From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Carter Simpson '39

Date of birth: November 3, 1915

Date of death: December 31, 1944

Age: 29

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


From Defenders of the Philippines:

Carter Berkeley Simpson was born in Glenn Springs, South Carolina on November 3, 1915 to Richard Caspar Simpson and Mary Randolph Spotswood Berkeley. He attended Wofford College and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1939. He earned a commission to the United States Marine Corps and served as an officer stationed in the Philippines during World War II. He commanded troops on Bataan as a First Lieutenant and served with Company M, Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment (detached) as a member of a Navy Bluejacket-Marine Battalion in the defense of Bataan from December 28, 1941 to April 3, 1942. In this capacity, he served with an anti-aircraft battery which was not able to be hidden from observation and was thus forced to endure aerial bombardments. From January 23 to January 31, 1942, he served with a composite Bluejacket-Marine Battalion in order to drive off an enemy detachment which threatened Naval establishments at Miravalis in the Philippines. Simpson took control of several mixed units and thereby helped in successfully isolating the enemy force on Longoskawayan Point, for which he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross by the President of the United States.

After the fall of Bataan, Simpson served on Corregidor until its surrender to the Japanese on May 6, 1942, at which time he became a prisoner of war and was interned in the Philippines in a Japanese POW camp from June 1942 until the end of 1944. He was among the POWs who were put onto the hellship Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan; the ship was sunk by American torpedoes. Although he survived, he was recaptured when he made it to shore and subsequently died of exposure and starvation on December 31, 1944. He was a captain by this time. A memorial marker stands in his honor at Arlington National Cemetery, and in 1969 his brother John Wistar Simpson organized an endowed scholarship fund at Wofford College to commemorate Carter.

Carter's parents were listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.


Carter somehow managed to write a diary of his wartime experiences, and also somehow ensure it survived the war. It is long and detailed and truly a treasure. He mentions several of his classmates and other alumni throughout.

He was sworn in as 1st Lieutenant on January 8, 1942 with Willard Holdredge '39.

One passage stuck out; written on September 8, 1944, after he had been a prisoner of the Japanese for nearly two and a half years:

I wish some letters from home could give an indication of what we might expect when we get out of here. The bad blow would be to find that professionally we are through. For my part I am licked neither mentally nor morally. I still hope for 30 more years of active worthy service. I still think I have it — more self-confidence now at any rate and I think far more capability by this experience. Optimistic.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Carter B. Simpson (MCSN: 0-5959), United States Marine Corps, for distinguished service in action against the enemy while serving with Company M, Third Battalion, FOURTH Marine Regiment (Detached) as member of a Navy Bluejacket-Marine Battalion, in the defense of the Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 28 December 1941 to 3 April 1942. Lieutenant Simpson served with an anti-aircraft battery which, due to conditions of terrain, was completely exposed to observation and repeatedly subjected to heavy aerial bombardments. By his courage, coolness and efficiency under great strain, Lieutenant Simpson materially contributed to the efficient functioning of that battery during repeated engagements against great odds. From 23 to 31 January 1942, while serving with a composite Bluejacket-Marine Battalion which had been hastily formed to expel a strong enemy detachment that had seized commanding ground which dangerously threatened the Naval installations at Miravalis, Philippine Islands, Lieutenant Simpson, by his resourcefulness, energy and outstanding qualities of leadership, rendered conspicuous service in controlling and handling mixed units in this action, which succeeded in isolating the enemy force on Longoskawayan Point where it was destroyed. His actions at all times were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Approved by the Secretary of the Navy on August 12, 1942
Action Date: December 28, 1941 - April 3, 1942
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company M
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 4th Marines Regiment
Division: Navy Bluejacket-Marine Battalion (Mariveles)

Prisoner of War Medal

From Hall of Valor:

First Lieutenant Carter Berkeley Simpson (MCSN: 0-5959), United States Marine Corps, was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Corregidor, Philippine Islands, on 6 May 1942, and was held as a Prisoner of War until his death while still in captivity.

General Orders: NARA Database: Records of World War II Prisoners of War, created, 1942 - 1947
Action Date: May 6, 1942 - MIA in Captivity
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Division: Prisoner of War (Philippine Islands)

Class of 1939 Marines at the Fall of Corregidor

At least seven Marines of the Class of 1939 were captured by the Japanese when Corregidor fell in May 1942; six of them perished in captivity. Four were awarded the Navy Cross for their heroism and distinguished service in six months of combat under arduous and increasingly desperate conditions. A fifth was awarded the Navy Cross for action in the Korean War.

Two men — William Hogaboom and Willard Holdredge — had extremely similar experiences, and are often mentioned together in after-action reports. Carter Simpson's was also similar; he also managed to keep an exceptionally interesting diary that survived the war. All three of these Marines were killed during or immediately after the attack on Oryoku Maru on December 14, 1945.

A fourth classmate, Ralph Mann, Jr., died in captivity in September 1942.

The final two, Hugh Tistadt, Jr. and John Fantone, survived the Oryoku Maru attack but perished in POW camps a few months later.

A seventh classmate, William Harris, was also captured, but escaped by swimming across Manila Bay from Corregidor to Bataan on May 22, 1942. He was later recaptured and tortured by the Japanese but survived the war to personally witness the Japanese surrender aboard USS Missouri. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism in the Korean War.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1939

2nd Lieutenant, Marine Corps Schools, Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

CAPT Walter Webster '11 (Naval Aircraft Factory)
LT Donald Lovelace '28 (Naval Aircraft Factory)
LTjg Edward Allen '31 (Naval Aircraft Factory)
ENS Lewis Davis '37 (Naval Finance & Supply School)
2LT John Maclaughlin, Jr. '38 (Marine Barracks)

November 1940

2nd Lieutenant, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines

April 1941

2nd Lieutenant, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines

Class of 1939

Carter is one of 78 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.