graduate

Davison, Ralph Eugene


Photograph of Admiralty Ralph Davison
U.S. Navy. Via Morison (1958)

Davison was among the Navy aviators recommended by John Towers, director of the Bureau of Aeronautics, for early promotion to flag rank in the spring of 1942. This promotion came in late 1943, and Davison commanded carrier support groups during the Hollandia and Marshalls campaigns. He was a quiet, brilliant, aggressive officer and the first of the promising young escort carrier task group commander to move up to command of a fleet carrier task group. His chief of staff, James Russell, later said of him (Tuohy 2007):

[He was] a very considerate man, a wonderful man, a very learned man, cool in battle. He had one fault. He liked his whiskey. In Ulithi, he'd go ashore and would be mellow most of the time we were in port. But we'd get out to sea and he went back to work, terrific under attack, a wonderful commander.

Davison devised the procedure of a carrier commander immediately turning hard to starboard when hit by bombs. This caused the ship to heel to port, so that burning aircraft and gasoline would go overboard away from the vital island. When the ship made its sudden turn, one predesignated escorting cruiser would immediately move in to help fight fires while another stood by to tow if necessary.

Davison led one of Halsey's carrier task groups at Leyte Gulf, and was puzzled by Halsey's decision not to leave the battle line guarding San Bernardino Strait:

Jim, we're playing a helluva dirty trick on the transports in Leyte Gulf.

Davison was on Bunker Hill when she was nearly sunk by a kamikaze on 19 March 1945. On return to base, his penchant for drinking while off-duty caught up with him. He missed an important flight and was promptly removed from command and assigned to training posts for the remainder of the war.

Davison was highly intelligent and knowledgeable but with a lively sense of humor. He was a career aviation officer, having won his wings in 1920 and spending all but four years of his naval service prior to 1944 in aviation assignments.

Service record

1942-5     
Captain
Assistant chief, Bureau of Aeronautics
1943-11      
Rear admiral         Commander, Carrier Division 24
1944-6

Commander, Carrier Division 2

References

Morison (1951)
Pettibone (2006)

Tillman (2012)
Tuohy (2007)



Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional