Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: The Sea Hawks: With the PT Boats at War (by Edgar D. Hoagland) : WW2

Originally published on Published Online: August 12, 2001 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

The Sea Hawks: With the PT Boats at War, by Edgar D. Hoagland, Presidio Press, Novato, Calif., 1999, $24.95.

The Japanese called them "devil boats," and it was an apt description. The patrol torpedo boats (PT-boats) of World War II packed more firepower per pound than any other vessel in the U.S. Navy. Typical armament for these 80-foot, 55-ton craft consisted of a 40mm Bofors cannon aft, twin .50-caliber machine guns port and starboard, two 20mm Oerlikons and a 37mm automatic cannon forward, four Mk.VIII torpedoes in tubes (or on racks in later boats), two depth charges, a mortar, rockets, a smoke generator, small arms and grenades. Crewed by 14 men cross-trained on all of the boat's equipment, these tiny vessels came to fight.

There are not many memoirs of this type of warfare, though references to John D. Bulkeley's spiriting General Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines and John F. Kennedy's experience of having PT-109 broken in two by a Japanese destroyer are easy to find. Now we have the memoir of Edgar D. Hoagland who, after two years in destroyers, spent the remainder of the war in PT-boats as boat commander, staff officer and squadron commander. While one-fifth of the book is devoted to his destroyer experience, the bulk of Hoagland's tale focuses on his time with PT-boats.

His adventures on PT-boats include tales of barge busting, ship attacks, landing support, reconnaissance patrols, insertions and rescues. But the combat highlight of Hoagland's career, for which he received the Silver Star, is his squadron's destruction of a fully equipped Japanese patrol boat base, including seven boats, at Piso Point in the spring of 1945.

Hoagland's swimming reconnaissance of the Japanese base and his subsequent coordination of aerial bombing and gunfire support highlight the exceptional daring of the PT-boat commanders. The author is good, too, in describing the psychology of men under fire and the difficult choices a commander must make in combat. Hoagland's book will please anyone who wants a gripping firsthand account of PT-boats at war.

Roderick S. Speer

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy