UNITED STATES ASIATIC FLEET
MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SQUADRON THREE
January 23, 1942
From: Lieut (jg) E.G. Delong, U.S. Navy,
Commanding Officer, U.S.S. PT-31
To:The Commander, MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SQUADRON THREE
Subject: Loss of the U.S.S. PT-31
1.At 1930 on January 18, 1942 U.S.S PT-31 got underway from Sisiman Bay for an attack to be launched simultaneously with
U.S.S. PT-34 on four transports which were allegedly anchored in Port Binangn. At 2245 U.S.S. PT-31 was approximately one
mile southwest of llinin Point steaming at idling speed on the center engine (7 knots) having had carburetor strainer trouble
with the wing engines. At this time I was about to turn south past Meyagao Point and return to llinin Point at 0100 for rendezvous
with PT-34 when the center engine fresh water cooling system became air bound and all water in the expansion tank boiled out
necessitating securing the engine. The casualty was repaired by filling the tank from the galley fresh water connection with
buckets and hose. During this time we were drifting slowly almost due south, when at 2340 the center propeller touched bottom
and all engines were lighted off as quickly as possible. As soon as the engines were started a gun (about 3") in the
vicinity of llinin Point (South shore of Port Bianga) commenced firing in our direction. I continued attempts to clear the
beach by walking out anchor and until all reverse gears were burned out, at which time all engines were secured and preparations
were made for abandoning ship. The engine room canopy was cast loose and mattresses lashed to it for use as a life raft. During
this time gunfire continued from the beach but I was determined not to destroy the boat until PT-34 had completed its attack.
2.At about 0100 I heard PT-34 underway and proceeding into the bay. At about 0140 I heard an explosion in the vicinity
of Port Binanga immediately followed by the engine roar of PT-34 which lasted only about ten minutes. I did not sight PT-34
at any time.
3.At 0300 the raft shoved off with all twelve men on board, Ensign Plant in charge, and proceeded out to the edge of the
reef to wait while I destroyed the PT-31. I had some difficulty in getting PT-31 to burn. Finally after chopping holes in
the gasoline tanks and blowing holes in the boat with hand grenades the boat was burning sufficiently and I took to the water
at 0340.I searched for the raft until approximately 0500 when I made my way to the beach at a point about one half mile south
of the boat and remained there until dawn. During this time all torpedo warheads and gas tanks exploded.
4.At dawn I proceeded down the beach about a half mile where I picked up the tracks of nine men. I followed and found
them in a clump of bushes below Mayagao Point. Ensign W.H. Plant, U.S.N.R., Ballough, R.,MM.1c and Dean, W.R.Q>M.3c were
the three missing. I discovered these nine had abandoned the raft at about 0500 and the missing three had remained on board.
5.The Japanese forces were at this time conducting an offensive in the vicinity of the village of Moron and there was
considerable action between Mayagao and Moron. Several Japanese planes were in the air, three dive bombers and two or three
6.I immediately posted a watch in our clump covering all quadrants to observe enemy movements and our own artillery fire.
Japanese planes were in the air almost constantly with the greater concentration immediately after dawn and just before dark.
During midday practically no planes were in the air. All planes seemed to be operating from a base in the vicinity of Mabayo
as they circled over us at an altitude of about two to five hundred feet when going in for landings. As soon as one observation
plane landed another would take off within five minutes. These observations planes speared to be about ten years old.
7.The infantry action in the early morning seemed rather heavy with our forces using rifles and Lewis guns and enemy forces
using smaller caliber rifles only (apparently 25-30, as evidenced by empties we discovered). The greatest firing was about
one mile from us in the vicinity of the mouth of the Batalan River.
8.At about 0800 considerable artillery fire started and the bursts were in the vicinity of the Batalan River. This seemed
to be about 75 m.m. artillery fire.
9.During the morning the infantry fire discontinued and the artillery bursts drew farther north and west, leading me to
believe that the Japanese were retreating. If this continued I was determined to make a run for our own lines around the beach
at about 1500 believing that our chances would be better during daylight. In the meantime I had planned as an alternate method,
obtaining two or three bancas and making our way by night around into Bagno Bay to beach at dawn. From our vantage point I
had already spotted one large banca about one half mile toward Moron. We had obtained canvas for use as sail and had stripped
barbed wire entanglements for rigging.
10.Shortly before 1500 our artillery dropped back toward Moron and I abandoned any hope of making it around the beach.
At about 1530 there being no planes in the air I sent two men out to investigate the bancas.
11.At this time Japanese soldiers could be heard to the eastward and could be seen occasionally to the northward and along
the beach in the vicinity of the mouth of the stream north of us. Four men were investigating a banca about a half mile north
of us. My men were underarmed, having only six pistols and one rifle among the ten men, so I had ordered that unless we were
rushed by superior numbers we were to allow any scouts to come in to the clump and then club them with the butt of a pistol
12.At about 1700 the two men returned and reported that the two bancas appeared to be in good condition but required out-rigging.
At this time we sighted from our tree lookout what speared to be two light armored cars or light tanks about one mile north
heading down the trail toward the stream north of us. The bridge over this stream was partially broken down as I had been
up there earlier in the afternoon looking unsuccessfully for water.
13.At twilight we left our clump, took interval and made our way around to the bancas, rigged them and shoved off at 2000
with Japanese soldiers at this time within 200 yards of the beach.
14.We had found two paddles, one board and two shovels for paddling plus the gear for rigging a sail if the wind was favorable.
I also had obtained a tow line to tow the small banca.
15.When we shoved off I wished to get well clear of the beach before attempting sailing. At about 2100 both bancas capsized
and practically all equipment was lost. After righting the bancas we had two failers and two paddles left between the two
bancas. With this we managed to become more or less seaworthy and proceeded out well clear of Panibatujan Point then set course
approximately southeast toward Napo Point with the small banca towing the larger one.
16.At about 0130 I made the first attempt to round Napo Point but hit a very strong head wind. We continued to head around
until about 0300 when my men were exhausted and we were barely holding our own so I decided to chance a landing at dark. We
pulled in the lea and I picked the point for landing.
17.We landed at about 0330 in the vicinity of Napo Point, beached the bancas, crossed a barbed wire entanglement and found
ourselves against a steep cliff. I kept my men right there until dawn when we were spotted by Philippine Army forces and identified
ourselves. The spot I had picked for a landing was such that at high tide it was impossible to move along the beach and there
was only one trail leading up over the cliff.
18.We were taken to Captain Geo. H. Cockburn, 2nd Bn. 92nd Inf., 91st Div., U.S.A. who gave us food and water and arranged
for transportation for us back toward Mariveles, where we arrived at about 1730 on January 20, 1942.
19.I wish to heartily commend my men for their fine spirit and courage during some very adverse and trying conditions.
All hands conducted themselves in such a manner as to make any commanding officer indeed proud.
20.Below is listed the entire roster of officers and men on board the U.S.S. PT-31 on the night of January 18-19, 1942:
Lieut (jg) Edward G. DeLong, U.S.N.
Ensign William H. Plant, D-V(G), U.S.N.R. (MISSING)
Culp, James D., 371-90-39, G.M.1c, U.S.N.
Monroe, Robert H., 413-10-00, M.M.1c, U.S.N.
Harris, David W., 265-72-99, T.M.2c, U.S.N.
Smart, Doyle J., 346-64-32, Q.M.2c,U.S.N.
Caudell, Robert N., 342-00-77, R.M.2c, U.S.N.
Cook, William E., 321-11-52, M.M.2c U.S.N.
Rooke, Henry C., 262-27-74, S.C.2c, U.S.N.
Morgan, Theodore L., 268-25-14, M.M.2c, U.S.N.
Dimaio, Charles, 206-29-93, T.M. 1c, U.S.N.
Ballough, Rudolph, 207-03-32,M.M.1c, U.S.N. (MISSING)
Dean, William R., 375-73-67, Q.M.3c, U.S.N. (MISSING)
MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SQUADRON THREE
January 23, 1942.
From: The Commander, MOTOR TORPEDO BOAT SQUADRON THREE.
To: The Commandant, SIXTEENTH NAVAL DISTRICT.
1. Forwarded, concurring with paragraph 19.