Walden Lee Ainsworth Papers, 1942–1948

Manuscript Collection #250

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Walden Lee Ainsworth Papers
    Creator: Ainsworth, W.L. (Walden Lee), 1886-1960
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: 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.
  • Description

    Most of the collection consists of official U.S. Navy documents. They concern the operations of the task force commanded by Admiral Ainsworth (10 December 1942 to 4 June 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, 4–5 January 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 (23–24 January 1943, 15–16 March 1943, and 12–13 May 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 (5 May 1943) were followed by the combined mining and bombardment operations of the Munda-Vila-Kula Gulf area (12–13 May 1943). After conducting the night bombardment of Vila Stanmore and Bairoko Harbor (4–5 July 1943), Ainsworth's task force was directed to attempt the interception of the Tokyo Express (5 July 1943). Thus ensued the second Battle of Kula Gulf (5–6 July 1943).This was a repeat of the action of 12–13 May 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 (12–13 July 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 (16 July 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 (27 December 1943) and in the Shortlands-Faisi area (8 January 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 casualties. 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 (11 April 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 10 December 1942 to 18 July 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 USS 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 USS Mississippi, 1941–1945, which the Admiral once commanded (1942) is also included.

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Walden Lee ("Pug") Ainsworth was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 10 November 1886. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1910, and was commissioned an ensign on 7 March 1919. In 1940 and 1941, Ainsworth commanded a destroyer squadron in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. There he also commanded the battleship Mississippi until 4 July 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 22 August 1945, until his retirement on 1 December 1948. Admiral Ainsworth died on 7 August 1960.

  • Administrative Information
    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.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mr. H. Gardner Ainsworth

    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.

    Processing Information

    Processed by P. Ellis, April 1974

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

Container List

  • Photographs
    Japanese Surrender - USS Missouri (2 Sept 1945), 1945 (item 1)
    USS Mississippi, 1938 (item 2)
    USS Burke, 1947 (item 3)
    Commendations, undated (item )

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Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection, without the consent of those individuals, may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which East Carolina University assumes no responsibility.

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Container List

  • Photographs
    Japanese Surrender - USS Missouri (2 Sept 1945), 1945 (item 1)
    USS Mississippi, 1938 (item 2)
    USS Burke, 1947 (item 3)
    Commendations, undated (item )

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