Posted by: SJS | August 31, 2011

PT sailors in the classroom at Melville

During their time at the training center Melville, Rhode Island, PT sailors spent many, many hours in the classroom.   In WWII, PT boats were a new weapon in the arsenal of the US Navy.  The crews selected to man these small, agile boats needed to be well schooled in all aspects of naval warfare including navigation, communication, mechanics, and weaponry.   Because the crew on a PT boat was so small (12 to 14 men), every sailor had to achieve a level of competence in all aspects of the boat’s operation. 

Communications class at Melville

In the classroom at Melville

A lot of the learning took place in classrooms in the Quonset huts that became a familiar aspect in the life of every PT sailor.  For radiomen like Red Stahley, Tom Saffles, and Franny Hart the classroom depicted in this photograph is a place where they spent a good portion of their training experience at Melville.   As the communication specialists assigned to the boats, the radiomen were the content experts on Morse Code, semaphore, and blinkers.  Mastering the basics on all these topics required lots of time in the classroom.

Many of the PT veterans I spoke with had high praise for the solid foundation they received at Melville.  “I hated sitting in those classrooms,” one of them told me, “but what I learned in training helped me to get out of the war alive.” 



  1. Great post. How long was the training at Melville?

    • Darren,

      Thanks for your continued support. You raise an excellent question about the length of time the sailors spent at Melville. I believe it was six months but I’m going to have to check my father’s records to see what I can find out.


  2. Thanks Steve. I think you are right.

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