The Story 
Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 35

By Kenneth L. Campbell.

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The Squadron's Insignia

Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 35 was commissioned into the U. S. Navy on February 15, 1944 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard at New York City with LT. Richard Davis, Jr. USN as its Commanding Officer.

The boats of the Squadron were PT510 thru PT521. All were 80' Elco models. The officers and crew members were mostly naval reserve personnel.

During the first couple of months, the boats were given the final outfitting including 110 vAC circuits, radar and IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) devices. This work was done in the Navy Yard and at Glen Cove, Long Island, NY.

During this period, most of the boats of the Squadron made a trip to the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center (MTBSTC) at Melville, RI. This was, for the officers and men of the crews, a kind of 'home coming' since they had been to the MTBSTC for their specialized PT Boat training. Typically, a boat would remain at Melville for a few days. During those days - and nights - the boats and crews, with students as passengers, would go out onto Narragansett Bay for boat exercises.

Off to Miami and Shakedown

On April 9, 1944, the first six boats of the Squadron, PTs 510, 511, 512, 515, 516 and 518, departed Melville and New York enroute to Miami, FL where they were to under go shakedown exercises and further at-sea training. The boats made over night stops in several ports on their journey south. They arrived in Miami on April 17th.

On April 14th, the other six boats, PTs 513, 514, 517, 519, 520 and 521, left New York enroute to Miami. They made the same ports of call and arrived in Miami on the afternoon of April 20th.

The shakedown exercises included such things as simulated torpedo attacks on vessels of the U.S. Coast Guard and of the Sub-Chaser Training Center located in Miami. There were anti-aircraft exercises that consisted of firing at target sleeves towed by aircraft flying pre-arranged missions over the PT boats.

In addition, the crews practiced maneuvering exercises and the various signals (radio, semaphore, blinker light or hand) used to convey the orders for their execution. Finally, the crews went thru drills where one boat would take a second boat into tow in the event of damage during combat.

Off to New York and Scotland

Up until May 11, 1944, the officers and crewmen of MTB Ron 35 assumed that they would see service in the western Pacific where most PTs had seen action. However, on this day, the CO received orders to have the Squadron return to New York as soon as practical for trans-shipment to the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

On May 12, 1944 at 0605 hours, the first six of the boats departed Miami enroute to New York. Again, on the journey north, the boats stopped over night in several ports . The second group of six boats left late the same night. All twelve boats were in New York on May 16th.

By May 19th, all twelve boats of the Squadron had been loaded onto the decks of three tankers and, in their cradles, lashed tightly to the ships. At 0835 hours, on May 21st, the tankers got underway to join a convoy to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Unknown to the PT boaters, their destination was to be Glasgow, Scotland.

The convoy of some 100 ships crossed without major incident and the tankers dropped anchor in Loch Long, Glasgow, Scotland on afternoon of May 31, 1944.

Duty in the Combat Area

To see Ron 35's U.S.Navy War Diary, Click Here .

After spending two days preparing and provisioning the boats for sea, all twelve boats of the Squadron departed from Loch Long enroute to Portland, England. They put into Milfordhaven, Wales on the night of June 3-4 and rounded Portland Bill in the late afternoon on June 4, 1944; just hours before the planned invasion of the beaches at Normandy, France. (The invasion was delayed by twenty-four hours due to a storm.)

On the morning of D-Day, June 6th, the boats of MTB Ron 35 were tied up at docks in Portland. From there, the crews could see wave after wave of allied aircraft flying southward toward France. Many were towing gliders. Still more were DC-3s carrying paratroopers who would be the first to land behind enemy lines.

After having large white stars and circles painted on their fore decks and having been outfitted with British type recognition signal lamps on their yard arms, two of the Squadron's boats, PT514 and PT520, departed Portland on D+1 to assume patrol stations on the Mason Line. The other boats of the Squadron would join them during the next day or two.

To see a Sketch Map of the Area Click Here .

The Mason Line was a line extending outward from the east side of the Cherbourg Peninsula which was the western side of the invasion area. It extended out about six miles. The PTs of MTB Ron 35, along with boats from MTB Ron 34 and MTB Ron 30, would anchor at fixed intervals along this line; and, with their deck lookouts and radar, formed a protective screen on the western flank of the invasion forces. The PTs along this line were under the command of Cmdr. John D. Bulkeley, USN, the CO Task Group 122.9 (CTG 122.9).

Often during the day, and frequently during the night hours, PTs would leave the Mason Line to carry out patrol missions off the entrance to Cherbourg Harbor and to patrol off La Harve, France. The patrols would last generally from twelve to forty-eight hours.

The PTs of the Squadron would perform other duties, such as destroying floating mines and rescue operations. Such an operation was given to PT520 on June 8th when it assisted in removing crew members from the USS Rich, DE695. A report of this action can be seen by clicking here.

On June 11, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Davis was relieved as Commanding Officer of MTB Ron 35 by Lt. Arthur N. Barnes, USNR, with Lt. James C. Mountcastle as the Executive Officer of the Squadron. Cmdr. Davis became CO of the U.S. Naval PT Base at Portland, England. [For Picture]

Later, when the harbor at Cherbourg had been captured by the allies, some of the PTs were docked overnight in Cherbourg. This made it more convenient to conduct patrols between the mainland and the Channel Islands which were, at the time, occupied by the Germans.

The boats of Squadron engaged in a number of enemy actions in the Channel including air raids by German planes as they attacked allied shipping at anchor at the invasion beaches. They also engaged German E-Boats, R-Boats and Trawlers along the French coast.

The U.S. Navy's War Diary contains extensive action reports of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 35's contacts with the Germans during its tour of duty in the English Channel.

Post Combat Activities

Toward the end of October, the war fronts had moved far inland and the waters in the Channel were increasingly rough. The Squadron's boats were recalled to Portland to begin preparations to turn the boats over to the Russian Navy under the Lend Lease Program.

The engines of the boats were pulled out and either overhauled or replaced with new engines. Many of the boats required reinforcements to the sister frames of their hulls. All boats were inspected by officers of the Russian Navy. Speed trails and radar checks were held in the Channel off Portland. An inventory of all items on the official equipment list was made and all items not present had to be replaced - down to the last knife and fork in the galley.

During this period, about one third of the crew of each boat was detached and returned to the United States for leave and then reassignment.

Finally, on November 29, 1944 the first six boats of Squadron 35 left Portland to begin the journey back to Glasgow, Scotland. The remaining boats left the following day and caught up to the first boats in Falmouth, England where they had remained due to bad weather.

Over all, the trip to Glasgow was a trying adventure due to the continued bad weather along the west coast of England. It was necessary to make extended lay overs in several ports enroute.

On the afternoon of December 13, 1944 all twelve boats of MTB Ron 35 arrived in Roseneath, Glasgow, Scotland. Following their arrival, the boats were once again inspected by the Russians and, in some cases, additional repairs to the hull were required.

On December 26, 1944, PTs 510, 511, 512 and 513 were placed in their cradles and hoisted to the deck of a tanker for transport to the USSR. At that time, they became the property of the Russian Navy.

It was so cold in Loch Long in December and on into February that the crews of the boats were housed in quarters ashore. The engines of the boats had to be started every few hours, day and night, so that the boats could get underway quickly in the event of an emergency. Another third of the crew members were returned to the States for leave and reassignment.

On March 4, 1945, PTs 514 and 515 were cradled and hoisted to the deck on a tanker. They, too, had become the property of the Russian Navy.

It was not until the first few days of April, 1945 that the remaining six boats of the Squadron, PTs 516, 517, 518, 519, 520 and 521 were cradled and lifted on to tankers for their journey to Russia.

On the morning of April 10, 1945, Lt. Cmdr. Barnes officially decommissioned Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 35 and all remaining officers and men returned to the United States for leave and reassignment.

Thus Endth the Story 
Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 35

NOTE: (2/22/99)
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