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Motor Torpedo Boat Photo Archive

Courtesy of Tommy Trampp


Call sign:
Nan - William - Item - Charlie

Sunk 24 August 1944

80' Elco Motor Torpedo Boat:

  • Laid down 28 June 1943 by the Electric Boat Co., Elco Works, Bayonne, NJ
  • Launched 14 September 1943
  • Completed 26 October 1943
  • Placed in service 22 October 1943 and assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron TWENTY NINE (MTBRon 29) under the command of Comdr. S. Stephen Daunis, USN
  • MTBRon 29, assigned to the Mediterranean, based at Calvi, Corsica, and Leghorn, Italy, and had action along the northwest coast of Italy and southern coast of France, operating under the British
    Coastal Forces
  • "Daisy Mae", ex-"Tieffenworth" struck a mine and sank 24 August 1944 off Cape Couronne, southern France.


  • Displacement 56 t.
  • Length 80'
  • Beam 20' 8"
  • Draft 5'
  • Speed 41 kts.
  • Complement 17
  • Armament: One 40mm mount, two 20mm mounts, four 21" Torpedoes and two twin .50 cal. machine guns
  • Propulsion: Three 1,500shp Packard W-14 M2500 gasoline engines, three shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    PT-202 177k August 1944
    Drawing showing location of PT-555
    Photo from PT Boats in World War II..., The Mosquito Fleet by Bern Keating (See THE GULF OF FOS below)
    Tommy Trampp
    Photo added 17 January 2020

    Commanding Officers
    01ENS Howard H. Boyle, Jr., USNR - Awarded the Bronze StarJuly 1944
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    There is no DANFS history available for PT-555

    On August 23, [Rear] Admiral [Lyal A.] Davidson received information that Port de Bouc in the Gulf of Fos, to the west of Marseille, was in the hands of French patriots. On the same day he was ordered to start minesweeping operations to open the Port de Bouc and Gulf of Fos. Accordingly, on August 24, he sent Capitaine de Fregate [Commander] M.J.B. Bataille, French naval liaison officer on his staff, and Lt. Bayard Walker, USNR, to make a reconnaissance of Port de Bouc aboard PT 555. Lieutenant Walker's report to Admiral Davidson follows:

    "Pursuant to your verbal orders of 24 August 1944, I accompanied Capitaine de Fregate Bataille, French Navy, on a mission to Port de Bouc on the PT 555 to determine whether the port was actually in the hands of the FFI [Free French Forces] as reported, and if so, to what extent it could be used. We departed from alongside the USS Augusta [CA 31] at approximately 1300.

    "We proceeded westward past Marseilles and then northwards towards the Gulf de Fos through a north-south channel in the process of being cleared of enemy mines by a large sweeping force. Near the end of this channel we came close aboard a U.S. destroyer who notified us that coastal batteries to the eastward had straddled ships coming near the entrance of the Gulf de Fos. It is believed that the batteries were those in the Niolan or Cape Mejean area.

    "The other officers aboard the PT 555 were Lt. Stanley Livingston, [Jr.], Division Commander; Ens. Howard [H.] Boyle, [Jr.]; and Ens. [Charles H.] Stearns, [Jr.], Executive Officer.

    "It was decided that we could enter the Gulf de Fos despite fire from enemy coastal batteries since we presented such a small target at long range. We entered the bay cautiously and proceeded close to the port without drawing enemy fire. Despite a two-man mine watch, we passed over a shallow mine which just cleared the bottom of the boat.

    "The French flag could be seen flying in more than a dozen places as we neared the port, demolished by the enemy when they left. A pilot and a fisherman opened the boom and allowed us to enter the harbor. We were welcomed by cheering crowds waving French flags.

    "At Port de Bouc Capitaine Bataille and myself got the necessary information regarding the condition and usefulness of the port from the local authorities which included Lieutenant Granry, French Navy, in civilian clothes, who had parachuted in this area some weeks before. Through his efforts, much of the enemy attempts to make the ports useless were countered. We learned that the last of the Germans had left the town on 21 August.

    "After about a half hour ashore, gathering the above information, we got underway to return to the Augusta. Shortly after clearing the harbor entrance the Commanding Officer called all hands to general quarters, set a two-man mine watch at the bow, and began steaming at 1500 RPM, about 29 knots. A minutes later (about 1715) a terrific blast exploded beneath our stern, carrying away the 40mm. gun and gun crew and almost everything up to the forward bulkhead of the engine room. Enough framework remained to hold the engines, now submerged. The four torpedoes were immediately jettisoned and we anchored with two anchors from separate lines.

    "A rubber life boat was then lowered as was a life raft to search for the missing men. Four men were missing. One man with a broken leg, an uninjured man and a body were brought back aboard after a thorough search by those in the life raft. Due to the strong current the life rafts were not only unable to make headway towards the ship but were drifting away. Lieutenant Livingston, an expert swimmer, swam over to the rubber raft, a distance of over 300 yards, with the bitter end of a line to which we added all the spare line, electric cable, halyards, etc., available to make it reach. The line was kept buoyed by floatable material such as 'Mae Wests' and regular life jackets at varying intervals. This made possible the return of the above mentioned men.

    "A French pilot boat and an open fishing boat stood out from Port de Bouc, rescuing the other searcher in the regular life raft, thence coming alongside.

    "During this time we were constantly covered by a large number of fighter planes who had been attracted to us by the explosion. A Navy spotting plane flew very close to us but was unable to read our light. A Navy plane from the USS Philadelphia [CL 41] landed and came close aboard to get our message concerning Port de Bouc for relay to Commander Task Force 86.

    "It was decided that I should attempt to make Port de Bouc, aiding an interpreter for the injured man who needed medical attention. We left with the Pharmacist's Mate and the body in the open boat. When we had gone scarcely 100 yards from the PT, a violent explosion lifted the boat in the air and threw us all headlong into the water. The time was about 1805. An instant before the explosion I saw a greenish line with green floats spaced about every foot get tangled in our screw astern. I came up under the boat which seemed to be coming down on me and quickly freed my foot which got caught somewhere for an instant. The water was black in spots from the residue of the charge as I shot up nearer the surface.

    "As I gathered my senses I realized that everyone seemed to be all right and accounted for. The body disappeared never to be seen again and the injured man was placed on the bottom of the overturned boat where he appeared to be comfortable. The Phamacist's Mate who was about 60 feet away from me called for help as he couldn't swim. I swam to him and reassured him he was doing fine, but got ducked under a few times in attempting to help him. Fortunately, an inflated 'Mae West' floated by and then an empty 10 gallon can, all of which helped calm him and keep him afloat. As a matter of fact, the situation seemed so good at this point that I decided not to take off my pistol and belt. We began drifting rapidly from the others, clinging to the boat, but the pilot boat came to our rescue, picking us up first and then those in the overturned fisherman. The injured man was put aboard without further harm and the boat up-ended and sank as the last man let go.

    "Right after the explosion the Philadelphia plane took off before receiving our message, I learned later with regret, as we were most anxious to complete the mission by getting the word through.

    "We had two narrow escapes getting back to the PT -- coming very close to similar lines and floats as I had seen before. I requested the pilot, Ensign Moneglia, French Navy, also in civilian clothes, to go between two sets of lines rather than back down and turn around as the majority seemed to wish. It proved to be the safe way between two mines whose floats we could actually see.

    "Another fishing boat with Lieutenant Granry aboard came out and tied alongside. Lieutenant Livingston and Ensign Boyle attempted for a long time to get word to a U.S. cruiser which was with the sweeping group out in the swept channel, but our portable light was not strong enough and attempts with a mirror received only spasmodic dashes, but no Roger.

    "We continued to jettison topside weights as the stern of the remainder of the boat sank lower. Eventually, two twin .50 caliber machine guns and the 20mm. gun and ammunition together with other topside weights were jettisoned. One twin .50 caliber machine gun and some ammunition was not jettisoned at the request of the Commanding Officer in order to have something to open up with in case of attack. K-rations and fruit juices were brought topside to feed the crew and Frenchmen.

    "Commander Bataille and Lieutenant Livingston set off for Carro23 in the rubber boat in an attempt to get the message through if they could find transportation or communication facilities of the Army. I remained aboard with a duplicate message in case of visual contact with Allied craft and also to serve as interpreter with the French patriots alongside.

    "We had two teams of bucket brigades that night. One was composed of the Commanding Officer and the crew and the other of the Frenchmen and myself. About midnight the trim looked as though we might have to abandon ship prior to dawn despite the calm sea, so all preparations were made for such an event. The radar set and aerial were dismantled, destroyed and jettisoned and secret and classified publications and charts were made ready to be deep-sixed.

    "We were able to keep ahead of the water coming in, however, and the weather continued fair until daylight. The bilge pump aft had been shot away and the one forward couldn't make suction due to our being so far down by the stern.

    "The night was quiet except for the flashes and vibrations of the aerial bombardment which appeared to be going on in Marseille. It was chilly and damp, but we made out fairly well by sharing blankets.

    "About an hour after sunrise, Commander Bataille and Lieutenant Livingston returned in a fishing boat followed by another boat. They reported that they hadn't been able to get the message through, but told of their experience of paddling by a mined gate and finding an almost deserted village.

    "It was decided to tow the PT to Port de Bouc with two of the boats, using the other two boats ahead to search for mine lines. Commander Bataille and Lieutenant Livingston stood in the bows of the two searching craft. After going only a short distance so many of these lines were encountered that we abandoned the plan of going to Port de Bouc and headed instead for Carro, near Cap Couronne.

    "On arrival at Carro the PT boat was moored alongside the dock with the stern settled on the bottom. An abandoned house next to the dock was turned over to us to quarter the officers and men. Personal and living gear was taken to the house which we cleared out with the help of five Italian prisoners put at our disposal by the FFI. There were sufficient provisions aboard to take ashore to feed the men for several days.

    "The Commanding Officer of the Philadelphia sent Ensign Pitcher and a radioman with a . . . radio ashore at the time of our arrival at Carro, to attempt to get information regarding troop dispositions and targets along the coast. It was by means of this radio that we were able to communicate with Commander Task Force 86 via the Philadelphia. My . . . [dispatch] reported the pocket of 3,000 enemy troops in the area bounded by Ensues, La Redenne, and Rouet, only a few kilometers away, whose escape was anticipated on the northern road via Martiques. The FFI strongly desired air support to prevent this maneuver as there were no Allied troops in the vicinity.

    "Saturday morning 26 August I proceeded to Port de Bouc to gather information . . . I returned . . . to Carro for the night and to pick up my gear and returned to Port de Bouc the next day as U.S. Naval Liaison Officer.

    "I had asked the pastor of the Catholic Church at La Couronne to say a mass on Sunday morning for the five men we had lost. A high mass was celebrated in the church, crowded to the doors at ten-thirty. The pastor and local people had gone [to] considerable effort to decorate the church with French and American flags and flowers. The choir sang despite the broken organ and the Curé gave a moving sermon in French. Four FFI men, gotten up in a uniform of French helmets, blue shirts and white trousers, stood as a guard of honor before the draped coffin on which was an American flag.

    "After mass, our men fell in ranks behind a platoon of FFI followed by what seemed to be the whole town and marched to the World War monument. There, a little ceremony was held and a wreath was placed in honor of the five American sailors. We were told that a collection was in the process of being taken up amongst the local people in order to have a plaque made for the monument with the names of the five Americans who had given their lives for the liberation of France."

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    This page created by Joseph M. Radigan and maintained by Tom Bateman
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