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  PT-331 "Ramblin' Wrecker / Poochie / Coochie / The Wolf / Ali Baba"
USN
MTBS 21
PT-Boat
Elco 80'

56 Tons
80' x 20' 8" x 5'
1 x 40mm Bofors (stern)
4 x 21" Torpedos
2 x Twin .50 cal MG

Ship History
Built by Electric Boat Company (Elco) in Bayonne, New Jersey. Laid down January 30, 1943. Launched April 8, 1943. Completed April 27, 1943 and assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 21 (MTBS 21) under the command of Commander Selman S. Bowling.

On November 19-20, 1943 attempted to tow PT-147 off a coral reef at Teliata Point along with PT-144 and PT-322 but the effort was unsuccessful and the boat was scuttled.

This PT-Boat operated from Dregger Harbor near Finchafen.

On March 5-6, 1944 participated in landing at Volupai on New Britain to support of the landing of US Marines.

On March 30, 1944 supported the landings at Manus captained by Lt(jg) Bernard A. Crimmings was used by U. S. Army General I. P. Swift as an observation ship for the high command, observing the Allied landing at Pityilu Island. Next, on April 3, 1944 PT-331 covered the landings at Rambutyo Island and Tong Island.

On June 25, 1944 PT-331 under the command of Lt. Montz with with PT-193 "Bitchin' Witch" departed Mios Woendi PT Boat Base at 4:30pm bound for Biak and both captains had a conference with the Army Lieutenant and liaison officer about the night's mission.

After dark, both PT Boats started the mission, but the batteries aboard PT-193 were dead, and required PT 311 to start the engines, then both proceeded to Noemfoor, where the Army landed aboard a rubber boat, and were ashore for roughly 45 minutes.

After successfully completing their mission, the PT boats continued westward to along the southern tip of Noemfoor to search for Japanese targets. After midnight, they entered passageway into a wide bay, with a Japanese gun at the western point of the bay.

PT-193 spotted two Japanese lugger or barges off the island, and coordinated an attack, with his PT Boat leading, and PT 331 following to attack them, performing a starboard run from astern of the targets.

One failed to sink but was burning brightly near shore. The PT boats made a second run, spotting a third barge. During this run at approximately 1:30am PT-193 ran aground on the same coral reef the burning barge was stuck atop, off Bani Point. Taylor attempted to reverse the engines, but it did not free the boat and burned out the reverse gear.

Calling for PT-331 to come to their aid, a tow line was swum out by a crew member of each boat in the hopes that PT-193 could be towed off the reef. Meanwhile, the fire from the burning barge illuminated the entire area and a Japanese gun ashore opened fire, but its shells were short and the rescue was taking place only a few hundred yards from shore.

Unable to free PT-193, Taylor ordered the boat scuttled and the crew and passengers were transferred to PT-331. Secret materials destroyed and guns thrown overboard and both torpedoes released. The ship was ready to be abandoned by 4:30am, and gas poured in all compartments. Taylor went below deck to his quarters for a final check of the ship. While below decks, the gas ignited and exploded, severely wounding Taylor and blowing four crew members (including Bonniol and Ladd) overboard onto the reef and all sustained wounds. Taylor who was severely burned and in shock.

Nearby, PT-331 launched its rubber raft to rescue the wounded crew, but it took 45 minutes to reach them due to the surf and return them to safety. At dawn, a Japanese shore battery opened fire, but failed to score hits.

Departing, PT-331 had damaged its screws and could only achieve slow speed, plus was overloaded with nearly 30 extra crew and passengers. Aboard, Taylor was given morphine and emergency treatment. Returning, PT-194 met PT-331 five miles from base with a medical officer aboard at 9:00am. Returning to Biak, Taylor was transferred aboard hospital ship AHS Maetsuycker, but died from his wounds at 9:45pm that day.

During the Battle of Surigao Strait off Leyte during the night of November 28-29, 1944 PT-127 and PT-131 under the command of Lt(jg) William P. West patrolled Ormoc Bay with both PT Boats fired two torpedoes, PT-127 at an enemy warship and PT-131 at a transport, then withdrew under heavy fire and claimed hits on both targets.

Sinking History
On November 10, 1945 stripped and scuttled off Samar Island.

Seeking Former Crew or Relatives
Are you a relative or veteran of PT-331? Contact us.

References
US Navy Action Report, PT 193 24/25 June 1944
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy pages 204, 230-231, 251, 253, 387, 398, 469, 563 (index)
Motor Boating "Last Patrol" by Herb Kester pages 32 - 34, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80
Pacific Island Odyssey pages 60-62
Navy Source PT-331 (photo)

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
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Last Updated
May 20, 2019

 

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