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 Author  Topic: Rescue of escaped Aussie POW at Tawi Tawi & Borneo
Dick Braithwaite

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dick Braithwaite  Posted on: Jan 10, 2010 - 8:19pm
My father Jame Richard (Dick) Braithwaite was an Australian POW who escaped from the death marches from Sandakan to Ranau in North Borneo (one of six out of about 2400 to survive),

He hailed down a passing PT boat at Libaran Island in the Labuk River estuary. I do not know the number of the PT boat (but would like to) and I think the captian of the boat was a Lt. James.

After shooting up fortifications at Beluran further up the estuary,
they took him to the mother ship USS Oyster Bay at Tawi Tawi in the Philippines on the 15th June 1945. He spent about a week under the care of medico Lt. Thackston. During his time on Oyster Bay there was a weight guessing competition. He was 68 lbs. He said a lot of the guys stared at him as if he were an alien from outer space. Apparently there was a sort of press conference with officers from far and wide on the Oyster Bay. My father was telling them how grim things had become in the collapsing Japanese Empire. After that week he was flown to an Australain field hospital at Moratai.

After 40 years of praising Americans and PT boats in particular, he died in 1986.( It reached its zenith when JFK was President !)

I would love to hear from anyone who knows anything about this story from the American side. (Versions of the story have been published in a number of Australian books.) I am writing a book about the war in Borneo.

Dick Braithwaite

Dick Braithwaite

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Michael

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Michael   Send Email To Michael Posted on: Jan 10, 2010 - 10:56pm
G'day Dick,
I had a quick search through " At Close Quarters" the PT Boaters bible and could not find a mention of the ordeal you describe.
Hopefully someone on the board has an answer for you,Mate.Also if you contact
ptboats@ptboats.org
they might be of some assistance
Cheers Mate
Michael
(Brisbane)

Michael

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Dick Braithwaite

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dick Braithwaite  Posted on: Jan 11, 2010 - 2:39pm
Hi Michael, Thanks for your advice. I had looked at the venerable "Close Quarters". While not finding info about my father James Richard Braithwaite, I found an excellent description of the famous attack on Sandakan on the 27th May 1945.(I knew of no detail of the actual attack previously)

The consequences of the raid for those living at Sandakan were major. The Japanese Marines who were to man the suicide boats destroyed in the raid ran amok through the town killing anyone they could find. A friend's young pregnant aunt was bayonetted to death outside the hospital. The Kempei Tai rounded up all the remaining English-speakers (19) and beheaded them at the cemetery. People hid in the caves behind the town and when betrayed by crying children were killed by crazed Japanese. Two days later the Japanese burnt what remained of the town and the POW camp (8 miles inland). Those POWs capable of walking were sent on the second POW death march (including my father) and those remaining were later shot. It was a terrible time.


Dick Braithwaite

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Gary Paulsen

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Gary Paulsen   Send Email To Gary Paulsen Posted on: Jan 11, 2010 - 4:46pm

dick,
Did a quick check on the internet and found this reference that your father was picked up by PT 112. Check out http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/AUS-MILITARY/2001-08/0998494250
Hope this can help.
Gary


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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jan 11, 2010 - 6:09pm
Hi Gary and Dick,
I know it says PT112 but that was impossible since PT112 was destroyed in 1943. Here is an excerpt from "At Close Quarters"

PT 112 Transferred to squadron 2 from Squadron 5, September 22, 1942. It was destroyed by enemy warships, January 11, 1943.

Perhaps it was another boat in RON8? Here is some more info about the boats in RON8. Jerry

MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SQUADRON 8

Commissioned October 10, 1942; decommissioned October 28, 1945.

Squadron Commanders:

Lt. Comdr. BARRY K. ATKINS--October 10, 1942-November 1943
Lt. ROBERT L. CHILDS, USNR--November 1943-February 29, 1944
Lt. EDWARD I. FARLEY, USNR--February 29-August 22, 1944
Lt. ROBERT A. WILLIAMSON, USNR--August 22, 1944-May 16, 1945
Lt. WILLIAM C. GODFREY--May 16-October 28, 1945

List of Boats in RON8

PT 77' Elco
66 Transferred from Squadron 4, October 1, 1942. Reclassified as small boat, February 23, 1945.
67 Transferred from Squadron 4, October 1, 1942. Destroyed by fire in port, March 17, 1943.
68 Transferred from Squadron 4, October 1, 1942. Destroyed to prevent capture, October 1, 1943.
80' Elco
110 Transferred from Squadron 2, June 1, 1943. Lost in collision, January 26, 1944.
113 Transferred from Squadron 2, April 1, 1943. Damaged by grounding, August 8, 1943; scrapped.
114 Transferred from Squadron 2, April 1, 1943. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
120 Transferred from Squadron 6, April 1, 1943. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
121 Transferred from Squadron 6, April 1, 1943. Destroyed by Australian aircraft, March 27, 1944.
122 Transferred from Squadron 6, April 1, 1943. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
129
130 Transferred from Squadron 7, February 15, 1945. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
142 Placed in service October 10, 1942. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
143 Placed in service October 13, 1942. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
144 Placed in service October 15, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 2, January, 1943. Transferred from Squadron 2, June 1, 1943. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
145 Placed in service October 17, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 2, January 1943.
146 Placed in service October 20, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 2, January 1943.
147 Placed in service October 23, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 2, January 1943.
148 Placed in service October 27, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 2, January 1943.
149 Placed in service October 29, 1942. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.
150 Placed in service November 2, 1942. Transferred to Squadron 12, May 10, 1943.
188
189 Transferred from Squadron 6, May 29, 1944. Placed out of service, stripped and destroyed, October 28, 1945.


Squadron 8, assigned to the Southwest Pacific, had action in New Guinea waters at Tufi, Morobe, Kiriwina, and Aitape; at Rein Bay and Talasea on New Britain, and in Philippine waters at Mindoro, Zamboanga, and Tawi Tawi. The squadron based for a time at Kana Kopa, Dreger Harbor, and Mios Woendi, New Guinea , and at San Pedro Bay in the Philippines, but had no action at these bases.


Here is the report for Tawi Tawi

21. TAWI TAWI
While the Tarakan PT's patrolled the Borneo coast as far north as Cowie Bay, the boats from Zamboanga, fueling from Pocomoke at Tawi Tawi, were striking at targets along the coast above Cowie Bay, principally in the Darvel Bay region. In order to facilitate these operations and to extend the range of the patrols along the northeastern Borneo coast, Squadron 8, under Lt. William C. Godfrey, moved on May 21 with the Oyster Bay to an anchorage in Chongos Bay, Tawi, Tawi. Boats of Squadron 9, under Lt. Richard M. Monahon, USNR, arrived in Chongos Bay 2 days later.

The most successful of their early operations began at dawn on May 27, when Lieutenant Monahon led nine PT's, covered by eight RAAF Kittyhawk fighters and four Navy Mariner bombers, into the harbor of Sandakan. The PT's ran at 35 knots through the narrow harbor entrance, laying smoke as a protection against the enemy fortifications. Several 75mm. shells dropped near the boats without causing damage. PT's 126, 154, and 155 each fired two torpedoes at harbor installations. Two hit the government dock, shattering pilings, leaving the dock sagging, and sinking three small launches alongside. Another overturned a 300-foot finger pier, sank three launches alongside, ripped up the tracks of a marine railway, and blew the stern off a small freighter on the railway. For 2& 1/2 hours, under spasmodic machine-gun fire from shore, the PT's strafed and rocketed harbor installations. They destroyed three more launches, heavily damaged a too-foot lugger, and set fire to warehouses, buildings, and a sawmill which was reported to house enemy suicide craft. The planes strafed and bombed the town heavily, damaging other buildings and knocking out a shore battery that was giving the boats trouble. The cost to the PT's was minor wounds to one officer and three men.

Two days later Lt. (jg.) F. W. Weidmann's PT 130 and Ens. B. E. Burtch's PT 144 entered Sandakan Harbor and observed nine large fires burning in the town. The boats destroyed a canoe and damaged a 60-foot sea truck, two barges, three sloops, two canoes, a motor launch, and a gig. These and subsequent raids caused the enemy to evacuate the town.

During their first 2 weeks at Tawi Tawi, the PT's destroyed or damaged upwards of 70 surface craft. Thereafter most of their activity was restricted, for lack of other targets, to strafing and rocketing shore installations, usually in cooperation with aircraft. These strikes eventually resulted in Japanese evacuation of Lahad Datu and several other coastal towns.

The PT's performed many special missions for guerrilla forces and for the Australian Intelligence Bureau. A few examples:

On June 3, Lieutenant Weidmann's PT 130 and Ens. George J. Larson's PT 189, escorted by PT's 142 and 143, towed four native craft loaded with guerrilla troops to Banguey Island, where the guerrillas landed and captured a Japanese fish cannery.

On the mornings of June 26 and 27, Lt. Mack L. Kennedy, USNR, led Lt. (jg.) Richard M. Dicke's PT 187 and Lt. (jg.) Charles J. Moran, Jr.'s PT 160 in close-range strafing of the town of Beluran in Labuk Bay to distract attention from the landing of an Australian scouting party at nearby Samarang Point. The diversionary operation was entirely successful and the boats did considerable damage to buildings in Beluran. During the runs on the second morning, made only 50 yards offshore in daylight, one man was killed by a rifle bullet and two were wounded by shell fragments.

Lt. (jg.) J. Harvey DuBose's PT 154, searching for a downed Navy Mariner patrol bomber on July 2, found it north of Labuk Bay, afloat but unable to take off. PT 154 towed the plane back to its tender, the Pocomoke, at Tawi Tawi, covering the distance of more than 200 miles in a little less than 23 hours.

I hope this helps!
Jerry Gilmartin

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Dick Braithwaite

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Dick Braithwaite  Posted on: Jan 11, 2010 - 6:48pm
Thanks Gary and Jerry. I had seen the PT112 reference on a file in the Australain War Memorial but then saw it had been lost in 1943 in "At Close Quarters". So I think Jerry is right, it must another boat, and probably from Squadron 8. But which one ?

Dick Braithwaite

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jan 11, 2010 - 7:50pm
Per the list in the previous post, the boats that still existed in RON8 at that time period were as follows: PT114, PT120, PT122 PT129, PT142, PT143, PT144,PT149, PT 188 and PT189. Maybe somebody can check which one of these PT boats had a skipper named "James"? Jerry

Jerry Gilmartin

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Scott Cunningham

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Scott Cunningham   Send Email To Scott Cunningham Posted on: Jan 12, 2010 - 8:30am
My father, Jim Cunningham was skipper on several boats in Ron 8. He was Skipper on Pt-121 at the time it was bombed by Austrailian planes; however, he went on leave a day or so before that and escaped certain injury or death. His replacement, Dick Secrest was wounded . My Dad also was skipper and/or X.O. on Pt's 142, 144, and 149. My Dad's diary mentions two other "Jims. "Jim Evans was an XO on the 114 boat with Wally Lemm. And Jim Fitzpatrick on Pt's-110 and 189 The incident you describe happened before my father arrived in So. West Pacific . You might want to call PT-Boats, Inc. in Memphis, TN . They keep a lot of records on individuals, boats and squadrons. Hope this helps. If you need anything more call me.

Scott L. Cunningham 2nd Gen. Ron's 8 & 13
Shreveport, LA
31-617-9212


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