Walden Lee Ainsworth Papers, 1942-1948

(Manuscript Collection #250)

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Walden Lee Ainsworth Papers
Creator: Ainsworth, W.L. (Walden Lee), 1886-1960
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1942-1948) including naval campaign file for Solomon Island, photographs, citations, pamphlets, battle, pictures.
Extent: 0.22 Cubic feet, 100 items , including naval campaign file for the Solomon Islands, photographs, citations and miscellaneous.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

January 18, 1974, ca. 100 items; Naval campaign file for Solomon Islands (1942-1944), photographs, citations, and miscellaneous (1942-1948). Gift of Mr. H. Gardner Ainsworth, Chevy Chase, Md.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

Walden Lee Ainsworth Papers (#250), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. H. Gardner Ainsworth

Processing Information

  • Processed by P. Ellis, April 1974

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Walden Lee ("Pug") Ainsworth was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 10, 1886. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June, 1910, and was commissioned an ensign on March 7, 1919. In 1940 and 1941, Ainsworth commanded a destroyer squadron in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. there he also commanded the battleship MISSISSIPPI until July 4, 1942 when he became Commander Destroyers, Pacific Fleet. In December, 1942, he took command of cruiser-destroyer task forces in the Solomon Islands. After the conclusion of World War II, Ainsworth was Commandant Fifth Naval District from August 22, 1945, until his retirement on December 1, 1948. Admiral Ainsworth died on August 7, 1960.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Most of the collection consists of official U.S. Navy documents. They concern the operations of the task force commanded by Admiral Ainsworth (December 10, 1942 to June 4, 1944) in the Solomon Islands Campaign. The first section of the admiral's papers is a narrative of naval operations, beginning with the bombardment of the Japanese airfield at Munda, January 4-5, 1943. Using the latest in radar and the most modern instruments, this was the first naval action where surface, submarine and aerial units were coordinated, a "first lesson" in amphibious warfare. Action off Guadalcanal (January 23-24, 1943, March 15-16, 1943, and May 12-13, 1943). The January, 1943, bombing was the first instance of destruction of enemy planes by 5 inch fire in full radar control. Mining operations of Blackett Strait (May 5, 1943) were followed by the combined mining and bombardment operations of the Munda-Vila-Kula Gulf area (May 12-13, 1943). After conducting the night bombardment of Vila Stanmore and Bairoko Harbor (July 4-5, 1943), Ainsworth's task force was directed to attempt the interception of the Tokyo Express (July 5, 1943). Thus ensued the second Battle of Kula Gulf (July 5-6, 1943).This was a repeat of the action of May 12-13, 1943, but with considerably more enemy fire in return. Only a few days later, orders from Admiral Halsey sent the force on an offensive sweep up "the slot" to take part in the Battle of Kolombangara (July 12-13, 1943). There was considerable damage to both sides in Ainsworth's attempt to seize Kula Gulf and bombard areas on Kolombangara. Upon conclusion of this operation, Captain McInerney led Destroyer-Squadron Twenty-One (July 16, 1943) on a daring but successful destroyer rescue attempt of 165 survivors of the Battle of Kula Gulf. The final two operations under Ainsworth's leadership in this campaign were bombardments of Japanese installations at Kieta and Numa Numa (December 27, 1943) and in the Shortlands-Faisi area (January 8, 1944).

The second section of Admiral Ainsworth's naval papers are statistics of the Solomons' campaign. They cover the summary of activities including bombardments, actions against surface ships, submarines and aircraft, mining operations, and causalties. Thirdly are dispatches of congratulations and encouragement to Admiral Ainsworth and various officers under his command, the majority from Admiral Halsey. The fourth section consists of press releases announcing awards presented to Ainsworth and men in his command. For his service and leadership in the Solomons' campaign, Admiral Ainsworth received the Legion of Merit (April 11, 1945), a gold star in lieu of a second legion of merit, the Navy Cross (February, 1944), the Distinguished Service Medal (December, 1943), and citations for service December 10, 1942 to July 18, 1943, and for the Kula Gulf engagements. Also in the collection are mounted citations to various ships in the Admiral's task force. The fifth section of papers are plans for the operations of Ainsworth's task force, all of which were mentioned in the first section, the Narrative. These describe proposed action and include bombardment, communication, battle, navigation, and firing plans. Last in this major portion of the Admiral's collection are reports for Navy use on the operations carried out.

The remainder of the collection consists of pictures, pamphlets and an annual. Most interesting are photographs of the ceremony where Eisenhower and Nimitz receive honorary LLD's from the University of Richmond and the reception afterwards. Ainsworth wrote a pamphlet on the Battle of New Orleans entitled "An Amphibious Operation that Failed" (February, 1945), a copy of which is in the collection. A remembrance of Ainsworth, written by his communications officer (April, 1972) describes Ainsworth's character and lauds his leadership ability. In a program and its folder for the commissioning ceremony of the U.S.S. Ainsworth is a drawing of the ships insigne, a press release of the launching and memo from Samuel E. Morison, Rear Admiral USNR (Ret.), remembering his contacts with Admiral Ainsworth. An annual of the U.S.S. Mississippi, 1941-1945, which the Admiral once commanded (1942) is also included.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Autograph Entries :

  • Halsey, [William Frederick] (14) 1943, 1944
  • MacArthur, [Douglas] 1943
  • Morison, Samuel E[liot] 1973
  • Nimitz, [Chester William] 1943

Subject Entries :

  • U.S.— MILITARY— Navy
  • WAR— WAR OF 1812— Battles— New Orleans, 1815
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Battles— Kolombangara, 1943
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Battles— Kula Gulf, 1943
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Campaigns— Solomon Islands
  • WAR— WORLD WAR II— Navy

Pamphlet Entry :

Author Entry
  • Ainsworth, Walden Lee
    • An Amphibious Operation that Failed: The Battle of New Orleans (1945)

Images below are listed alphabetically by subject. This list reflects only those portions of the collection for which negatives have been prepared.

WAR— WORLD WAR II— Navy— Ships— USS MISSISSIPPI
Description: Powder tanks dumped over side
Location: At sea
Date: 1940s
Call Number: p-250/16(776)

WAR— WORLD WAR II— Surrender
Description: Nimitz signing Japanese surrender document Charles William Nimitz, Jr.
Location: Japan
Date: 1945
Call Number: p-250/22(1237)

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

  • Box 1#0250.1
    • Folder a#0250.1.a
      Solomon Islands Campaigns File: Narrative, Statistics, Despatches, Awards
    • Folder b#0250.1.b
      Solomon Islands Campaigns File: Plans
    • Folder c#0250.1.c
      Solomon Islands Campaigns File: Reports
    • Folder d#0250.1.d
      Solomon Islands Campaigns File: Miscellaneous
    • Folder e#0250.1.e
      U.S.S. Mississippi War Record, 1941-1945

      Cover: USS Mississippi, 1941-1945. Anon. Baltimore and New York: Thomsen- Ellis-Hutton Co., [1946?]. 126 pp., black hardcover with gold printing and silhouette of bow view of BB 41, 31 x 23 cm, photos, ports. Dornbusch 1950: 945, Smith: 7593. NDL, NYPL, USNA.

  • Oversize Folder os1#0250.os1
    Photographs
    • Japanese Surrender - U.S.S. Missouri (9/2/45), 1945  (item #1)
    • U.S.S. Mississippi, 1938  (item #2)
    • U.S.S. Burke, 1947  (item #3)
    • Commendations, undated

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Department, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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