UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAM HISTORIES

WWII UDT TEAM THREE

UDT Team THREE was one of the five original demolition teams organized in March 1944 at Maui, T.H. Lieutenant Crist, CEC, USNR, Operations Officer of Team 2 was designated Commanding Officer. Three officers and twenty two men from Team ONE and TWO with combat demolition experience in the Marshall Islands Campaign formed a nucleus for the newly formed UDT-3. Supplementing these were officers and men who had recently completed the six weeks of basic demolition training at Fort Pierce, Florida. Team organization, training and maneuvers took place at Wamanilo, Oahu and later at Maui, T.H.

Of the original sixteen officers and eighty-one men of UDT-3, one officer and thirty-four have remained with the team throughout. Two officers have become Commanding Officer of other UDT'S, and four officer are, or have been, Executive Officers of UDT's. Many of the men who left UDT-3 helped in the formation of later Demolition Teams. With very few exceptions, the enlisted personnel were "Seabees." Eleven of the officers were CEC, four were Line, and one a Marine. All men and officers were volunteers, and the majority had several weeks of demolition training and physical fitness work at Camp Perry, Virginia, in addition to the training at Fort Pierce.

MARIANAS CAMPAIGN

On the 17th of April, 1944, UDT-3 embarked aboard the S.S. TYPHOON in the Hawaiian Area and left the following day for the Solomon Islands, via the Marshall Islands and the New Heberdies. UDT-3 arrived off Guadalcanal on the 2nd day of May. From Sixth May to Sixteenth May the Team lived ashore at Turner City, Florida Island, and experienced the questionable delights of the Solomon Islands. During this period liaison with the 3rdMarDiv and some coral blasting was done. On 16 May UDT-3 boarded the U.S.S. DENT (APD-9) and subsequently engaged in maneuvers and demolition work with the Fifth Amphibious Corps.

The DENT with UDT-3 aboard departed for Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands on 4 June 1944. Because of breakdown on the DENT transfer was made to the U.S.S. DICKERSON (APD-21) in the Marshall Islands on 9 June, and the following day the DICKERSON departed for the Marianas Islands.

UDT-3 was in a reserve capacity for the landings on Saipan, and then proceeded to Guam to begin reconnaissance of the landing beaches. The decision to postpone the landings on Guam, in view of the 1st Battle of the Philippine Sea, came just as the Team was to commence operations at Guam on the 16th of June 1944. From this date until 1 July the DICKERSON with UDT-3 aboard underwent daily air attacks. On 1 July the DICKERSON returned to Eniwetok and again sortied for Guam on 10 July 1944.

On 14 July 1944, Task Unit 53.1.14, composed of DD's DEWEY and MACDONALD, APD DICKERSON with UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAM THREE aboard, and LCI(G)'s 469, 471, 473, and 472 arrived off the western coast of Guam and received orders from CTF 53 to commence reconnaissance and demolition operations.

Four officers were put aboard the LCI(G)'s to coordinate fire support, remained there for the pre-invasion work of the Team. Below is the chronological order of the reconnaissance and demolition operations of UDT-3 prior to the landings of the 3rdMarDiv on William Day, 21 July 1944. UDT-4 arrived in the area 17 July and began demolition work on the eastern beaches used by the First Provisional Brigade.

14 JULY

(1)Daylight reconnaissance of 2000 yards of Asan Beach.

(2)Daylight diversionary reconnaissance of Agana Beach.

(3)Night reconnaissance to high water line of all landing beaches at Asan. At 2300 one rubber boat received three burst of machine gun fire and contact with three men from the boat was lost. Men were given up for lost at 0015 and the signal to withdraw was given.

15 JULY

At 0530 the MACDONALD picked up the three missing men 2300 yards off shore. They had been forced by our own fire and enemy fire to leave the edge of the reef and had swum for five hours. They were suffering but slightly from exposure. These men were Ens. M. Jacobson, Ens. W.J. Dezell, and J.E. Bagnall, GM3.

(4) Diversionary daylight reconnaissance of Dadi Beach.

Heavy fire drawn from Orote peninsula and the BB PENNSYLVANIA came in and effectively silenced the enemy battery. LCI 469 received five casualties from enemy fire.

(5)Reconnaissance of Agat Beach, 2000 yards.

(6)Diversionary reconnaissance of beach between Facpi and Bangi Points.

C.WO. R.A. BLOWERS was killed by enemy small arms fire when his LCPR grounded momentarily on a coral head.

(7)Night reconnaissance of Agat Beaches. Heavy rain and extreme darkness prevented the LCII(G)'s from getting station and LCPR's were unable to locate their beaches. After three hours the operation was canceled.

16 JULY

(8) Diversionary reconnaissance of Tumon Bay.

17 JULY

(9)Night removal of obstacles Asan Beaches. LCI(G) 348, which had just joined the Task Unit, went aground and delayed operations while personnel were removed by UDT. 120 obstacles were removed. 2400# tetrytol used.

18 JULY

(10) Daylight removal of obstacles on Asan Beaches. 150 obstacles removed. 3000# tetrytol used.

19 JULY

(11) Daylight removal of obstacles on Asan Beaches. 110 obstacles removed. 2200# tetrytol used.

(12)Daylight removal of obstacles on Asan Beaches. 84 completed obstacles and 70 partially completed obstacles removed. 2000 # tetrytol used.

20 JULY

(13)Daylight removal of obstacles near Adelup Point. 90 obstacles removed. 1000# tetrytol used.

The enemy had placed these obstacles in an almost continuous front along the reef which extended from 100 to 300 yards from the high water line, and which was completely exposed at low tide. These obstacles were piles of coral rock within a wire frame made of heavy wire net, similar to "Cyclone" wire fencing. The obstacles were three to five feet in diameter, three to four feet high and five to eight feet apart. Some of them were incomplete and the enemy had actually been building them at night after the UDT withdrew from the reef. No mines were located.

During the pre-invasion period 620 obstacles were removed by UDT-3. The method used was as follows; each platoon (15 men and two or three officers) left the APD in an LCPR towing behind them two rubber boats loaded with 30 packs of tetrytol (630). As the LCPR approached the reef the rubber boats were cast off with five or six men in each boat. These were paddled or dragged as close to the obstacles as possible. A primacord trunk line was run along the length of obstacles to be removed. One pack of tetrytol was placed alongside each obstacle to be removed and tied in, with the primacord leads to the trunk line. Two caps were used on each lead. When all obstacles had been loaded and men had returned to rubber boats, the firing signal was given and a four minute fuse pulled.

In some instances obstacles were less than 50 yards from the shore, and the reef was completely dry, making it necessary for the men to run across 150 yards of exposed reef carrying 401b of powder to get to the obstacles. In all cases the obstacles were completely removed. In daylight work, the average time for a platoon to remove 30 obstacles was 16 minutes from the time the rubber boats left the LCPR until the shot was fired.

The work of Underwater Demolition Team THREE was recognized by all concerned as contributing decisively to the success of the landings. For this work each man in the Team was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and each officer a Silver Star Medal.

On William Day, 21 July 1944, UDT personnel were on the edge of the reef to guide the 8th Wave, (LCM's carrying medium tanks) to satisfactory beaching areas. Contact with the Marine Engineer Regiment was established ashore H hour plus 45 minutes. There were UDT officers with the Beachmasters the entire day, but there was no call for demolition work on William Day.

POST ASSAULT OPERATIONS-

UDT-3 worked under the Beachmaster during post-assault operations and

accomplished the following:

1.Selected and marked 7 beaching places for LST'S.

2.Located and removed 5 anti-boat mines from Green and Red 2 Beaches.

3.Surveyed and marked Tepungan Channel and Piti Channel.

4.Removed, by blasting, a total of eight barges and sampans blocking Piti Channel.

5.Removed the stern of a 400 foot Japanese freighter blocking the harbor outlet to Piti Channel.

6.Attempted to enlarge turning basin at causeway in Tepungan Channel.

7.Blasted a 200 foot wide up-loading slot in the reef at Dadi Beach, using 16,000 1b tetrytol.

This completed the work of UDT-3 at Guam and on 28 July, the Team was released by CTF 53. However no accounts of UDT-3 could be complete without giving credit to the Fire Support Units, and especially to the LCI(G)'s. It is to them that we owe the success of the Team and the low casualty rate. The fire of the gunboats was both intense and accurate. They kept the beach covered with such a volume of 40 mm and 20 mm fire that it was almost impossible for the enemy to oppose the work of the UDT. It was often necessary for them to fire directly over the heads of the demolition personnel. They suffered hits from enemy fire of all caliber but kept up their mission of supporting the UDT.

When released, the DICKERSON, with UDT-3 aboard, departed from Guam to Pearl Harbor. The DICKERSON arrived at Maui 10 August and the Team said goodbye to the ship which had acted as transport, supply ship, control ship and fire support ship for the past two months.

Upon return from a ten day inter-island leave the Team underwent some slight revisions. The officer complement was dropped to 13 and the enlisted complement brought up to 85. The Team underwent a short physical conditioning program at Maui and engaged in some night maneuvers and problems.

On 15 September 1944 UDT-3 embarked aboard the U.S.S. TALBOT (APD-7) at Maui, expecting to go to Yap, Caroline Islands. Enroute to the Marshall Islands, orders were changed. Yap was to be by-passed and the liberation of the Philippines was to commence at a much earlier date than heretofore hoped for. UDT-3 reached Manus, Admiralty Island, 5 October to stage for the initial assault on the Philippine Islands.

LEYTE CAMPAIGN

The TALBOT with UDT-3 aboard sortied from Manus 12 October with TG 77.2 (Bombardment and Fire Support Units). The voyage to Leyte was marked by a storm of typhoon proportions, considerably delaying the speed of advance. The TALBOT arrived off the southern beaches of Leyte 1400, 18 October 1944. Operations were begun immediately without benefit of planned bombardment.

Platoons ONE and THREE were to make a swimming reconnaissance of a 500 yard landing beach. Platoons TWO and FOUR stood by in their LCPR's to assist if called upon. LCPR's proceeded to within 500 yards of the beaches, drawing some fire on the way in from machine guns located in the town of Dulag. Mortar fire became fairly heavy inside of 500 yards as the swimmers were dropped off.

LCPR's retired to 1000 yards to draw fire away from the swimmers. Fortunately no hits were made on any of the boats, however UDT-4 had a boat hit and sunk on the adjacent beach and the 4th platoon of UDT-3 stood by to assist, but was not called upon.

The swimmers were able to swim right up to the beach, a small dune prevented the enemy from bringing small arms fire to bear upon them. No mines or man-made obstacles were observed. The one and two fathom lines were determined beach installations noted and the beach adjudged ideal for amphibious assault. The swimmers swam out and were picked up less than 400 yards off shore by the LCPR'S. No casualties were suffered by any of the UDT-3 personnel. The entire operation took only 70 minutes.

There was no call for work on D-1 or on D-Day, 20 October. On D plus 1 UDT-3 was called upon by the Group Beachmaster to survey the sandbar at the mouth of a river just south of Dulag to determine the feasibility of blasting the bar away. The project was considered impractical and no demolition work was done. UDT-3 was then released and the TALBOT ordered to proceed to Manus. During the five day period at Leyte no casualties were suffered, and no actual demolition was done. A total of three air attacks by one or two enemy planes occurred during this period.

The night of 21-22 October, the TALBOT took screening sortied from Leyte Gulf. The TALBOT reached Manus 27 October and 1 November UDT-3 was transferred to the U.S.S. PRESIDENT HAYES and remained at Manus until 11 November before departing for the Hawaiian Islands.

The time at Manus was pleasantly spent enjoying the huge Fleet Recreation Beach and swimming along the coral reef surrounding the harbor.

Upon arriving at Maui, Thanksgiving Day, 23 November 1944 the Team was granted another inter island leave. Lt. Crist (shortly appointed Lt.Comdr.) was designated Base Training Officer. A thorough eight week training program, consisting of four, two-week courses under the direction of the officers and men of UDT-3. Swimming and reconnaissance were stressed and much greater scope was given to night operations and problems of control. Small arms instruction were taught in the field, the principles of bivouacking and small unit tactics in the anticipation that a UDT might be required to live ashore in forward areas. Coral and lava blasting were added to the program in addition to expanding the beaches used for standard type obstacle blasting.

UDT's TWELVE thru TWENTY-TWO benefited from this program as shown by their later excellent record at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Early in April 1945 the Team was ordered to the States and given leave until 1 May, at which time UDT-3 reported to the Demolition Base, ATB, Fort Pierce, Florida to assist in training duties there and to work on research and development projects for anticipated future use.

Lt. (jg) R.P. MARSHALL, former executive officer of UDT-5, replaced Lt. Comdr. Crist as Commanding Officer of UDT-3 on 9 June when the latter was order to return to Maui. Team reorganization was quite extensive; ten new officers were acquired and six new men. The Team trained as a unit for three weeks at Fort Pierce and was then ordered to Oceanside, California 19 July 1945.

Upon returning to ComUDTsRon ONE at ATB, Oceanside, California, 8 August 1945, UDT-3 was ordered to prepare for embarkation.

OCCUPATION OF JAPAN

On V-J Day, 14 August 1945, UDT-3 embarked aboard the U.S.S. IRA JEFFERY (APD-44). This was a modern high speed converted Destroyer Escort, not like the older converted four stack destroyers that the Team and ridden on in previous operations. Crew quarters were far more spacious and the living conditions far superior to what the Team had been accustomed to.

UDTRon ONE departed from Oceanside 16 August and arrived in Manila, P.I. 5 September after what is believed to be a record run (19) days for this type ship. UDT-3 was assigned to TU54.6.4. together with UDT-17.

The Task Unit proceeded to Subic Bay, P.I. on 7 September and training exercises were conducted by the Team until leaving for San Fernando Harbor, Lingayen Gulf on 14 September. On 17 September UDT-3 participated in a rehearsal operation conducted by CTU 54.6.4. On 18 September the Task Unit was underway for Okinawa, and arrived at Buckner Bay 20 September, 1945. The following day the Task Unit was underway for Wakayama, Japan. In the early morning of 23 September (D-2) this unit was off the beaches of Wakayama in position to commence operations.

The mission of UDT-3 was to accomplish reconnaissance and necessary demolition work to prepare the landing beaches for the 33rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Sixth Army, and to assist in post landing operations as directed by the Group Beachmaster.

In view of the Surrender of Japan, organized resistance was not expected but the operation was carried out as a combat mission in anticipation of possible scattered resistance by local fanatics.

A six man party was first put ashore in a rubber boat to definitely determine the possibility of enemy reaction and to assist in marking the beaches for the reconnaissance work. Observing that the attitude of the Japanese was not hostile this party proceeded to assist in the controlled "string-reconnaissance" covering the area one mile inland from the beaches to locate beach exits and road network.

The hydrographic work consisted of making a profile of the bottom, by means of soundings, every 200 yards along the 1000 yard beach assigned to UDT-3, for a distance of 1000 yards to sea.

In conjunction with this a regular swimming reconnaissance was made. Ail work was completed by 1000 this same day. No mines or planned obstacles were encountered. Charts were prepared and turned in to CTU 54.6.4.

In the afternoon of this same day a survey of Kino Kawa was made and the dock facilities inspected with the object in view of unloading LCT's and LCM's in the harbor. A channel for this craft was marked in the river.

On D-1 (24 September) the following was accomplished in accordance with orders from CTU 54.6.4.

1. Three hulks of small craft on the landing beaches were demolished.

2. Wooden pilings in the area of the pier on Yellow Beach were cut away with explosives.

3. A sea mine just west of Blue 2 beach was blown "in Situ".

4. A string reconnaissance of the beaches from the pier east 1500 yards was accomplished.

On D Day UDT-3 provided radio equipment and personnel to the Beachmaster on the landing beaches and assisted in guiding LST's to satisfactory beaching areas.

From the 26 September thru 25 October UDT-3 stood by aboard the JEFFERY anchored in Wakanuora Wan. On 6 October a submerged steel member was blown in Wakayama Harbor. On 17 October a reconnaissance was made of Jino Shima to determine the suitability of using the island for recreational purposes. During 23-24 October UDT-3 assisted in the destruction, by demolition of YMS 478 which was high and dry on the beach of Wakanuora.

The JEFFERY with UDT-3 aboard, left Wakayama 25 October and arrived an Nagoya on the following day. There was no call for UDT-3 to assist there and on 28 October 1945, this unit was released by ComPhibGrpEIGHT and ordered to proceed to Coronado, ATB, California.

Underwater Demolition Team THREE was formed in March, 1944, when demolition was little more than an idea fostered by the initial progress and pioneering of UDT-1 and UDT-2. A large portion of the present complement of UDT-3 is composed of men who were among the first volunteers for underwater demolition and with previous service in either UDT-1 or UDT-2. While the older men have consistently upheld the high reputation of the Team and of demolition, the newer members, by the youthful, hearty enthusiasm, have kept the old spirit alive with a marked success.

(compiled by Robert Allan King for the UDT-SEAL Museum from public records at the Operational Archives of the Naval Historical Center)

TEAM ROSTERS - To protect the integrity of the Teams and the privacy of individual frogmen, Team rosters are not made public. If you or your relative was a member of UDT Team Three and you would like further information, we suggest you contact the UDT-SEAL Museum.

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