DAVID W. ROBERTS, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

David Roberts '21

Date of birth: June 13, 1899

Date of death: March 1, 1942

Age: 42

Lucky Bag

From the 1921 Lucky Bag:


Loss

David was lost when USS Houston (CA 30) was sunk on on March 1, 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait.

He was the ship's executive officer.

Unsure of when he reported aboard, but he was present at a reception for the ship in Guam in November 1940 (not as executive officer).

His wife, Margaret, was listed as next of kin.

David is listed so late on the Class of 1921 panel because he was held in a missing status until December 15, 1945.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander David Wells Roberts (NSN: 0-57164), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. HOUSTON (CA-30), in combat with the Japanese in the Battle of Sunda Strait, from 28 February to 1 March 1942. When his Captain was mortally wounded and his ship damaged beyond repair, Commander Roberts assumed command and resolutely continued to hurl the full force of his batteries against the enemy until the dangerous listing of his vessel, the result of a furious Japanese cross-fire from vastly superior forces at point blank range, forced him to give the order to abandon ship. Capably and unselfishly concentrating every effort on saving all survivors, he remained on board until the ship went down. His indomitable fighting spirit, personal courage and gallant devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Commander Roberts and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Houston (CA-30)

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.

January 1922

Ensign, USS Arkansas

Others at this command: LT Harold MacLellan '18.

May 1923

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

July 1923

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

September 1923

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

November 1923

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

January 1924

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

March 1924

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

May 1924

Ensign, USS Preble

Others at this command: LTjg Joseph Severyns, Jr. '20.

July 1924

Ensign, Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo

September 1924

Ensign, Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo

November 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo

January 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

March 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

May 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

July 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

October 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

January 1926

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

October 1926

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

January 1927

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

April 1927

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Attaché, Tokyo, Japan

October 1927

Lieutenant (j.g.), Receiving Ship, unassigned

January 1928

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

April 1928

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

July 1928

Lieutenant (j.g.), Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

October 1928

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

January 1929

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

April 1929

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

July 1929

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

October 1929

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

January 1930

Lieutenant, USS Ludlow

April 1930

Lieutenant, USS Gamble

October 1930

Lieutenant, USS Gamble

January 1931

Lieutenant, USS Gamble

April 1931

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Howard Lammers '08, LT Raymond Tuttle '22, and LTjg Willford Hyman '24.

July 1931

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Howard Lammers '08, LCDR Theodore Chandler '15, and LTjg Willford Hyman '24.

October 1931

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

January 1932

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

April 1932

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

October 1932

Lieutenant, Assistant Naval Attaché, American Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

January 1933

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Houston

Others at or embarked at USS Houston: LT William Haynsworth, Jr. '23 (USS Houston) and ENS Thomas Marshall, Jr. '30 (USS Houston).

April 1933

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Houston

Others at or embarked at USS Houston: LT William Haynsworth, Jr. '23 (USS Houston) and ENS Thomas Marshall, Jr. '30 (USS Houston).

July 1933

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Houston

Others at or embarked at USS Houston: LT William Haynsworth, Jr. '23 (USS Houston).

October 1933

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Houston

Others at or embarked at USS Houston: LT William Haynsworth, Jr. '23 (USS Houston) and LTjg John Wymond '24 (USS Houston).

April 1934

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Augusta

Others at or embarked at USS Augusta: LT Hubert Hayter '24 (USS Augusta), ENS Lee Pancake '31 (USS Augusta), and ENS Herbert Coleman '32 (USS Augusta).

July 1934

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Augusta

Others at this command: LTjg Thomas Marshall, Jr. '30.

Others at or embarked at USS Augusta: LT Hubert Hayter '24 (USS Augusta), ENS Lee Pancake '31 (USS Augusta), and ENS Herbert Coleman '32 (USS Augusta).

October 1934

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Augusta

Others at this command: LTjg Thomas Marshall, Jr. '30.

Others at or embarked at USS Augusta: LT Hubert Hayter '24 (USS Augusta), LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25 (USS Augusta), LTjg Lee Pancake '31 (USS Augusta), and ENS Herbert Coleman '32 (USS Augusta).

January 1935

Lieutenant, staff, Asiatic Fleet, USS Augusta

Others at this command: LTjg Thomas Marshall, Jr. '30.

Others at or embarked at USS Augusta: LT Hubert Hayter '24 (USS Augusta), LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25 (USS Augusta), LTjg Lee Pancake '31 (USS Augusta), and ENS Herbert Coleman '32 (USS Augusta).

April 1935

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11 and LTjg Eugene Karpe '26.

Others at or embarked at this command: 1LT Edward Trumble '25 (Office of Judge Advocate General, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.).

October 1935

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11 and LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

Others at or embarked at this command: 1LT Edward Trumble '25 (Office of Judge Advocate General, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.).

January 1936

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11 and LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

Others at or embarked at this command: 1LT Edward Trumble '25 (Office of Judge Advocate General, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.).

April 1936

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11 and LTjg Harry Hicks '27.

July 1936

Lieutenant, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11, LT Harry Hicks '27, and LTjg Joseph Flynn '27.

January 1937

Lieutenant Commander, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CDR Robert English '11 and LT Joseph Flynn '27.

April 1937

Lieutenant Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LT Joseph Flynn '27.

September 1937

Lieutenant Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CAPT Harry Lang '29 and 1LT John Butler '34.

January 1938

Lieutenant Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: CAPT Harry Lang '29 and 1LT John Butler '34.

July 1938

Lieutenant Commander, flag secretary, Squadron 40-T, USS Raleigh

Others at or embarked at USS Raleigh: ENS Louis Gulliver, Jr. '36 (USS Raleigh) and ENS Van Perkins '36 (USS Raleigh).

January 1939

Lieutenant Commander, flag secretary, Squadron 40-T, USS Raleigh

October 1939

Lieutenant Commander, 1st Lieutenant, USS Houston

Others at this command: LT Alfred Grove '30, LTjg George Davis, Jr. '35, ENS William Leedy '38, ENS Francis Weiler '39, ENS John Shepherd, III '39, and ENS Kenneth Kollmyer '39.


Class of 1921

David is one of 32 members of the Class of 1921 on Virtual Memorial Hall.