Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Online Library listing

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Photo # 24-P-90:  Commander Edward H. Watson, 1915

Online Library of Selected Images:

Captain Edward H. Watson, USN, (1874-1942)

Edward Howe Watson was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on 28 February 1874, the son of Commander John Crittendon Watson, USN. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1895 and had sea duty in several ships during the rest of the decade, including Spanish-American War service on board USS Detroit. Watson had diverse assignments over the next dozen years, among them duty as aide to flag officers, recruiting work, and service in battleships, cruisers and other vessels. Command of the storeship Celtic in 1912-13 was followed by attendence at the Naval War College, duty as Executive Officer of the battleship Utah and as Commanding Officer of the gunboat Wheeling.

Watson spent most of World War I in command of the transport Madawaska and battleship Alabama, receiving the Navy Cross for his "exceptionally meritorious service" in the latter. In March 1919, he became U.S. Naval Attache in Japan, remaining in that post until May 1922. In July of that year, he took command of Destroyer Squadron ELEVEN, based on the West Coast. On 8 September 1923, navigation errors on his flagship resulted in the loss of seven of the squadron's destroyers through stranding on the rocky coast at Honda Point, California. Captain Watson energetically organized rescue and survival measures for the several hundred shipwrecked Sailors and subsequently took full responsibility for the actions that led to the tragedy.

Though the ensuing court martial resulted in the loss of all chance for further promotion, Captain Watson's willing acceptance of command responsibility and his display of great personal character in a situation of considerable adversity were widely admired in and out of the Naval Service. He was subsequently assigned to duty as Assistant Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, in Hawaii, remaining there until he left active duty in November 1929. In retirement, Watson resided in New York and Jamestown, Rhode Island, and retained an active interest in Japanese affairs. Captain Edward H. Watson died in Brooklyn, New York, on 7 January 1942.

This page features our only picture of Captain Edward H. Watson, USN.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: 24-P-90

Commander Edward H. Watson, USN

Photograph dated 10 May 1915

Photograph from the U.S. Navy Bureau of Personnel Collections in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 55KB; 375 x 765 pixels


If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

Page made 12 July 2002