Husband Kimmel
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1882
Date of Death: 1968
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Occupation: Sailor
Children: Manning Kimmel (d. 1944)
Military Branch: United States Navy
(World War I; World War II)
Fictional Appearances:

Husband Edward Kimmel (February 26, 1882 – May 14, 1968) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. He was the commander of the Pacific Fleet at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

In February 1941, Kimmel became Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Pacific Fleet, with the temporary rank of four-star Admiral. Operating from the advanced base at Pearl Harbor, Kimmel led his fleet during the months of vigorous training that preceded the outbreak of the Pacific War. However, Kimmel did not worry about the risk of attack by the Japanese fleet, assuming that Hawaii was too far from Japan's Home Islands to be threatened. Therefore, he did not take measures such as rigging torpedo-catching nets along the sides of his battleships.

As a result, his preparations proved all for naught. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. During the battle Admiral Kimmel was grazed by an enemy bullet and later reflected "It would have been merciful had it killed me".

Admiral Kimmel was soon removed from command and reduced to the two-star rank of Rear Admiral, and retired from the navy in early 1942 as such. He died in 1968 at Groton, Connecticut of natural causes. His role in history has been an ongoing subject of debate, being variously described as an effective commander in unlucky circumstances, or as an ineffective commander responsible for Pearl Harbor's inadequate defense.

Husband Kimmel in "News From the Front"[]

"News From the Front"
POD: December 8, 1941
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Although Admiral Husband Kimmel was ridiculed as incompetent by the press after the Pearl Harbor disaster, The New Yorker was sympathetic with him in the need to keep Wake Island out of Japanese hands. However, they were shocked at his poorly thought out attempt to relieve the island.[1]

Husband Kimmel in Days of Infamy[]

Days of Infamy
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
Appearance(s): Days of Infamy
Type of Appearance: Direct

On December 8, 1941, Japanese troops came ashore at Oahu. Caught by surprise, American forces fought a desperate but losing battle. By February 1942, it was obvious that U.S. forces could not keep fighting, and the U.S. military leaders of Hawaii ordered a surrender. Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short formally surrendered to General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Commander Minoru Genda, and Commander Mitsuo Fuchida in Iolani Palace. Kimmel related how during the attack, a spent bullet harmlessly bounced off his chest, and Fuchida understood the implication that Kimmel wished the bullet had killed him. Both Short and Kimmel naively believed that the Japanese would follow the Geneva Convention. Kimmel and Short were later taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese.[2]

Literary comment[]

The fates of Kimmel and Short after being captured are not revealed.

Husband Kimmel in Joe Steele[]

Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Both
Type of Appearance: Direct (novel);
Contemporary references (story)
Date of Death: 1941
Cause of Death: Execution by firing squad

On December 14, 1941, Admiral Husband Kimmel (1882-1941) faced a tribunal on the orders of President Joe Steele after the debacle at Pearl Harbor. While Kimmel testified that there had been U.S. planes searching areas they believed the enemy were most likely to appear, to the west and southwest of Pearl Harbor, he acknowledged that they had not searched north, the direction from which Japan actually attacked. He and General Walter Short were both found guilty of dereliction of duty and neglect of duty, and sentenced to death. Kimmel was far more resigned to his fate than was Short, which was ironic as Short had himself presided over the trial of Father Coughlin years before. While both appealed, President Steel denied their appeal, and the two were executed. When word came that they both died bravely, Steele said that he didn't have them shot for cowardice, but for stupidity.[3]

Husband Kimmel in The War That Came Early[]

The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): Coup d'Etat
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Date of Death: 1941
Cause of Death: Killed in sinking of the USS Arizona

Husband Kimmel (1882-1941) commanded the fleet assembled at Pearl Harbor by the US Navy in the summer of 1941, a few months after Japan attacked the United States. His orders were to sail west out of Hawaii until his ships encountered the Japanese. He was then to offer the Japanese battle, and hopefully reverse American fortunes in the war which the Japanese had begun the previous winter.[4] At this the fleet failed; Japanese aircraft inflicted heavy damage on Kimmel's forces long before any of his ships entered within artillery range of the Japanese fleet.[5] Kimmel himself was killed fairly early in the campaign when he went down with his flagship, the USS Arizona.[6]


  1. See, e.g., Atlantis and Other Places, pgs. 85-86.
  2. Days of Infamy, pgs. 180-184.
  3. Joe Steele, pgs. 249-252, HC.
  4. Coup d'Etat ch 15
  5. ibid ch 19
  6. ibid
Military offices
Preceded by
James O. Richardson
Commander in Chief of the United States Navy's Pacific Fleet
Succeeded by
William Pye