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Posted May 1, 2004
An excellent, though academic classic history
Anyone who genuinely wishes to understand PT combat tactics and operations must read this book. It may not be the easiest to read at first, but it gains its own rhythm. Bulkley was the man who was at the center of the development of the PT as a useful combat platform. At first underarmed and under-appreciated, it became the workhorse of the patrol mission and was greatly feared by the Japanese navy. Pay attention as the nature of the role of the PT changes from the beginning of the war to the end. Bulkley was an Admiral (an Lt. during the war) and is certainly subtle in his finger waving, but it is there. Even though some Japanese destroyers could actually outrun the PT in straight flight (a highly classified secret), the manuevering characteristics of the PT and the tremendous boldness of the crews were enough to make Japanese officers decline combat with the much smaller craft. In one case (told by my grandfather, a PT veteran) a PT patrol encountered a Japanese destroyer patrol during the day (marked Japanese advantage). The PT's scrambled accidentally into a closed lagoon. Fearing a bombardment if they stayed and attack upon leaving, they geared up and flew out through the inlet. To their surprise, they only saw a group of ships in flight at flank (pouring smoke). Any patrol of wooden boats that can make a destroyer patrol do this has got to be studied. A PT man might experience as many as 80 or 90 armed engagements. Only 3 of the 18 original crew on my grandfathers boat actually walked off. These were dramatic conflicts and tremendously brave men. I encourage all who are interested in naval military history to understand this piece of the puzzle. Those who don't will have a notable void. This book is a good place to start for it will eventually be essential in that pursuit.
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