Original U.S. WWII PT Boat Crewman Grouping - Fireman First Class Elwood Glenn Witmer

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Group Available. This is a very nice and detailed grouping that belonged to a Fireman First Class who served aboard the USS Baham (AK-122/AG-71). The USS Baham was a Basilan-class auxiliary ship, converted from a Liberty Ship, commissioned by the US Navy for service in World War II. She was first named after former Florida resident Elizabeth C. Bellamy, the daughter of General William Croom, and wife of Doctor Samuel C. Bellamy. According to legend she died on her wedding night when her dress caught fire, but she actually died three years after her wedding from malaria. She was renamed and commissioned after Baham, a star in constellation Pegasus. She was responsible for delivering troops, goods and equipment to locations in the war zone.

Included In This Grouping Are The Following:

- American Flag: The flag was originally tri-folded, probably for display. From corner to corner, while folded, the flag measures approximately 13” from corner to corner.

- x2 Patches: The diamond shaped patch is a Junior Lifesaving Scout patch for the boyscouts and the other is a green patch with an orange and white fox. We do not know what the fox patch symbolizes, whether it be something he had made while in the Navy or if it’s another boyscout patch.

- x2 Framed Certificates: The first certificate is a course completion certificate for Witmer from the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center. The other certificate is his honorable discharge.

- x2 Sweetheart Pillow Cases: The first pillow case is still in the original envelope Witmer used to send it home. The case is for Camp Peary in WIlliamsburg, Virginia. The case measures 16 ½ x 15 ½. During World War II, beginning in 1942, the United States Navy took over a large area on the north side of the Virginia Peninsula in York County, Virginia which became known as Camp Peary, initially for use as a Seabee training base. The other pillowcase still has the original shipping box, but it is unlabeled. The blue pillowcase is for U.S.N.T.C. Gulfport-Mississippi and measures 16 ½ x 16 ½. On June 2, 1942, an Advanced Base Depot was established in Gulfport and the first Seabees arrived. Defense planning during the early years of World War II called for a deep-water port to serve the Caribbean region. Gulfport had the necessary port facility, as well as a semi-tropical climate for year-round training and shipping. A school was set up for Battalions passing through to be trained for the Malaria and Epidemic Control Group of BUMED. Also assigned to Gulfport was one of the Navy's three Naval Armed Guards Training Centers. HQ for the Navy's Armed Guards was in New Orleans. The Armed Guards manned the deck guns of Merchant vessels under contract to the Navy.

On March 21, 1944, Camp Hollyday was disestablished and the base changed to a Naval Training Center for ratings in basic engineering, diesel engine, radio, quartermaster, and electrician.

- Navy Jumper and Dixie Cup: The jumper is named to Witmer and his name can be found on the bottom inside of the jumper. The jumper features a PT boat patch on the left shoulder which appears to have been hand stitched on with white thread. The right sleeve has a small sharpshooters patch. The right breast has a hand stitched “Ruptured Duck” patch, symbolising honorable service during WWII. The left breast has a PT Boat pin with a three ribbon bar beneath it. The ribbons are American Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific and WWII Victory. Also pinned to the uniform is a mint WWII Victory Medal.

The best feature of the jumper is the Liberty Cuffs, which appear on the cuffs of the sleeves. This example is of an Asian style dragon on both cuffs. Liberty cuffs are a form of unauthorized personal decoration applied to the inside of the cuffs of military uniforms, which became popular in the United States Navy in the early 1900s and were imitated by other U.S. military branches starting around World War I. Liberty cuffs were embroidered patches sewn on the inside cuffs of sailors’ uniform shirts or jackets; the patches could only be seen when the cuffs were rolled up, which the sailor would do while on "liberty" or shore leave away from his ship.

Decorative stitching on Navy uniform cuffs was banned in 1910, forcing sailors to switch to a covert form of embroidered decoration. The cuffs were noted as popular prior to World War II in the United States Asiatic Fleet, including dragons and other popular regional symbols. Popular World War II imagery included dragons, mermaids, as well as dolphins for those working on submarines and birds for those working with aircraft.

This is a wonderful attributed grouping and is a great candidate for further research. Comes ready to display in any WWII U.S. Navy collections!

A PT boat (short for patrol torpedo boat) was a motor torpedo boat used by the United States Navy in World War II. It was small, fast, and inexpensive to build, valued for its maneuverability and speed but hampered at the beginning of the war by ineffective torpedoes, limited armament, and comparatively fragile construction that limited some of the variants to coastal waters. In the USN they were organized in Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons (MTBRONs).

The PT boat was very different from the first generation of torpedo boat, which had been developed at the end of the 19th century and featured a displacement hull form. These first generation torpedo boats rode low in the water, displaced up to 300 tons, and had a top speed of 25 to 27 kn (46 to 50 km/h). During World War I Italy, the US and UK developed the first high-performance gasoline-powered motor torpedo boats (often with top speeds over 40 kn (74 km/h)) and corresponding torpedo tactics, but these projects were all quickly disbanded after the Armistice. World War II PT boats continued to exploit some of the advances in planing hull design borrowed from offshore powerboat racing and by using multiple lightweight but more powerful marinized aircraft-derived V-12 engines were able to grow in both size and speed.

During World War II, PT boats engaged enemy warships, transports, tankers, barges, and sampans. Some were converted into gunboats, which could be effective against enemy small craft, especially armored barges used by the Japanese for inter-island transport. Several saw service with the Philippine Navy, where they were named "Q-boats".

Primary anti-ship armament on the standard PT boat was four 21-inch Mark 8 torpedoes, each had a 466-pound (211 kg) TNT warhead and had a range of 16,000 yards (15,000 m) at 36 knots (67 km/h). Two twin .50-inch (12.7 mm) M2 Browning heavy machine guns were mounted for anti-aircraft defense and general fire support. Some boats carried a 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon cannon.

Propulsion was via a trio of Packard 4M-2500 and later 5M-2500 supercharged gasoline-fueled, liquid-cooled V-12 marine engines.

Nicknamed "the mosquito fleet" and "devil boats" by the Japanese, the PT boat squadrons were hailed for their daring and earned a durable place in the public imagination that remains strong into the 21st century. Their role was replaced in the U.S. Navy by fast attack craft.

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