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 Author  Topic: PT-161 Skipper
Frank J Andruss Sr


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PT-161 Skipper John MacElroy in his own words.
We set up our new forward PT boat base just outside Rendova Harbor on a small island called Lumbaria. They named our new base “Todd City” after Ensign Leon Todd, who had been killed in action on 2 July.
On 3 July we were on the move further north. There was going to be an invasion of the island of Rendova and our job was to protect the flank of our destroyers and our invasion force. We made the move during the night and entered the harbor at dawn.
On the following night, we received a coded message that American supply ships would arrive before dawn. I had just come topside after deciphering the message when we saw naval gunfire near Banyette Point. Moments later there were shells splashing in the water nearby. It was a Japanese task force that had sailed down from Rabaul to shell our shore landing and now were shooting at us.
Commander Kelly was on Buddy Liebenow’s 157 boat. We were the second, followed by Lowry in the 162. Kelly led us straight for the enemy. We went to full speed and tore out across Blanche Channel after them. With the wind and the sea spray in my face and with enemy shells splashing around us, the thought suddenly occurred to me that this was the moment that we had been preparing for all these months.
We were speeding along across the dark water, illuminated only by two-way gunfire into what looked like the sure jaws of death, but I figured we were up to it. At least I hoped so, as there was no turning aside now.
Apparently there is not much that is quite as unnerving to a Japanese Commander as the sight of three half-crazy American torpedo boats charging straight for you…and that was how we celebrated the 4th of July, 1943.


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