William V. Pratt Memoirs, 1939: Finding Aid
Published in August 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 514
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: William V. Pratt Memoirs
- Dates: 1939
- Size: 0.21 linear feet
- Container Summary: 1 half-manuscript box
- Creator: Pratt, William Veazie, 1869-1957
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: William V. Pratt was an admiral in the United States Navy, a Chief of Naval Operations, and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1889. The William V. Pratt Memoirs were written in 1939. The memoirs, which were compiled by Felicia Hyde, cover nearly the entirety of Pratt's career in the United States Navy, from his time as a Naval Academy midshipman until his retirement as Chief of Naval Operations in 1933.
Biographical Chronology of William Veazie Pratt
- Born on February 28 in Belfast, Maine.
- On September 9, admitted to the United States Naval Academy on appointment from S. L. Milliken.
- In June, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
- Attached to U.S.S. Atlanta (Protected cruiser) of the White Squadron.
- On July 1, commissioned as an Ensign.
- Attached to U.S.S. Philadelphia (Protected cruiser: C-4), followed by service with the Asiatic Squadron aboard U.S.S. Petrel (Gunboat: PG-2), U.S.S. Lancaster (Screw sloop-of-war).
- In July, attached to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Mathematics.
- In July, attached to U.S.S. Annapolis (Gunboat: PG-10), training apprentices.
- In April, transfers to U.S.S. Mayflower (Yacht: PY-1), blockading Havana, and later, the prize steamer New Foundland.
- On August 10, promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade).
- In or around August, transfers to U.S.S. Newark (Protected cruiser: C-1), steaming in South American waters before proceeding to the Philippines during the Philippine-American War.
- On March 3, promoted to Lieutenant.
- In April, transfers to U.S.S. Bennington (Patrol gunboat: PG-4) for passage home.
- Transfers to U.S.S. Solace (Hospital ship: AH-2).
- In September, attached to United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Mathematics.
- In June, attached to U.S.S. Kearsarge (Battleship: BB-5), flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron.
- On July 1, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
- In September, attached to United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Navigation, and later, Mechanics.
- In August, attached to U.S.S. St. Louis (Protected cruiser: C-20) as Executive Officer.
- On July 1, promoted to Commander.
- In December, detached from U.S.S. St. Louis and waiting orders.
- In January, assigned to the Naval War College.
- In June, ordered to Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet as Aide to the Commander.
- Assigned to additional duty as Commanding Officer of U.S.S. Birmingham (Light cruiser: CL-2).
- On September 29, promoted to Captain.
- In November, ordered to the Panama Canal Zone.
- In September, assigned to the Army War College for instruction.
- In February, assigned special temporary duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
- In April, detached from the Army War College for regular duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
- In August, appointed Assistant Chief of Naval Operations.
- In December, accompanies President Woodrow Wilson to Europe following the Armistice.
- On January 23, assumes command of U.S.S. New York (Battleship: BB-34).
- In October, assumes command of Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet.
- On June 3, promoted to Rear Admiral.
- In July, detaches from Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet for duty with the General Board.
- In November, appointed to the Technical Staff of the U.S. Delegation to the Washington Naval Conference.
- In June, assumes command of Battleship Division Four, Battle Fleet.
- In September, appointed President of the Naval War College.
- In September, assumes command of Battleship Divisions, Battle Fleet.
- Appointed Commander in Chief, Battle Fleet.
- Appointed to the American Delegation to the London Naval Conference.
- In September, appointed Chief of Naval Operations.
- On June 30, retires from the United States Navy.
- In January, recalled to active duty developing escort carriers fro anti-submarine warfare.
- On July 15, returns to inactive status.
- On November 25, dies in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Description of Contents
The William V. Pratt Memoirs, comprising 0.21 linear feet of documentation, were written in 1939. The memoirs, which were compiled by Felicia Hyde, cover nearly the entirety of Pratt's career in the United States Navy, from his time as a Naval Academy midshipman until his retirement as Chief of Naval Operations in 1933.
The chapters of the Pratt Memoirs are arranged chronologically, with the exception of Pratt's tours of duty at the Naval Academy, which were assembled into a single chapter. The memoirs, which begin with Pratt's family history, span all of Pratt's career in the United States Navy, with the exception of his reactivation during World War II. Duty stations and major events covered include Pratt's time as a midshipman, his mandatory two years of pre-commissioning sea service, his cruises in China, teaching at the Naval Academy, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection (Philippine-American War), U.S.S. Kearsarge, U.S.S. St. Louis, the Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla, intelligence work in the Panama Canal Zone, World War I, command of U.S.S. New York, the Pacific Fleet Destroyer Force, the Battle Fleet's Fourth Battleship Division, the Presidency of the Naval War College, the Washington Naval Conference, and the London Naval Conference, culminating in Pratt's tour as Chief of Naval Operations. Throughout the memoirs, Pratt offers opinions on officers he served with and under, including Albert Gleaves, Bowman Hendry McCalla, Henry A. Wiley, and William A. Moffett, as well as General Douglas MacArthur, President Herbert Hoover, and Naval Academy Professor Paul Dashiell.
The William V. Pratt Memoirs are arranged chronologically into 21 chapters, with an introduction and epilogue.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The William V. Pratt Memoirs are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of Craig Symonds in June 1978.
Location of Originals
The original of the William V. Pratt Memoirs can be found in the Papers of Admiral William V. Pratt at the Operational Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command.
Related Archival Material
Additional material in this repository pertaining to William V. Pratt include Pratt's Alumni Jacket and Midshipman Conduct Record. Correspondence pertaining to Pratt can also be found in RG 405.2.3 Entry 75, Office of the Superintendent/Administrative Records: Letters and Reports Received by the Superintendent Relating to Individual Midshipmen. A portrait of Pratt as a midshipman is available in Photo Album 19, United States Naval Academy : Class of 1889 : Photograph Album.
The Papers of Admiral William V. Pratt are available at the Operational Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
William V. Pratt Memoirs, MS 514
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel. Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1890-1930.
Pratt, William Veazie Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in August 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in August 2019.
These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.
Name and Subject Terms
- Conference on the Limitation of Armament (1921-1922 : Washington, D.C.)
- Kearsarge (Battleship : BB-5)
- Midshipmen -- Conduct of life
- Naval War College (U.S.)
- New York (Battleship : BB-34)
- Petrel (Gunboat : PG-2)
- Pratt, William Veazie, 1869-1957
- Spanish-American War, 1898
- St. Louis (Protected cruiser: C-20)
- United States. Navy -- Officers -- Biography
- World War, 1914-1918
- Hyde, Felecia
Chapter 20 - Last Sea Cruise, 1939
Tours as Commander of Battleship Divisions of the Battle Fleet, Battle Fleet Commander in Chief, and U.S. Fleet Commander in Chief. Thoughts on the Hawaiian Islands, management philosophy, working with Henry A. Wiley, and the London Naval Conference of 19
Chapter 21 - Chief of Naval Operations, 1939
Thoughts on William A. Moffett, Secretary of the Navy Charles Francis Adams, the General Board, relations with the State Department, relations with Japan, Congressional relations, the Massie Affair, and opinion of Douglas MacArthur and Herbert Hoover.