As a Jew serving in World War II, Alfred Krasnow of the Shadyside area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had no idea of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. His take on Jewish prejudice was, “I’m a Jew. You don’t like that, lump it.”
Alfred’s motives for joining the navy were like those of many young men; he wanted to “see the world.” This mission was certainly fulfilled during his time sailing on a patrol torpedo boat—what the navy called a “PT.”
These boats were small, fast, and efficient, allowing the crew to carry out stealth missions under the cover of night. The primary purpose of PT boats, according to Alfred, was to prevent German supplies from getting to their destination. Alfred served in PT boat squadron MTB RON 22.
On Alfred’s third mission, he recalls and incident where three German fast-attack boats (often called E-Boats by the Allies) chased down and fired upon PTs. It was a close call for the Americans, but they eventually escaped.
Of course, PT missions sometimes were not so lucky. Alfred tearfully remembers the casualties from an incident involving a German destroyer. The warship hid behind a rock outcropping aling the shore until it suddenly emerged and chased down a group of PT boats. Alfred’s boat narrowly escaped, but PT 307 got caught in a gunfight with the destroyer. When the 307 finally returned at the crack of dawn, there were several fatal casualties.
Alfred Krasnow’s story underscores the great importance of PT boats during World War II. These daring sailors and the stealthy, close-order combat operations they undertook were an integral part of the Allied maritime success of World War II—in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
~ Sam Henry
On October 20, 2012, Alfred Krasnow joined us in the magnificent Gettysburg Room at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. His was our first interview of the day, and we were just finishing our set-up when Mr. Krasnow arrived with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. It was the first time we had met, so we were anxious to get acquainted.
We’d never before had the opportunity to interview a Navy veteran who’d served in the “Mosquito Fleet,” a term mockingly given to PT boat sailors. But the Japanese called them Devil Boats, and for good reason. As we would learn from Mr. Krasnow, PT boats were heavily armed, fast, and they usually attacked under the cover of night–a lethal combination. Yet, sometimes during our interviews veterans will remember too much. Stories of wreckage and carnage come to the surface, of friends and innocence lost in the violence of war. As such, we learned from Mr. Krasnow that the PT boats were highly vulnerable and they suffered high casualties.
KEYWORDS: ALGIERS NAVAL BASE (NEW ORLEANS); BATTLE OF THE BULGE; CAVALIER HOTEL; CORSICA NAVAL BASE, FRANCE; DESTROYER; DRESSING, CMDR. RICHARD; ELECTRIC LAUNCH COMPANY (ELCO BOAT); HIGGINS INDUSTRIES (HIGGINS BOAT); IDENTIFICATION FRIEND OR FOE SYSTEM (IFF); MEDITERRANEAN SEA; MTB RON 15 (PATROL BOAT SQUADRON); MTB RON 22 (PATROL BOAT SQUADRON); NOSE JOB MISSION; PATROL TORPEDO BOAT (PT); SCHENLEY HIGH SCHOOL; SHADYSIDE, PITTSBURGH, PA ; V-12 NAVY COLLEGE TRAINING PROGRAM; VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
Age 90, of Pittsburgh, on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Beloved husband for 69 years to Eleanor (Levith) Krasnow; loving father of Ronald (Dorit) Krasnow, Marilyn (George) Oswald, and Maxine (Macy) Kisilinsky; grandfather of Randy (Crystal) Oswald, the late Stephen Oswald, Shira Krasnow, Maia Krasnow, Ilana Kisilinsky, Adina Kisilinsky, Shoshana Kisilinsky, and Tali Kisilinsky; great-grandfather of Marlowe and Asher Oswald; brother to the late Edie (Jake) Eisenfeld. Alfred was a dedicated WWII veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy as a radar man on PT 304 where he engaged in battle in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. There will be a memorial service at Shaare Torah Synagogue on Friday at 11 a.m. located at 2319 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Funeral arrangements by GESHER HaCHAIM JEWISH BURIAL SOCIETY. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.
Send condolences post-gazette.com/gb
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 12, 2015