The PT Boat Forum

Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

Forum Name: PT Boats - General

Topic: Who was the Executive Officer at MTBS Training Center?

I am reading a biography of JFK by Nigel Hamilton, and he mentions Lt. Cmdr John Harllee as the Executive Officer at the MTBS in Melville, RI.

Does anybody know who Lt. Cmdr. D. J. Walsh was? I have a document in my father's Navy Service Record from that station signed by him as Executive Officer. There is also an Ensign Ferguson. Did either of them serve on PT boats later?

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jun 5, 2007 - 4:43pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Commander Walsh was the training commander of the Base and took over for Lt. Commander W. C. Specht, who was the first Co of the Base. I believe Wash was assigned to Ron 5 as a boat Captain before coming to Melville. I really have very little on him in my files.

Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: Jun 6, 2007 - 12:08pm
Total Posts: 3179 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am

Thank you for your reply.

After reading Hamilton's chapter on JFK at Melville, I was beginning to think that D.J. Walsh might have been just a made-up name on my dad's paperwork that the Navy used for administrative purposes. Hamilton relates that at that time Lt. Kennedy was corresponding by mail with the Senate Naval Affairs Committee Chairman D.I. Walsh, ostensibly for transfer to combat in the Pacific theatre.

Now I am curious to know if D.I. Walsh and D.J. Walsh were in any way related.

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jun 6, 2007 - 1:25pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Thanks Frank, for the photo of Commander Walsh. I just saw it today in one of your posts. :-) I've been searching my dad's military service record for a long time now, and finding a little piece of his life, is like finding a nugget of gold. Better really.

Just an added note: I saw in an online paper just the other day that a man named David J. (DJ) Walsh was killed in a tragic boating accident in Buzzard Bay - not far from Melville as I reckon on the map. It's being investigated now. The man was in his 60's, and his father's name was David also. I'm trying to find out if this might have been the son of Commander Walsh.

[edit] Frank - are you certain that Cmdr. Walsh is the man on the right, with the moustache? The David J. Walsh who died in the accident looked remarkably similar to the other man.

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jul 25, 2008 - 9:58pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

I do not rememebr sending you a photo. It was a long time ago, please refresh my memory, but in any event, send me your E mail and I will send you a picture of Wash...........

Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: Jul 26, 2008 - 3:53am
Total Posts: 3179 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am

David J Walsh was the XO of MTBSTC from April 1942 til September 1943. At that time he took over from Cdr Specht. Walsh was CO til June 1945 when Cdr Thomas G Warfield took over. Before MTBSTC, Walsh was XO of the USS NIAGARA.

David J. Walsh was not related (at least not directly as far as I know), to David I. Walsh. Although David J's father was a state senator from Connectiticut. David I Walsh was from Massachusetts. IT may be possible there is a connection as some point in their family tree, but I didn't trace it back.

Not sure of his children. I'll see what I can find.

OK, found out he had three daughters.



Posted By: 29navy | Posted on: Jul 26, 2008 - 8:55am
Total Posts: 510 | Joined: Dec 28, 2006 - 3:02pm

I'm sorry. You didn't send the photo to me directly, but you posted it in one of your Melville Photos threads. It's in the same batch as the photo with the sailors all standing at parade in their dress blues. I'd have to check to see which one it was.

Please do send me another if you have it. My email is

29navy - Yes, I'm pretty sure now there is no direct connection to Senator D.I. Walsh. Did you mean the Massachusetts Senator had three girls, or were you referring to Commander Walsh?

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jul 26, 2008 - 11:19am
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Walsh James F. Greenwich Senate Republican 1903, 1907 No Data
Walsh John Thomas Ansonia Senate Democrat 1931 No Data
Walsh Robert Jay Greenwich Senate Republican 1885, 1886, 1887(President. Pro Tem.), 1902(Constitutional Convention) No Data

There were only three Connecticut Senators named Walsh, according to the database for the Connecticut General Assembly. The most likely candidate of these would be the second one, John Thomas Walsh, who served a term beginning in 1931.

There were quite a few House members though.
Pretty interesting.

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jul 26, 2008 - 11:44am
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Yes, John Walsh was Cdr Walsh's father. And Cdr Walsh had the three daughters.


Posted By: 29navy | Posted on: Jul 27, 2008 - 8:15am
Total Posts: 510 | Joined: Dec 28, 2006 - 3:02pm

Thanks for that 29navy, so evidently there's no connection between the man in this boating accident and the PT Boat commander. That's all I really wanted to know.

You seem to know a little about DJ Walsh, do you know if he ever wrote any books or magazine articles after the war? I'm interested in the first year following Pearl Harbor, what if any operations the PTs ran off the east coast against German uboats, that were sinking ships, planting mines in and around our harbors, and even landing teams of saboteurs.

I'm especially interested in the night of November 9, 1942 - that's when New York harbor was mined, and several of the mines exploded the next day. I've read the U-608 "KriegsTageBuch" for that mission, and other reports and learned that coincidentally a German spy was dropped off several hundred miles to the north in Canada that very same night. Also some strange goings on involving my father, and a stolen car and perhaps even a hold-up, and I was hoping Commander Walsh would have written something about it. I think there could be a screenplay in it all :-)

Posted By: dobee | Posted on: Jul 27, 2008 - 7:08pm
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Hey Dobee

I remember reading your blog about your father and his "troubles" while I was doing research on MTBSTC. Don't know of any writings Walsh did after the war about the war. He stayed in the NAvy til he retired in 1960.


Posted By: 29navy | Posted on: Jul 30, 2008 - 11:44am
Total Posts: 510 | Joined: Dec 28, 2006 - 3:02pm