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Motor Torpedo Boat Photo Archive

PT-218



Call sign:
Nan - Charlie - Queen - Mike

Sunk 16 August 1944

78' Higgins Motor Torpedo Boat:

  • Laid down 7 September 1942 by Higgins Industries, New Orleans, LA
  • Launched 12 January 1943
  • Completed 5 March 1943, placed in service and assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron SIXTEEN under the command of Lt. Comdr. Russell H. Smith, USN
  • Transferred 13 March 1943 to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron FIFTEEN (MTBRon 15) under the command of CDR Stanley M. Barnes, USN
  • MTBRon 15 was the first PT squadron sent to the Mediterranean Theater, where it operated as a unit of the British Coastal Forces. It had action throughout the western Mediterranean, basing at Bizerte
    and Bone, Africa; Palermo, Sicily; Salerno, Capri, and Leghorn, Italy; Maddalena, Sardinia; Bastia and Calvi, Corsica, and St. Tropez, France
  • Damaged 29 July 1943 by an Italian MAS boat
  • On 24 May 1944, PT-202, PT-213 and PT-218 sank the German corvettes UJ-2223, ex-Italian Maragone (C 52) and damaged UJ-2222, ex-Italian Tuffeto (C 51) off Vada Rocks, Corsica
  • The "Liberty Hound" struck a mine and sunk off southern France in the Gulf of Frejus 16 August 1944.

    Specifications:

  • Displacement 56 t.
  • Length 78'
  • Beam 20' 8"
  • Draft 5' 3"
  • Speed 41 kts.
  • Complement 17
  • Armament: One 40mm mount, four 21" torpedoes, two twin .50 cal. machine guns, one 37mm mount and one 20mm mount
  • Propulsion: Three 1,500shp Packard W-14 M2500 gasoline engines, three shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    PT-218 653k Original photo: Corsica
    Moored inboard of MTBRon 15 and MTBRon 22 boats
    Replacement photo: 6 October 1944
    On the Island of Elba, Italy in the Tuscan Archipelago
    PT-218, PT-310 and PT-308 inboard of two unidentified PT boats
    Photograph by Carl Mydans. TimeLife. TimeLife image 116717902
    Original photo: Jerry Gilmartin, MMC(SW), USN, Ret.
    Replacement photo: David Upton
    Replacement photo added 16 May 2021
    PT-218 165k Bow insignia of the "Liberty Hound", USS PT-218
    Photo from Life Magazine Archives - Carl Mydans Photographer, Shared by Peter DeForest
    Mike Green
    PT-218 109k c. 1944
    PT-218, moored along with other boats, at the PT Boat Base at Bastia, Corsica in the Mediterranean
    Photo from Life Magazine Archives - Carl Mydans Photographer, Shared by Peter DeForest
    PT-202 177k August 1944
    Drawing showing location of PT-202 and PT-218 (Drawing incorrectly lists her as PT-208)
    Photo from PT Boats in World War II..., The Mosquito Fleet by Bern Keating (See Mines below)
    Tommy Trampp

    Boat Captain
    01LTJG Donald W. Henry, USNR - Awarded the Bronze StarJuly 1943
    02LTJG Thaddeus Grundy, USNR - Awarded the Silver Star and the British Distinguished Service CrossFebruary 1944
    03LT Robert A. Dearth, USNRAugust 1944
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    There is no DANFS history available for PT-218
    MINES

    On the evening of August 16, Lt. (jg.) Wesley J. H. Gallagher, USNR, in PT 202, and Lt. Robert A. Dearth, USNR, in PT 218, set out from the Baie de Briande to find a tanker reported to be in the Gulf of Frejus, 15 miles to the northeast. At 2050, when the boats were 21/2 miles off Pte. St. Aygulf, at the western side of the Gulf of Frejus, the bow lookout on PT 202 reported a floating boxlike object 150 yards dead ahead. Gallagher immediately altered course to the right to avoid it. During its turn the boat ran over a mine which blew the stern right off, knocked several men overboard, and catapulted a column of water, smoke, and debris hundreds of feet in the air.

    Francis A. Kowalski, TM2c, USNR; Francis J. Cavanaugh, RM3c, USNR; Dante Alfieri, QM2c, USNR, and Nicholas J. Massiello, TM2c, USNR, unhesitatingly went over the side to the aid of the men in the water. Dearth brought the 218 in and picked up all of the men from the water. He was proceeding toward the 202 to take off the rest of the crew when his boat also ran over a mine which blew off her stern. Gallagher had started to try to signal to other ships in the bay to get help. As soon as the 218 was mined he stopped, considering it unsafe for any other ships to come into the area.

    The boat captains inspected their boats to make sure that no personnel remained below, and then got their crews into liferafts. They tied the liferafts together and held a muster. Only one man was missing. One officer and five enlisted men were injured. By amazing luck the engineer on watch in the engineroom of each boat survived, although on one boat the force of the blast tossed a bank of storage batteries right out of the engineroom and onto the forecastle.

    Both boats were obviously sinking, so the boat captains turned their rafts shorewards. An air raid was then in progress, and fragments from antiaircraft projectiles were falling all about the rafts. The crews made shore three-quarters of an hour after midnight, choosing as a landing place a barren, rocky point that they thought was the least likely terrain for landmines. Gallagher picked his way through barbed wire entanglements and found an abandoned, partially destroyed cottage not far from the beach. The crews stayed in the cottage for the night, since they had no way of knowing whether they were in friendly or enemy territory. Soon after daylight the boat captains found an advanced U.S. Army unit half a mile away. The wounded were transferred by ambulance to a first-aid station and a nearby Navy beachmaster found transportation for the rest of the crews back to the Baie de Briande.


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    This page created and maintained by Joseph M. Radigan
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