Glassford, William Alexander, Jr.

Photograph of William A. Glassford

Naval History and Heritage Command #NH 69933

William A. Glassford commanded destroyer Shaw during the First World War. The destroyer's steering gear jammed in October 1918 and the ship had her bow sheared off by liner Aquitania, with the loss of twelve men.

Glassford was a rear admiral in command of the U.S.Yangtze River Patrol prior to the start of the Pacific War. He was ordered to take his gunboats out of China in the final days of peace, the last gunboats arriving in Manila shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

With his gunboats assigned to the harbor defense, Glassford was given command of Task Force 5, the strike force of the Asiatic Fleet. Postwar accounts by crew members of the Houston suggest that on one occasion he tried to avoid combat with the Japanese, apparently convinced his force was completely outclassed. However, a more recent assessment is that the only Japanese ships anywhere near the area were with Tanaka's DesRon 2, which had air support from Ryujo and would have welcomed a night engagement. If (as is actually rather unlikely) it was Tanaka's ships that were spotted by Houston, Glassford was probably wiser than his crew realized to avoid an engagement.

Glassford succeeded Hart as commander, Asiatic Fleet, just as it ceased to exist. He spent the remainder of the war in the Atlantic theater.

Service record

Commander Commander, DD Shaw

Commander, DesDiv32
Rear admiral    
Commander,  Yangtze River Patrol, Asiatic Fleet

Commander, Cruisers, Asiatic Fleet
Vice admiral     
Commander, Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific

Commandant, 6 Naval District, Charleston, South Carolina

Presidential representative to French West Africa

Deputy commander, 12 Fleet

Commander, 8 Fleet

Commander, Naval Forces, Germany


Naval Historical Center (accessed 2008-3-1)
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