William F. Gresham, a native of Jonesboro, Tennessee, was born about 1883 and was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
He entered the academy in 1905 and graduated with the class of 1908. His nickname while at the Academy (and after) was “Pop.” He was promoted to Ensign, Lieutenant (junior grade), Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Commander in the span of 11 years.
In early 1919, LCDR Gresham transferred to the West Coast in connection with the new construction ship USS CRANE (DD-109), which had been launched 4 July 1918 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, California. The ship was commissioned April 18, 1919 with LCDR Gresham in command.
Clearing San Francisco on April 21, 1919 CRANE arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, May 13. She sailed for duty in European waters 5 June, visiting ports in England and France and joining the escort for George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson to the peace conference. Returning to New York 27 July, CRANE was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, and arrived at San Francisco 1 September. Here she participated in the Naval Review, during which she was visited by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels on September 4. After operations off the coast of Washington state, CRANE was placed in reserve at San Diego January 26, 1920.
In June 1921, he reported to the Navy Department, Washington, D.C., and on July 1, 1921, LCDR Gresham relieved CDR M.F. Draemel as the Officer-in-Charge, Code and Signal Section of Naval Communications System, (OP-18). He remained in that position until he was relieved on July, 1 1922 by LCDR D.C. Godwin. Commander Gresham died in 1935.
A clipping from the Manila Daily Bulletin of Tuesday, June 8, 1937, datelined Washington (by airmail) quotes Senator David L. Walsh, Chairman of Senate Naval Affairs Committee that, “the Navy now possesses a device which prevents decoding of its secret radio communications. It was developed by the late Navy Commander William F. Gresham and Mrs. Agnes M. Driscoll, and came to the Senate’s attention when it considered and passed a bill to pay Gresham’s widow and Mrs. Driscoll $15,000.”
According to Captain Safford (in an interview with Captain Roy Schmidt) the Gresham-Driscoll device, called the “CM,” was used up until about 1930.
* Approximate year of birth
Source: Echoes of Our Past/NCVA