William Henry Ashford, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #369
Ashford, William Henry, Jr., 1903-1994
Physical description
1.09 Cubic Feet, consisting of correspondence, inventories, research papers, reports, press releases, speeches, orders, awards, citations, certificates, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, publications, logbooks, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
William Henry Ashford, Jr., Papers (#369), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1924-1978, undated) including correspondence, inventories, research papers, reports, press releases, speeches, orders, awards, citations, certificates, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, publications, logbooks and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

William Henry Ashford, Jr. (b. 1903), a native of Athens, Georgia, attended the University of Georgia and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1927). During World War II, he served aboard the carrier USS ENTERPRISE as aide and flag lieutenant to Admiral William Halsey. After the war, Ashford commanded the Fleet Logistic Air Wing, Atlantic/Continental (1949-1951), served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (1951-1953), and commanded the aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY.

Scope and arrangement

For more detail see biographical file of this collection.

Correspondence files of the Fleet Logistic Air Support Wing Atlantic/Continental (1948-1951) reflect the duties of Ashford as commandant. The Wing performed all Naval Air Transportation Service (NATS) and was later integrated with Air Force services to become Military Air Transportation Service (MATS). The Wing operated from NAS Patuxent River, Md. Topics of interest in the files concern the value of waterfront real estate in Pensacola, Florida (1950) and the fear of hospitalization held by military officers because of possible adverse effects on records and the consequent need for enforced rest periods and holidays (Dec., 1950).

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations correspondence reflects Ashford's duties in that department (1951-1954). Topics include organization of a civilian committee to study flight pay (1952), publications detrimental to defense efforts, and means to counteract or suppress these publications (1952-1953). Other letters include discussions of strategy, the effect of limited range B-52 bombers on overseas Naval bases and intercontinental bombing (1953) and a delineation and discussion of historical programs underway in the Navy Department (Sept., 1953).

Correspondence in the USS MIDWAY file (1954-1955, undated) reflects Ashford's command of that ship during its Mediterranean cruise. Items of particular interest include a letter (Jan., 1954) discussing the exemplary behavior of American sailors in Algiers and their ill-treatment by the natives; and letters (1954, undated) concerning recommended revisions of replenishment procedures for aircraft carriers. Other MIDWAY material includes pamphlets (1954), a newsletter (1954), inventories (1954), and remarks of Ashford on the occasion of change of command (undated).

Topics of interest in general correspondence include letters (Dec., 1954) concerning carrier strategy.

Personal correspondence includes comments on incidents that occurred in Project Mariner, a NATO exercise (1953), and a discussion of the winter of 1944-45 on Lake Michigan as well as the activities of the training carriers USS SABLE and USS WOLVERINE. A letter (Mar., 1970) with accompanying photograph and pamphlet pertains to the recommissioning of the USS MIDWAY. In a letter (Nov. 24, 1974) Ashford details incidents surrounding the hospitalization of Admiral Halsey and comments on Spruance, Browning, and Halsey's staff. A letter (July 28, 1977) and pamphlet pertain to the USS COPAHEE.

Other material in the Ashford Papers consists of research papers written by Ashford at the Naval War College concerning the influence of the atomic bomb on future naval warfare (1947) and the organization and employment of carrier aircraft (1948); a staff orientation course dealing with atomic weapons (1951-1952); and Army War College material (1953). "The American Plan," written by Ashford, is an in-depth account and analysis of factors leading to the battle of Midway (undated).

Press releases [ca. 1970] consist of statements to the voters of Wake County, N.C., concerning the North Carolina state Senate seat sought by Ashford.

Speeches (1953, undated) defend and promulgate the utilization of aircraft carriers by the U.S. Navy, the need for a carrier replacement program, and the importance of naval air power to American security.

Orders (1927-1956); biographical material (1956, undated); awards, citations, and certificates (1927-1977, undated); clippings (1929-1956, undated); flight logs (1938-1956); and photographs (1924-1970, undated) reflect Ashford's naval career. Photographs also pertain to ships USS NEW YORK (1924), USS TEXAS (1930), and USS MIDWAY (1953), aswell as seaplane training at N.A.S. Pensacola (1929). A photograph (1942) pertains to Admiral Halsey and staff.

Miscellaneous material includes a copy of a memo (1948) and an enclosure relating to operating and repair statistics of carriers, and a report of damage inflicted on World War II naval vessels by land-based aircraft and a comparison with predictions of surface vessel vulnerability made by General Billy Mitchell (1948). Pamphlets (undated) relate the histories of the Fleet Logistics Air Wing and the USS ENTERPRISE. An application for membership in the Society of Colonial Wars (Nov., 1972) delineates the Ashford family lineage.

Additional miscellaneous material includes a detailed article by the Public Information Division of the Navy Department on the history of the ENTERPRISE.

One oversized folder contains photographs of students and staff of the Naval War College, 1948-1949, various diplomas and documents including commissions by Presidents Collidge and Roosevelt, an Ashford genealogical chart, and photographs of early aircraft carriers and their on-board "flying machines."

The photograph album includes pictures of the SABLE and other aircraft carriers, aircraft and crew aboard ship, and salvaging an aircraft from the sea.

For related material see Oral History Collection, Interview #55.

Administrative information
Custodial History

October 12, 1978, ca. 850 items; Papers (1924-1978) of Naval officer, including correspondence, reports, orders, citations, flight logs, photographs, and miscellaneous. Gift of Real Admiral William H. Ashford, USN (Ret), Raleigh, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Real Admiral William H. Ashford, USN (Ret)

Processing information

Processed by D. Lawson, February 1979

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

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

Key terms
Personal Names
Ashford, William Henry, Jr., 1903-1994
Halsey, William F. (William Frederick), 1882-1959
Corporate Names
Copahee (Ship)
Enterprise (Aircraft carrier : CVA(N) 65)
Midway (Attack aircraft carrier)
New York (Battleship : BB-34)
Sable (Ship)
United States. Navy--Aviation
United States. Navy--Officers--Correspondence
United States. Navy--Pay, allowances, etc.
Wolverine (Aircraft carrier)
Midway, Battle of, 1942

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Fleet Logistic Air Wing Correspondence, 1948, 1949
Box 1 Folder c Fleet Logistic Air Wing Correspondence, 1951
Box 1 Folder d Deputy Chief Naval Operations Correspondence, 1951-1954
Box 1 Folder e Deputy Chief Naval Operations Records, 1951-1953
Box 1 Folder f U. S. S. Midway Correspondence, 1953-1955
Box 1 Folder g U. S. S. Midway Inventories, pamplets, etc., 1954, undated
Box 1 Folder h General Correspondence 1927-1957, undated
Box 1 Folder i Personal Correspondence 1935-1978
Box 2 Folder a Naval War College Research Papers, 1947-1948
Box 2 Folder b Staff Officer Orientation Course 1950-1951, undated
Box 2 Folder c Army War College, 1953
Box 2 Folder d "American Plan," undated
Box 2 Folder e Speeches, 1953, undated
Box 2 Folder f Personal Military Records 1949-1956, undated
Box 2 Folder g Orders 1927-1950
Box 2 Folder h Orders 1951-1956
Box 2 Folder i Biographical Material 1956, undated
Box 2 Folder j Awards, Citations, Certificates 1927-1977, undated
Box 2 Folder k Newspaper Clippings, 1929-1956
Box 2 Folder l Photographs 1924-1970, undated
Box 2 Folder m N. C. State Senate Campaign Material, undated
Box 3 Folder a Publications 1948-1952, undated
Box 3 Folder b Flight Logs, 1938-1956
Box 3 Folder c Miscellaneous 1948-1972, undated
Folder os1 Photographs, diplomas and commissions, Ashford genealogical chart