Posted by: SJS | February 25, 2014

Maddalena – PT Advance base on Sardinia


Before I had ever heard of Rome or Naples or Florence, I knew of a place in Italy named Maddalena.  It was a PT Base on the Island of Sardinia and it was a place my father told me about when I was a very young child.  Whether it was the site of Red’s first posting in the Mediterranean in 1944 with Squadron (Ron) 15 or whether he was rotated there after spending time in North Africa, I’m still not sure; my research continues.

This photo, taken sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, shows PT boats berthed at the town’s dock.  A nearby building shows the damage from shelling.  Maddalena was very familiar with conflict, bombs, and gunfire.  For some period of his base service in the summer of 1944, Red was assigned to work radio communications somewhere near the site captured in this photo.

If I ever have the opportunity to travel to Italy, seeing Maddalena would be a highlight for me.  Just hearing the name of this place carries me back to many of my earliest childhood memories when I would my father speak of his first days in the war, getting familiar with a far off place on an island in the Mediterranean Sea called Sardinia.  I’m sure that Venice is gorgeous and that  the splendor of Rome is beyond description.  Yet no place in Italy holds more  mystery,  romance, or history for me than Maddalena.  This is the place where my father served; it is the place that my childhood memories cluster around.




  1. During my US Navy career I had the good fortune to have been stationed in La Maddalena on US Navy submarine tenders for 6 years during the 1970s and 80s. A great place, well worth a visit! Your photo was taken in the now closed Italian Navy Yard or “Arsenale”. It was heavily bombed by Allied Forces in 1943 and several Italian Navy ships in the area were sunk or destroyed during these bombings. The yard was rebuilt and continued to be used until recent years. Some of the buildings from the WW2 era still stand. The Italian Navy has closed many of their facilities on the island and the US Navy completely closed their facilities in 2006 or so. I’d love to see any other photos of La Maddalena that you might have. Would you mind if I copy this photo and post it on a La Maddalena History group page on facebook? Well done and thanks! Dave

    • David,

      It was great to hear from you and learn about your experiences on Maddalena during your time in the USN. I appreciate getting the details about the war’s effect on this small town. Thanks for sharing your personal story with us. Please stay connected.


    • Dave,
      In my earlier response to your post, I forgot to say that you should feel free to use the photo in my Maddalena posting in any reposts you’d like to make. Also, you should check in with PT Boats Inc, in Germantown, TN, to see if they have additional photos of the Maddalena base. Alyce Guthrie, the Director, has a wealth of knowledge and she is very generous with her time and expertise.

      • Thanks Steve, I appreciate your generosity and the lead! Many of the people in La Maddalena are very interested in their war year history and little is known about the US Navy’s WW2 time there. Thanks again! Dave

  2. Hi,
    Just stumbled across this while searching for info on La Maddalena. My father, too, was in Ron 15 and like you. I knew the name La Maddalena as a youngster. Your previous repsondent’s suggestion of contacting PT Boats Inc. is a good one. I don’t know where you’re located, but PT Boats, Inc., also operates a PT Boat Museum in Fall River, Mass. One of the boats they have on display is a Higgins PT, which is what Ron 15 was outfitted with.
    Thanks for posting this!

    • Robert,

      Thanks for your comment–welcome to the blog! It’s always good to make a connection with another “PT Splinter.” I appreciate your suggestion about the PT Museum in Fall River. I live in Maryland and have several cousins who live in New England–so one of these days, I may make it up to the Fall River site. Was your father assigned to a specific boat while he was in Ron 15? I’m pretty sure that my father served as a base radioman while he was in Ron 15 and did not receive a boat assignment until he was in Ron 27 in the South Pacific.

      Thanks again for checking in. Please feel free to share any information or photos of your father with us on this blog.


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