Kingman, Howard F.

Howard F. Kingman had just been posted as Assistant Director of Naval Intelligence at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but was not implicated in the disaster. He commanded Battleship Division 1 from 1943 through 1944, participating in shore bombardment operations in the Aleutian, Gilbert, Marshall, and Mariana Islands.

Kingman commanded the Gunfire Support Group at Tarawa (consisting of three battleships, two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and nine destroyers.) Before putting to see, he told his subordinate commanders:

It is not our intention to wreck the island. We do not intend to destroy it. Gentlemen, we will obliterate it!

Kingman was famously wrong. The ability to literally obliterate an islet would have to await the thermonuclear age. Instead, the shore bombardment put out of action the heaviest coastal defense guns, the communications network, the garrison commander, and perhaps 30% of the garrison. This was sufficient to prevent the Japanese from organizing a counterattack on the first critical night of the battle, and give the Marines the barest margin for victory. It was not sufficient to prevent the battle from becoming a bloodbath.

Service record

Chair, Radio Intercept and Radio Intelligence Problems Committee
Commander, Destroyer Squadron 29
Rear Admiral     
Directorate of Naval Intelligence

Commander, Battleship Division 2

Commander, 15 Naval District, Panama Canal Zone

Commander, Battleship Division 9

Commander, 3 Fleet


Gregg (1984)

Hart Inquiry (1944-4-17; accessed 2013-5-30)

Naval Historical Center (accessed 2008-4-23)
Pettibone (2006)

Potter (1985)

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