Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

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Fatboy Coxy
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Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 10 Dec 2019 23:43

Hi all

Can anyone give me a bit more detail on his career?

He was appointed commander of the Allied Naval Squadron, ANZAC Force. And was present at the Battle of the Coral Sea. Straight after that he was replaced and sent to the UK, where he ended the war as vice admiral, commanding the Chatham Dockyard.

The extracts from Wikipedia entry for HMAS Australia, detailing the battle of the Coral Sea, says
”At 07:00 on 7 May, Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace, who was embarked aboard Australia as commander of Task Force 44, was ordered to take his ships (Australia, the cruisers Hobart and USS Chicago, and the destroyers USS Perkins, USS Walke and USS Farragut) to the Jomard Passage, and engage any Japanese ships found en route to Port Moresby, while several US carrier groups engaged a Japanese force headed for the Solomon Islands………

A few minutes later, the ships were attacked by another three heavy bombers, flying at a higher altitude to the first group; the bombing was much less accurate. It was later learned that the three aircraft belonged to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Although USN Vice Admiral Herbert F. Leary made plans to train aircrews in naval vessel recognition in response, USAAF General George Brett refused to implement them or acknowledge that the friendly fire incident had happened……

With no new orders, Crace decided to relocate his ships during the night to a point 220 nautical miles (410 km; 250 mi) from Port Moresby, to better intercept a Japanese invasion force if it came through either the Jomard Passage or the China Strait. Instructions from the American commander of the operation were still not forthcoming, and Crace was forced to rely on intercepted radio messages to track the progress of the main battle. Australia and the rest of the task force remained in their assigned area until 01:00 on 10 May, when Crace ordered them to withdraw south to Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island; the lack of reports and intelligence concerning either the Americans or Japanese led him to conclude that both forces had withdrawn, and there was no immediate threat to Port Moresby.”

On 13 June, Crace was replaced by Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley as commander of Task Force 44 and the flag officer embarked aboard Australia.

OK, so the questions I have are, why the sudden fall from grace, and a promotion to a backwater. Does him not being in touch with the US Fleet suggest incompetence on his part, or was he caught up in a political row between the USN and USAAF regarding friendly fire

Regards
Fatboy Coxy

reedwh52
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Re: Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

Post by reedwh52 » 11 Dec 2019 14:34

Some points to consider:
1) Crace was serving as Rear Admiral Commanding Australia Squadron. This was historically speaking a two-year appointment. In June 1942, he had been in place since November 1, 1939 and was 8 months past normal rotation.(Note that Crutchley also served approximately 2 years before replacement)
2) There were potential seniority issues within the Allied Command. At Coral Sea, Crace was actually senior to both USN task force commanders. However, "it had been agreed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff "that the senior United States naval officer commanding a carrier task force will, regardless of relative rank, exercise tactical command of the combined units which operate in the South and South-West Pacific areas" (RAN Official History Vol II p 41 (Footnote))
3) Command of the Australian Squadron was a Rear Admiral position; Crace was due to be promoted to Vice Admiral, which would have further exacerbated # 2 above.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Dec 2019 03:14

Was the Chatham dockyard a important assignment?

What was Craces health like? More than a few flag rank officers had their health collapse.

Fatboy Coxy
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Re: Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 30 Dec 2019 19:06

reedwh52 wrote:
11 Dec 2019 14:34
Some points to consider:
1) Crace was serving as Rear Admiral Commanding Australia Squadron. This was historically speaking a two-year appointment. In June 1942, he had been in place since November 1, 1939 and was 8 months past normal rotation.(Note that Crutchley also served approximately 2 years before replacement)
2) There were potential seniority issues within the Allied Command. At Coral Sea, Crace was actually senior to both USN task force commanders. However, "it had been agreed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff "that the senior United States naval officer commanding a carrier task force will, regardless of relative rank, exercise tactical command of the combined units which operate in the South and South-West Pacific areas" (RAN Official History Vol II p 41 (Footnote))
3) Command of the Australian Squadron was a Rear Admiral position; Crace was due to be promoted to Vice Admiral, which would have further exacerbated # 2 above.
Thanks for this, and reading what you have written, I make you probably right. My suggestion as to a "fall from grace" has no evidence other than my own suggestion, and officers in this post served similar periods of time.

Fatboy Coxy
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Re: Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace

Post by Fatboy Coxy » 30 Dec 2019 19:15

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
12 Dec 2019 03:14
Was the Chatham dockyard a important assignment?

What was Craces health like? More than a few flag rank officers had their health collapse.
Again thanks for this, with regard to his health, I have nothing on that, but it could be a factor as to why he didn't get another sea command. However although Chatham Dockyard doesn't sound that impressive, no doubt he became more busy as D-Day drew near, and to maintain continuity, may have had to see out the war there, or at least until Cherbourg was in service for the allies.

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