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Barbey, Daniel Edward (1889-1969)


Photograph of Daniel Barbey

National Archives #80-G-214898

"Uncle Dan" Barbey had commanded destroyers and assisted in developing mobilization plans in case of war. As chief of staff of Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, he had helped develop landing craft and amphibious warfare doctrine, having studied Japanese amphibious operations in China. He organized an amphibious force to carry out maneuvers with primitive landing craft and troops of 1 Marine Division on the North Carolina coast.

On 10 January 1943, Barbey reported for duty as Commander, Amphibious Force, Southwest Pacific, which later was redesignated VII Amphibious Corps. He found himself in command of a motley collection of transports and landing craft commanded by inexperienced officers and men. He responded to this challenge by specializing in shore-to-shore movement of landing craft, covered by destroyers and smaller warships, and conducted primarily at night or in overcast weather so that the craft could unload and get away before the Japanese could respond. The ace up his sleeve was 2 Engineer Special Brigade, which was intensively trained for bringing troops and equipment ashore and organizing the beachhead. Other improvisations by Barbey included the use of LSTs as hospital ships: Barbey ignored the rejection of this idea by the Navy Department.

Barbey's force carried out its first landings at Woodlark and Kiriwina Islands in June 1943. The landings were unopposed but gave his men valuable experience. He subsequently directed the landing of Australian 9 Division east of Lae on 4 September 1943. He would eventually carry out more than fifty landing operations in hostile territory, more than any other admiral in history. These included Cape Gloucester on 26 December 1943; the Admiralties on February 1944; Hollandia on 22 April 1944; and Leyte on 22 October 1944.

The Leyte landings illustrated the difficulties arising from the divided command in the Pacific.  Nimitz wanted the landings to be directed by "Ping" Wilkinson, who had directed many of the Central Pacific landings and was senior to Barbey. MacArthur distrusted the Navy, who he felt had let him down in the first Philippines campaign, but had come to trust Barbey and wanted him to have overall command of the landings. The result was an unwieldy command arrangement in which both Wilkinson and Barbey reported directly to Kinkaid. This divided command persisted throughout the Philippines campaign.

Postwar, Barbey was critical of MacArthur's decision to conduct a reconnaissance-in-force in the Admiralty Islands, declaring that

A disaster at Los Negros would have set back the Pacific campaign several months at least. The psychological effect of an American defeat on the Japanese would have been tremendous.... [Had the Japanese counterattacked promptly] there is little question that General Chase's force would have been overrun.

Barbey was also critical of the use of women in non-combat roles, saying that

All tried to be helpful but, on the whole, they were a nuisance.... If we had been given the chance, we would have shipped them home.

Postwar Barbey served as commander of amphibious forces in the Atlantic and of 13 Naval District and the Caribbean Sea Frontier before retiring in May 1951. He served as civil defense coordinator of the state of Washington during retirement.

Service record

1889-12-23     

Born at Portland, Oregon
1912-6
Ensign
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 113th in a class of 156. Assigned to AC California
1914-5

Lawrence
1915-6-8
Lieutenant junior grade     

1916-10

PG Annapolis
1917-12

DD Stevens
1918-5

Executive officer, DD Stevens
1918-6-8
Lieutenant

1919-1

Cardiff
1919-7

Naval Port Officer, Cardiff
1919-11

Naval Port Officer, Constantinople
1921-7

Flag secretary, U.S. Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters
1922-2

Capella
1922-6

BB Oklahoma
1922-10-15
Lieutenant commander     

1923-6

Officer in charge, Portland Recruiting Station
1925-6

CA Cincinnati
1927-2

Executive officer, AO Ramapo
1928-6

Aide to the Superintendent, Naval Academy
1931-6

Commander, Lea
1933-6

Inspector of Ordnance in Charge, Mare Island
1933-9
Commander

1935-2

BB New York
1936-4

Commander, AO Ramapo
1936-6

Commander, Destroyer Division 17
1937-6

War Plans Section, Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department
1940-2
Captain     

19405

Commander, BB New York
1941-1

Chief of staff, Service Force, Atlantic Fleet
1942-5

Staff, U.S. Fleet
1942-6
Rear admiral
Chief, Amphibious Warfare Section, Navy Department
1943-1-8

Commander, VII Amphibious Force, Brisbane
1944-12-9     
Vice admiral

1945-11-19

Commander, 7 Fleet
1946-3

Commander, Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet
1946-9

Commander, 4 Fleet
1947-2

Chairman, Joint Military Board
1947-3

Commandant, 10 Naval District / Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier
1950-9

Commandant, 13 Naval District
1951-6-30

Retires
1969-3-11

Dies at Bremerton Naval Hospital

References

"Biographical Note." Naval Historical Center. (Accessed 2007-430)

Boatner (1996)

Dupuy et.al. (1992)

Spector (1985)
Tuohy (2007)



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