Military Wiki
Glenn Benson Davis
VADM Glenn B. Davis, USN
Born (1892-01-02)January 2, 1892
Died September 9, 1984(1984-09-09) (aged 92)
Place of birth Norwalk, Ohio, US
Place of death Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, US
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1913–1953
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Vice Admiral
Commands held Sixth Naval district
Potomac River Naval Command
Washington Navy Yard
Battleship Division 8
USS Washington

Veracruz Expedition
World War I
World War II

Awards Navy Cross
Legion of Merit (2)

Glenn Benson Davis (January 2, 1892 – September 9, 1984) was a highly decorated officer in the United States Navy with the rank of Vice Admiral. He distinguished himself as Commanding officer of battleship USS Washington during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942, when Washington sank Japanese battleship Kirishima.[1][2]

Davis was subsequently promoted to Rear admiral and commanded Battleship Division 8 during Mariana Islands campaign in summer 1944. He remained in the Navy following the War and completed his service as Commandant, Sixth Naval district in Charleston, South Carolina.[1][2]

Early years

Glenn Benson Davis was born on January 2, 1892, in Norwalk, Ohio, the son of Albert W. and Emma Benson Davis. He graduated from the Norwalk High School in May 1909 and received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in July that year. While at the Academy, Davis reached the rank of Cadet-Lieutenant in charge of Cadet Company and served as Manager of the Basketball team. He was nicknamed "G.B" and "Dave" by his classmates.[2][3]

Among his classmates were several future flag officers including four-star admirals William H. P. Blandy, Laurance T. DuBose, John L. Hall Jr.; Vice admirals Paul Hendren, Arthur G. Robinson, Leo H. Thebaud; and Rear admirals Frederick G. Crisp, Norman C. Gillette and Paulus P. Powell.[3]

Davis graduated with Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned Ensign on June 7, 1913. He was subsequently attached to the battleship USS Kansas and cruised the east coast for the next several months. Davis took part in the patrols in the Gulf of Mexico during the Veracruz Expedition in summer 1914 and then participated in another series of patrols in the Caribbean, protecting life and property during a revolution in Haiti in late 1915.[2]

He was later transferred to the battleship USS Kentucky and patrolled along the east coast and in the Caribbean and was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) on June 7, 1916. Following the United States entry into World War I in April 1917, Davis was assigned to the tanker USS Maumee and embarked for Britain to fuel allied ships. He was stationed about 300 miles south of Greenland and was promoted successively to the temporary ranks of Lieutenant and Lieutenant commander.[2]Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive titleCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title

Interwar period

Following the War, Davis reverted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant, but his temporary rank of Lieutenant commander was extended one month later and he was sent to the Bureau of Ordnance in September 1919 and then to the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from the postgraduate course in ordnance in December 1920 and was ordered for additional instruction to the Midvale Steel in Philadelphia.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive titleCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title

In July 1921, Davis was assigned to the battleship USS Tennessee and served with her within Pacific Fleet until October 1924, when he was ordered to the Naval Proving Ground Dahlgren, Virginia as Experimental officer under Captain Andrew C. Pickens. Davis was promoted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant commander on June 8, 1923.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title

He later served at Dahlgren Ground in the same capacity under then-Captain and future CNO, Harold R. Stark and completed course in chemical warfare. Davis later became known in the Navy as Ordnance expert due to his service at Dahlgren. He was transferred to battleship USS Wyoming in June 1927 and took part in her extensive modernization at Philadelphia Navy Yard. After the completion of the works in November that year, Davis sailed with Wyoming to the Caribbean, where patrolled off the coast of Cuba and the Virgin Islands.[4]Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name cannot be a simple integer. Use a descriptive title

Davis was ordered back to the Bureau of Ordnance in July 1930 and after two-year duty there, he was appointed Commanding officer of destroyer USS Blakeley and participated in the naval operations and exercises with the Scouting Fleet in the Atlantic until March 1934. While in this capacity, he was promoted to Commander on September 1, 1933. He was subsequently ordered back to Naval Proving Ground Dahlgren, Virginia and served as Executive officer under Captain William R. Furlong until June 1937, when he was ordered to Philadelphia Navy Yard for duty in connection with fitting out of light cruiser USS Philadelphia. Upon the commissioning of the ship in January 1938, Davis was appointed her Executive officer under Captain Jules James and took part in the shakedown cruise in the West Indies followed by additional alterations at Philadelphia and further sea trials off the Maine coast. During the official visits to Haiti and Dominican Republic, Davis was decorated by that countries.[5]

Davis returned to the Bureau of Ordnance in June 1939 and was appointed Assistant to Chief of Bureau, now Rear admiral William R. Furlong. Davis served as Furlong's deputy at Naval Proving Ground Dahlgren in 1936–1937. He was promoted to Captain on May 1, 1940.[4][6]

World War II

Davis (extreme left) as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff to Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, Commander, Western Sea Frontier (second from left) during inspection at Naval Supply Depot, Clearfield, Utah in June 1945. Among them is also Vice admiral John W. Greenslade (center).

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and United States' entry into World War II, Davis still served with the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, D.C., now under his classmate, Rear admiral William H. P. Blandy. He was given sea command of battleship USS Washington by the end of July 1942 and led the flagship of Commander, Battleship Division 6, Rear admiral Willis A. Lee to the Southwest Pacific.[1][2][7] The Washington was engaged in the covering of convoy operations bringing supplies and reinforcements to the marines fighting on Guadalcanal into early November 1942. On the night of November 14–15, 1942, Davis led Washington into bitter fight off Savo Island together with battleship USS South Dakota. The South Dakota was damaged in the battle, but Washington returned fire and fatally cripples Japanese battleship Kirishima, which ultimately capsized and sank. For the leadership of Washington in the battle, Davis was decorated with Navy Cross, the United States Navy second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat.[2][8][9][10]

Davis commanded Washington until April 1943, when he was promoted to the temporary rank of Rear admiral and assumed command of newly activated Battleship Division 8 (BatDiv 8), built around battleships Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Dakota. He led his force during the Isolation of Rabaul, New Britain during summer 1943 and after brief stop at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Davis returned with BatDiv 8 to the Southwest Pacific area.[1][2]

In November 1943, BatDiv 8 participated in the assaults on Tarawa, Makin and Abemama in the Gilberts and covered the aircraft carriers while they raided the islands. Davis then commanded BatDiv 8 during the Mariana Islands campaign at Saipan, Tinian and Guam in June–August 1944 and received Legion of Merit for his service. He continued in command of his division during the Invasion of Leyte, Philippines in late 1944 and was decorated with second Legion of Merit.[8][11]

Davis was succeeded by Rear admiral John F. Shafroth Jr. in December 1944 and prepared for return to the United States, but events Typhoon Cobra changed his plans. Admiral William F. Halsey unwittingly sailed the Third Fleet into the center of the typhoon and because of 100 mph (87 kn; 45 m/s; 160 km/h) winds, high seas, and torrential rain, three destroyers capsized and sank, with 790 lives lost. Nine other warships were damaged, and over 100 aircraft were wrecked or washed overboard.

The Navy Department ordered Halsey to be court-martialed and Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Fleet admiral Chester Nimitz appointed three-men Court of Inquiry with Vice admiral John H. Hoover as the President of the Court and Davis and Vice admiral George D. Murray as Associate Judges. Hoover, Davis and Murray ultimately recommended Halsey face court-martial for sailing Third Fleet into a typhoon, but the Court's recommendation was ignored by the Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J. King and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who likely felt Halsey was too much of a popular hero to be subjected to public rebuke.[12]

Davis then returned to the United States and assumed duty as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, Western Sea Frontier headquartered in San Francisco under Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll. He served in this capacity for the rest of the War.[2]

Postwar service

Following the War, Davis remained in San Francisco until the end of January 1946, when he was appointed Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard with additional duties as Superintendent of the Naval Gun Factory and Commandant, Potomac River Naval Command. Upon the reorganization of that command in July 1946, Davis remained in command of Potomac River Command, which was subordinated directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, Chester Nimitz and consisted of Washington Navy Yard, Naval Air Stations Anacostia and Patuxent River; Naval Gun Factory, Naval Proving Ground Indian Head, Naval Academy, Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Observatory, and Bethesda Naval Hospital.[2][4][13][14][15]

Davis remained in that command until July 1951, when he was ordered to Charleston Navy Yard for duty as Commandant, Sixth Naval district. While in this capacity, he was responsible for the defense of the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina, and Navy installation in this states. Davis retired from active duty on July 1, 1953, after 40 years of service and was advanced to the rank of Vice Admiral on the retired list for having been specially commended in combat.[2][16]

Retirement and death

Upon his retirement from the Navy, Davis assumed duty as President of the Isthmian Steamship Company, a shipping company headquartered in New York City. During his tenure, the company was sold to States Marine Lines in 1956 and Davis later served as a chairman of the Board of Isthmian Lines Inc. He retired from that company in 1958 and settled in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.[4][17]

Vice admiral Glenn B. Davis died there on September 9, 1984, aged 92 and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.[18] His wife, Ruth Manahan Davis, sister of Commodore Stewart A. Manahan, is buried beside him. They had a one son, Glenn B. Jr.[2][19]


Here is the ribbon bar of Vice admiral Davis:[8]

Gold star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Cross
Legion of Merit
with Combat "V" and one 516" Gold Star
Mexican Service Medal Haitian Campaign Medal
World War I Victory Medal
with Fleet Clasp
American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal
Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal
with one silver and two bronze 3/16 inch service stars
World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal
Philippine Liberation Medal
with two stars
National Order of Honour and Merit, Commander
Order of Juan Pablo Duarte, Commander
(Dominican Republic)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia – Glenn B. Davis". The Pacific War Encyclopedia. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 "Adm. Glenn Davis, War Hero". New York Times Websites. September 14, 1984. p. 37. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Lucky Bag – USNA Class of 1913". United States Naval Academy. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Admiral Davis to Head Isthmian Steamship Company – Federal Aide Resigns". New York Times Websites. June 29, 1953. p. 39. 
  5. The visit of the cruiser "Philadelphia" was a great event – Consulate general of the Dominican republic. Consulate general of the Dominican republic. 1938. pp. 15. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  6. "Navy Selection Board Names 12 to be Admirals". 14 December 1939. p. 1. 
  7. "BB-56 USS Washington – Commanding Officers". NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive Websites. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Valor awards for Glenn B. Davis". Militarytimes Websites. 
  9. "Guadalcanal, 1942 – The Battle of Saturday the 14th – Naval History and Heritage Command". Naval History and Heritage Command Websites. 
  10. Tuohy, William (2007). America's Fighting Admirals. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company. pp. 144. ISBN 978-0-7603-2985-6. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  11. "All Hands – The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin; February 1947, page 47". United States Navy Websites. 
  12. Drury, Bob; Clavin Tom (2007). Halsey's Typhoon: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm, and an Untold Rescue. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 15. ISBN 978-0-87113-948-1. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  13. "Washington Navy Yard, Commandants – Naval History and Heritage Command". Naval History and Heritage Command Websites. 
  14. "All Hands – The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin; May 1946, page 55". United States Navy Websites. 
  15. "All Hands – The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin; August 1948, page 55". United States Navy Websites. 
  16. "Sixth Naval District – Naval History and Heritage Command". Naval History and Heritage Command Websites. 
  17. "Admiral Logue Gets Job". New York Times Websites. July 9, 1954. 
  18. "Burial Detail: Davis, Glenn B". ANC Explorer. 
  19. "Mrs. Glenn B. Davis". New York Times Websites. October 5, 1955. p. 36. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert W. Hayler
Commandant, Sixth Naval district
July 1, 1951 – July 1, 1953
Succeeded by
Heber H. McLean
Preceded by
Ferdinand L. Reichmuth
Commandant, Potomac River Naval Command
January 28, 1946 – July 1, 1951
Succeeded by
George H. Fort
Preceded by
Ferdinand L. Reichmuth
Commandant, Washington Navy Yard
January 28, 1946 – July 1, 1946
Succeeded by
Theodore D. Ruddock
Preceded by
Aaron S. Merrill
Commander, Battleship Division Eight
April 1943 – December 1944
Succeeded by
John F. Shafroth Jr.

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