At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy



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“PT’s met the enemy at closer quarters (and with greater frequency) than any other type of surface craft. The crews of no other vessels experienced so high a degree of personal engagement with the enemy.” — Robert Bulkley

Robert Bulkley’s definitive history of patrol torpedo boats in World War Two is exceptionally detailed, meticulously researched, and is a must-read for any naval enthusiast.

Bulkley joined the PT division of the Navy in 1941, and immediately fell in love with the small and deadly weaponized boat. After V-J Day, 1945, the Navy continued Bulkley’s commission and asked him to write the official history of PT boats in WWII — At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy is the groundbreaking result.

In At Close Quarters, Bulkley uses the fastidious records kept by the US Navy to compile a book which serves as not just a record of the role of the PT boat’s role in WWII but also as a lesson to future military and naval scholars.

Best-known as the boat that future president John F. Kennedy commanded in the Pacific Theater in WWII, popular interest in PT boats has grown substantially since they first emerged as brilliant boats in naval engagements throughout the war.

Bulkley provides a detailed account of the origins and history of PT boats, from the part they played in WWI to the improvements and developments made to their design prior to WWII.

He analyses the role of PT boats in some of the major sea battles in the Pacific, opening with Pearl Harbor, through to their involvement in the Mediterranean, the D-Day operations in the English Channel as well as the Solomons campaign and the conquest of New Guinea.

“The thorough and competent account herein of over-all PT boat operations in World War II, compiled by Captain Robert Bulkley, a distinguished PT boat commander, should therefore prove of wide interest. The widest use of the sea, integrated fully into our national strength, is as important to America in the age of nuclear power and space travel as in those stirring days of the birth of the Republic.” — President John F Kennedy

“An invaluable history of WWII PT-Boat operations worldwide.” — Pacific Wrecks

“This thorough and objective account of the operations of PT boats in the U.S. Navy in World War II was prepared in the year after V-J Day by an officer who served in them through most of the war in the far reaches of the Pacific. He knew and loved these small, fast craft with hornet sting. They played their part with zest in the far reaching, powerful Navy team. He gave to the research into the records, into the memories of other participants, and to the writing itself the same zest. As a result he produced a shipshape manuscript.” — Rear Admiral Ernest McNeill Eller

Robert J. Bulkley, a retired USNR captain now deceased, commanded PT boats in the southwest Pacific, mostly in New Guinea and the Philippines, from June 1942 to the war’s end. This work was first published in 1962, three years before Captain Bulkley passed away


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