Posted by: SJS | April 2, 2011

Ron 15 – welcome to WWII

In the early summer of 1944, having completed Radio Training School in June, Red Stahley was assigned to PT Squadron (Ron) 15 in the Mediterranean.  By the time Red  joined Ron 15, the Allies had already landed at Normandy and were pushing inland.  The American PT boats in the Mediterranean were working closely with the British and French forces and in August of ’44, they played a pivotal role in the invasion of Southern France. 

The historian Curtis L. Nelson in his book, Hunters in the Shallows, describes the work of PTs during that period, “The invasion of southern France kept the PTs busy in the summer of 1944.  The boats, eventually operating from bases on French soil, created the usual diversions, landed troops to capture coastal batteries, and even maintained a daily blood bank shuttle.  Two PTs were lost when mines blew their sterns off.  At the end of August they drove off or sank numerous explosive boats and human torpedoes.  None ever got through to the invasion fleet.  It was all in a night’s work.”

During his time with Ron 15, it seems that Red was not assigned to a boat but worked on radio communications from bases in Bizerta (Tunisia/North Africa), Maddalena (on the island of Sardinia), and Bastia (on the island of Corsica).  

Red at Bizerta PT base '44

Red at Bizerta PT base 1944

Whether the sailors were assigned to a boat or a base, however, they knew they were on the front lines.  German boats were bigger and more heavily armed than the PTs.  German planes strafed the PTs and attacked Allied bases.   

The young PT sailors arriving in the Mediterranean theatre during the late spring and early summer of 1944 got a taste of warfare very quickly.  There was little romance or glory.  Supporting the invasion forces was hard, dangerous work against a determined enemy.  My father told me that it was at his first posting with Ron 15 that he fully realized that “war is no game; I saw what was happening to my fellow sailors.  It was frightening.”

And he and his buddies were just getting started.


  1. Just wondering if you had seen . Jim Stanton was in Ron 15 in the Med and then transferred to the South Pacific with Ron 23. He and Red may have crossed paths many times.

    • Gary,

      The wesbiste about Jim Stanton, PistolPackinMama, has been a source of inspiration for me. I’ve talked to the creator, Jim Stanton (the grandson of the PT sailor), and he provided me with a lot of good information about Ron 15. If I remember correctly, not only did his grandfather come from Philadelphia, but he and my father (Red), graduated from the same high school – Northeast Catholic. They may have graduated in different years.

      I strongly recommend the website about Jim Stanton to anyone who wants to learn more about the work of the PTs in the Mediterranean. The website goes into considerable detail in describing some of the major PT operations in that theater.



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