Thomas Davies, Naval expert, dies services set

January 28, 1991|By New York Times News Service

Services for retired Rear Adm. Thomas D. Davies, a navigation expert, aviator and disarmament official, will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the main chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Admiral Davies, 76, a Potomac resident, died of a viral infection last Monday at a hospital on Saint Martin, where he was vacationing.

He was president of the Navigation Foundation, a Maryland-based group devoted to the preservation of the art of navigation. At the behest of the National Geographic Society, the group examined the documents connected with the polar expedition of Commodore Robert E. Peary.

Its finding, in 1989, was that Peary, Matthew Henson and their Eskimo guides reached the near-vicinity of the North Pole on April 6, 1909. Peary's claim of discovering the North Pole has hTC been disputed since it was made. The foundation study arose from a charge that Peary had falsified his position.

The charge, by Baltimore astronomer Dennis Rawlins, was based on a piece of paper from the Peary archives that contained numerical notations. Mr. Rawlins concluded they were navigational notes of sextant readings, but Admiral Davies said they were the serial numbers on chronometers that Peary used on a 1906 expedition.

The admiral, a 1937 Naval Academy graduate, served in anti-submarine patrols in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for sinking a German sub.

He received a second medal for making a record-setting flight from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, in 1946 in a Navy P2V Neptune. He also served as commander of an air fleet and a carrier division and was chief of naval development.

He retired in 1973 to become assistant director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, a post he held for seven years.

Surviving are his wife, Eloise; three sons, Thomas of Annapolis, Douglas of Potomac and Ronald Davies of Palo Alto, Calif.; a daughter, Meredith Davies of Chestertown; and four grandchildren.

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