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Naval Snippets from History : Part 1
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History of Naval Battles - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Read about brief history of Naval Battles - short series of articles as a Road to the Naval Closed Beta.

Hearts of Oak

Poem written by David Gerrick
Click here to see more.


Come cheer up, my lads! 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?
Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, why we follow, and run them ashore,
For if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.
Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes,
They frighten our women, our children, and beaus;
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er,
Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.
Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

We'll still make them fear, and we'll still make them flee,
And drub 'em on shore, as we've drubb'd 'em at sea;
Then cheer up, my lads! with one heart let us sing:
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and Queen.
Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

Fairmile 'D', Higgins 78', LCGs. By John Moore

In early 1944 German coastal forces off Italy were using convoys of heavily armed barges called "F-lighters" by the Allies. Guns up to and including 88mm flak cannon made them a formidable foe, and their shallow draught made them a difficult target for torpedoes. To counter this threat Commander Robert Allan, RNVR, assembled a battle fleet in miniature. His "battleships" were Landing Craft Guns (LCGs), tank landing craft modified to carry 4.7 inch guns. The escorts were Anglo-American: a screening force of Dog Boats (Fairmile 'D' MGBs and MTBs), and PT boats using their superior radar for scouting and control.

In March 1944 Allan took his fleet into action in Operation Gun, attacking a convoy of 6 F-lighters escorted by two destroyers. PT boats drove off the destroyers allowing the LCGs to engage the F-lighters, sinking all six with no loss. The following month Allan's fleet sallied forth again in Operation Newt, encountering several groups of enemy ships and sinking five F-lighters and a tug. Allan was awarded the DSO "for courage, determination and skill in Light Forces in successful actions with enemy coastal forces off the west coast of Italy".


"At Close Quarters - PT Boats in the United States Navy", Captain Robert J. Bulkley, Jr.
"With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945", Barbara Tomblin

Katyushas from the River at Stalingrad

During World War II, Stalingrad was a major port on the Volga River. In July of 1941, a month after the German invasion, a dedicated Soviet army detachment was created on the Volga River to train servicemen for the Volga fighting fleet. In October, it was transformed into the Volga Naval Flotilla. At that time it was made up of an assortment of vessels, seven gunboats, fifteen armoured boats, over twenty minesweepers and two floating artillery batteries.

The frontline was moving closer to the Volga River in 1942, its strategic role as a major inland waterway vital to both sides. The Soviet side were constantly devising modifications and innovations to help defend Volga shipping. Despite all the difficulties involved, the armoured boats were equipped with tank turrets. It was at the battle of Stalingrad that the boats first employed rocket mortars. When new - smaller and lighter - models were produced, they were installed on armoured boats as well. That’s how the world-famous Katyusha rocket mortars appeared on the Volga during the battle of Stalingrad.

The heroic deeds of the Volga Naval Flotilla are undoubtedly equal to the most illustrious feats performed in the battle of Stalingrad. The Soviet army suffered heavy losses, but it also dealt the German war machine a crushing blow on the Volga as well as on land.

PT 167, Elco 80'. By John Moore.

In November 1943 PT 167, bedecked in "zebra stripe" dazzle camouflage, was escorting a pair of landing craft to Treasury Island. A squadron of Japanese B5N "Kate" torpedo bombers caught the convoy at twilight, and dived in to attack. Perhaps mistaking the boats for larger vessels they released their torpedoes at close range, so close that the first bomber clipped PT 167's radio antenna; the sailors felt a severe jolt as it crashed into the sea. The gunners opened fire, hitting another aircraft that crashed close enough to drench them with the splash, while other bombers attacked the landing craft.

After the aircraft were driven off the captain of PT 167 inspected his craft and found the cause of the jolt: a torpedo had smashed right through the bow, sheering off the toilet seat from the head in the process, leaving a hole clean through the boat. Landing craft LCI 90 had also been hit, penetrated by another torpedo that failed to explode and ended up wedged in the engine room. PT 167 took the crew off, and LCI 90 was towed back to port; both vessels were repaired and soon back in action. Japanese radio reports the following day of two aircraft carriers sunk were a little wide of the mark!


"At Close Quarters - PT Boats in the United States Navy", Captain Robert J. Bulkley, Jr.
PT Boat forum thread:
PT 167 (including photographs of the damage):
LCI 90 (including the crew posing with the unexploded torpedo)

The IJN Plays catch up

The Imperial Japanese Navy was not particularly interested in PT-boats until they began to encounter increasing numbers of American PTs. Patrol Boats had no initial role in the IJN's war formula of fighting one decisive battle, nor did the IJN's strategic plans give any priority to defending the shorelines of Japan or its conquered territories. Once the Japanese had seen what these fast small craft could accomplish, only then did they begin a program to mass produce such boats.

There isn't a lot of ready history on Japanese PT's, however snippets of actions did linger on past the war. On the 2nd of September 1944, a Japanese patrol boat tried desperately to locate Lieutenant George HW Bush - another future president, when his TBM Avenger was shot down off Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands. Another Avenger in his flight drove it off with gunfire before he was rescued by the submarine USS Finback that was stationed on lifeguard duty which surfaced in the middle of the action to snatch Bush to safety.

PT 202, 204 and 205; Higgins 78' boats. By John Moore

It wasn't just the enemy that PT boat crew had to watch out for. In May 1943 PT 202, PT 204 and PT 205 were patrolling the coast of North Africa when they stumbled across two British destroyers, HMS Lamerton and HMS Wilton.

At the same time German E-boats had engaged the destroyers who opened fire on PT boats and E-boats alike; Lieutenant DuBose on PT 202 fired his emergency recognition flare to try and alert the destroyer crew, but it blended in with tracer fire in the pandemonium. The PT boats withdrew under smoke, strafing an E-boat in the process, but were chased by the determined Lamerton for almost an hour before the PT boats made their escape.

Short of fuel, Lieutenant O'Brien on PT 205 decided to put into Bizerte harbour, only recently captured by ground forces. The following morning, much to his chagrin, O'Brien was asked to move his boat so that photographers could get a clear shot of landing craft coming ashore, the "first" Allied vessels in Bizerte!


"History of United States Naval Operations in World War II: Operations in North African Waters, October 1942-June 1943", Samuel Eliot Morison

"At Close Quarters - PT Boats in the United States Navy", Captain Robert J. Bulkley, Jr.
National Archives photograph, "Bizerte Harbour. These ships were the first to enter Bizerte in May of 1943. Tunisia."

United States Navy, via NavSource

The War Thunder Team

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