Harold Stark

Harold Stark

Harold Stark was born in Wilkes-Barre, on 12th November, 1880. He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated in 1903 (30/50) and joined the United States Navy.

Stark served on the Hartford and by the outbreak of the First World War had become skipper of the Patterson. During the war Stark helped coordinate US-British naval operations in London.

In August 1939 Stark replaced William Leahy as Chief of Naval Operations. Stark suspected that he United States would be drawn into the Second World War and persuaded Congress to give permission to start constructing a new fleet of ships.

Stark clashed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he decided to keep the US Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Stark argued that the Pearl Harbor lacked adequate repair and overhaul facilities, ammunition stocks, fuel or rations and they would be better off based on the West Coast.

Stark feared a Japanese attack on the US Fleet in Hawaii but by the end of 1941 became convinced that the initial attack on the US Navy would come in the Far East.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Stark lost his post as Chief of Naval Operations and was appointed as the president's personal representative in London. He was also ambassador to the Free French government headed by General Charles De Gaulle.

In October 1943 Stark was given command of the 12th Fleet and given the responsibility for the training of US naval forces for the D-Day landings.

Stark, retired from the US Navy in 1946 and went to live in Washington. Harold Stark died after a heart-attack on 20th August 1972.

Primary Sources

(1) Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (1947)

Last spring the Germans had constructed huge tents in an open space in the Lager. For the whole of the good season each of them had catered for over 1,000 men: now the tents had been taken down, and an excess 2,000 guests crowded our huts. We old prisoners knew that the Germans did not like these irregularities and that something would soon happen to reduce our number.