California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
State Naval Forces in World War II
 
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 regiments.
 
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...
 
(b)
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 “ship’s companies” and not more than two separate companies of marines.
 
Each ship’s company shall consist of not more than 100 enlisted men. The officers of the ship’s 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 ship’s 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:

 
March 1942
 
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
 
April 1942
 
Naval Units Monterey Ordnance School Fort Ord, Cannery and Coast Motor Patrol, etc.
- 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 warehouses, etc.
- 3rd Ships Company: San Pedro Lend Lease docks and warehouses, etc.
- 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 Substation, etc.
- 2nd Marine Company: San Pedro Docks and Warehouses

October 1942
 
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:
 
The 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 emergency.
 
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.
 
 

 
News Articles
The following 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 battalions.
 
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 the event.

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 promotes 30
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 first battalion.

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.

Promotions include:

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, chief signalman.

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, second class.
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)
 
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Updated 8 February 2016