributions to the education and training of naval officers to fit them for the command function of the naval profession. He stressed particularly the value and importance of doctrine as a tool in the management of the operating forces, with emphasis on the initiative of the subordinate. his writings were always a source of inspiration to me. They are masterpieces of clarity, style, and presentation. To me they were of the greatest help in orienting my thinking in my own efforts at history-writing. I am therefore indebted to him in many ways, in addition to the direct help he gave me in writing this book. Without his encouragement I would probably not have undertaken the task in the first place. He assisted me with the first drafts of the early chapters and read and gave me valuable help on many other parts of the manuscript. Whenever the going got too rough I could always count on him to bail me out and to set me straight.


I want to express my thanks also to Dr. John Geise of the University of Pittsburgh for guiding the early footsteps of a rank amateur in the fields of historiography.

During the time I was engaged on this work, a continuous stream of young officers passed through the Naval History Division where I also did the greater part of my work. Most of them were Reserve Officers completing their required military service before returning to civilian life. Only a few had had any formal education in historiography, although most of them had majored in history at college. Under the tutelage and guidance of Dr. William J. Morgan (Commander, USNR, Inactive), Head of the Historical Research Section, they did much of the research work on certain chapters of the book. I am greatly indebted to Dr. Morgan for his assistance in many ways, and to the following officers for their help with research work and first drafts: Lt. Harold P. Deeley,Jr., USN; Lt. Thomas R. Averett, USN; LTJG Edwin S. Mullett, USNR; LTJG Henry A. Vadnais, Jr., USNR; LTJG William B. Imholt, USNR; LTJG Oliva J. Beaulieu, USNR; LTJG John A. Sturgeon, USNR; LTJG Robert K. Peck, USNR. I hope that they profited from this experience as much as I did and that their pleasure from the association was a great as mine.

During the writing of this book, I had the unique opportunity of lunching regularly in the Flag Officers' Mess in the Main Navy Building. The officers using this mess are Chiefs of Bureaus, their Flag Officer assistants, some of the Flag Officers from the Office of the Chief of Naval operations, the General Counsel of the Navy Department, a few others, and a constant stream of visitors of high rank from the Fleet and the Shore Establishments. Most of these officers had had duty during the war as juniors in the Navy Department, in the Shore Establishment, and in the Fleet. Lunchtime gave me the opportunity of obtaining first-hand information on many matters covered in the narrative histories, and also made easier my access to source material in the bureaus. Vice Admiral V.R. Murphy, the Executive Vice President of the Navy Relief Society, was also a regular member of the mess. During the war period he was War Plans Officer successively on the staffs of Admiral Richardson, Admiral Kimmel, and Admiral Nimitz. His articulate, realistic analysis of the situations that confronted the Navy in the Pacific was invaluable in giving me a fresh insight into those problems. To all of these officers I express warm thanks for their help; also to Mr. F. Trowbridge vom Baur, General Counsel of the Navy Department, for exploring and setting straight certain copyright matters that might have become involved in the publication of the book.

In addition, to the practical help to me of this association, I derived great and continuous pleasure from the experience. The country need have no fear for the outcome if the responsibility for doing the hard administrative


and technical spade work of the Navy Department is allowed to remain in the hands of career naval officers of the caliber, integrity, and dedication to the naval service that I have written about in this work and found characteristic of the officers with whom I came into close contact during my years of association with them after the war.

To the members of the staff of the Navy Department Library I am most grateful for their uniform courtesy and intelligent help in finding requested information for me. My thanks go particularly to Mr. F.S. Meigs. His ability to locate with only the scantiest of clue deeply hidden information in Federal Statutes and in government reports and records is truly amazing. So also is his broad knowledge of what is to be found in the books on the shelves of the library. He never failed to come up quickly with something pertinent to my many requests for information.

I am indebted also to Mrs. Alma R. Lawrence in charge of the early Navy Record Section and to the librarians and history divisions of the Coast Guard and the various bureaus for their help, particularly to Miss Helen R. Fairbanks of the Bureau of Yards and Docks.

Marine Corps Headquarters deserves special mention for the help given men in writing the chapter on the Marine Corps. Miss Francis. B. Jackson of the Historical Branch was assigned to do research work for me in connection with my first draft of that chapter. I am grateful to her for the splendid help given me. I submitted the first draft to General Randolph Pate and discussed it with him and with Colonel C.W. Harrison, the Head of the Historical Branch. Mr. K.W. Condit of the Historical Branch then prepared a draft of the chapter, after which I rewrote the chapter, using his draft and my earlier version as the basis for my final draft. I am grateful to all of those mentioned by name and to many others at Marine Corps Headquarters for their help and useful criticisms of the chapter.

I want to express my appreciation also to Captain John E. Dingwell, USN (Ret.) for his help in locating for me pertinent passages in the 40 volumes comprising the Hearings before the Joint Congressional Committee which investigated the Pearl Harbor attack including the report of the Committee.

The early typing of the chapters was done most capably by Miss Nancy Lindemuth, but practically all of the secretarial work for the final draft of the manuscript was done with efficiency and skill by Miss Ida S. Kessner, with YN1 John Murphy pinch-hitting by permission of Miss T.I. Mertz, who was in charge of the office force of the Naval History Division. I thank them all.

The indispensable help given me by Rear Admiral E.E. Duvall in getting the book ready for the printer deserves special mention and my particular thanks. When the manuscript neared completion I began to check


up on the things that remained to be done to get the book published. Many of these things under the terms of my contract with the Navy Department were not my responsibility, but I was prepared to take them on in the interests of producing a useful book that as to format, appearance, completeness of index, and other features, would be a credit not only to the Navy Department but also to me. No one was better qualified than Elmer Duvall to help me with that part of the task. He had done a similar job with outstanding success on those two splendid books dealing with World War II logistics afloat, entitled respectively Beans, Bullets and Black Oil by Rear Admiral W.R. Carter, USN, covering the war in the Pacific, and Ships, Salvage and Sinews of War by Rear Admiral Carter and Rear Admiral Duvall, covering the war in the Atlantic. I was grateful no end and delighted when he agreed to give me similar help. He joined me on a full-time every-day basis after the text had been completed. During that period he occupied a desk in my office. We were all business during most of the day, but the coffee break was what it is intended to be. His whimsical sense of humor and his lovely philosophy of life made these breaks all too short.

He designed the end papers and spine of the book; selected the paper and the type for the text, and the material for the cover; prepared the glossary of abbreviations; keyed and arranged the illustrations and charts; prepared the index; assisted with the chronology; and did a great variety of other chores that involved dealing with many people in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, in the Publications Division of the Administrative Office of the Navy Department, and in the Government Printing Office. I wish to thank all of those with whom he dealt for their cordial cooperation and help beyond the call of duty in getting the book ready for publication.

Above all, I want to acknowledge the debt I owe to my wife, Helen Emery Furer, for her part in making this book possible. She bore with me cheerfully and helpfully during its writing, and was always ready to sacrifice her own plans and convenience in order not to interfere with the progress of my work.

Rear Admiral, USN (Retired)

Washington, D.C.
15 May, 1959


Table of Contents ** Next Chapter (1)


0. [See Guide to United States Naval Administrative Histories of World War II, Compiled by William C. Heimdahl and Edward J. Marolda (Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, 1976) for an annotated list of these histories. -- HyperWar]

1. In a letter dated March 8, 1957, Pendleton Herring, President of Social Science Research Council wrote to Admiral Heffernan: "In the spring of 1940 as a member of the Social Science Research Council's Committee on Public Administration, I was asked to undertake the responsibility for the preparation of an annotated bibliography of the books and articles bearing on administrative problems of civilian mobilization . . . Accordingly, on May 26, 1940, I secured the cooperation o four of my colleagues and by the end of August we had ready a manuscript that was published that fall by the Public Administration Service, with the title: Civil-Military Relations, Bibliographical Notes on Administrative Problems of Civilian Mobilization.

. . . I went to Washington in September 1941, and talked with Harold Smith, Director of the Budget, about the need for research and training materials bearing on civil-military relations and mobilization problems under conditions of high-level mobilization and wartime conditions, and we conceived the idea that efforts be made to record the developments then going forward in the federal establishment.

With Smith's encouragement and with the cooperation of officials in the Budget Bureau and scholars outside the government, including Waldo Leland, I prepared plans for appointing a Committee on Records of War Administration. . . .

A brief account of the Committee's work, together with the text of several Presidential letters, is to be found in the Foreword and Preface to a 559-page volume published by the Government Printing Office in 1946, under the title: The United States at War. Development and Administration of the War Program by the Federal Government. . . .

During the war years, I divided my time between my duties at Harvard and the work of the Committee on Records of War Administration . . . it was my job to bring to the attention of the principal governmental agencies the desirability of maintaining a record of administrative problems and decisions, so that an adequate history of this wartime experience could be written. In one way or another, forty agencies undertook to give some attention to the matter . . ."

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