PT Boat Forum


Moderated by: Dick, Jeff D

The PT Boat Forum ª PT Boats of WWII ª  PT Boats - General

Page: 1 of 1

Back to Topic Index Page 97 | Replies: 8

 Author  Topic: PT320 Research
Rick Bennett

New Member
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Rick Bennett  Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 5:25pm
PT320

PT320 was the boat my Dad (Thomas L Bennett) served on during WWII. Over the years I have attempted to trace his service based on his stories and historical research. What follows is what I have discovered. It is my hope that others may be able to contribute more and help fill in the gaps. Even though a PT Boat only has a crew of 17 it was a large war and many may have crossed paths with PT320 and its crew.

PT320 was an 80 Elco armed with a 37mm Olds gun on the bow, a 40 mm Australian Bofors on the stern, two twin 50 caliber machine guns amidships, and the heavy hitting power of 4 21 torpedoes. In defense it carried a smoke generator.

PT320 was named the Sea Bitch and was known by the call sign Nan - King - Roger - Easy. She was assigned to the 21st PT Squadron commanded by Commander Bowling. My Dad served under two different skippers of PT320 Burke and Hogan.

The 21st Squadron was unique in that Commander Bowling was allowed to hand pick his personnel. He chose only men over 6 and with athletic backgrounds. It was never decided if the experiment was a success, but the 21st Squadron was a crack outfit. The 21st Squadron did receive a Presidential Citation for its service. Dad was a Chief Petty Officer and served as a torpedo specialist.

PT320 began its Pacific Theater service in Australia. Dad developed a deep love for the people in Australia and always wanted to return and drive truck in the outback. They left Australia on 11/5/1943 to move to Marobe base to begin the New Guinea campaign. Just 20 Days later on 11/25/43 they joined the action by moving to Dreger Harbor as a base.

It was on 1/8/44 that the action was found. The Skipper named Burke demonstrated to his superiors that his crew could stay calm and be fearless by destroying 10 armed barges in one night. PT320 was under heavy fire as made its first pass on the 10 barges and one shore battery destroying 7 of the barges. Instead of counting their blessings they turned 180 degrees and went back to destroy the 3 remaining barges and the shore battery.

After a few more weeks of patrols on 1/28/44 they were assigned the task of landing Army Rangers on various islands for missions. Dad often told how impressed by the Rangers he was. He would tell stories of them setting a log on the bow and then while leaning against the cabin throw knives at the log and never once missing the target. The knives they threw were modified bayonets. He was given one of the knives that he sent home that I still have to this day. It is one of the most wicked looking knives I have ever seen.

In March they were continuing these missions but now were being harassed by sniper fire at the home base. No harm was ever done by the snipers but it kept everyone on their toes. The sniper problem was solved in late March when they moved from Dreger Harbor to Seadler with the tender Oyster Bay.
As soon as they were there , 3/30/44 they were sent on a mission to pick up some Rangers that had picked up 4 prisoners. They transported this unwanted cargo and then went to guide landing craft in to the beaches of Atylu Island by laying buoys. The next day was spent strafing and shelling Norillo Island while it was being invaded.

A few weeks later on 4/17/44 they were back to their old home Dreger Harbor. They remained there for over a month before moving to a new port and new missions. That new mission began on 6/5/44 when they moved to Wakde base. From there they began to do scouting missions on various islands. Since Dad was a torpedo expert and not manning the guns he was usually one of the shore party on the scouting missions. It was during this time he saw the horrors of the Japanese occupation during WWII. He thought it prudent to share these stories with me as he prepared me for Vietnam and war. I find it prudent not to share the stories here.

A couple of weeks of that and it was back to hunting barges. On 6/20/44 PT320 went hunting barges on the Sorendidori River on the island Biak. They chose to investigate the island based on rumors of activity there. The mission had a tense moment when the boat got stuck on a sand bar. Things went from bad to worse when the 3 of the rumored barges arrived and attacked PT320 while it was stuck. In short order the gunners of the PT320 sunk all three barges while still stuck. Later PT161 pulled the boat free and they both returned to the base.

It was on 7/7/44 when their next close call happened in combat. During an attack on a large barge they were suddenly attacked by a 90mm shore battery that scored several near misses. In established fashion PT320 turned into the fire and attacked the shore battery until it was silenced. After this fight for some reason it appears Skipper Burke was moved to another boat and a Skipper named Hogan took over PT320.

Oddly enough this all occurred as PT320 prepared for their part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The battle that proved to be the last battle for PT320. On the way to Leyte on 10/21/44 PT320 ran into a very bad storm and had to take shelter in the leeward side of Destroyers to survive the huge waves. This is one of the few times Dad admits to being flat scared.

Much has been written about the Battle of Leyte Gulf but most if the PT Boat participation is shrouded in confusion and darkness. As far as PT320s part it was assigned the most northerly patrol sector and saw little chance to participate in the actual battle. It just sort of passed them by the first night. The next few days after the battle though the PT Boats found themselves being the chosen targets of the Japanese bomber planes.

It was 11/5/11 when a wave of bombers came over San Pedro Bay and the PT Boats went into defense maneuvers. Dad was off duty and sleeping below deck on a lower berth. A lone bomber dove on PT320 and scored a direct hit on the deck of the wooden ship totally destroying it at 11.11n - 125.05e.. The explosion trapped Dad between his mattress and the upper berth mattress and thus saving his life. This twist of fate allowed him to be the sole survivor of PT320. He was found floating in the wreckage and picked up by a destroyer.

Dad spent the rest of his life with an almost total loss of hearing, severe back problems from being badly broken, and was still picking shrapnel out of him till the day he died. It was November 1970 that he joined his crew when involved in a trucking accident.

Many questions remain unanswered and I hope the power of the internet might answer a few more. I would love to do a painting of PT320 but am unsure if it was camouflaged or just plain green? Was there and emblem for the Sea Bitch and was it displayed? What were the boats markings? Were the torpedoes in tubes or hung free? Most of all does anyone elses family cross paths with the events mentioned above?






Total Posts: 2 | Joined: Jun 30, 2013 - 5:22pm | IP Logged

Frank Andruss

TOP BOSS
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank Andruss   Send Email To Frank Andruss Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 8:12pm
Rick, if you E Mail me I have several photos of her sister PT Boats during that time frame, which will help you.


Total Posts: 3964 | Joined: Feb 9, 2007 - 11:41am | IP Logged

Bill Manley

Advanced Member
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Bill Manley   Send Email To Bill Manley Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 - 10:21am
Rick,
I have a couple of pictures which include the crew of the 320 on the bow of the boat which was sent to me by Robert DeCamp who was a crew member of the 320 and what the boat looked like after being hit. I also have the PT 320 crew list. You can can contact me at my email address.
Bill Manley

Bill Manley

Total Posts: 64 | Joined: May 4, 2007 - 6:40am | IP Logged

Will Day

TOP BOSS
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Will Day   Send Email To Will Day Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 - 11:25am
Rick: I also have some photos of the 320, although it sounds like they are copies of the same ones mentioned by Bill Manley. One interesting thing, though, is that the boat was named ZOMBIE at one time; there is a pretty good picture of the logo in one of the shots.

Will

Total Posts: 1896 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 4:19pm | IP Logged

Will Day

TOP BOSS
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Will Day   Send Email To Will Day Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 - 11:32am
[URL=http://s183.photobucket.com/user/willday6/media/PT-32001a_zps54db0c67.jpg.html][/URL]

Will

Total Posts: 1896 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 4:19pm | IP Logged

Bill Manley

Advanced Member
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Bill Manley   Send Email To Bill Manley Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 - 12:33pm
Hi Will,
The two officers in you photo are Lt.(jg) Samuel E. Badger,Jr. and Lt.(jg) George W.M. Hogan, Jr.. For your info if you didn't already have it in your records. Bill Manley

Bill Manley

Total Posts: 64 | Joined: May 4, 2007 - 6:40am | IP Logged

Will Day

TOP BOSS
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Will Day   Send Email To Will Day Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 - 10:32pm
Thanx, Bill

Will

Total Posts: 1896 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 4:19pm | IP Logged

Rick Bennett

New Member
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Rick Bennett  Posted on: Jul 4, 2013 - 12:55pm
Thank you all for the help and filling in some of the blanks that were left. I am sure there will always be more questions and facts to find and understand but so far this has been a great help.


Total Posts: 2 | Joined: Jun 30, 2013 - 5:22pm | IP Logged

Alamo Scout

New Member
  

    
Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jul 5, 2013 - 4:42am
Rick,

In my research I have discovered three instances when PT-320 supported or attempted to support Alamo Scouts teams on missions: 1) 22-26 Jul 44 at Sansapor, DNG 2) 1 Sep 44 at Roemberpon Island, DNG and 3) 30 Sep/1 Oct 44 - an aborted attempt (weather) to land two teams at Cape Oransbari to conduct a POW liberation.

Hope this adds to the growing discovery of your father's service.

Lance

Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered | IP Logged


Lock Topic

 

Forum Legend

New Member

Reply to topic

More than 25 posts | Full Member

Reply to topic with quoted message

More than 50 posts | Advanced Member

Edit Message

More than 150 posts | MASTER

View profile

More than 300 posts | TOP BOSS

Email member