California Militia and National
Guard Unit Histories
State Naval Forces in World War
During World War II, the State Guard (now
the State Military Reserve) had a naval component by Act of the
Legislature (Senate Bill No. 36 Approved by the Governor 31 January
1942) as follows.
The California Military and Veterans Code,
Section 555.2 is quoted as follows
(a) The State Guard is part of the
active militia of the State. All of the members of the State
Guard... The State Guard shall consist of the following
1. The Adjutant General, and the commissioned
and enlisted personnel comprising his staff.
2. Infantry, consisting of not more
than 13 regiments, including a quartermasters regiment to be
organization on the same basis as hereinafter provided for infantry
3. The nautical and marine force with
an enlisted strength not in excess of 700 men consisting of not
more than five naval units and two companies of marines...
2. The Adjutant General may organize
the nautical and marine force of the State Guard into not more
than five separate naval units designated as ships
companies and not more than two separate companies of marines.
Each ships company shall consist
of not more than 100 enlisted men. The officers of the ships
company shall be one lieutenant senior grade, two lieutenants
junior grade, and three ensigns. Warrant officers and rate men
selected from the enlisted men of a ships company shall
be of the same number and grades as are prescribed by the laws
and regulations of the United States for similar organizations
in the United States Navy.
Each company of marines shall consist
of not more than 100 enlisted men. Each company shall be commanded
by a captain or a first lieutenant and shall have not to exceed
three lieutenants in addition thereto. The noncommissioned offices
for each company of marines shall be of the same number and grades
as are authorized or prescribed by the laws and regulations of
the United States for companies of marines of comparable strength.
A chaplain with the rank of lieutenant
junior grade shall be appointed for the nautical and marine force.
The Provisional Division of the Nautical
Corps was ordered to active duty 8 December 1941. The 1st through
5th Ships Companies and 1st and 2nd Marine Companies were ordered
to active duty by General Order 8, dated 31 January 1942. They
were inactivated on 17 May 1943 when there was a wholesale reorganization
of the State Guard wherein all of the infantry regiments were
also inactivated. There is very little written history about
these units. Their last duty recorded duty was in May 1943. However,
there is a records of the missions they performed. For example,
the following abbreviated summary is provided:
Naval Units Monterey
- 1st Ships Company: Cannery motor boat patrol, coastal motor
patrol, Airport, Big Sur, etc. Naval Units Los Angeles
- Headquarters, 1st Battalion: Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Santa
Monica Public Utilities, etc.
- 2nd thru 4th Ships Companies: Los Angeles Armory, Ocean Park
and Lick Piers Marine Units
- 1st Marine Company: Public Utilities Santa Monica, Ocean Park
and Lick Piers, Los Angeles Armory, Newport Harbor
Naval Units Monterey Ordnance School Fort Ord, Cannery and Coast Motor
- 1st Ships Company CCC Camp Big Sur, Andersons Canyon, SRA Building,
etc. Naval Units Los Angeles
- Headquarters, 1st Battalion: Los Angeles docks and warehouses,
Los Angeles mobile patrol, etc.
- 2nd Ships Company: Los Angeles Armory, San Pedro docks and
- 3rd Ships Company: San Pedro Lend Lease docks and warehouses,
- 4th Ships Company: Newport Bay Harbor
- 5th Ships Company: San Pedro Lend Lease docks and warehouses,
etc. Marine Units
- 1st Marine Company: Long Beach Harbor Command, Edison Power
- 2nd Marine Company: San Pedro Docks and Warehouses
Naval & Marine Units (Note they all moved to San Francisco.)
- 1st Ships Company: San FrancisCompany: Water Department
- 2nd thru 5th Ships Companies: Golden Gate Bridge San FrancisCompany:
- 1st & 2nd Marine Companies: San FrancisCompany: Water Department
The following article appeared in the
Souvenir Program of the California State Guard's mobilization
on 17 August 1941 at the Santa Anita Racetrack:
California State Naval Guard
The California State
Naval Guard in Battle Line Formation
The California State Naval Guard, active
in today's mobilization, is one of the first nautical units organized
under the National Defense Act. Under command of Lieutenant-Commander
William Christensen with Lieutenant Raymond Ray as Executive
Officer, this important unit of the California State Guard includes
scores of Southern California's finest and fastest power boats.
As fine as the boats themselves is the spirit of patriotism which
prompted their private owners to pLos Angelesce their craft at
the disposal of the State Guard during this period of national
This splendid unit has its complement
of officers, petty officers, seamen and specialists. There is,
in addition, a company of marines and a naval band. The first
sea trip for training purposes is scheduled to start August 23.
The first review of the naval unit with
35 ships in line took place at Balboa-Newport August 3rd. See
picture above. The smaller picture below shows the reviewing
party headed by Lieutenant Commander Christensen and Captain
Lovett of the yacht Accomac, flagship of the fleet.
articles were provided to the California Center for Military
History by the daughters of Armand C. Preble who was a member
of the California State Naval Guard. The Preble family descends
from one of the earliest officers of the American Navy and the
oldest familes of California
Naval guard aims for 960 recruits
Los Angeles Daily News, July 7, 1941
California State Naval guard set its
sights yesterday to bag 960 recuits, or a full regiment of three
Lieut.Comdr. William Christensen was
going ahead rapidly at Exposition Park armory and in Orange,
Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Recruiting is also under way for a
marine division of the Naval guard, he said, as well as a 50
piece naval band.
The state guard takes the place of
the National guard and the Naval reserve, nationalized during
the present emergency. Service is voluntary with equipment furnished
by the state and national givernments.
Naval Guard to maneuver
Los Angeles Daily News, July 21, 1941
California State Naval guard volunteer
organization of cruiser owners, will give its first demonatration
of defense tactics off Southern Cailfornia shores next Sunday.
Twenty cruisers will participate in
Temporary flagship, aboard which will be Lieut-Comdr. WiIIiam
Christensen, the naval guard's commanding officer, is the cruiser
Accomac, volunteered by Verner Britton of Balboa.
Maneuvers will be ended by a grand review.
It was announced that minimum age requirement for recruits had
been reduced from 21 to 18, enabling hundreds of patriotic young
Southern California men to join the naval guard.
Recruits will be sworn in tomorrow night at the state armory
in Exposition park, it was announced.
First Battalion of naval guard
Los Angeles Daily News, October 24, 1941
First group of enlisted men to receive
promotions to warrant and noncommissioned ratings in the California
state naval guard, first battalion, were announced today.
Thirty promotions, acquired through specialist training, were
announced by Lieut. Comdr. William Christensen, commanding the
The comprehensive training course was inaugurated under authority
of Brig. Gen. J.O. Donovan, adjutant general, to quickly fit
enlisted men for advancement from the ranks.
Thomas S. Estabrook, warrant boatswain; Russell E. Arbogast,
warrant machinist; Gordon W. Gardner, chief yeoman; Harold M.
Scher, chief yeoman; Leo C. Manes, chief storekeeper; Robert
P. Elliott, yeoman, first class; Tom Dickinson, chief boatswain's
mate; Harold E. Houghton, chief gunner's mate; Fred C. Ripley,
John E. Patterson, chief carpenter's mate; Ernest A. Payne, quartermaster,
second class; Charles H. Widmayer, yeoman, third class; Kenneth
M. Kees, chief boatswain's mate; Robert J. Rush, chief machinist's
mate; Arthur Brady, quartermaster, first class.
Christian Hendriks, boatswain's mate, second class; Beverly Van
Forsyth, quartermaster, second class; Jesse I. Bodkin, gunner's
mate, second class; Paul R. Eckerson, gunner's mate, second class;
Carl Howk, electrician's mate, second class; John W. Osborne,
machinist's mate, second class.
John Campbell, yeoman, second class; Robert Sterner, signalman,
second class; Albert Werstlein, coxswain; Norman Blakey, boatswain's
mate, first class; Earl A. Condon, quartermaster, first class;
Charles L. Lewin, boatswain's mate, second class; Oliver Osborne,
quartermaster, second class; Louis E. Mathews, machinist's mate,
An honor guard from
the California State Naval Guard at the premier of the motion
picture, Reap the Wild Wind, in 1942. Image courtesy of
Murphy McHenry (California Center for Military History)
Officers and ratings of the
California State Naval Guard. The officer in the blue uniform
is identified as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Chester C. Minier.
Image donated by Colonel (CA) (Ret) David Minier. California
State Military Department)