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Blandy, William Henry Purnell (1890-1954)


Photograph of William H.P. Blandy

Naval Historical Center #NH 104266.

Cropped by author.

"Spike" Blandy was born in New York and graduated first in the Naval Academy class of 1913. He participated in the Vera Cruz campaign of 1914 as an officer on battleship Florida. He subsequently served with the U.S. forces assigned to the British Grand Fleet in the First World War. He was a gunnery expert, contributing to several technical advances. He also served with Asiatic Fleet, assisting with relief operations for the great Tokyo earthquake of 1923.

Blandy was a rear admiral and chief of the Bureau of Ordnance when war broke out. During his tenure he was pressured by King to check reports that the Mark XIV torpedo was running too deep. The Bureau had previously dug in its heels, insisting that the reports were not scientifically reliable, but on 1 August 1942 the Newport torpedo station was compelled to admit that the torpedo ran ten feet deeper than set. Blandy also played an important role in the adoption of the 20mm Oerlikon and 40mm Bofors antiaircraft guns.

He continued to lead Bureau of Ordnance until 1944, when he shipped out to the Pacific, commanding an amphibious group at Kwajalein and reserve forces at Saipan and Peleliu. He was in command of the advance bombardment force for the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. However, he was criticized after the Iwo Jima campaign for not requesting the extra day of bombardment permitted as a contingency in the original operational plan.

Following the war, Blandy became the Navy's expert on nuclear weapons and commanded the Crossroads tests at Bikini. He subsequently commanded 8 Fleet and Atlantic Fleet before retiring in 1950.

Morison (1959) describes Blandy as an optimist of intelligence and energy with a good sense of humor.

Service record

1890-6-28    

Born in New York City
1913

Graduates first in his Naval Academy class of 59
1941-2-19     
Rear admiral    
Chief, Bureau of Ordnance
1943-12-10     

Commander, Amphibian Group 1
1944

Commander, Amphibious Forces, Central Pacific
1945-7-13

Commander, Cruisers-Destroyers, Pacific Fleet
1946-7

Commander, Operation Crossroads
1947-2
Admiral
Commander, Atlantic Fleet
1950-2-1

Retires
1954-1-12

Dies at St. Albans Hospital, New York


References

Blair (1975)

Boatner (1996)

Buell (1987)

Dupuy et.al. (1992)

Morison (1959)
Pettibone (2006)



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