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

Theobald, Robert Alfred (1884–1957)

U.S. Navy admiral who commanded the North Pacific Force. Born in San Francisco, California, on 25 January 1884, Robert Theobald graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1907 and was commissioned an ensign. Over the next years, he served in a variety of assignments at sea and in shore posts, impressing his superiors with his skills in gunnery, his seamanship, and his intellectual acumen. During the 1930s, Theobald was both a student and an instructor at the Naval War College. He commanded the battleship Nevada, served as a member of the navy's General Board, and commanded a cruiser division and later a destroyer flotilla.

Shortly after the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Rear Admiral Theobald took charge of the destroyers in the Pacific Fleet. In May 1942, he was appointed commander of the North Pacific Force. Since the force initially had a main body of only five cruisers and four destroyers, Theobald was inclined to be cautious in moving against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands, an approach that placed him at odds with the more aggressive-minded army commanders in the theater.

The conflict between Theobald and the army, along with the admiral's irritation at being assigned to a backwater in the war, angered Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet. On 4 January 1943, Nimitz relieved Theobald, who then took charge of the First Naval District and the Boston Navy Yard. Theobald retired from the navy in February 1945.

After the war, he involved himself in the Pearl Harbor controversy, arguing that Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Pacific Fleet in 1941 and a friend of long standing, and Lieutenant General Walter Short, commander of the Hawaiian Department, were unfairly made the scapegoats for the Japanese success on 7 December 1941. In his book The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Contribution to the Japanese Attack (1954), Theobald charged that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and members of his administration did not adequately warn Hawaiian commanders of a possible attack and had shifted the blame to Kimmel and Short to cover up their own errors in judgment. Theobald died in Boston on 13 May 1957.

John Kennedy Ohl


Further Reading
Garfield, Brian. The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians. New York: Doubleday, 1969.; Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 5, The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942–February 1943. Boston: Little, Brown, 1949.; Morton, Louis. United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific—Strategy and Command. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1962.
 

©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