Robert Alfred Theobald

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For the American economist and futurist, see Robert Theobald.
Robert Alfred Theobald
RADM Robert A. Theobald
Rear Admiral Robert A. "Fuzzy" Theobald standing in front of a map of Kiska in 1942.
Nickname(s) "Fuzzy"
Born (1884-05-30)May 30, 1884
San Francisco, California, California
Died May 13, 1957(1957-05-13) (aged 72)
Boston, Massachusetts
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1907–1945
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Commands held USS Walke (DD-34)
Naval Postgraduate School
USS Nevada (BB-36)
Cruiser Division Three
Destroyer Flotilla One
Destroyers, Pacific Fleet
North Pacific Force (Task Force 8)
First Naval District
Boston Navy Yard
Other work Author

Robert Alfred Theobald (30 May 1884 – 13 May 1957), nicknamed "Fuzzy", was a United States Navy officer who served in World War I and World War II, and achieved the rank of rear admiral. In retirement, he was the author of the 1954 book The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Background of the Pearl Harbor Attack.


Born in San Francisco, California, on 30 May 1884,[1] Theobald attended the University of California in 1902-1903 before entering the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated ninth in his class in 1907.[2][3] He was commissioned as an ensign in 1908.[4] His first tour as a commanding officer was of the destroyer USS Walke (DD-34) in 1915.[2]

World War I[edit]

During World War I, Theobald served as gunnery officer of the battleship USS New York (BB-34), the flagship of Battleship Division Nine, which served with the British Grand Fleet in 1917-1918. He received promotion to commander in September 1918.[4]

Interwar years[edit]

Theobald served as executive officer of the Naval Postgraduate School from 1919 to 1921, then spent the years 1922 through 1924 serving in Destroyer Command, United States Asiatic Fleet, before returning to the School to serve as its commanding officer from 1924 to 1927. He then spent two years as the executive officer of the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), before studying in the senior class of the Naval War College.[4]

In 1930, Theobald served as secretary of war plans at the Department of the Navy and as a member of the Joint Army-Navy Planning Committee. In February 1932 he received promotion to captain, and was Chief of Staff, Destroyers, United States Pacific Fleet from 1932 to 1934. He was a member of the advanced class at the Naval War College, engaged in a seminar study of "Japan and Pacific War" in 1934-1935, and was then put in charge of the College's Strategy Division.[4]

In 1937 Theobald was appointed commanding officer of the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36), then served as Chief of Staff to Admiral Claude C. Bloch, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet, in 1939. Theobald joined the General Board of the United States Navy early in 1940, and was promoted to rear admiral in June 1940, serving as Commander of Cruiser Division Three and then as Commander of Destroyer Flotilla One in the Pacific Fleet.[4]

World War II[edit]

On the morning of December 7, 1941, twenty ships of Destroyer Flotilla One were moored at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, when the Japanese attacked. Theobald, from his temporary flagship, the destroyer tender USS Dobbin (AD-3), was ordered to provide anti-aircraft fire, and sent Destroyer Division Two out of the harbor to establish an off-shore patrol.[5]

Theobald served as Commander of Pacific Fleet Destroyers (ComDesPac) from December 1941 until May 1942 before being appointed Commander of the North Pacific Force (Task Force 8) for operations in the Aleutian Islands in the Territory of Alaska.[4][6] The Aleutian Islands Campaign began in June 1942 and, after suffering minor defeats against Japanese naval forces, including the Japanese capture of the islands of Attu and Kiska, Theobald was replaced by Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid.

In January 1943 Theobald was appointed Commandant of the First Naval District and of Boston Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts. He retired from active service in 1945.[4]

Post-World War II[edit]

After World War II, Theobald gained considerable notoriety with his 1954 book The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Background of the Pearl Harbor Attack, which accused the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of suppressing intelligence about the attack in order to bring the United States into the war.

Personal life[edit]

Theobald was married to the former Elizabeth Dartnell (9 August 1909 – 3 January 1996).[1][7] Their son, Robert Theobald Jr. (1910–1989)[8] was also a graduate of the United States Naval Academy (1931) and achieved the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy.[9]


Theobald died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 13 May 1957.[10] He is buried with his wife at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.[1]


  • Theobald, Robert Alfred. The final secret of Pearl Harbor; the Washington contribution to the Japanese attack. New York: Devin-Adair, 1954.


  1. ^ a b c Find-A-Grave Memorial: Robert Alfred Theobald 1884-1957)
  2. ^ a b Morison, Samuel Eliot, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume IV: Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Operations, May 1942-August 1942, Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1988, no ISBN number, p. 166.
  3. ^ Garfield, Brian, The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians, Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska, ISBN 0-912006-83-8, 1995, p. 17.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Online Archive of California : Robert Alfred Theobald Papers, 1908-1959". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Commander Destroyer Flotilla One". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "Order of Battle : The Battle of Midway/Aleutians, June 1942". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Find-A-Grave Memorial: Elizabeth Dartnell Theobald (1909-1996)
  8. ^ "Theobald, Robert Jr." (PDF). USNA Cemetery Documentation Project. United States Naval Academy. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  9. ^ "Military Times Hall of Valor : Awards for Robert Alfred Theobald, Jr.". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "R.A. THEOBALD, 73, ADMIRAL, IS DEAD - Wrote 'Final Secret of Pearl Harbor,' Accusing Roosevelt of 'Arranging' the Attack". The New York Times. 13 May 1957. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  • Parrish, Thomas and S. L. A. Marshall, ed. The Simon and Schuster Encyclopedia of World War II, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.

External links[edit]