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William Carleton Watts
Born (1880-02-18)February 18, 1880
Died January 5, 1956(1956-01-05) (aged 75)
Place of birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Place of death Rosemont, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1898–1942
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held Albany
Battles/wars Spanish–American War
World War I
World War II
Awards Navy Cross
Relations Ethelbert Watts (father)

William Carleton Watts (February 18, 1880 – January 5, 1956) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy, who served in the Spanish–American War, World War I, and World War II.


Early life and careerEdit

Watts was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the youngest son of U.S. diplomat Ethelbert Watts (1846–1919) and his first wife Emily Pepper Watts.[1][2] He was a direct descendant of Frederick Watts, a brigadier-general in the colonial army during the Revolutionary War.[3] He attended the United States Naval Academy from 1894 to 1898 and graduated at age 18, ranking second in his class. During the Spanish–American War, which began as his senior year ended, he served on the protected cruiser Columbia.[4] He was promoted to ensign in 1900, and to lieutenant soon thereafter.

World War IEdit

Watts served as the first navigator of the battleship New York in 1914,[5] and as executive officer of the battleship Michigan in 1916–17.[6] With the rank of captain, Watts served as Judge Advocate General of the Navy from January 6, 1917, to April 15, 1918, and then as the commander of the cruiser Albany. As the flagship of Squadron 6, Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet, Albany escorted convoys of merchantmen, cargo ships, and troop transports back and forth across the Atlantic. Between July 1917 and the end of the war on 11 November 1918, she shepherded 11 such convoys safely between the United States and Europe.[7] For this service Watts was awarded the Navy Cross, "for distinguished service in the line of his profession as commanding officer of the Albany engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European ports through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines".[8]

Interwar periodEdit

In 1919–20 Watts was the senior U.S. Naval Officer of the International Force stationed in Vladivostok, Siberia, during the Russian Civil War. The United States landed troops at Vladivostok, possibly to check Japanese pretensions in that area, and to secure the port as an exit for the Czech Legion, then transiting the Trans-Siberian railway. Watts sent armed landing parties ashore on several occasions in support of the troops and to evacuate sick and wounded men. The Americans withdrew in the spring of 1920, and the Albany resumed duty with the Asiatic Fleet.[7]

In 1922 Watts served as Chief of the Gunnery Exercises and Engineering Division, Office of Naval Operations, Department of the Navy,[9] then as commander of the light cruiser Raleigh in 1924, and as U.S. Naval Attaché in London in 1925–27.

Promoted to rear admiral in 1930 he was the Commandant of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1931–32,[10][11] and in 1931 was appointed to preside over the court martial proceedings against controversial U.S. Marine major general Smedley Butler, who had been accused of circulating false rumors regarding Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.[12] The proceedings were cancelled after an agreed-upon reprimand by the Secretary of the Navy of General Butler, who resigned from the Marine Corps soon thereafter.[13]

Watts then served as the Commander of the Mine Force of the United States Pacific Fleet in 1932–1934,[11][14] Commandant of Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and commander of the Fourth Naval District in 1934–1937,[15] commander of the battleship Colorado, and commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and commander of the Ninth Naval District in 1939–1940.[16][17]

World War IIEdit

Although he had retired from active service on December 1, 1940,[18] after America's entry into World War II Watts was involved in the industrial incentives section of the Navy's office of public relations, speaking at ship launchings,[19] and presenting "E" pennants to defense plants in recognition of outstanding war production.[20] Watts retired again, reluctantly, in 1942 due to poor health.

Personal lifeEdit

He was married, on April 16, 1902, to Julia Florence Scott.[2] They were the parents of one daughter, Emily Pepper Watts Tracy. He died in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, on January 5, 1956.


His navy decorations (medals) are as follows:


  1. Ingeborg Brigitte Gastel. "Descendants of Dietrich Seckel". Retrieved 26 September 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Society in Washington". The New York Times. April 17, 1902. p. 9. 
  3. "Sons of the Revolution, Annual Proceedings". 1920. p. 71. 
  4. "Officers of Flying Squadron". Boston Daily Globe. April 15, 1898. p. 17. 
  5. Richard Harding Davis (June 4, 1914). "Like a Floating Metropolis is the Battleship New York". New York Herald. p. 2. 
  6. "Information Quarterly". April 1917. p. 345. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Ships of the California Naval Militia: USS Albany". Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  8. "Military Times Hall of Valor : Awards for William Carleton Watts". Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  9. "Official Congressional Directory, 67th Congress, 2nd Session". February 1922. p. 278. 
  10. "Admiral Watts Takes Command at Navy Yard". The Portsmouth Herald. April 9, 1931. p. 1. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Admiral Watts to Leave Navy Yard in May". The Portsmouth Herald. January 11, 1932. p. 1. 
  12. "Talks with Adams on Butler Charges". The New York Times. February 4, 1931. p. 4. 
  13. "Gen. Butler Freed with Reprimand as he Voices Regret". The New York Times. February 9, 1931. p. 1. 
  14. "LaCrosse Aviator to Make Survey of Aleutian Islands". La Crosse Tribune. April 15, 1934. p. 2. 
  15. "Rear Admiral Watts Relinquishes Duties". Newport Mercury and Weekly News. June 8, 1934. p. 7. 
  16. "Admiral Watts Heads Lakes Training School". Herald-Star. Steubenville. August 29, 1939. p. 1. 
  17. "The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II -1940". Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  18. "Admiral Watts Retires Today". New York Times. December 1, 1940. p. 48. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  19. "Launch First Minesweeper Today". Benton Harbor News-Palladium. February 24, 1942. p. 1. 
  20. "Two Maine Firms to Get Army-Navy E Pennants". Fitchburg Sentinel. September 21, 1942. p. 10. 

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