Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
Harry Wilbur Hill was born in Oakland, California on 7 April 1890. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1907, graduating in June 1911.
After graduation from the Naval Academy, he served successively in USS Maryland, Iris, Perry, with the Pacific Flotilla; as Engineer Officer of USS Albany, and from January 1917 on USS Texas, a part of the British Grand Fleet during World War I. He transferred in September 1918to USS Wyoming, in which he witnessed the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet upon the cessation of hostilities.
On 23 November 1918, he reported as Navigator of USS Arkansas, and served in that capacity until January 1919, when he was assigned duty as Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander Division Seven, Atlantic Fleet. In July of that year, he transferred to similar duty on the Staff of Commander Division Six, Pacific Fleet. After serving two months at the Naval Academy, in November 1919 he became Aide to the Chief of Naval Operations, where he remained until March 1923.
He assisted in fitting out USS Concord at the William Cramp and Sons Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and upon the commissioning of that cruiser, 23 November 1923, he joined her as Gunnery Officer. He served three months from June 1925 as Aide to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, after which he had duty afloat as Gunnery Officer of USS Memphis. He was assigned for two years, June 1926-1928, as Executive Officer of the Receiving Barracks, Hampton Roads, Virginia, then had service from July 1928 to May 1931, as Gunnery Officer of USS Maryland. He was aboard that battleship in 1929 when she won the Gunnery Trophy and he received a commendatory letter from the Secretary of the Navy.
Returning to the United States, he reported as Battalion Officer in the Executive Department of the Naval Academy, and the year June 1933-1934 served as Force Gunnery Officer on the staff of Commander Battle Force, U.S. Fleet in the Pacific. Ordered to Bath Iron Works, he was in charge of fitting out USS Dewey, then commanded that destroyer from her commissioning, 4 October 1934 until 17 June 1935.
He was again assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and in May 1938 completed the Senior Course at the Naval War College.
Between June 1938 and February 1940 he was War Plans Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, after which he had a third tour of duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, where he was attached to the War Plans Division until January 1942. Ordered to sea, he assumed command of the heavy cruiser Wichita, which operated for several months on convoy duty with the British Home Fleet to the North Russian port of Murmansk. Detached from command of Wichita on 28 September 1942, he reported as Commander Battleship Division Four, USS Maryland, flagship, serving a year in the South Pacific. He was also commander of a task force, which was the first to comprise battleships and escort carriers.
In September 1943 he became Commander Amphibious Group Two, Fifth Amphibious Force, and in that capacity participated in the capture of Tarawa, and later in operations against the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He relieved the Commander Fifth Amphibious Force at Okinawa in April 1945, and commanded the amphibious and support operations of that force until that island was secured at the end of June.
At the close of the war in August 1945, he commanded the Amphibious Force which landed the Sixth Army in Southwestern Japan for occupation duty. On 1 November 1945 he assumed duty as Commandant Army-Navy Staff College, and in June 1946 established and served as Commandant of the National War College, the highest level educational institution of the Armed Forces and the State Department. In September 1949 he reported as Chairman of the General Board, Navy Department, and on 28 April 1950 became Superintendent of the Naval Academy and Commandant, Severn River Naval Command. He continued to serve as such after his retirement on 1 May 1952, until August 1952.
Admiral Hill continued to serve on active duty from 21 October 1952 until 21 May 1954 as Governor of the Naval Home, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Scope and Content Note
These records relate primarily to Admiral Harry W. Hill's activities as a senior amphibious commander in the Pacific during World War II. Reports, plans, comments on official histories, and some semi-official correspondence are included. Hill allowed the Archives to retain in its Action Report, War Diary, and Operation Plan collections copies of documents not previously collected. His responses to students and writers working on the escort of Convoy PQ-17 and the capture of Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll have been added to his papers.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Harry W. Hill, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
Subject Headings (LCSH)
World War, 1939-1945--Amphibious Operations.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Kiribati.
United States. Navy--History--Sources.
7 cubic feet
17 October 2002