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 Author  Topic: Korean War PT Story
CJ Skamarakas

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Skamarakas  Posted on: Feb 28, 2021 - 2:48pm

Here's an excerpt I came across about PT boats in combat during the Korean war. Makes one wonder what would have happened if the Navy hadn't gotten rid of all the boats. It's from "White Tigers: My Secret War in Korea" by Col. Ben Malcom. He was an infantry officer assigned to the partisans fighting in North Korea with the allies.

Page 117-120
There were occasions when a surprise allocation of assets allowed us to demonstrate the types of things we could do with them.
On June 11, 1952, I was running a training exercise near the beach on Paengnyong-do when two Korean PT boats pulled into the harbor. I took an interpreter and went to investigate. The commander of one of the boats said they had been assigned to us for seven days to be used as we saw fit. The boats were assigned to the Wolfpack area of operations [other partisan group] but were being loaned to us on a limited basis.
I saw some immediate possibilities for their use, as did Mr. Pak [partisan leader]. Our slow and unreliable sail junks left us vulnerable to NKPA beach patrols and guard posts. In addition, there were certain areas of the North Korean coast we could not approach because of the shallow water. These fast-moving, shallow-draft PT boats could operate in as little as six feet of water and were armed with rocket pods and machine guns. The pods each carried sixteen five-inch rockets which could be fired individually or in a volley.

The next night the two boats were assigned a target in Donkey-4's area of operations about fifteen miles southeast of Wollae-do. One boat would serve as the primary attacker while the other was the backup. I requested and was granted permission by the commander of the attacking craft to accompany him.
The target was a small Korean village about a thousand yards from the coast that had been taken over by a platoon of about thirty NKPA soldiers. They drove out the villagers, some of whom had become refugees under our care.
Two of Mr. Pak's agents had scouted the village sometime earlier and provides us with a detailed sketch map showing the headquarters building, troop billets, ammunition storage area, and the communications shack. The two agents infiltrated back into the area before the raid and set up flares north and south of the village. The plan called for them to light the flares thirty minutes after midnight so the PT boat commander could pinpoint the targets he wanted to hit. The agents would then escape into the mountains.

The skipper fired one marking round to measure his distance, adjusted the pods, and began firing at his target. The rockets zipped out of the tubes in a blinding flash of orange-and-yellow flame The fifth rocket hit the building in which the ammunition was stored, setting off a series of huge explosions.

The PT boats stayed in the Leopard Base area of operations for a full week. Their last four days were spent on the north side of Changsan-got, hitting targets between Cho-do and the Yalu River. All the reports we received indicated that they were quite successful.

After that week-long experiment the partisan leaders requested the PT boats every time they came to Paengnyong-do to meet with the commander. They wanted rice, rifles, ammunition, clothing and the PT boats. But ... we never saw them again.

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Jerry Gilmartin


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Feb 28, 2021 - 6:28pm
I have gathered these photos of one of the 4 80ft Elco PT Boats that were part of ROK Navy in the 1950s along with a few of the Mk50 Rocket Launcher, one example is on display at the Korean War museum in Seoul. One photo actually shows a rocket being fired at the coast from the Korean PT Boat.


Jerry Gilmartin
PT658 Crewman
Portland OR

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Jeff D


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Mar 1, 2021 - 6:53am
Thank you CJ for posting that interesting story. I knew the ROK were given some PT boats but didn't know that they actually saw action.

Thanks for the photos Jerry. The modeler in me really likes the Mk50 closeups!

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