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Register of the Andrew E. Gibson Papers

Biographical/Historical Note

Rear Admiral Bern Anderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 12, 1900, to Andrew and Hattie Anderson. After a year at Kansas City Junior College, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1917 and graduated in 1920 with the class of 1921-A.

From 1920 to 1927, he served in USS CHARLESTON in the Pacific Fleet and in USS JACOB JONES, USS YARBOROUGH and USS TEXAS in the Atlantic Fleet. In September 1927, he married Elizabeth Stanton of Staten Island, New York, daughter of mural painter and maritime historian Samuel Ward Stanton, editor of The Nautical Gazette. Assigned to the Asiatic Station, they lived in Shanghai where their daughter, Joan Elizabeth, was born in 1930. Anderson's years in the Far East were both preceded and followed by tours with the Navy Department's Communications and Engineering Departments.

In 1934, he assumed command of USS SWALLOW, which was assigned to Alaskan waters. During his tour there, he received a Department of Commerce License as Master of Ocean Vessels and won endorsement as a pilot in southwestern and southeastern Alaskan waters. Prior to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, he served as Recruit Training Officer at the Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Illinois.

During the nineteen thirties, he began his career as an author, writing articles for the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings on topics dealing with the political situation in China, the site of a recent assignment. His interest in history studies and historical writing continued throughout his naval career and well into retirement.

When the United States declared war on Japan in December 1941, Anderson was serving as navigator of the USS MISSISSIPPI with the Atlantic Fleet in Iceland. In May and June of 1942 he served as commanding officer of USS VIXEN, flagship of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, and then attended the senior course at the Naval War College, Newport RI.

During 1943 and 1944, he served as planning and control officer on the staff of Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, where he participated in Operation Hollandia, the invasion of New Guinea, and subsequent invasions in the Admiralties and New Britain. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for heroism there. A two year assignment on the staff of the Naval War College's Strategy Department followed service in the Pacific.

After two years with the Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Force, he returned again to the Naval War College as Head of the Strategy and Tactics Department. He retired in 1950 and was promoted to Rear Admiral on the retired list.

In retirement, Anderson pursued history studies at Harvard University, earning an M.A. in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1952. His dissertation on the explorer George Vancouver was expanded into a book, Surveyor of the Sea: The Life and Voyages of Captain George Vancouver, published by the University of Washington Press.

Recalled to active duty, he was assigned to the Naval War College from 1952-1960 where he served as a research associate of Samuel Eliot Morison in preparing The History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II. Anderson's second book, By Sea and by River: the Naval History of the Civil War, was published in 1962 by Alfred Knopf.

RADM Anderson died in 1963 at the Naval Hospital in Newport. His widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson, lives in Jamestown, RI and his daughter, Joan Stickley, in Washington, D.C.

Anderson's medals and decorations include the Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet clasp (World War I), the Yangtze Campaign Medal, the American Service Defense Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Legion of Merit with Combat V.

Chronology:

  • 1900 June 12, Born, Kansas City, MO.
  • 1917 Appointment to U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
  • 1918 Midshipman Cruise, USS WISCONSIN (BB-9).
  • 1920 June 4, Graduated, U.S. Naval Academy (class of 1921-A); Commissioned Ensign.
  • 1920-1921 USS CHARLESTON (CA-19).
  • 1921 USS JACOB JONES (DD-130).
  • 1921-1926 USS YARBOROUGH (DD-314).
  • 1926 USS TEXAS (BB-35).
  • 1927-1929 Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Communications Division.
  • 1929-1932 Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, USS PITTSBURGH (AC-4) and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), Staff.
  • 1932-1934 Navy Department, Bureau of Engineering.
  • 1934-1937 USS SWALLOW, (AM-42), CO.
  • 1937-1939 Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, ILL., Recruit Training Officer.
  • 1939-1941 USS MISSISSIPPI (BB-41), Navigator.
  • 1942 USS VIXEN (PG-53), CO; Naval War College, Student; Promoted to Captain.
  • 1943-1944 Commander Seventh Amphibious Force, Planning and Control Officer.
  • 1944-1946 Strategy Department, Naval War College, Staff.
  • 1946-1948 Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Force, CO, Transport Division 22; Chief of Staff, CO, Amphibious Force Two.
  • 1948-1950 Strategy and Tactics Department, Naval War College, Head.
  • 1950 June 30, Retired; Promoted to Rear Admiral.
  • 1951 Harvard University, M.A.
  • 1952 Harvard University, Ph.D.; Returned to Active Duty.
  • 1952-1960 Naval War College, Research Associate of Samuel Eliot Morison for The History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II.
  • 1963 February 12, Died, Newport, RI.