Hart, Charles, “Tommy” born 11-06-1877 in Davison, Michigan, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1897 and served his initial tours of sea duty in the battleship Massachusetts and in the steam yacht Vixen, during the Spanish-American War. During World War I, Hart served concurrently as commander of Submarine Divisions 2 and 5, with Bushnell as his flagship. One division was based at Bantry Bay, protecting sea approaches to the British Isles; the second was based at Punta Delgada in the Azores, protecting routes to that vital island. In 1918, after temporary duty with the British Admiralty, Hart was appointed Director of Submarines in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Serving in this office as its head until 1922, Hart fought doggedly to improve the lot of the submarine arm of the Navy. His tenacity was responsible for the U.S. Navy’s acquisition of surrendered German U-boats after World War I to learn the details of the technical innovations incorporated in the erstwhile enemy craft. With the temporary rank of admiral, Hart relieved classmate Admiral Harry E. Yarnell
as Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet on 25-07-1939. Yarnel died age 83, on 07-07-1959 in Newport, Rhode Island For the next two years, as tensions increased in the western Pacific, Hart prepared the small Asiatic Fleet for war with Japan. He reduced the presence of his fleet in Chinese waters and concentrated it in the Philippines to await the onslaught expected momentarily. He also successfully badgered Washington for reinforcements in the way of patrol planes and fleet submarines. For the tense months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hart was at the center of US military concern. As commander of the Asiatic Fleet operating out of the Philippines he was right where the navy and the army assumed the action would begin. Little, if any thought, was given to a surprise attack on Admiral, Husband E. Kimmel’s
Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (even though it had recently been moved from its traditional base at San Pedro, California, and much thought was given to what Admiral Hart should do and when he should do it. This was particularly so because Douglas MacArthur
who had been in the Philippines since 1935, was finally getting support to strengthen the US military presence there. B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were sent in increasing numbers to build up MacArthur’s force. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
coupled with nearly simultaneous assaults on British and Dutch possessions and the Philippines, catapulted the United States into World War II. On 08-12-1941 Hart proclaimed unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan, and the Americans, with their Filipino allies, fought a delaying action in the Philippines, while a mixed American, British, Dutch, and Australian (ABDA) military structure under the command of the Dutch General Hein ter Poorten,
he died age 80, on 15-01-1968, in the Den Haque, was set up to operate from Java in an attempt to hold the Japanese at the Malay Barrier. Given command of ABDA naval forces, Hart directed part of this defense into mid-February 1942. By that point, it had become evident that, despite the brave ABDA sailors, the Japanese were not to be denied. Despite the formidable obstacles, Hart persevered in the face of “discouraging surroundings and complex associations” and earned a gold star in lieu of his second DSM for unfailing judgment, sound decisions, and moral courage. Admiral Thomas C. Hart, USN, returned to the United States on Sunday morning, 8 March 1942, arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Field. He was aboard Pan American Airways System – Atlantic Division Yankee Clipper, when it departed Bolama Field, Portuguese Guinea , on Thursday, 05-03-1942. The flight stopped at Darrell’s Island – a small island within the Great Sound of Bermuda prior to its arrival at LaGuardia Field. Transferred to the retired list in July 1942 with the rank of Admiral, Hart nevertheless continued on active duty with the General Board through 1944. From February to April 1944, he conducted a one-member investigation, the “Hart Inquiry,” into the Pearl Harbor attack, a duty which took him to the length and breadth of the Pacific Ocean area. The purpose of the investigation was not to determine fault, but to ensure that the statute of limitations did not run before courts-martial could be considered. On 09-02-1945, Hart retired from the Navy to fill an appointment as Republican senator from Connecticut. He served in Congress until 05-11-1946 and did not seek reelection.
Death and burial ground of Hart, Charles Thomas “Tommy”.
Admiral Hart then returned to his family home in Sharon, Connecticut and died there on 04-07-1971, aged 94, of heart failure. He is buried with his wife Caroline, born Brownson , who died also at the very old age of 98 in 1986, on Arlington Cemetery, Section 8. A neighbour there is Admiral, Pacific and D-Day, Charles Cooke