Raymond Ames Spruance (July 3, 1886 – December 13, 1969) was a United States Navy admiral during World War II.He commanded U.S. naval forces during one of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific Theatre: the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
- Early Life
- World War II
- Later Life
Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Alexander and Annie Spruance. He was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Spruance attended Indianapolis public schools and graduated from Shortridge High School. From there, he went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906, and received further, hands on education in electrical engineering a few years later. His first duty would be aboard the battleship USS Iowa (BB-4), an 11,400 ton veteran of the Spanish-American War. His seagoing career included command of the USS Osborne, four other destroyers, and the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41). In 1916 he aided in the fitting out of the USS Pennsylvania and he served on board her from her commissioning in June, 1916 until November 1917. During the last year of World War I he was assigned as Assistant Engineer Officer of the New York Naval Shipyard, and carried out temporary duty in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1924, as Bill Halsey was preparing to turn over command of de...
In the first months of World War II in the Pacific, Spruance commanded four heavy cruisers and support ships that made up Cruiser Division Five. Spruance's division was under a task force built around the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise commanded by Admiral William "Bull" Halsey. Halsey led a series of hit and run raids against the Japanese, striking the Gilbert and Marshall islands in February, Wake Island in March, and carrying out the Doolittle Raidin April against targets on the Japanese...
Admiral Halsey, commander of the Pacific Fleet aircraft carrier force, came down with a severe case of shingles just before the battle, which hospitalized him. He recommended Spruance to Pacific Fleet commander Chester W. Nimitz to take his place. Spruance had up to that time been a cruiser division commander, and there was some concern that he had no experience handling a carrier air battle. Halsey reassured him, telling Spruance to rely on his able staff, particularly Captain Miles Browning...
Truk, Philippine Sea and Iwo Jima
After the Midway battle, Spruance became Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) and later was Deputy Commander in Chief. In mid-1943, Spruance was given command of the Central Pacific Force. The command of the vessels which made up the big blue fleet alternated between Admiral William Halsey, at which time it was identified as the Third Fleet and Task Force 38, and Admiral Spruance, when it became the Fifth Fleet and Task Force 58. The two admirals were a contrast i...
Spruance's promotion to Fleet Admiral was blocked multiple times by Congressman Carl Vinson, a staunch partisan of Admiral William Halsey, Jr. Congress eventually responded by passing an unprecedented act which specified that Spruance would remain on a full admiral's pay once retired until death. Spruance was President of the Naval War College from February 1946 until he retired from the Navy in July 1948. He was appointed as American ambassador to the Philippines by President Harry Truman, and served there from 1952 to 1955. Shortly before his retirement, Spruance received the following Letter of Commendationfrom the Secretary of the Navy: "Your brilliant record of achievement in World War II played a decisive part in our victory in the Pacific. At the crucial Battle of Midway your daring and skilled leadership routed the enemy in the full tide of his advance and established the pattern of air-sea warfare which was to lead to his eventual capitulation..." Spruance was an active man...
The destroyers USS Spruance (DD-963), lead ship of the Spruance-class of destroyers, and USS Spruance (DDG-111), 61st ship of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, were named in his honor. The main auditorium of the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island is Spruance Hall. A bust of Spruance is in the lobby.This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.Bess, Michael (2006). Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-307-26365-7.Naval Historical Center: USS Spruance(DD-963)Naval Historical Center, Online Library of Selected ImagesBess, Michael (2006). Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-307-26365-7.
- Early years
- Early career
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz called him a fine man, a sterling character, and a great leader, and said, nothing you can say about him would be praise enough. Admiral William L. Calhoun saw him as a cold-blooded fighting fool. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison believed he was one of the greatest fighting and thinking admirals in American naval history. Admiral Nimitz praised Spruance for a remarkable job. Historian Morison later described Spruances performance at Midway as superb. Morison said: Keeping in his mind the picture of widely disparate forces, yet boldly seizing every opening, Raymond A. Spruance emerged from this battle one of the greatest fighting and thinking admirals in American naval history.He was bold and aggressive when the occasion demanded offensive tactics; cautious when pushing his luck too far might have lost the fruits of victory.
Yet because of his modest, retiring nature, Spruance was never a popular hero in the manner of Admirals Nimitz, William F. Halsey and Marc A. Mitscher. He disliked personal publicity and had a reputation for freezing reporters who invaded his privacy.
His entry in Whos Who in America was only three lines long (including his full name), and a footnote in Morisons monumental history of the U.S. Navy in World War II testifies to his modesty. Morisons text refers to Spruance, victor at Midway. In the footnote Morison says, Admiral Spruance, in commenting on the first draft of this volume, requested that I delete victor at and substitute who commanded a carrier task force at, butI have let it stand.
The Japanese planned to outwit the U.S. forces at Midway. They would draw them north to deal with a Japanese invasion in the bleak Aleutian Islands, and then strike at unprotected Midway. For the main Midway assault, the Japanese force consisted of the main battle fleet under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, composed of three battleships, a light carrier and a destroyer screen; Admiral Chuichi Nagumos combined fleet of two battleships, two heavy cruisers, destroyers and four fleet carriers carrying more than 250 aircraft; and an invasion task force led by Admiral Nobutake Kondo, consisting of a dozen transport ships carrying 5,000 troops, closely supported by four heavy cruisers, two battleships and a light carrier; and a three-cordon submarine force intended to neutralize U.S. countermoves. To the Aleutians, the Japanese dispatched an invasion task force of three transports carrying 2,400 troops, supported by two heavy cruisers, a two-carrier support force and a covering group of four battleships. The battle would open in the mist-shrouded Aleutians with airstrikes against Dutch Harbor on June 3, followed by landings at three points on June 6. The Japanese expected no American ships in the Midway area until after the landing there, and they hoped that the Pacific Fleet would dash northward as soon as it received word of the opening strikes in the Aleutians. If this happened, it would enable the Japanese to pinch the Americans between their two carrier forces. With their 233 planes and crews at the ready, the three U.S. flattops were stationed well north of Midway, out of sight of enemy reconnaissance planes. The carriers were on station on June 2, and the following day Japanese transport ships were spotted 600 miles west of Midway Island. Because of gaps in the search patterns flown by the Japanese, the American carriers were able to approach unseen. Adding to the surprise factor was the fact that Admirals Yamamoto and Nagumo did not believe the U.S. Pacific Fleet was at sea. After the enemys raids on Midway, Admiral Spruance ordered the launching of every possible plane to search for and attack the Japanese carriers. He decided to launch the planes from Enterprise and Hornet when they were about 175 miles from the enemys calculated position instead of postponing takeoff for another two hours in order to diminish the distance. Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers and Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers thundered off the flight decks and rose to search for the enemy carriers. By shortly after 9 a.m., planes from Yorktown were also on their way. It was a cool, clear day.
Things did not look hopeful for Spruance and his force on the eve of Midway. The Americans were gravely outnumbered by the lurking enemy armada. Nimitz had no battleships left after the Pearl Harbor attack, and after the Battle of the Coral Sea there were only two flattops ready for action, Enterprise and Hornet. The Americans were able to count on Yorktown, however, after patching her up in an astonishing two days instead of 90 days as had been estimated. Yorktown and Task Force 17 were under the command of Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher. The combined American force consisted of three carriers, eight cruisers, 15 destroyers, 12 submarines and 353 aircraft, ranged against a grand total of 200 Japanese vessels and 700 planes. While both Fletcher and Spruance were rear admirals, Fletcher was senior and nominally in overall command. When Yorktown was struck at Midway, however, Fletcher transferred his flag to the cruiser Astoria and placed Spruance tactically in charge. Early on the morning of Thursday, June 4, 1942, Nagumos carriers launched a 108-plane strike against Midway and inflicted serious damage on the islands installations. For about 20 minutes, fighters, dive bombers and torpedo bombers pounded the island, carefully avoiding damaging the runways because the Japanese hoped to eventually use them. The small Marine Corps garrison scrambled its handful of Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat and Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighters, but they were too weak and slow to deter the Japanese. Fifteen Buffaloes and two Wildcats were lost, but the garrisons anti-aircraft fire was effective. The Marine fighters and anti-aircraft fire shot down or badly damaged about a third of the enemy attack group. The first Japanese airstrike was followed by another. At 8:20 a.m., Nagumos observers reported a group of American ships 200 miles away. His torpedo bombershaving switched to bombs for the attack on Midwaywere away, and most of his protective fighters were out on patrol. So he changed course northeastward, avoiding the first wave of dive bombers launched against him from Spruances carriers. Nagumo ordered his planes rearmed on their return. Meanwhile, his search planes found no sign of any American warships. Then Nagumo was dumbfounded to receive a search planes report of 10 enemy ships to the northeast, where no U.S. ships were supposed to be. Aboard the battleship Yamato, Admiral Yamamoto received word that the U.S. fleet was at Midwaynot Pearl Harbor as he had thought. Then Nagumos force was spotted by torpedo bombers from Hornets squadron VT-8, led by Lt. Cmdr. John C. Waldron. The Japanese carriers were beginning to launch fighters as Torpedo 8 roared down to attack, without fighter cover. The slow-moving Devastators were easy targets for the Japanese gunners and Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighters, and all 15 were shot down. The sole survivor of the squadrons 30 officers and men was Ensign George H. Gay, Jr., who spent several hours floating in the water, watching the battle. Word of the sacrifice of VT-8 stunned the United States, and Churchill was reported to have wept when he heard about it. The Japanese felt that they had won the encounter. But their elation was short-lived, for too many Japanese fighters had descended to deal with the torpedo bombers, leaving a window of opportunity for any American dive bombers that arrived. Two minutes later, 37 dive bombers from Enterprise, led by Lt. Cmdr. Clarence McClusky, swooped from 19,000 feet onto Nagumos ships. They met practically no opposition because most of the Zeros were still close to the water, not having had time to climb and counterattack. McClusky led one squadron, VB-6, against the carrier Kaga, while the other Enterprise squadron pounced on Nagumos flagship, Akagi. Lieutenant Commander Maxwell Leslies VB-3 from Yorktown attacked the carrier Soryu. Aboard the Japanese flattops, many torpedo-carrying planes were waiting for fighters to take off as the American planes dived. Akagi was lashed by bombs, which exploded torpedoes that were being loaded onto her planes, and the crew abandoned ship. Yorktowns planes hit Soryu as she was turning into the wind to launch aircraft. Three bombs hammered her. Bombs destroyed the bridge of Kaga and set her ablaze from stem to stern. After six furious minutes, the three carriers were left burning. Akagi and Kaga subsequently went down. The Japanese were trying to tow Soryu to safety when she was torpedoed and sunk by the U.S. submarine Nautilus. From the remaining enemy carrier, Hiryu, Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi launched bombers and torpedo planes against Yorktown. The gallant carrier was crippled but nearly succeeded in reaching safety before torpedoes from Japanese submarine I-68 finally sank her three days later. Retribution was not long in coming. On the afternoon of June 4, 24 American dive bombersincluding 10 refugees from Yorktownscored four hits on Hiryu. She went down with Admiral Yamaguchi, an outstanding flag officer who, it was said, would have been Yamamotos successor had he lived. The heavily fortified islands, former British possessions, were of strategic value because of their good landing strips and naval base. The assault began at dawn on November 20, 1943, and the fighting raged for 76 hours. The struggle by the U.S. Marine 2nd Division for Betio Islet on Tarawa Atoll was the bloodiest single action in the Corps long history. The American toll was 1,100 dead and almost 2,300 wounded. Only 17 of the islands 4,690 Japanese defenders survived to become prisoners. The Gilberts attack was planned and directed by Spruance, with the assistance of Rear Adms. Richmond Kelly Turner and Harry W. Hill and Marine Generals Holland M. Smith and Julian C. Smith. The airstrips in the Gilberts were put to good use two months later when they were used in the invasion of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. For that assault, Spruance led the most powerful naval strike force in history. Meanwhile, Task Force 58 was busy in the forefront of clearing the Japanese from the 600-mile-long Marianas chain. The Saipan campaign began with air attacks on June 10, 1944. Spruances naval guns started their bombardment two days later. On June 14, while Mitscher led a diversionary attack on the Bonin Islands 800 miles to the north, U.S. Marines and infantrymen stormed ashore. British Royal Navy units helped support the landings.
Meanwhile, the Japanese attack on the Aleutian Islands had been carried out as planned on June 3. After air assaults, two rocky islands, Kiska and Attu, were occupied by Japanese ground forces. Japanese propagandists pointed to their success in the Aleutians to offset the defeat at Midway, but actually the Aleutians were of little strategic value. Covered by fog and lashed by storms most of the time, they were generally unsuitable for air or naval bases. At Midway, Spruances force inflicted on the Imperial Japanese Navy its worst setback in 350 years. Four fleet carriers and the heavy cruiser Mikuma were sunk; a cruiser, three destroyers, an oiler and a battleship were damaged. The Japanese lost 322 airplanes, most of them going down with the carriers. The American losses were Yorktown, destroyer Hammann and 147 planes. >A few days later, Mitscher rejoined Spruance and the Fifth Fleet. Both commanders hoped for a classic battle with the Imperial Japanese Navy, but only Mitschers carrier planes were able to reach the enemy. On June 19, however, hundreds of planes from nine Japanese aircraft carriers attacked the Fifth Fleet. They were hurled back decisively, and the losses353 enemy planes downed, 21 U.S. aircraft lostamazed the Americans. The Japanese managed to inflict only superficial damage on three ships. Mitschers force pursued the Japanese fleet and engaged it the following day in the Philippine Sea, sinking the light carrier Hiyo and two oilers (in addition to which submarines Albacore and Cavalla had sunk Taiho and Shokaku the previous day). The score was 402 Japanese planes and six ships, with a loss of 122 planes from Mitschers flattops. Spruances fleet had prevented the Japanese from reinforcing the Saipan garrison. That achievement brought praise from Churchill, who wrote to Navy Secretary James Forrestal, Admiral Spruance is again to be congratulated for another fine job. My personal congratulations.
A number of strategic and tactical errors contributed to the Japanese defeat: Yamamotos virtual isolation on the bridge of Yamato and his failure to maintain an overall grip on the strategic situation; a loss of nerve on the part of Nagumo; tradition that led Yamaguchi and other enemy commanders to go down with their ships instead of trying to recover the initiative; insufficient reconnaissance against the U.S. carriers; a lack of high-altitude fighter cover; inadequate fire precautions aboard the ships; and the launching of airstrikes from all four fleet carriers at the same time, so that there was a critical period when the Japanese carrier force had little defensive capability. The Japanese had been overconfident, and the Americans taught them a bitter lesson.
Raymond Spruance was born in Baltimore on July 3, 1886, the son of Alexander and Annie Spruance. He attended grade and high schools in East Orange, N.J., and in Indianapolis. He was a diligent, neat and gentle boy. His father wanted him to go to West Point, but young Raymond yearned to go to sea. He managed to gain an appointment from Indiana to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He readied himself at Stevens Preparatory School in Hoboken, N.J., and entered Annapolis in July 1903 at age 17. He studied hard, and when he graduated in September 1906, he stood 26th in his class.
After serving aboard the battleship Iowa, Spruance went on a world cruise aboard the battleship Minnesota. He was commissioned an ensign in 1908, and during a tour of shore duty he took a postgraduate course in electrical engineering in Schenectady, N.Y. He was then ordered to the China station, with sea duty aboard the battleship Connecticut and the cruiser Cincinnati. The young, ambitious officer was then assigned to Bainbridge, U.S. destroyer No. 1, and he commanded her until 1914. By that time, he was said to be an expert on the many engines, instruments and guns that go into a battleship.
On December 30, 1914, Spruance married Margaret Vance Dean, the daughter of an Indianapolis businessman. That same year he received a new assignment: assistant machinery inspector at the Newport News, Va., dry dock, where the battleship Pennsylvania was being outfitted. When she went to sea in 1916, he went with her.
catalogued as someone to watch; there was never any possibility that he would be passed over in the lists for promotion.
>The fleet units shielding the Marianas invasion forces were also under Spruances command. In the seven-week campaign, 55 Japanese ships were sunk, five probably sunk and 74 damaged. A total of 1,132 enemy planes were put out of action. The U.S. casualties were 199 planes, 128 flight personnel and damage to four warships. During the operation, the Fifth Fleet burned up 630 million gallons of fuelmore than the entire Pacific Fleet used in 1943.
Raymond A. Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 3 July 1886. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906 and received further education in electrical engineering a few years later. His seagoing career was extensive, including command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi. Spruance also held several engineering, intelligence, staff and Naval War College positions up to ...
Jul 21, 2021 · Raymond Ames Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 3, 1886. Midshipman to Admiral Spruance graduated from the US Naval Academy on September 12, 1906.
Raymond Ames Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 3 July 1886, boy of Alexander P. And Annie Ames Spruance. Spruance also held several engineering, intelligence, personnel and Naval War College positions as much as the 1940s. In the first months of World War II in the Pacific, Rear Admiral Spruance commanded a cruiser division.
- Early Life & Career
- World War I
- War Approaches
- Triumph at Midway
- Island Hopping
- Iwo Jima and Okinawa
The son of Alexander and Annie Spruance, Raymond Ames Spruance was born at Baltimore, MD on July 3, 1886. Raised in Indianapolis, IN, he attended school locally and graduated from Shortridge High School. After further schooling at the Stevens Preparatory School in New Jersey, Spruance applied to and was accepted by the US Naval Academy in 1903. Graduating from Annapolis three years later, he served two years at sea before receiving his commission as an ensign on September 13, 1908. During this period, Spruance served aboard USS Minnesota (BB-22) during the cruise of the Great White Fleet. Arriving back in the United States, he underwent additional training in electrical engineering at General Electric before being posted to USS Connecticut (BB-18) in May 1910. Following a stint aboard USS Cincinnati, Spruance was made commander of the destroyer USS Bainbridgein March 1913 with the rank of lieutenant (junior grade). In May 1914, Spruance received a posting as Assistant to the Inspect...
With World War I raging, he became Assistant Engineer Officer of the New York Navy Yard. In this position, he traveled to London and Edinburgh. With the end of the war, Spruance aided in returning American troops home before moving through a succession of engineering postings and destroyer commands. Having attained the rank of commander, Spruance attended the Senior Course at the Naval War College in July 1926. Finishing the course, he completed a tour in the Office of Naval Intelligence before being posted to USS Mississippi(BB-41) in October 1929 as executive officer.
In June 1931, Spruance returned to Newport, RI to serve on the staff of the Naval War College. Promoted to captain the following year, he departed to take the position of Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Destroyers, Scouting Fleet in May 1933. Two years later, Spruance again received orders for the Naval War College and taught on the staff until April 1938. Leaving, he assumed command of USS Mississippi. Commanding the battleship for nearly two years, Spruance was aboard when World War IIbegan in Europe. Having been promoted to rear admiral in December 1939, he was directed to assume command of the Tenth Naval District (San Juan, PR) in February 1940. In July 1941, his responsibilities were expanded to include oversight of the Caribbean Sea Frontier. After working to defend neutral American shipping from German U-boats, Spruance received orders to take over Cruiser Division Five in September 1941. Traveling to the Pacific, he was in this post when the Japanese attacked Pearl Har...
In the opening weeks of the conflict, Spruance's cruisers served under Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey and took part in raids against the Gilbert and Marshall Islands before striking Wake Island. These attacks were followed by a raid against Marcus Island. In May 1942, intelligence suggested that the Japanese were planning on assaulting Midway Island. Critical for the defense of Hawaii, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, intended to dispatch Halsey to block the enemy thrust. Falling ill with shingles, Halsey recommended that Spruance lead Task Force 16, centered on the carriers USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8), in his stead. Though Spruance had not led a carrier force in the past, Nimitz agreed as the rear admiral would be aided by Halsey's staff, including the gifted Captain Miles Browning. Moving into position near Midway, Spruance's force was later joined by Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher's TF 17 which included the carrier USS Yorktown...
In August 1943, Spruance, now a vice admiral, returned to sea as Commander Central Pacific Force. Overseeing the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943, he guided Allied forces as they advanced through the Gilbert Islands. This was followed by an assault on Kwajaleinin the Marshall Islands on January 31, 1944. Successfully concluding operations, Spruance was promoted to admiral in February. That same month, he directed Operation Hailstone which saw American carrier aircraft repeatedly strike the Japanese base at Truk. During the attacks, the Japanese lost twelve warships, thirty-two merchant ships, and 249 aircraft. In April, Nimitz divided command of the Central Pacific Force between Spruance and Halsey. While one was at sea, the other would be planning their next operation. As part of this reorganization, the force became known as the Fifth Fleet when Spruance was in charge and the Third Fleet when Halsey was in command. The two admirals presented a contrast in styles as Spruance tende...
Following the campaign, Spruance turned the fleet over to Halsey and began planning operations to capture Iwo Jima. As his staff worked, Halsey used the fleet to win the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In January 1945, Spruance resumed command of the fleet and began moving against Iwo Jima. On February 19, American forces landed and opened the Battle of Iwo Jima. Mounting a tenacious defense, the Japanese held out for over a month. With the island's fall, Spruance immediately moved forward with Operation Iceberg. This saw Allied forces move against Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. Close to Japan, Allied planners intended to use Okinawa as a springboard for the eventual invasion of the Home Islands. On April 1, Spruance began the Battle of Okinawa. Maintaining a position offshore, the Fifth Fleet's ships were subjected to relentless kamikaze attacks by Japanese aircraft. As Allied forces battled on the island, Spruance's ships defeated Operation Ten-Go on April 7 which saw the Japanese battleshi...
These plans proved moot when the war came to an abrupt end in early August with the use of the atom bomb. For his actions at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Spruance was awarded the Navy Cross. On November 24, Spruance relieved Nimitz as Commander, US Pacific Fleet. He remained in the position only briefly as he accepted a posting as President of the Naval War College on February 1, 1946. Returning to Newport, Spruance remained at the college until retiring from the US Navy on July 1, 1948. Four years later, President Harry S. Truman appointed him as Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. Serving in Manila, Spruance remained abroad until resigning his post in 1955. Retiring to Pebble Beach, CA, he died there on December 13, 1969. After his funeral, he was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery near the grave of his wartime commander, Nimitz.
- Military And Naval History Expert