Yates Stirling, Jr. – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

Wife Asks Permanent Alimony on Misconduct Charge

BALTIMORE, July 13, 1943 – Judge Eli Frank in the Federal Circuit Court said today that Mrs. Adelaide E. Stirling, wife of Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, retired, had filed suit for permanent alimony, charging her husband with misconduct with another woman.

The publication order signed by Judge Frank to serve notice of suit on the retired officer quoted Mrs. Stirling’s petition as saying her husband abandoned her early in 1935 “without just cause of provocation.”

The Stirling’s were married in Manila, P.I. on December 12, 1903, and live at many naval posts.  They have five children, all over 21.

Admiral Says Wife’s Charges in Suit Are Untrue

BALTIMORE, July 15, 1943 – H. L. Gardner, attorney for Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, U.S.N., retired, whose wife has filed suit in Baltimore to permanent alimony, said in a statement yesterday:

“Admiral Stirling denies all of the allegations alleged to be contained in the complaint of Mrs. Stirling, particularly with regard to the abandonment count and to the allegations of adultery.  With respect to the claim of desertion, there is in existence a separation agreement entered into between Mrs. Stirling and the Admiral which specifically provides for the maintenance of separate residences by either.  At the proper time and place, we intend to defend ourselves and to remove any stain, potential or otherwise, on a long and distinguished public career.”

Retired Rear Admiral Called “Stormy Petrel of Service During 48-Year Career

BALTIMORE, January 27, 1948 – Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., USN, retired, former Commandant of the Third Naval District, New York, and long a “stormy petrel” of the Navy, died today at his home. His age was 75.  He had been ill for three months with a heart ailment.

Surviving are his widow, the former Adelaide Egbert; two sons, Captain Yates Stirling 3rd, USN, retired, of Norfolk, Virginia, and Lieutenant Commander Harry E. Stirling, USN; three daughters, the Misses Ellen and Adelaide Stirling of Baltimore and Mrs. William R. Ilk of Los Angeles; a sister, Mrs. Pembroke Thom of Baltimore, and a brother, Captain Archibald Stirling, USN, retired, of Newport, Rhode Island.

Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at 3 P.M. Thursday.

Admiral Stirling was a controversial figure while in the Navy because of his outspoken critical views on international affairs and naval policies and procedures.

Born in Vallejo, California, Admiral Stirling was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1892, twenty-nine years after his father, who also attained the rank of Rear Admiral.  He served in the Spanish-American War in Cuban waters, in the Orient during the Philippine Insurrection, as a submarine commander during the World War, as commander of the Yangtze River Patrol and as Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District in Honolulu in the Twenties, and as Commandant of both the Third Naval District and the Brooklyn Naval Yard in the Thirties.

While on active duty, he was a frequent contributor to newspapers of articles on Navy strategy and tactics, with particular emphasis on the relation of a strong Navy to foreign policy.  His outspoken articles on the Soviet Union in 1935 lead to a controversy in which his ouster from the Navy was demanded by Pacific organizations and rejected by the Navy Department.  One of his critiques, which was the immediate cause of the furor, appealed for a united front against communism and suggested the possibility of “a great crusade” against Bolshevism.

As the controversy grew, Secretary of the Navy Claude Swanson said that no disciplinary action would be taken, but that the Navy department considered it “improper for officers of the Navy to publish controversial comment on international issues which might be construed as offensive to foreign governments or their nationals.”

This was the last of his controversies while on active duty.  He retired in 1936 at the statuary age of 64, but continued his critical articles on world affairs.  He was an advocate of preparedness, a large Navy and the doctrine that offense is the best defense.

At one time in 1939, he urged the United States to get into the war first as the best way to defend American interests.  Despite this seemingly belligerent approach to world problems, he was, like many top-ranking Army and Navy figures, an ardent opponent of war.

At the outbreak of the fighting in Europe, he again urged the United States to join the war.  He continued to write newspaper articles and toured the country lecturing.  When this country did enter the war, he became a military and naval critic for the United Press and his commentaries appeared in newspapers throughout the nation.

In 1933, he applied for a return to active duty, but Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal replied that there was no post available “suitable to your rank and attainments.”

“All my life I have been called a stormy petrel,” Admiral Stirling wrote in his autobiography “Sea Duty – The Memoirs of a Fighting Admiral,” published in 1939.  “I have never hesitated to reveal what I considered should be brought to public attention, usually within the Navy, but often to a wider public,” he said.  “I seem to see some benefits that have come to the Navy through those efforts.  I have always believed that a naval man actually is disloyal to his country if he does not reveal acts that are doing harm to his service and show, if he can, how to remedy the fault.  An efficient Navy cannot be run with ‘yes men’ only.”

The Admiral’s book ranged over the problems of Navy life, from what he termed “viciousness caused by stagnation in naval promotion” to the necessity for a General Staff for the Navy.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/27/1948


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 12/12/1883
  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/22/1959

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