Posted by: SJS | April 24, 2022

Tough work in Manila Bay 1945

PT sailors in Manila Bay/1945

In March of 1945, PT crews and Marines on landing crafts were part of an operation to flush out Japanese holdouts on sunken ships in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands. The fighting to recapture Manila Bay was intense and bloody. Extracting enemy fighters from these sunken vessels was part of the challenge in the early spring of 1945. It was around this time that Red Stahley arrived in the South Pacific, assigned to Squadron (RON) 27. I do not know if my father was assigned to any of these sunken vessel missions; if so, he never spoke about it.

In the photograph above, the PT sailor on the right with his back to the camera holds a flamethrower, a deadly weapon used for flushing out entrenched enemy combatants. The photo makes clear that the work ahead would be fierce, ugly, and merciless.

PT crew moves in on a sunken vessel in Manila Bay

As the war with Germany was ending in Europe, the fighting in the South Pacific continued to grow more relentless and lethal. In coordination with the Marines, the PT crews were advancing in the face of ferocious resistance. Red Stahley was in the middle of it all.

Clearing out an entrenched enemy

The fighting on these sunken vessels in Manila Bay was emblematic of the battles that characterized the war in the South Pacific. As tough as the fighting was for the PT crews in the Mediterranean, the battles in the South Pacific were unlike anything they had experienced before.

As I continue to follow the news coming out of Ukraine and the fierce courage and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, I am reminded of the advances of the Allies in 1945 in the South Pacific. Without knowing how or when the fighting in the South Pacific would end, the PT crews and the Marines never wavered, never lost their nerve, and never hesitated to put their lives on the line every day. The combat

Ukrainian fighters on the front lines

was brutal, up close and personal, and neither side was inclined to give any quarter to the other. What we are now seeing in Ukraine bears a striking resemblance to the intense battles in the South Pacific.

As the Ukrainians continue to hold their own against the massive, bumbling Russian war machine, they are turning the tide of the war. With the continuous supply of sophisticated weapons from the West, the Ukrainians will use their courage and military savvy to reign down unrelenting destruction on the vile Russians who mistakenly believe they can still win. To use a tired–but true–old saying–they ain’t seen nothing yet. As their losses mount, the Russians better pray that the Ukrainians don’t get ahold of any flamethrowers. They have no right to expect one ounce of mercy for what they have done.

Glory to Ukraine!

My thanks to Peter DeForest who posted the Manila Bay photos on a Facebook group devoted to the PT Boats of WWII. The photos are from the archives of Life Magazine which featured a photo essay about the Manila Bay operation in March of 1945.


  1. P. was thinking it would be walk in the park to the road to Kyiv… Just like H. thought it would to Moscow.

  2. Excellent point, Pierre. Thank you! Merci!

  3. Great info post, Steve.

    • Thanks, GP, I appreciate your support. Keep up the great work on your blog!!

      • And you as well!

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