Posted by: SJS | May 19, 2011

Melville, Rhode Island

The training center for all PT sailors was located in Melville, Rhode Island.  Sailors went through basic training at various locations around the country.  When they made the choice for PT service they were assigned to Melville.  

Inspection at Melville

Enlisted men line up for inspection at Melville

The Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center (MTBSTC)  in Melville was established by order of the Secretary of the Navy in February of 1942 and began operations in the middle of March 1942.  

The ten boats of Squadron Four were attached to the facility as the training squadron.  The sailors lived in Quonset huts.  They studied in classroom buildings and learned the nuts and bolts of PT operation on the boats of Ron 4.  By March of 1945, the MTBSTC had trained almost 1800 officers and over 11,000 enlisted men. 

Many PT officers who had served overseas were rotated back to Melville to serve as instructors for the officers and enlisted men in training.  As seasoned veterans, those officers provided their trainees with valuable lessons on the challenges that would confront them in warfare. 

One PT veteran I spoke with described the MTBSTC in Melville as “the Annapolis of the Mosquito Fleet.”  Red Stahley, Tom Saffles, and all the PT vets were proud alumni of Melville and remembered their days there with great fondness and respect.


Responses

  1. For a full history of MTBSTC, a new book :MTBSTC: Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center, was published in 2011. Available through Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. (http://www.amazon.com/MTBSTC-Torpedo-Squadrons-Training-Center/dp/1608880990/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319999688&sr=8-1)

    • Charles,
      Thanks for letting us know about the new book on the MTB Training Center. I’m going to pick up a copy and learn more about it.
      Steve

  2. HI! I am trying to find out which boats my father was on, i know he was stioned at melville,later to squadron 38. do you know of a list of names of crews?

    • Robert,

      Your best bet for getting information about your father’s PT career is to contact PTBoats Inc. The organization has a great website which may be helpful to you in tracking down the information that you’re seeking. Also, you should contact the USN branch of the Armed Forces Archives in St. Louis, Missouri to get your father’s official personnel file. They were very helpful to me when I began digging into my father’s career during WWII in the Navy.

      Sorry for the long dealy in responding; we had a death in the family and it came during the holidays. Hope that you and your family have had a happy New Year.

      Thanks for making contact with the blog. Good luck in your research efforts.

      Steve

  3. Thanks for this. My father, Leland S. Gosnell (aka Gus) was the original gunner’s mate on PT107 of MTBRON 5: 80-ft ELCO PTs 103 – 114. RON5
    was transported aboard cargo vessels to Cuba and then on to the Canal
    Zone. Since PTs were immediately needed in the Solomon Islands Campaign in support of Guadalcanal, the six higher numbered boats, 109 – 114 were
    shipped from the Canal Zone to a base at Tulagi, across Iron Bottom Sound from Guadalcanal. My father had been in the USMC from 1925 – 1929 and
    was a veteran of the Second Nicaraguan Campaign…having been ship’s company on the battleship USS Mississippi before serving ashore against the Sandanistas. His duty station was at the stern, manning the 20mm with
    a loader of the magazines. PT107 was one of several PTs on patrol out of
    Rendova in the Solomons the night JFKs PT109 was rammed by the IJN destroyer Amagiri. PT107 had radar installed and fired all four torpedoes at the fast-moving target at maximum range; but no hits were reported. On the way back to Rendova, the boat was attacked by two Japanese float planes which dropped bombs close aboard and dad was blown over the side, striking his head on the gunwale. The 107 came about and found dad
    stunned but, otherwise OK. Later on, dad was promoted to Gunners Mate Chief and was transferred to the PT training base at Melville, RI where he served until tranferred to MTBRON 13 at Borneo. He was present at the
    Japanese surrender at Kuching, Borneo…under the control of the Australian
    Army.

    • Robert,

      Thanks so much for sharing the information about your father and his experiences on PT 107. What a harrowing patrol your father was on during that fateful night in 1943 when JFK’s PT 109 was sliced in half by the Amagiri–a night that became an important event in American history. Your dad and his mates on PT 107 had their own close encounter with the enemy and how amazing that he survived after being blown out of his boat.

      If you have any other stories or even photos of your dad from his PT days, I would love to feature them on the blog. I don’t know much about RON 5, so any information you could share about that squadron would also be very welcome.

      Thanks again for sharing the information about your father. Hope that you had a great Memorial Day Holiday.

      Steve Stahley

      • Hi Steve,

        Thank you for your warm reply. If possible, I will include some photos of PT107 which were taken in very early 1943 when several RON5 boats were tasked to go from Panama to the Galapagos Islands in search of a possible Japanese radio station. The boats were underway on their own bottoms, but
        accompanied by a PT tender for refueling and any needed repairs along the way. As I recall, two of the boats put men ashore armed with Springfield rifles, Thompson sub-machine guns and .45 pistols to search for the radio station. They came upon a home of a South American family who told them that they had not seen any Japanese; nor did they believe any Japanese were in the Galapagos. Interestingly, the men wore out their boon-dockers on the search because of the volcanic rock they had to travail and they ran short of water on the way back to the PTs and were nearly exhausted when they finally got back aboard.

        Regarding PT Squadron 5 (MTBRON 5) consisting of PTs 103 – 114; they were the first 12 boats of the new ELCO 80-foot PTs built by the Electric Boat Company at Bayonne, New Jersey…within site of the Statue of Liberty
        in mid 1942. Originally, they were outfitted with four MK8 21-inch torpedoes, two twin-50 caliber machine guns, and a 20mm gun at the stern. At he extreme stern amidships was a smoke generator which could lay down a
        dense cloud of smoke to help conceal the boat from enemy fire.

        When the six lower numbered boats of RON5; PTs 103 – 108 were shipped to the base at Tulagi across Iron Bottom Sound from Guadalcanal, they were
        painted olive drag over the original haze gray…they got the paint from the
        troops at Guadalcanal…to help camouflage the boats under the trees. Later on, PT107 decided they needed more fire power as they were being out-gunned by some of the armed Japanese barges. So, they went over to
        Henderson Field on Guadalcanal and removed a 37mm gun from a damaged P-39 Airacobra plane and got several hundred rounds of ammo
        for it. They lashed the gun to a coconut log near the bow of the boat…that helped to even the firepower of the Japanese troop barges.

        For some reason, I am unable to include any photos I have, Steve. I can copy the photos; but when I try to include them in this reply, “paste” is
        greyed out. Can you give me a direct contact email address so that I can
        send the pix to you??

        All the best,

        Bob Gosnell
        Rocky Top, TN
        former ATN2 VP-46 USN

  4. Bob,

    The information you’ve shared about RON 5 is fantastic and I’m sure the other readers of the blog are enjoying it as much as I am. Your father’s experience in RON 5 really shines a light on the far flung missions of a squadron that played a major role in the Pacific campaigns of the PT boats.

    Thanks for your generous offer to share the pictures with me. My direct e-mail is: stephenstahley@hotmail.com. If you can make contact via that online address, we can go from there. In late 2013, I was in touch with a fellow PT Splinter from Florida, Mike Nixon, who mailed me a treasure trove of family photos from his father’s experience in RON 27 and I used many of them on the blog. After I scanned his precious photos, I mailed them back to him via certified mail just to make sure they got home with no problems. I’d love to do the same with your photos.

    I am so grateful for your informative and insightful comments about your father’s PT days. Connections like this are really what I was hoping the blog would accomplish and it has been so rewarding to see it develop in this way.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Steve

  5. Hi Stephen…just sent an email with several photos attached…my dad is in
    both pix of the PTs…he was the Gunners Mate on the 107 boat.

    All the best,

    Bob


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