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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
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The Papers of Rear Admiral Walter C. Ansel

Biography - Scope and Contents - Series Descriptions - Access - Container Listing


Walter C. Ansel was born in Elgin, Illinois on August 25, 1897. He was the son of Albert Frank Ansel, a president of a food-packing firm, and the former Emilie Pauline Binder. Walter Ansel was married to the former Eleanor Dyer on October 23, 1921. They had three children: Abbie Dora (now Mrs. Carval Blair), David Dyer, and Willits Dyer Ansel.

Walter Ansel graduated from Elgin High School in 1915 and then received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from the Naval Academy with the class of 1918. During World War I he served on the patrol craft U.S.S. RAMBLER, which engaged in anti-submarine operations off the coast of France. During his subsequent career in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Ansel served in various types of combat vessels and shore establishments. From 1918 to 1924, Ansel was stationed, as a line officer, to the Destroyer Escort Force out of Brest, France. In 1930, he completed the junior course at the Naval War College and the Field Officers Course, in 1931, with the Marine Corps. Before World War II he devoted a good deal of time and effort to the development of the technique and corresponding doctrine and manuals for amphibious landing operations.

At the outbreak of World War II, Rear Admiral Ansel was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and a month later he assumed command of the oiler U.S.S. WINOOSKI. He commanded that vessel from her commissioning in January until July 1942, and was commanding her in operations in the North Atlantic. Ansel was then ordered to the staff of Commander Advance Group, Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet in the United Kingdom. This group became the Naval Port Support Group for the North African invasion. The main objective was Oreon, Algeria. At this time Rear Admiral (then Captain) Ansel was serving as Plans and Operations Officer. During the landings in Algeria (Nov. 1942), he commanded the Advance Party, which entered the small port of Arzeu in the wake of the assault units. His party secured the shipping and prepared the port for unloading operations. For his role in the action Admiral Ansel was awarded the Commendation Ribbon with combat "V". He was then transferred to duty as Assistant Chief of Staff and Operations Officer on the staff of Commander, Amphibious Force, North African Waters. For his services in this capacity during the preparations for and during the invasion of Sicily, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. In October 1943, Ansel was ordered to command the cruiser U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA, in the Mediterranean. Early in 1944, the Philadelphia supported the operations at Anzio and Formia. In this operation Rear Admiral Ansel, with marines from the PHILADELPHIA and the cruiser U.S.S. AUGUSTA, accepted the surrender of the German garrisons in the fortress islands off Marseilles. In recognition for distinguished service, Rear Admiral Ansel was awarded the Gold Star in lieu of the second Legion of Merit and the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star from the French Government.

Returning to the United States in late 1944, Admiral Ansel was assigned to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In 1946, he was again ordered to sea with duties as Chief of Staff, Support Group One, Japan. Following this assignment, he returned for duty in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and later served with the U.S. Naval Mission in Brazil. In June 1949, Rear Admiral Walter Ansel retired and was placed on the inactive list.

Admiral Ansel would be recalled to active duty for a brief time. From September 1952 until April 1953 he would be on duty in accordance with his work on the U.S. Naval Academy's Forrestal Fellowship.

Ansel was given this privilege because he was awarded the fellowship and to minimize the expense. He was the second individual to receive the Forrestal Fellowship and was at the age of fifty-four. This fellowship in Naval History was instituted at the U.S. Naval Academy and is set up for extensive study of Sea Power as it relates to land and air power. It is the task of the fellows to set forth from the great mass of naval and military records the lessons of Sea Power in the last two World Wars and previous conflicts. Admiral Ansel undertook this fellowship to research and write on the German Operation Sea Lion for the invasion of Britain with the view of adding to the general naval historical fund of knowledge in this specific subject. His objective was also the drawing pertinent lessons of Sea and Amphibious Power for the benefit of our own Navy. Ansel's work necessitated research in Germany, France, and England to obtain first hand material from participants, particularly in the hitherto unexplored lower echelons.

The research material and inquiries that Admiral Ansel obtained in Europe was used by him to produce several works relating to the German military operations in World War II. He was able to accomplish much of his research in Germany with cooperation with the U.S. Army Historical Division. In addition to his research material, Admiral Ansel was able to speak and correspond with German officers that served in the German High Command. In this collection of Admiral Ansel's papers resides these communications. The remaining arrangement is a collection of photographs, German Military Documents, and an assortment of material used by Admiral Ansel to write his books, Hitler Confronts England and Hitler and the Middle Sea. From 1953 until his death in 1977, Admiral Ansel lived in retirement and working on his farm in Gavea, Maryland. After his second book was completed he then moved to produce a third work titled Study of National Strategy and Policy of the United States and their Difference and Confusions. This final work would not be completed because Admiral Ansel passed away in 1977.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Admiral Ansel deal primarily with research for and publication of his books, Hitler Confronts England and Hitler and the Middle Sea. The documents range in date from 1929 to 1974. Included in the collection is correspondence with German and American military officers who were involved in the second world war, copies of German Military documents dated from 1938 to 1942, and maps mostly of Europe dated from 1917 to 1969.

Series Descriptions

The papers are divided into fourteen series:

Series I: Correspondence arranged alphabetically by correspondent's name.

Sub series A: Correspondence with German Airforce (Luftwaffe) Officers from WWII includes correspondence from 1953-1963.
Sub series B: Correspondence with Army (Heeres) Officers that were involved in World War II includes correspondence dated 1953-1972
Sub series C: Correspondence with German Naval (Kriegsmarine) Officers from WWII includes correspondence dated 1952-1974
Sub series D: Correspondence with other Military Officers from WWII Includes correspondence with U.S., British, Greek military officers and U.S. Defense Department officials, dated from 1937 to 1973.
Sub series E: Correspondence with Publishers, Books Stores, and Libraries includes correspondence dated 1952-1972.
Sub series F: Miscellaneous Correspondence Includes correspondence dated from 1952 to 1974.
Sub series G: Personal Correspondence Includes family and other personal correspondence dated from 1937-1972. Of note is correspondence from Burl Ives and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Series II: Photographs of Individuals, Amphibious Equipment, Fortifications, and other Military related pictures used by Ansel in his research. Material in this series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Sub series A: Individuals includes photographs of Admiral Ansel, Hitler and his staff, and other military officers.
Sub series B: Military Related includes photographs of ships, battle sites, troops, etc.

Series III: Documents of the German Military during World War II materials in this series are arranged chronologically within each military unit. This series includes reports, plans, messages between units dated between 1939 and 1942.

Sub series A: German Armed Forces High Command. (O.K.W.- Wehrmacht)
Sub series B: Supreme Command to the German Air Force. (O.K.L. - Luftwaffe)
Sub series C: Supreme Command of the German Army (O.K.H.- Heeres)
Sub series D: Supreme Commander in Chief of the German Navy. (Ob.d.M.)
Sub series E: Supreme Command of the German Navy. (O.K.M. - Kriegsmarine)
Sub series F: Naval War Staff. (Sk1.-Kriegsmarine)
Sub series G: Supreme Naval Group Command North. (Gruppe Nord-Kriegsmarine)
Sub series H: Supreme Naval Group Command West. (Gruppe West-Kriegsmarine)
Sub series I: Admiral Commanding France (Adm. Frankr. - Kriegsmarine)
Sub series J: Port Commanders, Ocean Commands, Naval Command Posts, Shipyards, Transport Chiefs, and
Commanding Admirals.

Series IV: German Military Reports arranged alphabetically by report title.

Sub series A: Battle for Crete includes reports of the 4th Air Fleet, 5th Mountain Division, 11th Paratrooper Corps.
Sub series B: Miscellaneous Reports includes Naval construction reports, Naval command reports, studies of England and the North Atlantic.
Sub series C: Operation Sea Lion includes reports of various units and landing and invasion plans.

Series V: British, French & German Publications arranged alphabetically by title of publication.

Sub series A: British includes a pamphlet titled "Battle of Britain", 1943 and a 1961 issue of the Journal of the Royal United Service Institute.
Sub series B: French includes 1952 and 1955 issues of La Revue Maritime and Les Tentatives de Paix, 1949.
Sub series C: German 1953-1959 includes issues of Die Gebrig Struppe, Die Welt Als Geschichte, Marine Rundeschau, Wehr-Wissenschaftliche, Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeichichte.

Series VI: German Wartime Publications

Sub series A: The wartime Command of the Axis Powers in the Mediterranean a strategic survey of the Axis Campaign in the Mediterranean Theater.

Series VII: U.S. Military Publications

Sub series A: Re: German High Command includes German Order of Battle, 1944; other reports and catalogs of captured German documents.
Sub series B: Relating to German Military Operations and Campaigns includes reports on Operations Sea Lion, Felix and Barbarosa.
Sub series C: Relating to Military Departments of the German Armed Forces includes reports on German airborne operations and Von Rohden's Collection of Documents from the Foreign Documents section at Maxwell AFB.

Series VIII: American Published Articles includes articles dated 1932-1969 from various sources regarding WWII and other military matters. Arranged alphabetically by article title.

Series IX: German Published Articles dating from 1940-1960. Arranged alphabetically by article title.

Series X: Notes on Ansel's Books

Sub series A: Hitler Confronts England includes Ansel's notes on Operation Sea Lion
Sub series B: Hitler and the Middle Sea includes Ansel's notes on Operation Merkur
Sub series C: Miscellaneous Notes includes notes on amphibious operations, Japan, war at sea 1914-1918.
Sub series D: Book Transcript of Hitler and the Middle Sea, by Walter Ansel

Series XI: Maps, Sketches, Drawings includes German plans for invading England and maps of various Mediterranean locations.

Series XII: Personal Papers includes material on Operation Huskey, the Forrestal Fellowship, and descriptions of his wartime experiences.

Series XIII: Miscellaneous Reference Materials includes newspaper clippings; miscellaneous documents in both English and German; and miscellaneous photographs.

Series XIV: Oversized Materials includes maps of Europe, the Mediterranean, Crete, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and coastal areas.


Gift of Willits Ansel, July 1978
Accession # A78-26


The collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


37 Hollinger Document Cases, 2 oversize boxes

Revised: December 8, 2011