A Navy second to none: The history of United States Naval training in World War I

Michael Dennis Besch, Marquette University

Abstract

Existing studies of the American Navy's role in World War I have emphasized the combat and logistical tasks such as anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection, and the transportation of military supplies and troops to Europe. While these activities were of crucial importance in winning the War, the activity which involved the largest number of men was training. The Navy increased in size from about 59,000 men in late 1916 to nearly 530,000 when the War ended in November 1918. In a brief period of nineteen months the Navy trained over 400,000 men! This dissertation tells the story of that process. While there is no attempt to present a comprehensive analysis of the political issues surrounding America's entry into the War, the story begins with a brief sketch of the political environment in the two years preceding the War. Greater emphasis is placed on the Navy's efforts to prepare for war. However, the main focus of the story concerns the training activity itself The narrative covers the three main divisions of enlisted training, the training stations, the reserve training camps, and the advanced or specialty schools. Included in the discussion is the story of the building of the bases, designing, modifying, and assessing curriculum and the offering of specific courses. Along with the academic and building topics, an great amount of space is devoted to an attempt to convey a sense of what life was like in the camps, stations, ships, and bases. Chapters are devoted to the major training locations, and, in addition, there is one chapter each on fleet training, submarine training, officer training, and aviation training. The most unique chapter of the text, presents a study of the role played by colleges and universities in training men for the Navy. The dissertation concludes with a brief quantitative and qualitative assessment of the efficacy of the programs. Sources tend to be primary in nature, with most being drawn from Navy archives. Whenever possible, personal stories (diaries, letters, oral histories, etc.) are used to give a personal touch to the narrative--to make it more of a story, less of a chronicle.

Recommended Citation

Michael Dennis Besch, "A Navy second to none: The history of United States Naval training in World War I" (January 1, 1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI9953484.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9953484

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