Name: Lyal Ament Davidson
Given Name: Lyal Ament
Prefix: Vice Admiral
Birth: 2 Dec 1886 in Muscatine, Muscatine Co., Iowa
Christening: 17 Dec 1887 Muscatine, Muscatine Co., Iowa
Death: 29 Dec 1950 in Bethesda, Montgomery Co., Maryland
Burial: 3 Jan 1951 Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, , Virginia
DSCR: DN15 61298
Reference Number: D1.4
! (1) Carolyn Davidson Carey (daughter), Greenwood Village, CO.
Change Date: 9 Apr 2010 at 01:00:00
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Title: Lyal Ament Davidson, child
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Title: Lyal Ament Davidson military 1
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Title: Lyal Ament Davidson military 2
FILE: C:\Documents and Settings\Chris\My Documents\PAF\Portraits\Davidson, Lyal A3.JPG
Title: Lyal Ament Davidson military 3
(2) Birth certificate, IA #70-87-199, City of Muscatine, IA Book 2, p.5. Original record states no given names, which were later added by affidavit from brother J. Andrew Davidson, 26 Jul 1940.
(3) Baptismal certificate, Trinity Parish, Muscatine, IA.
(4) Marriage licence and certificate, Corporation Court, Norfolk, VA.
(5) Death certificate #12436, MD Dept. of Health.
(6) Commissioning booklet and program, DE1045 USS Davidson.
(7) "Who's Who in America 1944-1945," Vol. 23, p.499.
(8) William Gwathmey Davidson (son), Steptoe Ranch, McGill, NV.
(9) Clippings from Muscatine, IA newspapers (probably the "Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune") in scrapbook compiled by Judith Ament Davidson (mother), in possession of Carolyn Davidson Carey (granddaughter).
(10) Obituary of Judith Ament Davidson, "Muscatine Journal and News Tribune," Muscatine, IA, 13 Oct 1941. "Mrs. Davidson Called in Death; Rites Tuesday."
(11) Wedding reception invitation.
(12) Account of wedding in unknown Norfolk, VA newspaper, Sun, 4 Jun 1916.
(13) Biography, source unknown, a U.S. Navy publication.
(14) Letter from Capt. Edgar Williams, Ret'rd, Charlottesville, VA, to Carolyn T. Davidson, 2 Feb 1968. Enclosed pictures of Lyal A. Davidson.
(15) "History of USS Davidson (DE-1045)," Navy Dept., Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Div. (OP-09B9), Ship Histories Section. Cites: (a) "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II", Vol. IX, by Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morrison. (b) Admiral H. Kent Hewitt. (c) Letter from General Patton to Admiral Davidson. (d) Letter from Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham, Allied Naval Commander in the Mediterranean, to Admiral Hewitt. (e) General George S. Patton. (f) Allied Naval Commander Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham.
(16) Article about wedding of Judith Ament Davidson to Maj. Anthony Walker in unknown Washington D.C. newspaper. (Wedding occurred 12 Apr 1947).
(17) Engagement and wedding annoucements in unknown Newport, RI newspapers about Carolyn Tayloe Davidson/Alexander McCubbin Carey wedding (Wedding was on 12 Aug 1944.)
(18) Will of Lyal A. Davidson, dtd 11 Dec 1945, Bethesda, MD.
(19) Account of wedding of William Gwathmey Davidson/Adelina Alice Hodgkin, "Pasadena Star-News," Pasadena, CA, Sun. 3 Nov 1946, p.27.
(20) Letter from W.W. Gwathmey (father-in-law) to Wm. G. Davidson (son), 19 May 1938. In possession of Wm. G. Davidson (1988).
(21) Death certificate, U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD.
(22) Letters from himself to his son William G. Davidson. (a) 14 Oct 1940. (b) 30 Apr 1944. (c) 17 Oct 1943. (d) 11 Dec 1943.
(23) Letter from Maj. Gen. E.N. Harmon, U.S.A., to Mrs. L.A. Davidson, 24 Oct 1963.
(24) Invitation to Presentation of Decorations, Tues, 17 Apr (1945?), British Embassy, Washington D.C..
(25) Birth certificate of son William G. Davidson, VA #3800.
(26) Letter from Rear Adm. Charles H. Lyman, Commandant, 8th U.S. Naval Dist., to Mrs. L.A. Davidson, 1 Sep 1964.
(27) "Tin Cans", by Theodore Roscoe, originally published as "United States Operations in World War II," by the United States Naval Institute, and abridged by Mr. Roscoe and Rear Adm. Thomas L. Wattles, USN (Bantam Books, Inc., New York, by arrangement with the United States Naval Institute, 1968).
(28) "Operation Dragoon, The Allied Invasion of the South of France", by William B. Breuer (Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1987).
(29) "Operation Torch, The Allied Gamble to Invade North Africa", by William B. Breuer (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1985).
(30) "Operation Avalanche - The Salerno Landings, 1943", by Des Hickey and Gus Smith (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1983).
(31) "Raleigh Daily News," U.S.S. Raleigh, Wed., 20 Aug 1924 to Mon., 25 Aug 1924.
(32) "The Stars and Stripes," Tues., 22 Feb 1944, p.2. "Galloping Ghost of Sicilian Coast Also Battered Germans at Salerno," by F.R. Kent.
(33) Notes by Ella Reed Davidson (aunt).
(34) Bible belonging to Judith A. Davidson (John E. Potter & Co., Philadelphia, pub. date unknown). Original in possession of Sarah Bery Davidson. Family record in various handwritings.
! Birth: (1,2,3,7,13,34) 2 Dec 1886. (1,2,3,7,13) Muscatine, IA. (1,2,3,7,9,13) s/o Joseph Trimble Davidson/Judith Ament. (9) Youngest son.
Baptism: (3) 17 Dec 1887, Trinity Episcopal Church, Muscatine, IA. Sponsors, Mr. & Mrs. M.W. Griffin, Mr. & Mrs. J.D. Davidson. Performed by E.C. Paget.
Marriage to Carolyn Tayloe Gwathmey: (1,4,7,8,11,12,34) 3 Jun 1916. (1,4,8,11,12) Norfolk, VA, d/o William Watts Gwathmey Jr./Mary Potter Langhorne. (12) At 3:30 p.m. at the home of the bride's grandmother, Mrs. W. Gwathmey, in Mowbray Arch. "An important and fashionable wedding in Norfolk society, navy and army circles... The marriage took place in the drawing room before an improvised altar." By the bride's brother, Rev. Devall Gwathmey, rector of St. John's Church, Waynesboro, VA, assisted by Dr. Francis C. Steinmetz, rector of Christ Church. Witnessed only by family and a few intimate friends. Large reception immediately following. (11) Reception on Sat. afternoon, 4:00 p.m., at 432 Mowbray Arch.
Death: (1,5,13,21,34) 29 Dec 1950. (1,5,8,13,21) Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD. (15) Suffered a stroke in 1945 which resulted in his hospitalization and subsequent retirement. He succumbed to his war-incurred disabilities Dec 1950. (21) Admitted to hosptial 23 Jan 1950. Died of hemmorage, adrenal gland, bilateral, 6 hours, due to bronchopneumonia, 1 month, due to cerebral thrombosis, multiple, 2 1/2 years, and arteriosclerosis, generalized, 6 years. (5) 9:22 p.m., Renal hemorrage, bilateral, due to hypertensive cardiovascular-renal disease.
Burial: (1,5,8) Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. (8) His grave is not far from that of President John F. Kennedy, and is easily visible from the path leading to the President's gravesite. (1) Sec. 2, Grave 4695A. The grave is within 20 feet of the grave of Julian D'Arcy Carey, his son-in-law's father. Services held 3:00 p.m., Thurs, Fort Myers Chapel, Arlington Ntl. Cem. (5) 3 Jan 1951. Funeral Director, Jos. Gawler's Sons, 1756 Penn. Ave., N.W., Washington D.C..
(1,13) Attended grammar school and Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA.
(9) Was a paper boy for the "Muscatine Evening Journal." One evening as he was returning home he took a car near the end of the cemetery line, and at a point opposite the cemetery his hat blew off. He jumped from the car and was thrown on his head, fracturing his skull and giving him a wound 1 1/2 inches long. He was carried to his grandfather Andrew Davidson's home where Dr. H.M. Dean was called. He remained unconscious for most of the evening. His father was in the Philippines, and his mother and sister in MA near Boston.
(9) 1904: Graduated from Muscatine High School. Was class president and gave the commencement address.
(9) Was appointed an alternate candidate to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point by Senator Allison.
(9) 1905: Employed by Southern Express Co..
(13) 1906, 10 Jun: Entered the U.S. Naval Academy as Midshipman from IA. (15) 20 Jun. (1) Entered active service 9 Jun 1906, Annapolis, MD. Home address was Muscatine, IA.
(1,7,13,15) 1910, 3 Jun: Graduated "with credit," B.S. Degree in Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
(13) Served 2 years at sea, then required by law before commissioning.
(1) 1912, 9 Apr: Commissioned Ensign, U.S. Navy. (13,15) Mar 1912. (7) 1911.
(13) Served successively on the battleship USS New Hampshire, USS Montgomery, and the USS Alabama. (14) In the summer of 1912 or 1913, at 6:00 one morning in heavy fog, the USS New Hampshire was rammed by the Fall River Line ship SS Commonwealth as the New Hampshire lay anchored off the Naval War College. The New Hampshire was taken to New York for repairs, and the USS Alabama was commissioned for duty for the summer. The crew returned to the New Hampshire upon completion of repairs.
(13,15) 1912, Sep: Rejoined the USS New Hampshire, and served as Assistant Engineer Officer during the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, until Nov 1914.
(13) 1914, Apr: Was a member of a landing force at Vera Cruz. (NOTE: 21 Apr 1914, the U.S. Navy was dispatched to Vera Cruz, Mexico, and marines took control of the city. Prior to the invasion, President Woodrow Wilson had refused to recognize dictator Huerta as president of Mexico because he was not duly elected. Huerta imprisoned some U.S. sailors and officers. Wilson then ordered the invasion to cut off Huerta's arms supply, which he received from Germans through Vera Cruz.) (9) Was one of 6 especially mentioned for valor and efficiency for assisting wounded while under fire during the fighting by Rear Admiral Fletcher in his report to the Navy Department. Rank was Ensign, USS New Hampshire. Residence given as Jeffersonville, IN.
(13) 1914, Nov: Assisted in fitting out the USS O'Brien and served on board that destroyer from her commissioning, 22 May 1915, until Sep 1915.
(9) 1915, 11 Sep: Lt. and engineer officer, on the torpedo boat destroyer USS O'Brien. The ship had just returned to Norfolk, VA from sea maneuvers with the battleships of the Atlantic Fleet off the VA Capes, where she had made a record at target practice with a score greater than that held by the winners of previous trophies for similar practices. The vessel achieved almost a perfect score in topedo firing and almost made the highest per cent for night firing. The ship had been in service only 3 months.
(13) 1915, Sep: Had instruction in mechanical engineering at the Naval Post Graduate School, Annapolis, MD, and Columbia University, New York, NY.
(11) 1916, Jun: Rank was Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy. To reside in Annapolis, MD.
(1,7,13) 1917: Graduated, M.S. Degree in Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY.
(25) 1917, 14 Mar: Address given as 420 W. 118th St., New York City. Wife's address was 543 Warren Crescent. (NOTE: She was staying with her parents when her son was born.)
(13,15) 1917, Mar: Prior to the U.S. entry into World War I, he reported for duty on the USS Minnesota. (1) 1st Lt., USS Minnesota. (NOTE: The U.S. officially declared war on Germany 2 Apr 1917.)
(13,15) 1918, Jul: Transferred to duty as Engineer Officer of the USS Kansas, which was assigned to escort duty during the war.
(13) 1920, Jan: Detached from the USS Kansas and assigned to the USS Rochester.
(13) 1920, Oct: Detached from the USS Rochester and assigned to the Naval Training Station, Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, VA. (8) The family lived on base, where they had a Model T Ford and kept chickens. When Lyal returned from sea duty, they moved to Meadowbrook Apartments in Norfolk, near the base and Lochaven on the main street between the base and downtown.
(9) 1923: Was Lt. Commander, aide-for-morale of the 5th Naval District and the Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, VA.
(13) 1923, Oct: Assigned to the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, MA, to assist in fitting out the cruiser USS Raleigh. (8) The family lived in Brookline, MA, in an apartment. Would take weekend trips to Admiral Burrage's farm in New Hampshire. While they were away one weekend their apartment was burglarized. They were also the first people on the block to have a radio. (9) The Raleigh was a new scout cruiser. To be Gunnery Officer. "One of the best liked officers over on duty here. He has co-operated with the civilian authorities and endeavored to cement a feeling of good will between citizens and men in the service. ... Under his supervision, navy athletics have been placed in the lead in amateur circles in Virginia, baseball, football, basketball, swimming, track and field events all have benefited in recent years by the backing of the Navy, through Commander Davidson. ... The morale division operates a shoe-repairing shop, a number of barber shops, canteens, a weekly newspaper, the station library, a theater, has charge of all athletics, entertainments, bowling alleys, pool rooms, swimming tanks, special instructions, clubs, reading and writing rooms. Money earned by the various shops and canteens is used for entertainment and recreation purposes."
(13,15) 1924, 2 Feb: Upon the commissioning of the USS Raleigh, he served as her Gunnery Officer.
(9) 1924, 11 Feb: Rank was Lt. Commander. Stationed at Boston, MA.
(31) 1924, 20-25 Aug: The USS Raleigh was assigned to the naval patrol assisting the Army Around the World Flight, in which 2 U.S. Army flyers were circling the globe in segments, accompanied by an Italian plane. The Raleigh scouted weather conditions and stood by for assistance on the segment from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Fredricksdal (Frederikshab), Greenland. The Raleigh was fogbound as the Americans flew over on 21 Aug.. The Italians had to land in the sea due to engine trouble, and the Raleigh took part in the search over the flight path and around Cape Farewell at the southern tip of Greenland, up to about 90 miles north of Cape Farewell on Greenland's eastern coast without success. Another ship in the patrol discovered the flyers at sea on 25 Aug., and the Raleigh put in at the Bay of Islands, Newfoundland, for refueling before heading on to Boston.
(13) 1927, 14 Jun: Detached from the USS Raleigh and assigned to the Navy Dept., Washington D.C., Bureau of Engineering. (8) The family lived in a house in Chevy Chase, MD.
(13) 1929, 15 Mar: Detached from the Bureau of Engineering and assigned to the Bureau of Navigation for 5 weeks.
(13,15) 1929, 2 May: Became Executive Officer on the cruiser USS Melville and remained at sea until Apr 1931. (8) The USS Melville was a destroyer tender. The ship was in San Diego Bay most of the time, even though it was classified as sea duty. His rank at this time was Lt. Commander.
(1) Specialized in Engineering until 1930, then turned to strategy and tactics.
(13,15) 1931, Apr: Had 3 years duty as Aide to the Commandant of the 11th Naval District, San Diego, CA.
(9) 1931, 21 Jun: Living at San Diego, CA, and held rank of Commander, USN.
(8) 1933, Mar: After the Long Beach earthquake, he was sent to assess the damage at the Naval Base in Long Beach.
(7,13,15) 1934, Apr: Commander, 9th Destroyer Div., U.S. Fleet. Flagship at sea was the destroyer USS Lawrence. (8) The Lawrence was based in Coronado, CA.
(9) 1936: Promoted to Captain.
(7,13,15) 1936, Jun: Detached from the USS Lawrence and assigned to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, RI.
(20) 1938, 19 May: "Your Dad gets that 4th stripe on his sleeve next month,... and they move to 81 Kay St., Newport News June 22nd or later."
(7,13,15) 1938, Jul: Returned to sea as Commanding Officer of the hospital ship USS Relief until 27 May 1939. (26) Rear Adm. Charles H. Lyman wrote to his widow later, "I remember Admiral Davidson so very pleasantly. We were shipmates for only a very brief period when he was in command of the Relief and I did a short tour as a patient on board but I saw him on numerous occassions, and was always impressed by the kindness and courtesy which he invariably showed to those of us who were so many years his junior."
(7,13,15) 1939, 6 Jul: Commanded the cruiser USS Omaha to 5 Jun 1940.
(7,13,15) 1940, Jul: Professor of Naval Science and Tactics, Naval Reserve Officer's Training Corps Unit, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, until Dec 1941.
(22a) 1940, 14 Oct: Address was Dept. of Naval Science and Tactics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Wrote to his son, "Honey Bunny had a birthday last week. To celebrate she called is up on the long distance. Your mother was so busy asking questions, a long list of which she had prepared in advance, that Carolyn hardly got in a word edgewise and I did not get within ten feet of the phone. I sent her her portable typewriter as a combination graduation and birthday present so you may expect to get a neatly typed letter from her any day. I don't know just why I make this promise for I have yet to receive one from her thanking me for the machine. I expect she is busy though getting settled, curtains hung, etc., etc.. That has been the order of things around here. We did get along well though and I have not had to move the furniture about much, largely because if one thing is moved everything else must move, too. We are overpopulated. The re is a nice large basement, thank goodness. It is gradually filling up. We have our first rumpus room but at present it is full of books in boxes and spare furniture and pictures. In the garage there are about ten cases, crates and barrels we have not yet opened. Needed, one first class fire. The social life has been going forward apace. The weather has been so fine even the oldsters from 64 to 86 have felt that they could call. Hardly a minute to read the paper. Yesteday we ran over to Detroit to attend St. Paul's Cathedral, stayed for lunch, drove around the city and paid a couple of calls before heading home at five. Today your mother went over again to look inside some of the shops she saw from the outside yesterday. She got home just in time to miss the change from Indian Summer to Winter which is now in progress."
(10) 1941, 11 Oct: Living at Ann Arbor, MI, and held rank of Captain, USN.
(7,13) 1941, 30 Nov: Commissioned Rear Admiral.
(7,13,15) 1941, Dec: Had instruction for 4 months at the Naval War College, Newport, RI.
(13,15) 1942, Apr: During the early months of World War II, designated Commander Cruiser Division 8 with the USS Philadelphia as his flagship. (7) Commander, cruisers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. (NOTE: The U.S. declared war on Japan 8 Dec 1941, and on Germany and Italy 11 Dec 1941.)
(27) 1942, Jul-Dec: Troop convoys crossed to Britain in steady procession, escorted by Task Force 37 commanded by Rear Admiral L. Davidson and Task Force 38. Task Force 37 was composed of the cruiser Philadelphia, battleship New York, and 6 to 12 destroyers. In the summer and autumn of 1942, the German U-boats stepped up the offensive against Atlantic shipping. They struck at every convoy that crossed the Atlantic in Aug 1942.
(27) 1942, 22 Aug: Eastbound convoy AT-20, under escort of Task Force 37, was standing seaward of Halifax Harbor. There were 10 ships in the troop convoy. Accompanying Philadelphia and New York were 9 destroyers. At 10:05 p.m., an inexperienced sonar man mistook a school of porpoises for an enemy submarine. The destroyer Buck received orders over voice radio from Admiral Davidson to go close aboard the Letitia and escort her to her proper station 1000 yards on cruiser Philadelphia's starboard beam. There was very thick fog, and the Buck was running on radar. She was ordered to use her bullhorn to direct Letitia to her proper station. At 10:25 p.m., as the Buck was crossing through the column, the transport Awatea loomed out of the fog only 30 yards from the destroyer's beam and rammed Buck, almost shearing off the fantail. A moment later, the destroyer USS Ingraham, maneuvering through the Buck-Awatea collision, steamed directly across the bow of the fleet oiler Chemung, which ran headlong into the Ingraham, and the destroyer blew up. Only 10 men and one officer escaped the burning destoyer. The destoyer Bristol was ordered to escort the injured ships back to port while Convoy AT-20 continued eastward, reducing the convoy by 5 ships.
(27) Operation Torch, the counter-invasion of North Africa, was conceived to keep Algeria and French Morocco out of Nazi hands. Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force 34, containing 102 ships, was assigned the job of transporting Patton's 37,000 troops across the Atlantic and landing them on beachheads on Morocco's Atlantic coast. The Task Force was organized into 4 task groups for the landing operations. The Southern Attack Group was assigned to the Safi area, and was commanded by Admiral Lyal Davidson.
(29) 1942, 10 Oct: Was conducting final practice amphibious landings with Maj. Gen. Ernest N. Harmon's 2nd Armored Division in Chesapeake Bay. The troops had only been hastily trained, and the practice was a fiasco.
(29) 1942, 23 Oct: At 8:00 a.m., the Western Task Force began leaving Hampton Roads near Norfolk, VA. "On his crowded transport, General Harmon was keeping his concerns to himself. Just before sailing, he was summoned by Admiral Lyal Davidson, commander of the Safi Task Force, to the flagship Philadelphia. Harmon had climbed up the rope ladder clutching a secret book of instructions put together by naval planners. The book was as thick as the New York City telephone directory. He was met by Admiral Davidson, who was carrying a copy of the same heavy book. "Harmon," the admiral asked, "have you read this book and do you understand it?" "No, Sir," Harmon replied. "I haven't read it and I doubt if I'll have time to before we reach Safi. I don't even know who wrote it." "Well, I haven't read it either," Davidson declared. "Let's talk it over in my cabin. You and I are going to run the Safi show, and between us we must arrive at a simple understanding which will make it a success." There in the cabin, virtually on the eve of battle, Admiral Davidson and General Harmon went over a host of vexing problems and, one by one, resolved them. These agreements were condensed to a single typewritten sheet."
(13,15) 1942, 7-8 Nov: Commanded the Southern Attack Group which landed Gen. Harmon's U.S. Army Tank Detachment at Safi, Morocco. His leadership and foresight in this operation won him the Distinguished Service Medal. His task group silenced hostile shore batteries, stormed the port and landed troops and equipment without serious damage or loss of life. (13) His amazing gunfire support dazed the Germans, who believed that the U.S. was using a new formidable antitank weapon. (27) At 6:00 a.m. on 7 Nov, the Southern Attack Group detached from the main body of the Western Task Force and headed south toward Safi, Morocco. By nightfall, they were a few miles out from Safi. While the transports approached an area off Safi breakwater, the Philadelphia and New York steamed to stations where their guns could trade shells with two coastal batteries north and south of the port. Destroyers moved to positions where they could cover the landings with close-in fire support. At 3:30 a.m. on 8 Nov, the assault destroyers Bernadou and Cole peeled away from the transport group and headed in to Safi harbor, carrying assault troops. Shore firing began at 4:24 as the Bernadou rounded a bell bouy off the north end of the breakwater. One of the northern shore batteries was silenced 6 minutes after firing began. A battery 3 miles NW of Safi fired on the battleship New York and cruiser Philadelphia and some destroyers, but they were not hit. These guns were finally taken out at 7:15 a.m.. In the meantime, the Bernadou landed her troops at 4:30 a.m. on the beach, and the Cole landed hers on the merchandise pier and tied up at the dock. The Bernadou and the Cole were each awared a Presidential Unit Citation. (29) The cruiser Philadelphia pounded the site of the gun flashes south of Safi, and other warships opened up on the machine-gun posts on the cliffs. By the time the Bernadou neared shore within the harbor, where it ran aground on a sand spit, the firing had almost ceased. Harmon was having trouble and landing was in disarray when he received a message that more than 70 trucks filled with French fighting men were racing for Safi from Marrakech. He contacted Admiral Davidson, who contacted the aircraft carrier Santee 60 miles offshore. The Santee immediately sent dive-bombers, which destroyed the column of trucks. "Thank God for the United States Navy," Gen. Harmon told his staff officers.
(23) Maj. Gen. E.N. Harmon, USA, wrote later to his wife Carolyn, "As you know, your husband and I commanded respectively the Navy and Army contingent that successfully stormed Safi, North Africa, and then my people, after securing the port, marched about ninety miles overland to assist in the capture of Casablanca. I had the greatest regard for your husband. He was a real sailor man and I like to think that I was a good soldier. The question of paramount interest never arose with us. We never questioned whether it was his function or my function. We simply wanted to win the war for the country and were not jealous who got the credit. I often think of the words of Abraham Lincoln, 'How much more good would be accomplished in this world if men were not jealous as to where the credit falls.'"
(15) Admiral Davidson's support group protected the major convoys of Allied shipping along the African coast going to Sicily.
(27) In Operation Husky, the British and Americans were to attack Sicily simultaneously. The American Western Task Force was to put General Patton's army ashore on the southwestern coast. Vice Adm. Hewitt's U.S. Force was divided into 3 attack forces to land troops at Licata, Gela, and Scoglitti. Upon departing from Tunis on 8 Jul, the Allied armada headed southward from Cape Bon on a deceptive course, in a formation more than a mile wide and 60 miles long. The weather was nasty and the winds were high.
(15) 1943, 10-12 Jul: His group silenced enemy artillery and destroyed, disabled, or turned away a large number of tanks in Herman Georing's Panzer Division, which were threatening to drive through toward the beach at Gela. For this he received the Legion of Merit. (27) By midnight on 10 Jul, the American attack forces were maneuvering into position off the coast. The "Cent" Attack Force (TF 85), commanded by Rear Admiral A.G. Kirk, was the largest of the three attack forces, and included the cruiser Philadelphia. Their mission was to put assault troops ashore on the beaches near Scoglitti, to secure the beachhead area, and to capture the near-by airfields. At 3:30 a.m., boat waves left the transports. Fire support ships commenced shore bombardment at 3:45 a.m., and knocked out the batteries near the shore and several miles inland. Scoglitti fell at 2:25 p.m.. The next morning the "Dime" force at Gela was threatened by German Panzer tanks. In the joint "Dime-Cent" fire support area, naval gunfire demolished 14 tanks before they retreated. Admiral Hewitt wrote in his report, "The destruction of this armed force by naval gunfire delivered by U.S. cruisers and destroyers, and the recovery of the situation through naval support, was one of the most noteworthy events of the operations."
(13) 1943, 14 Jul: Commander, Task Force 86, in addition to Commander of the cruiser diviion. (15) 1943, 30 Jul: Took command in Palermo Harbor. Task Force 86 was a support force organized from the few U.S. warships left in Sicilian waters, which "became in effect General Patton's Navy."
(27) 1943, 4 Aug: During an air raid on the port at about 4:00 a.m., enemy bombs hit the destroyer Shubrick. Men were trapped in the ship's fireroom, scalded by steam and drowning in sea water. Medical assistance was rushed from the cruiser Philadelphia and destroyer Knight, and of the 14 men critically wounded, 7 survived.
(15) He directed the hauling of hundreds of tons of artillery, ammunition, and rations from one point to another along the coast, by-passing road blocks, land mines and blown bridges and tunnels that would hold up Army trucks. His "rapid planning and execution of outflanking operations included leap-frog amphibious landings," which denied the coast almost completely to the enemy and became the seagoing artillery for the rapid advance of the Seventh Army. The fall of Messina marked the close of the Sicilian campaign. (15c) General Patton wrote him, "The gunfire support that you have provided has been of inestimable value, and it is my considered opinion that the three landing operations, carried on by you, were of critical importance in the rapid and successful advance on Messina." (15e) General Patton, when referring to him, said, "Now there's a fighting so-and-so." (15) "Admiral Davidson proved himself an expert on naval gunfire support, rendering distinguished and efficient services in North African and Mediterranean Operations almost constantly from October 1942 until October 1944." Admiral H. Kent Hewitt wrote, "By seniority he was the second in command to me in the Eighth Fleet and in the various operational Task Forces I commanded. Always, he was a tower of strength upon whose loyal support and good advice I could confidently rely. His support of General Patton's advance towards Messina along the north coast of Sicily, enabling the U.S. Seventh Army to reach that port first, was a classic." (32) During that campaign the Philadelphia underwent 24 direct air attacks and claimed a total of 6 enemy planes shot down. It was in this campaign that naval gunfire really came into its own, and the American cruiser division under Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson carried the ball. The Philadelphia, Savannah, Brooklym, Boise and others immobilized countless enemy gun emplacements, broke up troop concentrations and supported Allied troop landings. These cruisers with their concentrated, highly mobile fire power, also played a part in disrupting enemy communications and transport along the shore. It was also at Sicily that officers and crew, under almost daily air attack, claimed that their ship had been bombed more frequently than any American warship in the European War. In a burst of wishful thinking during the Sicilian campaign, the German High Command reported that the United States cruiser Philadelphia had been sunk by the Luftwaffe, earning the name the "Galloping Ghost of the Sicilian Coast."
(27) 1943, 3 Sep: The invasion of Italy began. The main invasion assault, code named "Avalanche," was aimed at the Gulf of Salerno, where a British-American Naval force under Vice Admiral Hewitt was to land the 5th Army of Lt. Gen. Mark Clark. Once Salerno was secured, they were to make a quick thrust to Naples 35 miles to the north. The fleet was divided into northern and southern attack forces. The Southern Attack Force, under Rear Admiral Hall, contained Admiral Hewitt and a Fire-Support Group under Rear Admiral Davidson. The mission of this force was to land and support the Army on an 8 mile stretch of shoreline extending from the south bank of the Sele River to Agropoli.
(15) 1943, 9-17 Sep: Provided gunfire support to the American Sector at Salerno, Italy. His flagship twice dodged the radio-directed glide bombs of the German Lufwaffe. Supported the troops invading the Salerno Plain. He was awarded the Gold Star in lieu of a Second Legion of Merit for "so skillfully directing the gunfire of cruisers and destroyers in his force that enemy artillery emplacements were destroyed, communications disrupted and tank formations dispersed, this materially assisting the Allied Armies to make the initial seizure of beachheads and extend their advance into enemy occupied territory." (15d) Allied Naval Commander Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham said, "It was the naval gunfire, incessant in effect, that held the ring when there was danger of the enemy breaking through to the beaches and when over-all position looked so gloomy. More cannot be said." (27) Apparently well informed of the "Avalanche" objective, the Germans had rushed reinforcements to the Sele estuary, installed strong defenses on the beaches, and planted artillery on the ridges dominating Salerno Gulf. When the troops were landed on 9 Sep., many were driven back to the water's edge, and some combat teams were wiped out. At this point Admiral Davidson's First Support Group stepped in. By evening, the Nazis were falling back. "No less an authority than the German military savant, Sertorius, attributed the loss of Salerno to General Von Kesselring's inability to cope with naval bombardments." (30) Since dawn of 9 Sep., naval batteries had pounded positions behind the beaches and in the hills. The cruiser Philadelphia, with Admiral Davidson aboard, was facing the mouth of the Sele River. "From early morning Davidson, a lanky gunnery expert, had commanded naval gunfire support in the American section and by late afternoon was monitoring calls from fire patrol parties on the shore. Delays in negotiating minefields and establishing communications with shore parties had prevented other fire support vessels from moving in during the day. Admiral Hall, on board the flagship Samuel Chase, was disappointed that the ships were not performing as efficiently as on D-Day in Sicily. An exception was the Philadelphia and her four destroyers which had inched their way through the mine fields in the afternoon." By late afternoon the flagship had fired almost 300 rounds of 6-inch shells.
(30) 1943, 10 Sep: War correspondent Quinten Reynolds had gone on deck on the command ship Ancon "to watch the naval guns destroying enemy tanks and silencing gun emplacements. The navy, he thought, was doing everything except marching into Salerno. ... The cruiser Philadelphia in the fire support group, lying 300 years on Ancon's port side, opened up with her 6-inch guns. One salvo after another thundered shorewards... Reynolds reckoned by his watch that the Philadelphia kept up her barrage for at least fifteen minutes. Then the firing ceased. From the shore and hills came no further flashes. He was assured that any commander on the beachhead asking for gun support got it within fifteen minutes, occasionally more quickly. ... When the firing ceased the message to the flagship was usually 'Target destroyed.'"
(30) 1943, 11 Sep: The Luftwaffe dive-bombed the ships for 12 hours. Soon after 9 a.m., a bomb exploded close to the Philadelphia and slightly damaged it.
(30) 1943, 14 Sep: The Germans had made a counter-attack and the Allied position was desparate. At dawn, the Allies opened up with the heaviest air and sea bombardment since the landings. The German Captain Helmut Meitzel, on Altavilla, noted two ships in particular were directing their gunfire from a distance of more than 25 kilometers. Their shells were falling in front of the town where his men were positioned, yet not 300 yards away the Americans were entrenched. He was astonished at the accuracy of the fire-power.
(30) 1943, 15 Sep: The Boise relieved the Philadelphia during the night. The Philadelphia resumed firing in the morning on enemy tanks near Persano. By late afternoon, Philadelphia was firing on Altavilla, her ammunitions almost all expended. All the 6-inch shells remaining in Palermo were being shipped.
(32) The Philadelphia's "interdiction fire made roads back from the shore unuseable. There was a period of nearly 48 hours when men were fed at their battle stations and slept by the guns, so frequently did requests for firing missions come in. Once, when conditions were favorable, the Philadelphia also used her secondary batteries. Observers on other ships said the Philly looked as though she were on fire as her guns flamed at the enemy." There was a valley which the Philadelphia's gun crews christened "Sleepless Hollow" because so many enemy planes came out of it on hit-and-run raids on the ships. The ship shot down at least 2 planes. Once or twice the Philadelphia put out to sea at night. There is good evidence that enemy planes were sent out to look for her. A heavy bomb fell close enough astern to send fragments aboard. Once the ship was bracketed by heavy bombs. After 10 days her mission was accomplished. Her main batteries had expended about 2100 shells.
(27) 1943, 1 Oct: The Americans entered Naples to find the Nazis had blocked the harbor with sunken ships, blown up wharves and docks and marine machinery. (15) Naples, Italy became the base of operations for his cruiser-destroyer support force as it ranged off the Italian coast.
(22c) 1943, 17 Oct: He wrote his son, "It is a bit difficult to keep up with home happenings when they kick one's mail around like that. Of course, I have shifted my flag to the Brooklyn temporarily but that makes no real difference as the Philadelphia is in dry-dock at Gibralter and sends the mail promptly. Don't address me on the Brooklyn as I shall be back on the Philadelphia in a couple of weeks. Things have been going fairly well with us over here in the Mediterranean although it could be better. Two of my ships got battered up but I guess we can't expect it to be all one sided. We have been back, away from the land fighting for several days for a bit of rest and chance to catch up on sleep. It seems to me I have spent most of my time writing reports. You will find out about reports soon. They have to be made on all occasions. They drive me nuts. I like to get out into action but to write it all takes away the pleasure. ... I suppose you will go to some station for operational training before leaving for the front. Learn what you can while you have the time. Talk with the old hands and learn the tricks of the game. There is mighty little time to think and study at the front. It is just mostly hard work and making decisions and watching to see that details are not overlooked or slighted. Good enough rarely gets by for long. You have to think faster than the other fellow and beat him to the punch if possible for over here they play for keeps."
(17) 1943, Dec: Residence given as 5 Pell St., Newport, RI.
(22d) 1943, 11 Dec: His flagship was still USS Brooklyn. Had changed flagships a couple of times since the invasion of Italy. He wrote, "I have to send all my ships home except this one, the Brooklyn. ... I did make a start (at returning home) when the Philadelphia returned but was turned around and told to stay on before we left the Mediterranean."
(22b) 1944, 30 Apr: Address was Commander Cruiser Division Eight, USS Philadelphia, Flagship, Fleet Post Office, New York. His brother Drew was handling the family insurance. He wrote to his son, "I have been back two weeks and am feeling quite at home again. Went to the opera, Barber of Seville, yesterday afternoon and had a treat. Darn near froze. The opera is a great big place built of stone which has not warmed up since last winter. There is no heat in the place. Went backstage and told the principles how good they were and wandered around watching them shift scenery. The Army Special Service is running the opera and making money for the first time. They do not have so many Facist deadheads to take care of. Even I could not qualify for a pass. ... Figuring from the date of your letter it appears that you may be on your way about the time you receive this. It would be fine to have you in this theatre but I suppose there is no way of knowing which way you will jump. Which everway it is, I can imagine you will shortly be in the thick of it and all of the practice hops and training will seem too little and there will be times when you will wish that you could go back and get some more in a quiet sector or just get into a quiet sector. But that wears off with experience and confidence. When you get into a fight most of ones actions are automatic and the results of training or early planning. When you are scared your brain does not function normally and usually seems awful slow in tossing the old ideas around or in recalling what you read somewhere. I have found it a pretty good plan to imagine situations in advance - some call it crossing your bridges before you come to them or just plain worrying, but it often pays off in knowing what you want or have to do when a situation arises that looks something like the one you conjured up. This is especially true where you have a position of responsibility such as you have for the lives of others as well as your own. And is something we always have to keep in mind but which, on the other hand, we may not give too much weight or permit to lead to timidity or indecision. ... It was a great treat to have had that evening with you. Wish I could have been around when the Heart Throb was there. ... Stick your neck out when you have to, maybe the other fellow is ready to run and needs just a little urging."
(15) 1944, Aug: He supervised French naval units on gunfire support practice in Algeria in preparation for the invasion of Southern France, which put him in nominal command of a French cruiser division for a time.
(17) 1944, 12 Aug: Residence was 5 Pell St., Newport, RI.
(27) The Allies planned "Operation Anvil-Dragoon" to drive the Nazis from southern France. Amphibious forces were to land armies on the Riviera at the 3 main target beaches located near the resort towns of St. Tropez, St. Maxime and St. Raphael. A diversion was prepared for the beach at La Ciotat, a few miles west of Toulon, under the command of Capt. H.C. Johnson of Rear Admiral Davidson's staff. An advance force was to go ashore on the Isles d'Hyeres and on the mainland near Toulon to take the local defense by surprise. (28) Sitka Force, under command of Rear Admiral Davidson, would land 2,000 Americans and Canadians under Col. Ed Walker on the Isles d'Hyeres, 2 islands just off the coast at the western flank of the assault beaches, and French commandos on the mainland.
(28) 1944, 12 Aug: Task Force Sitka was commanded by Rear Adm. Lyal A. Davidson aboard the USS Augusta, a headquarters ship bristling with antennae. It weighed anchor in Naples harbor on the 12th, and by late afternoon of the 14th it had joined Admiral Hewitt's huge convoy, heading north from Corsica toward Genoa, Italy. The armada covered more than 15,000 square miles.
(28) 1944, 14 Aug: At 10:15 p.m., the 1,000 ship armada sharply altered course and headed northwest for the Riviera. By 11:00 p.m., Task Force Sitka was positioned off the Ile du Levant and Ile de Port-Cros.
(15) 1944, 15 Aug: His Sitka Force landed men from 4 nations off Southern France to block the road from Toulon and seize most of Iles d'Hyeres. He won a Gold Star in lieu of a 2nd Distinguished Service Medal for his demonstration of sound judgement and expert tactical ability that brought about the early capitulation of strategic coastal islands and protected the flanks of the beachhead against hostile attempts to oppose the main landings of the Allied Armies in Southern France. (28) Troops landing on Port-Cros found no opposition at first and Col. Walker radioed Admiral Davidson on the Augusta, "Two islands totally useless. Suggest immediate evacuation. 240 prisoners. Enemy batteries dummies. Request permission immediate departure." Gen. Patch replied, "Stay put for the time being." Then 2 unarmed soldiers surprised a German sentry and found the Germans entrenched inside 3 stone forts that had walls 12 feet thick. Col. Walker sent another message, "Urgent. Request heavy bombardment on citadel. Under heavy attack, having difficulties." Adm. Davidson ordered gunfire from his own ship, the Augusta, but the shells bounced harmlessly off the thick walls. The Augusta fired her 8 inch guns off and on for 48 hours, the Royal Air Force bombed the forts, and the commandos assaulted, but the Germans held out for 2 nights and 2 days. Then the commandos seized one of the forts. "A short time later, Col. Akehurst entered the captured fort just before Rear Adm. Lyal Davidson, commander of the Mediterranean fleet, and several staff officers arrived to join him there. 'What's the trouble?' Davidson asked. ... Concealing his surprise that such high-ranking brass would come to the tiny island, Akehurst explained that warship shells and airplane bombs and rockets had been bouncing off the old citadel and that his troops had to cross open ground to reach the thick walls. 'Do you have anything big out there?' Akehurst asked. The American admiral paused and pondered the question. 'I have the Ramilles and her 15-inch guns,' the naval leader replied. 'I'll bring her in to 6-mile range.' Six miles from the target for a battleship such as the 28 year old antiquity the Ramilles was virtually point-blank range. It would also place the Ramilles in a degree of jeopardy, for it would bring the ancient ship into easy range of German land- based guns." The first salvo was long, the second short, but the third hit right on target. "Watching the bombardment, Akehurst and Davidson saw white flags waving frantically through the smog. ... Admiral Davidson accompanied Col. Akehurst on an inspection of the just-captured forts. They were astonished at the shambles caused by the warship guns and the rockets and shells. Reaching a large room used for storage, the two officers were again surprised: stored there was a wide assortment of articles in no way connected with the defense of the citadel. Davidson spotted a fine English riding saddle, which he had one of his aides carry for him. Akehurst took a fancy to a large supply of Portugese sardines. At the end of the drawbridge, Admiral Davidson and Col. Akehurst shook hands on departing. They were in high good humor. 'Admiral, are you going to put that saddle on one of those 15-inch guns and ride it back to the United States?' the commando leader asked. Davidson broke out in a hearty laugh, then was gone."
(13,15) 1944, Oct: Detached from duty as Commander Cruiser Div. 8 and Commander Task Force 86 to return to the U.S. to serve in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
(7) 1944/1945: Residence was 5 Pell St., Newport, RI.
(13,15) 1945, Jan: Assigned additional duty as Navy member if the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee.
(24) 1945, 17 Apr: Awarded the medal Companion of the Bath by Britain's Ambassador and the Countess of Halifax at the British Embassy.
(15) 1945: Suffered a stroke which resulted in his hospitalization.
(18) 1945, 11 Dec: Wrote his will at Bethesda, MD. Named his wife Carolyn G. Davidson as executrix and left everything to her. In the event of her death, her brother Devall L. Gwathmey was to be executor, and the estate divided among his children.
(1) 1946, 25 Jan: Given as date of last employment.
(1,13) 1946, 1 Jun: Advanced to the rank of Vice Admiral upon retirement on the basis of commendation for conduct while a member of the landing force at Vera Cruz, and subsequent decorations for combat in World War II. (1) Separated from service at U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD. Address given as 2909 34th St., N.W., Washington 8, D.C., to be changed in near future to P.O. Box 660, Madera, CA.
(1,13) In addition to Companion of the Order of the Bath (Great Britain), he was awarded 2 Legions of Merit; 2 Distinguished Service Medals; Legion of Honor, Rank of Officer (France); Croix de Guerre with Palm (France); Mexican Service Medal; the Victory Medal (World War I) with Escort Clasp (1 star); the second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; American Defense Service Medal, American Theater, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign (4 stars); and World War II Victory Medal. Entitled to the Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation awarded the USS Philadelphia for "outstanding heroism in action in the Mediterranean Theater from July 9 to September 19, 1943."
(9) 1946, 26 Jun: Was visiting Mr. & Mrs. John W. Force, parents of the late Sargent Force, a classmate of his, in Rochester, NY. He had just returned from the University of Michigan, where he had presented the school with a Naval Commendation for its work in training Naval officers during the war. His "soft, gray, wavy hair, bushy eyebrows and rugged features give the impression of a man 20 years his junior." He expressed an opinion that atomic bomb tests at Bikini not only will provide a wealth of material for military men and scientists but will give the world a true picture of just how great a force the bomb possesses. There has been too much speculation as to what the atomic bomb can and cannot do. "The tests at Bikini will show beyond a doubt just what we have to fear. The world will then have concrete facts on which to base speculations of the future atomic age. My only objection to the Bikini tests is that I won't be there."
(19) 1946, 27 Oct: Living in Washington D.C.
(16) 1947, 12 Apr: Living in Washington D.C.
(1) 1949: Frequently visited his daughter Carolyn's family at their house on St. Clement Bay, St. Marys Co., MD. He "by then was not in good health, but enjoyed fishing, crabbing and relaxing by the water."
(7) Member of U.S. Naval Inst., American Society of Naval Engineers, Quarterdeck Soc. (Univ. of MI), Rotary Club, Army and Navy Club (Washington D.C.), University Club (Univ. of MI).
(9) Enjoyed playing golf. Interests were naval science and engineering.
(15a) "This tall, lanky flag officer, firm in decision and quiet of speech, never lost his temper under the most trying of circumstances and inspired confidence in everyone around."
(21) At time of his death, weighed 150 lbs., was 74 inches tall (6 ft. 2 in.), hair grey, eyes blue.
(1,6,8,15) The USS Davidson DE1045 was named in his honor. (15) The USS Davidson was a destroyer escort ship, especially designed for locating and destroying enemy submarines. It was built by the Avondale Shipyards, Inc., Westwego, LA, launched by his widow 2 Oct 1964, and commissioned 7 Dec 1965. Her first year in the fleet was spent at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for fitting out. She was finally assigned to Pearl Harbor, HI, as home port.
Father: Joseph Trimble Davidson b: 14 Jul 1851 in Locust Grove, Adams Co., Ohio
Mother: Judith Dudley Ament b: 26 Apr 1854 in Palmyra, Marion Co., Missouri
Carolyn Tayloe Gwathmey b: 29 Jul 1893 in Norfolk, , Virginia c: in Norfolk, , Virginia
3 Jun 1916
in Norfolk, Virginia
- William Gwathmey "Bill" Davidson b: 14 Mar 1917 in Norfolk, , Virginia c: in Norfolk, , Virginia
- Judith Ament "Judy" Davidson b: 29 Jan 1919 in Norfolk, , Virginia c: Apr 1919 in Warren Crescent, Norfolk, , Virginia
- Carolyn Tayloe Davidson b: 10 Oct 1921 in Norfolk, , Virginia c: in Norfolk, , Virginia