The PT Boat Forum

Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

Forum Name: PT Boats - General

Topic: Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in the winter

Very cold here this morning in Massachusetts, something like 17 degrees. I think about these cold winters and the elements that the trainees had to endure at the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in Rhode Island. Tug boat had to enter the boat basin to break up the ice, and the boats had to be run for 20 minutes every hour. I had visited this place some years ago during the Winter months to see what it was like. I walked from the old warehouses on the lagoon to what was once some of the student Quonset Huts and nearly froze before I got into the car with heat.


Posted By: Frank J Andruss Sr | Posted on: Dec 27, 2022 - 5:50am
Total Posts: 3497 | Joined: Oct 9, 2006 - 6:09am

My Dad was at MTBSC during November and December 1943 and commented on how bitterly cold it was, with the frequent winds making it even worse. Sailors at the training center would occasionally pull a prank when returning to their quarters late at night. I'm assuming it was after being relieved from duty rather than being on leave, the latter seeming a rather unlikely occurrence during wartime. The Quonset huts were in a long row and two sailors would run down either side of the row and open the doors on either ends of the huts. The wind would then howl through the Quonset huts and eventually somebody would give up the relative warmth of their bed to close the doors. Dad said he never partook in the prank as it just kept you out in the cold longer and there was hell to pay if you got caught.

I have some pictures of he and some classmates on a Hudson River cruise around that time and it looks quite cold. They are all dressed in some type of cold weather gear and some are wearing unusual caps that cover the ears and tie under the chin. I suspect that the caps were normally worn under helmets in cold weather combat.

Dad is kneeling on the left in the first picture.


In the second picture he is with Jack Albright, a classmate of his at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh who was later killed in combat in the Pacific.


Randy McConnell (Randall J. McConnell III)

Posted By: PRJM3 | Posted on: Jan 1, 2023 - 4:42pm
Total Posts: 94 | Joined: May 25, 2009 - 2:47pm

Those hats were called, Foul Weather Deck Caps, and had a a flap to cover the neck, with U.S.N. printed on it. Needless to say, they were primarily for the deck crew on aircraft carriers, but prized by any sailor exposed to cold weather on the deck of their ship or boat! Cheers. Dennis


Posted By: Stearman | Posted on: Jan 1, 2023 - 7:41pm
Total Posts: 150 | Joined: Nov 1, 2017 - 9:38pm

Dennis, thanks for the information on the deck caps. I can see the back flap in my pictures and now realize I have seen them in pictures of flight deck crews. In fact, I painted a few of them as figures that came with the Monogram 1/48 model kits I built in the early 60s - Avenger, Dauntless, Wildcat and maybe more - that all came with deck crew figures.



Randy McConnell (Randall J. McConnell III)

Posted By: PRJM3 | Posted on: Jan 4, 2023 - 10:50am
Total Posts: 94 | Joined: May 25, 2009 - 2:47pm

No problem Randy! I built all of those also, mid 60s, great fun. Cheers, Dennis

Posted By: Stearman | Posted on: Jan 4, 2023 - 8:02pm
Total Posts: 150 | Joined: Nov 1, 2017 - 9:38pm

Don't confuse the Special Winter Clothing Helmet (official name) [Foul Weather Deck Caps] with the aircraft carrier deck crew's colored caps.

The winter helmet is part of the Special Winter Clothing that includes the jacket, bib trousers, helmet, and face masks all lined in blue flannel. The pictures that Randy posted show the jackets. They were available to all of the navy, not just aircraft carriers.

The blue version was the first version, implemented in about 1939. They were replaced by an olive drab version in 1943.

The winter weather gear and foul weather gear was owned by the command and issued for use as needed.

The CV flight deck caps or helmets were not lined and did not have a neck flap. and were color coded to distinguish the different job each of the crews did.


Posted By: 29navy | Posted on: Jan 6, 2023 - 11:28am
Total Posts: 600 | Joined: Dec 28, 2006 - 3:02pm