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Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley (born 1908 Manila—died 28 October 2000) was an officer in the U.S. Navy and is the author of three books and numerous articles on the history of U.S. Navy activities in the Pacific, China, and the Soviet Union. Kemp was a 1929 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta.[1][2] Prior to World War II, Tolley served in the Yangtze Patrol.

In 1908, Kemp was born in the Philippines, where his father, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Kemp Tolley, U.S. Army, was stationed .[3]

After his retirement, Admiral Tolley lived in historic Corbett Village, Monkton, Maryland.


  • Yangtze Patrol
  • Cruise of the Lanikai: Incitement to War
  • Caviar and Commissars: The Experiences of a U.S. Naval Officer in Stalin's Russia


  1. "Kemp Tolley, 92; Rear Admiral, Author" (Fee). Washington Post. November 6, 2000. Retrieved 2009-04-03. "Kemp Tolley, 92, a retired Navy rear admiral who wrote scores of articles and three books concerning history and naval affairs, died at his home in Baltimore County, Maryland, after a stroke. Admiral Tolley was born in Manila, while his father was serving there in the U.S. Army, and was a 1929 graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis. During the 1930s, he served aboard battleships, cruisers and a submarine tender. He also served on the exotic China station, becoming executive officer of the river gunboat Tutuila on the upper Yangtze. He became fluent in Russian, German, French and Spanish. During World War II, he spent two years as an assistant naval attaché in the Soviet Union" 
  2. "For Those Who Dare". U.S. Naval Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-03. "Then there was Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley, legendary for his naval exploits in China, Indonesia, and Australia (detailed in his Naval Institute Press books, Cruise of the Lanikai and Far Yangtze Station) and for his work as a naval intelligence officer in Stalin's Russia (the topic of his book, Caviar and Commissars). Admiral Tolley, who wrote dozens of articles for Proceedings, was well-known among the Naval Institute staff for other things, most notable among them being his photographic collection of women he had met in his world travels, which he used to illustrate his always unpredictable newsletter, the China Gunboatman." 
  3. "Maryland Historical Society". Retrieved 2009-04-03. "Tolley, Kemp Papers, 1941 A naval officer's report on travels from China to the Philippines, Java, and points South; chiefly an account of a cruise in a schooner immediately after the outbreak of hostilities. 6 pages Tolley, Kemp Papers, 1941-1942 Chronicle of voyage of the schooner Lanakai through enemy waters from Manila Bay to Perth, Australia, December 26, 1941 to April 27, 1942. Includes map and newsclippings on Commander Tolley's voyage and the presentation of the volume to the Maryland Historical Society by his father, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Kemp Tolley. 1 volume" 

Further reading

  • Barrow, Clay. "Midshipman Tolley." Naval History. September/October 1995, v. 9, n. 5, pages 17–21. A profile of Kemp Tolley, "one of the most colorful men in the history of the U.S. Navy," by a former editor of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. Tolley wrote Yangtze Patrol, Cruise of the Lanikai, Caviar and Commissars and dozens of published articles.
  • Buckley, Thomas H. "Yangtze Patrol: The U.S. Navy in China. By Kemp Tolley." The Journal of American History, September 1972, v. 59, no. 2, pages 453-454
  • Jacobus, Stephen "Shakey Jake". "Tolley's Way – One Gentleman's Adventurous Naval Career." Naval History, September/October 1995, v. 9, n.5, pages 22–23. Biographical sketch of Admiral Kemp Tolley, author of Yangtze Patrol, who served in China and many other adventurous places.
  • Rosenberg, David A. "Yangtze Patrol: The U.S. Navy in China." Military Affairs, October 1974, v. 38, page 120. A review of Kemp Tolley's book on the Yangtze Patrol.
  • Tolley, Kemp. "The Chameleon." Shipmate, October 1966, v. 29, pages 2–5.
  • Tolley, Kemp. "Chinese Huntsman." Shipmate, June–July 1966, v. 29, pages 12–16.
  • Tolley, Kemp. "A Day in the Life of a Chungking Gunboat." Shipmate, June–July 1967, v. 30, pages 8–12 and 17.
  • Tolley, Kemp. "Three Piecee and Other Dollars Mex." Shipmate, July 1965, v. 28, pages 8–10.
  • Tolley, Kemp. "YangPat – Shanghai to Chungking." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1963, v. 89, pages 80–89. This article emphasizes United States gunboat operations during the years 1937 to 1941.

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