Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Halsey, William Frederick, Jr. (1882–1959)

U.S. Navy admiral. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on 30 October 1882, William Halsey Jr. was a naval officer's son. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1904 and was commissioned an ensign in 1906. Halsey served in the Great White Fleet that circumnavigated the globe from 1907 to 1909 and was then in torpedo boats. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Halsey was a lieutenant commander and captain of a destroyer. He then commanded destroyers operating from Queenstown, Ireland.

Following World War I, Halsey's service was mostly in destroyers, although he also held an assignment in naval intelligence and was a naval attaché in Berlin. Promoted to captain in 1927, he commanded the Reina Mercedes, the Naval Academy training ship, and became fascinated by naval aviation. Halsey attended both the Naval War College and Army War College, and in 1935, despite his age, he completed naval flight training and took command of the aircraft carrier Saratoga. Promoted to rear admiral in 1937, Halsey assumed command of Carrier Division 2 of the Enterprise and Yorktown. He was promoted to vice admiral in 1940.

Halsey was at sea on 7 December 1941 when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor. In early 1942, Halsey's carriers raided Japanese central Pacific installations and launched Colonel James Doolittle's raid on Tokyo in April. Acute skin disorders requiring hospitalization removed him from the Battle of Midway in June 1942. In October 1942, Halsey replaced Admiral Robert Ghormley as commander of the South Pacific and began the most successful phase of his career. He was promoted to admiral in November. Despite severe tactical losses, Halsey retained strategic control of the waters around Guadalcanal in late 1942, and during 1943 he supported operations in the Solomon Islands and into the Bismarck Archipelago. Halsey came to be known as "Bull" for his pugnacious nature.

In March 1943, Halsey took administrative command of the Third Fleet, although he continued his command in the South Pacific until June 1944. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese battle plan and the flawed American command system combined with Halsey's aggressiveness to shape one of the more controversial episodes of the war. On 24–25 October, a Japanese force centered on four fleet aircraft carriers that were largely bereft of aircraft under Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo decoyed Halsey and his entire Task Force 38 away from the U.S. landing sites, leaving the sites vulnerable to a powerful Japanese surface force under Kurita Takeo. Although Halsey destroyed most of Osawa's force in the Battle of Cape Engaño, disaster for the support ships off Leyte was only narrowly averted when Kurita lost his nerve. Widely criticized for not coordinating his movements with Vice Admiral Thomas Kinkaid, who had charge of the invasion force of Seventh Fleet, Halsey never admitted responsibility. He instead blamed the system of divided command.

Halsey endured further condemnation when he took the Third Fleet into damaging typhoons in December 1944 and June 1945. Still, his flagship, the Missouri, hosted the formal Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945. Promoted to admiral of the fleet in December 1945, Halsey retired in April 1947. He then served on the boards of several large corporations. Halsey died at Fisher's Island, New York, on 16 August 1959.

John A. Hutcheson Jr. and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Cutler, Thomas J. The Battle for Leyte Gulf, 23–26 October 1944. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.; Halsey, William Frederick, Jr. Admiral Halsey's Story. New York: McGraw Hill, 1947.; Potter, E. B. Bull Halsey. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1985.; Reynolds, Clark G. The Fast Carriers: The Forging of an Air Navy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.; Reynolds, Clark G. "William F. Halsey, Jr.: The Bull." In Jack Sweetman, ed., The Great Admirals: Command at Sea, 1587–1945, 482–505. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer