Posted by: SJS | September 8, 2017

Transporting prisoners at war’s end

In the late summer of 1945, among other duties, PT boats were used to transport Japanese prisoners from one location to another.  This photograph from PT Boats, Inc., shows the crowded deck of an unnamed PT boat filled with Japanese soldiers.  I well remember my father telling me how strange it felt to be carrying surrendered enemy troops across the water to their assigned destinations.  Just weeks before they shared space on the crowded PT deck, these men were doing their best to kill each other. But now the war was over and it was time for the PT crews to get accustomed to another set of responsibilities.  As they did with everything else, the PT sailors adapted to their new situation and did their job with professionalism and equanimity.

As the summer turned to autumn and my father was transferred from Squadron (Ron) 27 to Ron 40, the transport work became routine and my father began to anticipate the end of his days in the Navy which occurred in early 1946.   His experience as sailor assigned to transport duty made a profound impact him. From the way he told the stories, I had a strong sense that his contact with these prisoners gave him a deep sense of their humanity and a respect for the dignified way that they handled themselves.  As with all of his WWII experiences, Red Stahley’s final days on the PTs was a transformative time in his young life.

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Responses

  1. Our fathers sound so much alike. Maybe one was a soldier and the other a sailor, but they had so many similar experiences with the enemy and came to the same conclusions.

    • Yes, I believe you’re right GP. Their experience of war really shaped them–and they shaped us. Thanks for your continued support.

  2. I’m not surprised at all at how your father viewed things during the war, and how that shaped his maturity and outlook. The military is a fine institution, and it breeds honor and respect. Racism is non existent. Sounds like a role model for all, doesn’t it?

    • Thanks, Jennie. I always appreciate your helpful comments. As I continue to explore my father’s wartime service, it has taught me so much. Thanks again!

      • You are welcome!


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