PC Patrol Craft
of World War II

A History of the Ships and Their Crews

by
Wm. J. Veigele, Ph.D., USNR (Ret)

Reviewed by Rob Mackie

Cover.jpg (22675 bytes)

Popularly known as "sub chasers", the 369 patrol craft ("PCs") launched during WW2 escortedPlate No 6.jpg (94633 bytes) Plate No 5.jpg (90465 bytes)convoys, hunted submarines, sank small craft, shot down airplanes, bombarded landing areas and led landing craft on to invasion beaches. None have been preserved, however, and their exploits are largely forgotten. William J. Veigele’s "Patrol Craft of World War II", is an effort to rectify this oversight. The 400 page hardcover volume examines every aspect of the PC, including design, construction, crew training (most of the 50,000 men who served on PCs were reservists who had never been to sea), day-to-day life, exploits and disposition. It is supplemented by 118 b&w photographs, and 30 pages of excellent drawings showing every above-deck fitting. These drawings, compiled from sketches made by a 19-year-old sailor serving aboard PC 541, are especially noteworthy. They provide invaluable information for the model builder as well as anyone curious about the nuts and bolts of these hearty vessels.

The book’s description of life aboard a PC is particularly fascinating. To put it mildly, these 174’ vessels (by way of comparison, Flower class corvettes were 200’ in length) were "lively". They pitched and rolled with a vengeance, and seasoned sailors aboard larger ships were amazed at the fearsome battering a heavy sea could inflict on a PC.PC 555 in heavy sea.jpg (36292 bytes)

"PC 486 was escorting an American submarine returning from war patrol. The sea was rough with waves towering over the mast of the PC, which was often lost to view from men on the submarine. As the two vessels soared above the waves together, the Skipper on the submarine signaled to the PC, "We have an extra periscope on board. You’re welcome to use it." The two ships disappeared from each other’s views. A few minutes later they rose on the crest of waves into each other’s views. Back flashed a reply from the Skipper of the PC, "Thank you, but we are below periscope depth."

Life for the 70 man PC crew was cramped and difficult. The constant battering and seasickness wore down even experienced sailors. But the hardship bred both camaraderie and an absence of formality not found on larger ships.

I highly recommend this book both to students of the US Navy and would be PC modelers. There is a wealth of technical information between its covers and even a set of fold out plans. But the books most valuable legacy is the way in which it captures the essence of life aboard these tough little ships. William Veigele can take pride in having written the definitive book about PCs and in doing so he has preserved their memory for future generations.

PC 479 model.jpg (12759 bytes)
PC 479 model built by Thomas A. Pollock

Availability:
US $39.95 from Pacific Front or direct from publisher at http://members.aol.com/wveigele/pcraft/pcraft.htm

Contents

400 Pages, hardcover, 6"W x 9"L, 118 b+w photos

Chapter Headings

  1. Need for and deployment of PCs
  2. The design of PCs
  3. The construction of PCs
  4. PC crews and their training
  5. Life aboard a PC
  6. PC exploits - General
  7. PC exploits – American Theater of War
  8. PC exploits – European, African, Middle Eastern Theatres
  9. PC exploits – Asiatic, Pacific Theatres
  10. PC Casualties
  11. The naming, decommissioning and disposition of PCs
  12. The Patrol Craft Sailors Association

Appendix
A: Technical characteristics of the PC Class
B: Thirty engineering drawings showing PC design details
C: Sixteen shipyards building PCs
D: PCs built at each of the 16 yards showing hull number, date keel laid, launched and commissioned, deactivation date, disposition
E: Construction program statistics
F: Rates of enlisted men aboard WWII PCs
G: Decorations and awards won by PCs
H: The story behind PC 1264, the first ship with an all black crew
I: PC crew casualties
J: PC Sailor Association Museum

Notes: 18 pages
Index: 13 pages

Drawings: PC 461 class 12.5"x20" foldout plan (1 sheet reduced from 1/48 scale. Effective scale of the included plan is about 1:135) showing deck levels, fittings, profile, external details. Drawn by John Tombaugh, this is plate 1 of 2. Presumably plate 2 of 2 shows hull lines and cross sections. Both plates are available in 1/48th scale.