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

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 Author  Topic: MacArthur's Escape

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: May 2, 2008 - 1:15am
Found this on internet makes an interesting read.

At dusk on 11 March 1942 General MacArthur on PT 41, and Admiral Rockwell on PT 34, were lead through US minefield and the Japanese defences by PT 41 bound for Mindanao. These PT boats were armed with four .50 calibre machineguns and four torpedo tubes. They finally cleared the minefield by 9.15pm.

Boat and Captain ----- Passengers
PT 41
Lt. John Duncan Bulkeley--- General Douglas MacArthur
Mrs Jean MacArthur
Arthur MacArthur
Ah Cheu (Arthur's nurse?)
General Richard D. Sutherland, Chief of Staff
Captain Harold G. Kay, USN
Lieutenant Colonel Sidney L. Huff, Aide
Major C. H. Morehouse, Medical Officer
PT 34
Lt. Robert Bolling Kelly -- Admiral Rockwell
General Richard J. Marshall, Deputy Chief of Staff
Colonel Charles P. Stivers, G-1
Captain Joseph McMicking (PA), Assistant G-2
PT 35
Ensign A.B. Akers ------ Colonel Charles A. Willoughby, G-2
Lieutenant Colonel Le Grande A. Diller, Aide, (PRO)
Lieutenant Colonel Francis H. Wilson, Aide to General Sutherland
Master Sergeant Paul P. Rogers, Secretary
PT 32
Lt. (jg) V.E. Schumache------ Brigadier General Spencer B. Akin, Signals
Brigadier General Hugh J. Casey, Engineering Officer
Brigadier General William F. Marquat, AA O
Brigadier General Harold H. George, Air O
Lieutenant Colonel Joe R. Sherr, Assistant Signals Officer

By 3:30 a.m. on 12 March 1942, John Bulkeley's four PT boats are separated by heavy seas. PT 32, was having trouble keeping up with the other three boats. It saw an enemy destroyer, and jettisoned some of its gasoline to escape. This meant it would not now reach Mindanao.

The four war weary PT boats stagger into the Cuyo Island hideout. PT 32 was. It was low on gasoline and it engines were unserviceable. Another boat, PT 35 was also unserviceable with fouled gasoline strainers.

The passengers were divided between two PT boats, PT 32 and 41.

By the time they reached Cuyo Island MacArthur and his son were both soaked and very seasick. Jean MacArthur put on a brave face.

The escape plan was behind schedule. They were originally meant to move on from Cuyo Island in the dark. MacArthur ordered Bulkeley to depart Cuyo Island at 2:30 p.m.. They risked a possible daylight encounter with the Japanese Navy.

The PT boats were in the open sea by 3:30pm. Within 15 minutes they spotted the Japanese heavy cruiser Ashigara. It carried eight-inch guns and Long Lance torpedoes and could travel at 35 knots. By then, PT 41 was only capable of 18 knots.

They took evasive action and were never seen by the Japanese. As they approached Negros Island that evening, Japanese artillerymen hear the PT boats engine noises, and thought they could hear American aircraft. They fire their artillery and light up the sky with flak tracer shells. The PT boats have another lucky escape.

By now General MacArthur is extremely sea sick in the lower cockpit of PT 41. His wife Jean comforts him by rubbing his hands.

At 6:30 am on 13 March 1942, PT 34 sights Cagayan Point on Mindanao Island. They had spent 35 hours travelling through 560 miles of Japanese waters. John D. Bulkeley, who had commanded his boat continuously for those 35 hours, arrived at Del Monte precisely on time.

General Douglas MacArthur stood on the prow of his PT boat shaking the salt water from his braided cap. He flipped it back on at a jaunty angle, and helped his wife ashore. MacArthur was most appreciative of the crews of the PT boats and he told their commander:-

"Bulkeley, I'm giving every officer and man here the Silver Star for gallantry. You've taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won't forget it."

He then apparently proceeded to ask Col. William Morse where he could relieve himself!

A book and a movie called "They Were Expendable" was made about their amazing escape. Bulkeley became quite famous after this. After commanding some PT boats in the Mediterranean, he eventually rose to the rank of Admiral. He died in 1996 and was buried at Arlington with full military honors.

On 15 March 1942, while they waited for the B-17's to rescue them, MacArthur's aide, Sid Huff, takes Jean MacArthur's mattress off PT 41. This event lead to a wild story that the mattress was supposedly full of gold bars. It was only full of feathers.

After the General MacArthur's staff were transferred from PT-32, Lt. (jg) V.E. Schumacher and his crew were picked up by the submarine USS Permit, which took them to Fremantle. They intentionally destroyed PT-32 during the rendezvous, to prevent the Japanese from capturing it. With the crew of PT-32 on board, USS Permit was severely overloaded with passengers. The Permit's mission had been to evacuate from Corregidor a group of code breakers who were capable of translating intercepted Japanese military communications. These code breakers apparently knew beforehand, the position of the Japanese destroyers that depth-charged the Permit a few days later, but did not tell the captain of USS Permit for fear that his taking another route to avoid them would reveal that the US had broken the Japanese code.


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Pat Rogers

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Pat Rogers  Posted on: May 3, 2008 - 1:51pm
I am not in any way attempting to take away any of the credit and or glory that was displayed in removing General Douglas McArthur and his family from Corregidor in the Phillippine islands. I do wish to correct one obvious error.

I know the Squadron Executive Officer under Lt. John Bulkley's command during this venture was Lt. Robert Bolling Kelly and not the incorrect way that is indicatedi n the report.. I would like to request a correction in the spelling that is in the referenced report.

I served under Lt. Commander Kelly in MTB Ron 9 from the time that it was started in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Dec. 1942 until he was relieved of his command some time in the Spring of 1944. I was not present at the commissioning but I was very much involved in the the squadron's departure from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Mr. Kelly was the type of character that when he said "Pat, come here", you just didn't say "Just a minute, Bob (or Lt, or Lt Cmdr. or Skipper or whatever). You moved promptly and said "Yes Sir". He was not an easy man to get along with but he was adamant in teaching his complement what they were required to do if they wanted to survive in the aggression against the enemy. From some of the actions that he undertook and some of the stories that I was told, he was the type that did not curry favor.

I don't intend to take anything away from Mr. Bulkley but I feel that Mr. Kelly did not receive the credit and the appreciation that he should have received for his contribution to PT Boat history.

So be it.
Pat Rogers, Ron 9, Ron 4, AGP3
Proud of my service in PT Boats

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: May 3, 2008 - 2:35pm
Consider it DONE,i shall email the referenced site and request they amend their article.Thanks for the feedback,your obviously a very TRUE and LOYAL person.
Cheers and Good health to you,Sir
Below is link to actual page,

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Nathaniel Smith


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nathaniel Smith   Send Email To Nathaniel Smith Posted on: May 3, 2008 - 3:21pm
I just received a copy of the movie, They Were Expendable, as this thread started and we will be seeing it for the first time tonight. (I know ... if you are concerned about the accuracy of the historical record don't watch a Hollywood movie.) The information will be useful in separating fact from fiction.

I found a picture of Robert Kelly and John Bulkley together which might be of interest.

I will enjoy any story Pat has about Lt. Cmdr. Kelly as Pat and my father served together on PT-154 from the beginning of the Ron in December 1942 until November 1943. Pat is pretty sure about his identification of Lt.Cmdr. Kelly that I attached to the picture below.


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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: May 3, 2008 - 11:26pm
Hi Pat,
Just checked the page and it has been corrected.


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