Logs of the Guadalcanal PT's
August 1942-February 1943


During a grueling, miserable four-month period from October 1942 to February 1943--PT boats sortied from their base at Tulagi night after agonizing night in an attempt to deny the waters of Ironbottom Sound to the Japanese Navy's Reinforcement Unit--better known as the 'Tokyo Express'. Living on a shoestring, subsisting on bland rations, and riding boats armed only with light auto-cannon, machine guns, a pair of depth charges and torpedoes of doubtful quality as well as destructive ability, the officers and sailors of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, later joined by elements of MTB Squadrons Two and Six, put their little wooden boats and their lives on the line against the steel-hulled crusiers and destroyers of the Imperial Navy. The ultimate score of ships sunk or damaged by the Tulagi PT squadrons may seem unimpressive to the casual observer, but to me, that is unimportant. For courage under fire I believe the men of the 'mosquito boats' have few equals, and what is truly important is that these men were there when action was called for, every time; as David M. Levy, one of those who were there, later put it: 'We were the Navy that showed. It's not that we sunk a lot of Jap ships, but the fact that were there, and that the Japanese had to be thinking of us as a possible threat. That made a difference.'

Presented here are my notes from the actual logbooks of several of the PT's involved in the campaign. The logs themselves are preserved in the National Archives in Washington, DC. Detail in each one depended on how diligent the log-keeper was at the time--some entries are written excellently, while others are were very, very sparse. I have been informed that some logs may be inaccurate, but as to determining where a boat was on any given date, they have been invaluable; they've even cleared up a few inaccuracies in the historical record.

At the time I wrote these notes, my interest only lay in their activities during the Guadalcanal period--starting with each boat's departure from Panama, their trip across the Pacific, and finally their arrival in the combat area. These notes end with MTB Flotilla One's last combat with the Tokyo Express in defense of Guadalcanal on February 1, 1943. I only made notations if anything of significance occurred on the boat, either while in harbor or on patrol. Some logs for the period are unavailable, and in all probability, will never be found. PT 44's log only covers the time from when the boat was placed in service in the summer of 1941 up to September 30, 1942, when she was on a cargo ship bound for the South Pacific. the logs of PT's 111, 112, and 123 in all likelihood went down with the boats when they were destroyed, while PT 116 was out of commission almost the whole time from her arrival at Tulagi on December 31, 1942 until the campaign ended in February.

The research on these logs is ongoing, although on a very intermittent basis, and I will be adding more material when time permits. If anyone has any questions, comments, or information I can add to these notes, please feel free to e-mail me at


Copyright © 2002-2013 by Gene Kirkland