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 Author  Topic: MTB 3 Action Reports for December 1941
Chad Hill

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Chad Hill  Posted on: Apr 13, 2016 - 3:24pm
I'm new to the forum so please forgive me if this has already been discussed or asked about.

Where can I find the action reports for MTB 3 during December 1941? I am specifically trying to locate reports for the night of December 16-17, 1941. This is the night the Philippine passenger liner SS Corregidor struck a mine off the west coast of Corregidor Island and sank with great loss of life.

I would also like to know if deck logs for the boats of MTB 3 were kept and where they might be today. I am particularly interested in any such logs for PT-41, PT-32, Pt-34 and PT-35 and entries they may have for December 16-17, 1941.

Thank you,

Chad Hill

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of 29navy  Posted on: Apr 13, 2016 - 4:29pm
Logs for PT 31, 33, 34 and 35 for July 12 - Sept, Oct, & Nov 1941 exist at the National Archives in College Park, MD. But nothing after that.

Not sure I've seen an action report for that. I'll look.


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Chad Hill

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Chad Hill  Posted on: Apr 18, 2016 - 2:43pm
Hello Charlie,

Thank you for that interesting information.

Captain Bulkley, in "At Close Quarters" (p.7) wrote that PTs 32, 34 and 35 participated in the rescue of 296 passengers from the SS Corregidor. He does not mention any other boats. In the chapter on sources, he quotes the "MTB 3 action report of 21 May 1942" for this information.

I have a copy of a report dated 21 May 1942 titled "Summary of Operations Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three from 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942". Was Bulkley possibly referring to this report? However, the only boat that is specifically mentioned here for the SS Corregidor incident is PT 32.

Several years ago an interesting entry from the journal of a Philippine Q-boat commander named Ramon A. Alcaraz was discovered. On December 22, 1941 he wrote:

"I also talked with Ens. George Cox, CO PT 41 on duty when S.S. Corregidor sunk five days ago. He said PT 41 was leading the ill fated ship at the channel but suddenly, all at once, the S.S. Corregidor veered course towards the minefields and his efforts to stop her were to no avail. There was a loud explosion after hitting a mine, the ship sank so fast virtually all aboard went with her including the ship captain. There were very few survivors".

No known official records mention PT 41 as being involved in this incident, although numerous unofficial reports state that a US Navy ship was leading or escorting the SS Corregidor through the minefields. Mr. Cox died in 1972, and I have been unable to locate any surviving relatives or MTB 3 members so far.

Do you or anyone else that frequents this impressive forum know if George Cox wrote any memoirs about his remarkable career? Or if any official reports exist on this incident?

The wreckage of the SS Corregidor was recently discovered off the western coast of Corregidor Island in the area where the La Monja-Corregidor minefield existed. It is estimated that approximately 1200 civilians perished in its sinking. The ship was also carrying badly needed artillery and ammunition supplies for the US Visayan-Mindanao force.



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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of 29navy  Posted on: Apr 18, 2016 - 5:06pm
I believe that is the only Action report. Of course, it only mentions PT-32 because of the number of survivors it picked up. It starts off saying the "Squadron participated". In They Were Expendable (book) Bulkeley referenced his three boats were out rescuing survivors.


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Chad Hill

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Chad Hill  Posted on: Apr 18, 2016 - 6:28pm
Thank you, Charlie. I appreciate your checking of the applicable records.

To all: there is a discussion about the loss of the SS Corregidor, which includes the participation of MTB 3 in the recovery of survivors, at the link below:


Chad Hill

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Chad Hill

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Chad Hill  Posted on: Apr 19, 2016 - 10:33pm

On a whim, I tried to track down Mr. Cox, CO of PT-41, hoping that if he was still alive I might be able to speak to him about the SS Corregidor. Unfortunately, I learned that he had died in 1972. As seen below, it is clear that he was a most distinguished man.

I extend my thanks to Lisa Carr, Chief Librarian from the Watertown Daily Times, for graciously providing me with a copy of Mr. Cox's extensive obituary from the New York paper's archives. Excerpts follow:


"George E. Cox, Jr., 57, a civic leader, decorated war hero and famed commander of PT-41 which rescued General Douglas A. MacArthur from Corregidor to the safety of Mindanao, Philippines, March 12-15, 1942, was pronounced dead on arrival at the House of the Good Samararitan at 11:50 Sunday night.

"Mr. Cox had retired for the night about 10 minutes before and suffered a coronary attack in his sleep.

"Honorary bearers {will include} Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN.

"Born October 16, 1914, in Niagra Falls...he moved to Watertown as a boy. A 1933 graduate of Watertown High School...he graduated from Earlham College, Indiana, in June 1939.

"Mr. Cox began his wartime service as a member of the American Ambulance Volunteer Corps, one of a unit of eight volunteer college graduates to sail aboard the {SS} Manhattan, departing New York City March 23, 1940 for Italy. The group then traveled overland to France.

"On April 15, 1940 he went to the Saar section of the Maginot front lines with the Myron T. Herrick division...a letter dated June 18 arrived in Watertown in early July. He had been in the Riems section when the Nazis broke through the French the time he had been separated from his division for a week and was carrying on hospital and refugee evacuation work on his own intiative. He was assigned to a hospital in Vichy, France. The corps headquarters in New York City ordered the units home in August.

"Mr. Cox was awarded the Croix de Guerre August 21, 1940...

"At the start of the return trip home, Mr. Cox and 20 other members of the corps spent four days and nights in a Spanish concentration camp.

"Relating some of his wartime experiences, Mr. Cox said that three times he had been surrounded by Germans on three sides and escaped.

"Following a brief stay in Watertown, he reported to Northwestern University December 16 for three months additional training in the Naval Reserve.

"He was back into the thick of battle by January 2, 1942, stationed at the Cavite Naval Base outside Manila, serving as a commander of a PT patrol boat, torpedo craft.

"On the evening of January 26 Ensign Cox guided his torpedo boat into Subic Bay and sent a torpedo into a 5000 ton Japanese merchantship.

"Perhaps his most famous PT boat action involved the transfer of General MacArthur, Mrs. MacArthur, their son and four other generals from Corregidor to Mindanao in the southern Philippines March 12-15, 1942. He also assisted in the successful escape of Philippine President Manuel Quezon from Luzon.

"General MacArthur and several of his top staff officers had been ordered by President Roosevelt to abandon the besieged Philippine Islands and assume command of all allied forces in the Pacific with headquarters in Australia.

"Giving up the idea of a submarine escape, the general boarded the PT-41, part of the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, commanded by Lieutenant John D. Bulkeley, who directed operations from Ensign Cox's boat. The journey's length totaled 700 miles through Japanese infested waters.

"He {Cox} received the Navy Cross for later PT boat action.

"On April 8, 1942, Mr. Cox and the PT-41 along with PT-34 were off Cebu island when the two boats made an effective torpedo attack on a Japanese Kuma-class light cruiser screened by four enemy destroyers.

"The exciting PT-boat days were vividly recalled in the book and later movie, "They Were Expendable", starring Robert Montgomery and John Wayne.

"His PT boat actions won him the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross, for gallantry in action. Both are Army awards and are unusual honors to Navy men.

"The story of Mr. Cox and his PT boat colleagues became the subject of another book in December 1942- "None More Courageous", by Stewart H. Holbrook published by the Macmillan Company.

"In June 1944 he received his fifth award, a Silver Star, granted by the Navy for meritorious action in the Pacific theater. The Distinguished Conduct Star, received in April 1942 was awarded for saving the lives of the Philippine president, his family and cabinet by releasing two torpedoes which had broken loose from their racks on his PT boat.

"He served in the Mediterranean theater of operations in 1944 fighting German Corvettes and small destroyers. He was injured in a jeep accident in the Mediterranean and was hospitalized two months.

"As a Lieutenant Commander he was placed in the command of Motor Boat Squadron 40 from its commissioning April 26, 1945, serving until its decommissioning December 21, 1945.

"Following the end of the war Commander Cox returned to the Philippines to train Filipinos. General Carlos Romulo, president of the Philippines, awarded him the Government Military Medal for his post-war work.

"Prior to his departure from the Philippines in 1946, he was awarded the Military Merit Medal of the Philippines by President Manuel Roxas, for services rendered from February 23 to June 24, 1946.

"Commander Cox was discharged from the service November 20, 1946, at Mare Island, California.

"He received a permanent citation for the Gold Star in lieu of his second Silver Star from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in February 1947, for commanding Motor Torpedo boat 135 during combat patrols along the north coast of New Guinea and the south coast of New Britain from May to December 1943.

"On November 29, 1947 he married Miss Mary Eaton Cooper...Mrs. Cox was a service pilot in the WASPs for 16 months during World War 2 and was a flight instructor at Benson Airways municipal airport prior to her marriage"...

At the time of his death, Mr. Cox was the father of four children, ages 8 to 22. Mrs. Cox, who never remarried, died in 2009.

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