William A. Worton

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William Arthur Worton
William A. Worton.JPG
William A. Worton as a Colonel, USMC
Born (1897-01-04)January 4, 1897
Boston, Massachusetts
Died July 25, 1973(1973-07-25) (aged 76)
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1917-1949
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held Chief of Staff of the III Amphibious Corps
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart
William A. Worton
Police career
Department Los Angeles Police Department
Country United States
Years of service 1949-50
US-O10 insignia.svg
Chief of Police 1949-50

William Arthur Worton (January 4, 1897 – July 25, 1973) was a Marine Corps Major General, who served in the Pacific Theater during the World War II. Worton also served as interim Los Angeles Police Department police chief from June 1949 to 1950.

Early life[edit]

Worton was born on January 4, 1897 in Boston, Massachusetts. He first attended the Boston Latin School and subsequently Harvard and Boston University Law School before entering the Marine Corps Reserve from the Massachusetts Naval Militia on March 29, 1917.

He saw combat service in France, particularly the Battle of Belleau Wood[1] where he was seriously wounded. After the War, Worton remained in the Marine Corps, spending twelve years on Marine assignments in China in the 1920s and 1930s, including two years as an undercover Intelligence officer, conducting the first American espionage operations against Japan using agents recruited on the Chinese mainland.

US Naval espionage service before World War II[edit]

In 1935, having already served in China for ten years as a Marine officer, Worton was assigned to the Far East Section of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Given a "cover story" as "a disgruntled officer leaving the Corps to establish a business in the International Settlement in Shanghai", he returned to China once again, and began to recruit agents who agreed to travel to Japan to secretly collect information for the US Navy. One of these may have been the French Jesuit Priest and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.[2]

Working with closely with Chiang Kai-shek's secret police chief, Dai Li, Worton performed his assignment ably until he returned to Washington in June 1936.[2]

World War II Service[edit]

As a Brigadier General, Worton served with the III Amphibious Corps (IIIAC) during the Battle of Okinawa, being elevated to chief of staff of IIIAC on June 30, 1945.[3] IIIAC was tasked with assaulting the Tokyo Plain during Operation Downfall, the planned Invasion of Japan. When the war ended after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, IIIAC subsequently was tasked as part of the American forces designated to occupy northern China to accept the surrender of the Japanese forces in the region. As part of that mission, Worton was with an advance party to Shanghai, China. In northern China, IIIAC battled with Chinese puppet troops aligned with Japan (many of whom later switched allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek) and with Communist guerrillas and regulars.[4]

Los Angeles Police Chief[edit]

Worton was appointed the 42nd chief of the L.A.P.D. on June 30, 1949 by Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron after the resignation of Chief Clemence B. Horrall in the wake of the Brenda Allen scandal. Horrall's assistant chief, Joe Reed, also eventually resigned after Worton took office, as he too was ensnared by the police corruption scandal.

Worton was tasked by Mayor Bowron with the job of cleaning up the department. A little more than a year later, Worton resigned on August 9, 1950 and was replaced by his chief of Internal Affairs, William H. Parker, whom he had groomed for the office.[5]


Major General Worton´s ribbon bar:

Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Legion of Merit Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star
2nd Row Purple Heart Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with three service stars World War I Victory Medal with three battle clasps
3rd Row Yangtze Service Medal American Defense Service Medal with base clasp American Campaign Medal
4th Row European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four service stars World War II Victory Medal
5th Row Officer of the Legion of Honour (France) Order of the Cloud and Banner (Republic of China) Order of Military Merit (Dominican Republic)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Leatherneck, Volume 39 Leatherneck Association, 1956
  2. ^ a b Noble, Dennis L. (Jun 26, 2008). "A US Naval Intelligence Mission to China in the 1930s—Operations in Another Time". Studies in Intelligence. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "A. Assasult and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto". Marine Task Organization and Command List1. HyperWar: USMC Operations in WWII. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Henry. "The United States Marines in North China". Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  5. ^ *Buntin, John (2009). L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 9780307352071. OCLC 431334523. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by
Clemence B. Horrall
Chief of LAPD
Succeeded by
William H. Parker