Daily Event for October 27, 2013

Searching in coves and along the coast for Japanese barges and other small craft during World War II was the job of the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons. The men in the PT boats were exposed to the dangers of Japanese ships, shore guns and aircraft attack boats made mostly out of plywood. After the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Japanese were on the run, but they were also still on the attack. On October 27, 1944 Japanese land based aircraft made attacks against two of the mosquito boats.

On the afternoon of Oct. 26 USS PT-132 and USS PT-326 departed from the tender USS Oyster Bay AGP-6 in San Pedro Bay, Philippines for a patrol between Bilaa Point and Sipaca Point on the northern coast of Mindanao. A little before midnight they found two barges tied up about 2 miles southeast of Bilaa Point and promptly destroyed them with no opposition. Continuing the patrol into the following morning (Oct. 27) nothing of importance was reported. Then at 0800 when they were 3 miles northeast of Cabogan Grande Island a Japanese aircraft came out of the clouds and dropped a bomb near the port quarter of PT-132. The explosion damaged the boat and killed two men, a third later died of his wounds. The commanding officer, Ensign Paul H. Jones, USNR, was one of the men wounded, the boats Executive officer, Ensign Robert H. Muller, USNR, was another along with several other men. Radioman 3rd Class Renton T. Gibson, USNR for all intents and purposes took command of the boat after Ens. Jones had fallen, handling the wheel, radio and keeping the crew collected. Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Joseph Gigac, USN, while badly wounded himself, kept up a constant AA fire until he collapsed from his wounds. Ensign R. D. Rardin, the Exec. of the 326 boat came aboard and attended to the wounded. Gibson got the damaged 132 back to her base without further problems and was later awarded the Silver Star.

USS PT-523 and USS PT-525 got underway from the same location almost exactly 24 hours after PT-132, on October 27, 1944, with orders to transit the San Juanico Strait and patrol in Carigara Bay, Leyte. Forty-three minutes later after they had passed Tacloban City a bomb exploded about 200 yards to port. Seconds later the four unseen aircraft dropped out of the clouds in and began a bombing and strafing run against the boats. The Japanese pilots were more accurate at a lower level and scored a hit on PT-523 causing her to go dead in the water and killing eight of the crew. Almost everyone else on the boat had been wounded, including an Australian war correspondent.

Lt. Alexander W. Wells, USNR, Commanding Officer of PT-525, brought his boat alongside the crippled 523 despite continued strafing by the Japanese and took the boat in tow while his Exec. Ens. Gervis S. Brady, USNR, went aboard to help with the wounded. A third bombing run failed to hit either of the boats and heavy AA fire kept the aircraft at a respectful distance and possibly even downed one of the attackers until a flight of P-38's arrived to deal with the Japanese.

Two other PTs came to assist the damaged boat. USS PT-526 diverted from her patrol and passed three men to the 523 boat bringing much needed first aid equipment with them. USS PT-524 brought a badly needed doctor from their base. An engineer from 526 boat got one of the engines running and the tow line was dropped. However after only five minutes the engine overheated and 525 boat resumed her tow. They arrived at USS Oyster Bay AGP-6 in San Pedro Bay at 1847 that evening.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS PT-132
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Betz, Herbert H.
Quartermaster 2nd Class (USNR)
Speer, William J.
Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class
Vining, Jr., Thomas R.
Radioman 3rd Class (USNR)
Died of wounds Oct. 29.

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS PT-523
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Andrews, Harry E.
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class (USNR)
Bougere, Louis C.
Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (USNR)
Brightman, William C.
Warrant Officer Machinist
Carpenter, Robert A.
Radioman 2nd Class (USNR)
Holloway, Ernest T.
Seaman 1st Class (USNR)
Romeos, Raymond A.
Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (USNR)
Stanley, James D.
Metalsmith 3rd Class (USNR)
Wajert, Frank J.
Seaman 1st Class (USNR)
The following men were decorated for the action.
Brady, Gervis S.
Ens. (USNR)
Silver Star
Gigac, Joseph
Silver Star
Steward, Wilbur P.
Bronze Star
Wells, Alexander W.
Lt. (USNR)
Silver Star

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Jan. 25, 2016

I was trying to find out how my uncle was killed in WWII. I found your site by accident in my search. My uncle was a Warrant Officer Machinist on PT-523. I was born in 1943 and my uncle sent me a letter just one month before he died. Being only one year old at the time my dad saved the letter for me to read when I was older. I was named after my uncle Calvin and he was my godfather. It gave great peace and pride knowing of his sacrifice. Thank you for your wonderful site.

Calvin Brightman
Nephew of Warrant Officer William Calvin Brightman

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