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Papers of Rear Admiral Henry E. Lackey

Finding aid (PDF)

Biographical Note

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, on June 23, 1876, the son of Navy engineer Oscar Hamilton Lackey, Henry Ellis Lackey served in various capacities as an engineer, inspector, navigator and line officer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1899, after seeing active service as a midshipman in USS New York (ACR-2), Admiral William Thomas Sampson's flagship, during the Battle of Santiago in the Spanish-American War, he made his mark as an engineering officer, following in his father's footsteps.  His first assignment after graduation was in USS Massachusetts.  Commissioned as an ensign on 28 January 1901, he was assigned to engineering duty in USS Topeka (1901-1903) and USS Wheeling (1903-1904).  After a few months' duty in 1904 with the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk, Virginia, he received an engineering assignment in USS Galveston until April 1906.  From 1906 to 1908, he saw duty in USS Wilmington, after which he was assigned to shore duty at the Naval Proving Grounds at Indian Head, Maryland, until early 1910.

In March 1910 Lackey was assigned to duty with the U.S. Asiatic Fleet as Senior Engineer in USS New York (ACR-2), followed in August 1910 by a promotion to the personal staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Asiatic Fleet, as Fleet Engineer, in which position he surveyed channels in the Yangtze River between Wuchou and Shanghai to enhance the effectiveness of U.S. naval forces overseeing the enforcement of U.S. treaty rights in China.  After a tour of duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard from 1911 to 1914, he returned to sea duty as the Navigator in USS Georgia (BB-15) in January 1915, seeing hostilities at Vera Cruz, Mexico.  Upon the decommissioning of USS Georgia in December 1915, he transferred to USS Kansas (BB-21) as the Executive Officer, holding that position until the end of 1916.

From January 1917 to early 1920, Lackey was the Inspector of Ordnance in charge of the Naval Ordnance Proving Grounds and Powder Factory in Indian Head, Maryland, where he performed his wartime duties so well that he received the Navy Cross.  Returning to sea duty, he was commanding officer of USSSan Francisco (CM-2) in April 1920, assuming further related duty as the Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet, later that year. In late 1921, Lackey was assigned to duty at Naval Operations, Navy Department, serving as the Navy representative at the Interstate Petroleum Meeting in July 1922.  In 1924 he was assigned to duty at the shipyard of William Cramp & Sons Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the oversight officer for the building of the light cruiser Memphis (CL-13), and took command of the ship upon her commissioning in December 1924.

In April 1925, Lackey was the U.S. naval representative at the opening of the Oliver Hazard Perry Memorial Gateway in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.  During the summer months of 1925, Lackey sailed Memphis, as part of the Pacific Fleet, to Australia and New Zealand to show the flag and reaffirm U.S. goodwill. The next year, he sailed Memphis to the Mediterranean, relieving USS Pittsburgh (CA-4) as the flagship of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe.  Showing the flag was the principal duty for Memphis as she made port calls along the North African littoral and European shores.  In August 1926, during a port call in Santander, Spain, Lackey hosted King Alfonso XIII during his visit to the U.S. squadron.  During this tour of the Mediterranean, Lackey was made a Commander of the Order of the Savior by the government of Greece and was further awarded, in December 1926, the Spanish Order of Naval Merit and Efficiency, Third Class, by King Alfonso XIII.  Continuing into Northern European waters, Memphis made port calls in Dublin, Belfast, and Kiel, completing her European tour of duty by embarking Charles A. Lindbergh in Southampton, England, on June 3, 1927, and Lindbergh's aircraft, Spirit of St. Louis, at Cherbourg on June 11, 1927, and sailing for the United States.

Later, from June 1927 to May 1930, Lackey was in command of Norfolk Naval Training Station in Virginia, and from May 1930 to December 1931 commanded USS California (BB-44).  From January 1932 to May 1932 he was in charge of the Branch Hydrographic Office, San Francisco, transferring to duty as Senior Member of the Board of Inspection and Survey, San Francisco, in May 1932.  Returning to sea duty, Lackey was commanding officer of Cruiser Division 4 from 1933-1935, flying his flag in USS Chester (CA-27), USS Northampton (CA-26) and USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), and then saw shore duty as Director of Shore Establishments, U.S. Navy, from 1935-1937.

From December 1937 to September 1939 he had command of Squadron 40-T, operating in Mediterranean waters as part of the international neutrality patrol during the Spanish Civil War.  Flying his flag in USS Raleigh (CL-7) until 28 April 1938, and then in USS Omaha (CL-4), Lackey made port calls in Gibraltar, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Malta, Casablanca, Algiers, Tunis, Leghorn, La Spezia and Naples, and also oversaw the evacuation of U.S. nationals from Spain in 1939.  During this tour of duty, he was made a Grand Officer of the Order of the Sharifian Alawaidis by Sultan Sidi Muhammad V bin Yusuf of Morocco in July 1938, and was also awarded the Star of the Order of Nichan Iftikhar by Ahmad II Pasha, Bey of Tunis.

His assignment prior to retirement was President, General Court Martial, 3rd Naval District.  Retiring on July 1, 1940, due to deteriorating health, Henry Ellis Lackey settled in Temple, New Hampshire, and passed away in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on October 15, 1952.  He is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains general correspondence, telegrams, messages, photographs, social invitations, ceremonial event brochures, and files relating to Admiral Henry Lackey's various tours of duty.  The collection is organized into eleven series, with Series II through X containing material related to specific phases of Lackey's naval service.  Series I, Correspondence (Official and Personal), is arranged chronologically from 1907 to 1940, ending with Lackey's retirement, with the most material between 1922 and 1927.

Series II, Early Career, 1899-1924, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's naval service before taking command of USS Memphis, his first important sea command. The material consists of operational documents, newspaper clippings, articles, poems, prayers and receipts. A roster of officers in USS Kansas provides a rare level of detail into a vessel of that era.  Of interest to researchers of naval gunnery is an article on recommendations for range table computations.  Likewise, researchers of lighter-than-air naval aviation will find an article on the proposed use of USS Shenandoah in an Arctic expedition to be of interest.  Lackey wrote for publication after his promotion to captain, and there are drafts and published specimens of articles that he authored.

Series III, Commanding Officer, USS Memphis, 1924-1927, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's command of USS Memphis.  The majority of the material in this series relates to the social and quasi-diplomatic functions of USS Memphis during Lackey's command, especially the visits to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; Melbourne, Australia; Hobart and Launceston, Tasmania; and Wellington, New Zealand.  This material provides a useful view into the formalities of the naval service and the close connection of the military to local communities.  At the conclusion of the tour of USS Memphis in European waters, Lackey brought Charles A. Lindbergh and his Ryan NYP aircraft, Spirit of St. Louis, back to the United States, after his solo trans-Atlantic flight.  Lackey transferred his command to Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, Virginia, immediately after arriving in the United States. Also in the series is material related to the construction, launching and commissioning of USS Memphis, over which Lackey performed supervisory functions.

Series IV, Commanding Officer, Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads, Virginia, 1927-1931, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's command of Naval Training Station, Hampton Roads.  Lackey followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in holding a command at Hampton Roads.  He relieved Rear Admiral Reginald R. Belknap at Hampton Roads at the beginning of July 1927.  This series accordingly contains material concerning Belknap's naval service.  In general, the material in the series again demonstrates the close connection of the Navy with local communities, especially the material dealing with Lackey's environmental concerns for the Hampton Roads area.  The invitation to the dinner in honor of Ralph Earle, War Chief of Bureau of Ordnance, relates to Lackey's tour of duty as Inspector of Ordnance in Indian Head, Maryland, during World War I.

Series V, Commanding Officer, USS California, July 1930-January 1932, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's command of USS California.  Much of the material relates to social functions attended by officers of the Battleship Force, Pacific Fleet, including the First Annual Navy Ball in Los Angeles.  Of particular interest to researchers interested in operational details is the material dealing with operations of USS California in the carrying out of gunnery exercises and Fleet maneuvers.

Series VI, Shore Duty, San Francisco, February 1932-1933, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's tours of duty with the Branch Hydrographic Office in San Francisco and his subsequent duty with the Board of Inspection and Survey, San Francisco.  This command was prominent enough to attract the journalistic attention of the San Francisco Chronicle when Lackey was transferred to the Branch Hydrographic Office and also when he was transferred to the Board of Inspection and Survey.  Due to the travel demands required by these assignments, Lackey retained his reimbursement vouchers.

Series VII, Commanding Officer, Cruiser Division 4, 1933-1935, is a subject grouping of materials related to Lackey's tour of duty as Commanding Officer, Cruiser Division 4.  The operational documents of this series are the most comprehensive for any of his commands, containing material related to Fleet exercises and the administration of a cruiser division.  The material related to the social functions carried out by officers of the Fleet provides remarkable detail into the close relations of the Navy with local communities, as well as with the Army.  Also in this series are three articles by Captain Claude B. Mayo, USN, subsequently President of the Maritime Academy, California State University, from 1940-1947.

Series VIII, Director of Shore Establishments, 1934-1937, is a subject grouping related to Lackey's tour of duty with the Bureau of Yards and Docks.  The documents from 1934 are concerned with a comparison of dry dock facilities between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy, a topic that is supplemented by a memorandum concerned the availability of dry docks on the West Coast and in Hawaii.  Of particular interest to researchers of Navy administration is a memorandum addressing the organization and functioning of the Shore Establishments Division.  The speech delivered by Lackey at the home of Miss Perkins is a précis on the origins and functions of the Office of Safety Engineering.  The documents extracted from Congressional testimony are related to Lackey's interests in industrial mobilization during wartime.

Series IX, Commanding Officer, Squadron 40-T, 1937-1939, is a subject grouping related to Lackey's command of Squadron 40-T from December 1937 to September 1939.  The folders are arranged according to port calls, as there are no documents relating to the operations of Squadron 40-T.  However, there is one folder, Operations off Barcelona, January 1939, which contains newspapers clippings reporting the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Barcelona in January 1939, in which Squadron 40-T participated.  The port calls for which there is material include Villefranche-sur-Mer, December 1937-January 1938; La Spezia/Leghorn, January 1938; Naples, February 1938; Tunis, February 1938; Villefranche-sur-Mer/Nice/Toulon, March-April 1938; Nice, June 1938; Gibraltar, June-July 1938; Casablanca, July 1938; Algiers, July 1938; Villefranche-sur-Mer, August 1938; Naples, November 1-16, 1938; Algiers, November 18-23, 1938; Nice/Villefranche-sur-Mer, December 1938-January 1939; Malta, April 1939; Rotterdam, July 1939.  The cordiality of the U.S. Navy's relations with foreign powers and their navies in the Mediterranean is especially evident in this series.  Of particular interest in this regard is the announcement that Lackey had been made a Grand Officer of the Order of the Sharifian Alawaidis (in the Casablanca folder).

Series X, United States Naval Academy Class of 1899 Reunions, contains material relating to three reunions of the Class of 1899 (1919, 1924, and 1939) and to the creation of the Herbert George Sparrow Memorial at the United States Naval Academy. In the folder dealing with Lackey's 25th class reunion in 1924 there is an unusual arrangement of four map-sized sheets with photographic reproductions of correspondence to and from his former classmates. The Sparrow Memorial folders contain material related to the circumstances of the death of Captain Herbert George Sparrow, United States Naval Academy Class of 1899, on board USS Tacoma in January 1924 off Vera Cruz, Mexico, and the subsequent efforts of his Class to create a memorial to his naval service.

Series XI, Photographs, comprises a collection of 218 black and white photographs, the majority of which relate to Lackey's command of Squadron 40-T.  Of particular interest are photographs of Umberto, Duke of Savoy, Prince of Piedmont's visit to USS Raleigh in January 1938, Governor-General Sir Charles Bonham-Carter's and Admiral Sir Dudley Pound's visit to USS Omaha while at port in Malta and a photograph of the ships of Squadron 40-T under fire off Barcelona in January 1939.


Related Collections

-The Papers of Reginald R. Belknap, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

-The Papers of Sir Charles Bonham-Carter, Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge University


Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Papers of Henry E. Lackey, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

Subject Headings (LCSH)

Abrial, Jean-Marie Charles, 1879-1962.
Belknap, Reginald Rowan, 1871-1959.
Bonham-Carter, Sir Charles, 1876-1955.
Coontz, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1864-1935.
Lackey, Henry Ellis, 1876-1952.
Mundelein, George William, cardinal, 1872-1939.
Pound, Dudley, Sir, 1877-1943.
Sparrow, Herbert George, 1877-1924.
Sigsbee, Charles D. (Charles Dwight), 1845-1923.
Umberto, prince of Piedmont, 1904-

Casablanca (Morocco)
Gibraltar--History, Naval--20th century.
Hobart (Tas.)
La Spezia (Italy)--History.
Launceston (Tas.)
Malta--History, Naval--20th century.
Melbourne (Vic.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Naples (Italy)--History, Naval
Nice (France)--History, Naval.
New Zealand--Pictorial works.
Port-of-Spain (Trinidad and Tobago)--History.
Toulon (France)--History, Naval.
Villefranche-sur-Mer (France)--History, Naval.

Naval Ordnance Proving Ground (Indian Head, Md.)
Naval Training Station Hampton Roads (Va.)
United States. Hydrographic Office.
United States. Navy, 1910-1920.
United States. Navy, 1920-1930.
United States. Navy, 1930-1940.
United States. Navy. Asiatic Fleet.
United States. Navy. Atlantic Fleet.
United States. Navy. Battle Fleet.
United States. Navy. Cruiser Division 4.
United States. Navy. European Station.
United States. Navy. Pacific Fleet.
United States. Navy. New York (Cruiser, ACR-2).
United States. Navy. Memphis (Cruiser, CL-13).
United States. Navy. California (Battleship, BB-44).
United States. Navy. Chester (Cruiser, CA-27).
United States. Navy. Northampton (Cruiser, CA-26).
United States. Navy. Salt Lake City (Cruiser, CA-25).
United States. Navy. Raleigh (Cruiser, CL-7).
United States. Navy. Omaha (Cruiser, CL-4).
United States. Navy--History--Sources.
United States Naval Academy. Class of 1899.


3.0 cubic feet


Published: Mon Aug 09 12:35:21 EDT 2021