Newport Rhode Island



Admiral Richard W. Bates

"The Bates Papers"

Admiral Richard W. Bates

His Papers


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Biographical Sketch

Rear Admiral Richard W. Bates was born in San Francisco, California, on January 16, 1892, to Henry Lester and Helen Rixon Bates. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from the Third District, California, in 1911 and graduated in the Class of 1915. His first duty assignment was on board the USS YORKTOWN (GBT-1) stationed in Central American waters. From YORKTOWN he went to the USS CINCINNATI (C-7), operating on the east coast of South America, where he served as Executive Officer until 1918. He was Executive Officer in the USS SPROSTON (DD-173), 1919-1920.

In 1920 Bates attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Annapolis, Maryland. The following year found him at Columbia University, studying electrical propulsion of ships. Awarded a Master of Science degree in June 1922, he continued instruction in electrical engineering at General Electric, Schenectady, New York, and Westinghouse Electric, East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was followed by duty as the Electrical Officer in the USS MARYLAND (BB-46), 1922-1925; assistant in engineering at the Post Graduate School, 1925-1927, and Engineering Officer in the USS RICHMOND (CL-9), 1927-1930.

In the decade before America’s entry into the Second World War, Rear Admiral Bates saw duty with the Hydrographic Office, Honolulu and as Commander of the Naval Station, Honolulu; Commanding Officer of the destroyer, USS BUCHANAN (DD-131), the oil tanker, RAMAPO (AO-12), the destroyers USS LONG (DD-209), and USS CLARK (DD-361), flagship of Destroyer Squadron Three, Battle Force.

When the war broke out, Bates was a student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He continued at the College as a member of the staff until 1943 when he took command of the cruiser USS MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36). Under his command the ship engaged in the bombardment of Wake Island, participated in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands and sank the Japanese light cruiser KATORI off Truk in April 1944.

During May-August 1944, Bates was on the staff of the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet. In September he served with the Commander Cruiser Division Four as Chief of Staff of the Bombardment, Fire Support and associated groups of the Seventh Fleet during the Philippine Islands campaign. December found him Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Battleship Division Two and involved in the Lingayen-Luzon and Okinawa operations. This was followed in May 1945 by his appointment as Commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron, Pacific Fleet and in December of the same year with appointment as Chief of Staff to Commander, Philippine Sea Frontier.

Bates returned to the Naval War College in 1946 as Head of the Department of Research and Analysis which was tasked with studying Second World War naval battles. Retired in 1949, he remained with the College, continuing his battle analyses in charge of what now had become the World War II Battle Evaluation Group. Although the work was not completed, the project was terminated in 1958.

In 1969 Bates was appointed Vice President of the newly formed Naval War College Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit association founded to support College programs not covered by appropriated funding. He was elected president in 1972, serving in that capacity until his death on December 27, 1973.


Chronology of Naval Service

1911 Appointed to U.S. Naval Academy from Third District, California.

1915 Graduated from USNA and commissioned Ensign, USN.
USS OHIO (BB-12) and USS MARYLAND (ACR-8).

1916 USS YORKTOWN (GBT-1).

1919 USS CINCINNATI, (C-7), Executive Officer.
CUBA (Cuban gunboat), Gunnery Instructor.

1919-1920 USS SPROSTON (DD-173), Executive Officer.

1920 Promoted to Lieutenant.

1920-1921 Post Graduate School, Annapolis, MD, student.

1922 Columbia University, student.
General Electric Co., Schenectady, NY.
Westinghouse Electric, East Pittsburgh, PA.

1922-1925 USS MARYLAND (BB-46), Electrical Officer.

1925-1927 Post Graduate School, Annapolis, MD, staff.

1927 USS RICHMOND (CL-9), Engineer Officer.

1930-1932 Naval Station, Honolulu, Hawaii, Officer in Charge, Hydrographic Office; Aide to Commandant Fourteenth Naval District; Permanent Senior Patrol Officer.

1932-1933 USS BUCHANAN (DD-131), Commanding Officer.

1933-1934 USS RAMAPO (ATO-12), Commanding Officer and Executive Officer.

1934-1935 USS LONG (DD-201), Commanding Officer.

1935-1938 Bureau of Engineering, Washington, DC.

1938-1940 USS CLARK (DD-361), Commanding Officer.

1940-1941 Naval War College, Senior Class.

1941 Promoted to Captain.
Naval War College, Head, Department of Strategy.

1943 USS MINNEAPOLIS, Commanding Officer.
Promoted to Commodore.

1944 Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, staff.
Bombardment, Fire Support & Associated Groups, Seventh Fleet, Chief of Staff.

1944-1945 Commander, Battle Division Two, Chief of Staff and Aide.

1945 Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons, Pacific Fleet, Commander.

1945-1946 Commander Philippine Sea Frontier, Chief of Staff.

1946-1949 Naval War College, staff.

1947 Reverted to rank of Captain.

1949 Retired. Promoted to Rear Admiral on retired list.

1949-1958 World War II Battle Evaluation Group, Naval War College, Newport, RI.

1969-1973 Naval War College Foundation, Inc., Vice President and President.

1973 Died, Newport, RI, December 27.


Description of Papers

The personal papers of Rear Admiral Richard W. Bates (1892-1973) cover the years 1915-1973 and consist of correspondence, subjects files, writings, speeches, and miscellaneous items. They were acquired in 1974 through the Naval War College Foundation by the term of Bates’ will.

The papers are arranged in four series based on an established file system.

Series I,
Correspondence, is divided into "personal" and "informal" letters, although there appears to be little difference between the two contentwise. Bates maintained a voluminous correspondence with naval officers and civilians. Letters deal chiefly with career matters, family matters, and social life in Newport. Correspondents include Admirals Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, Raymond A. Spruance, William F. Halsey, Richmond K. Turner, Robert B. Carney, Edward Kalbfus, William S. Pye, and Richard L. Conolly. Also included are copies of letters of other naval officers, namely, Admirals King, Kinkaid, and Captain S.E. Morison, 1944-1953.

Series II,
Subject Files, relates mainly to the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons, Pacific Fleet, Navy official communications and memoranda, the Naval War College, the World War II Battle Evaluation Group, and the Naval War College Foundation. Included are letters, memoranda, telegrams, dispatches, lectures, studies, minutes of meetings, and lists.

Series III,
Contains Admiral Bates’ speeches and published and unpublished writings.

Series IV,
Consists of miscellaneous items including pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, certificates and citations, invitations, programs, and calling cards.