UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAM HISTORIES
WWII UDT TEAM FOUR
Underwater Demolition Team FOUR was
formed at the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base at
On 18 April aboard the U.S.S. TYPHOON,
the team headed for
Upon completion of this task, the TALBOT left for Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. On 9 June, the ship with the team still aboard her left for the Marianas Operation; however a collision of the TALBOT with the U.S.S. PENNSYLVANIA forced the former to return that night for repairs. By 14 June, the TALBOT had overtaken the task force, which reached Saipan the next day. During the next two days the ship accompanied the bombardment group, during a preliminary surface bombardment of Guam, after which she returned to Saipan, where the team acted as a standby for Teams ONE and TWO during that operation. Returning to the Marshall Islands, Team FOUR spent two days building and performing experimental demolition work upon obstacles similar to those discovered at Saipan.
Confident that it was well trained and ready for action, Team FOUR arrived off of Guam on 16 July for its initial mission. At 1520 on the following day, two platoons carried out a pre-assault reconnaissance of Yellow Beach Two. The purpose of this mission was to determine landing conditions, to locate as accurately as possible all obstacles, reporting their number, size and nature, and to set buoys to mark the extremities of the beaches. The reconnaissance was completed at 1715, and, on the basis of the information is accumulated, a night demolition operation was planned and carried out. It was discovered that the obstacles were of two types: coral-filled cribs constructed with pelu logs, and barbed wire fences. At 2110 the platoons left the APD to carry out the operation. During this task, the men were able to hear conversations and other sounds of normal Japanese routine on shore. All work, fortunately, went as planned with the result that at 0230 we secured.
On 18 July a reconnaissance of White Beach showed that obstacle demolition and channel blowing would be necessary in that area. As a consequence, that day and the next two were spent in blasting obstacles and coral heads to form channels through the reef to permit the beaching of landing craft. These channels and those natural ones discovered were also properly buoyed. Throughout this daylight work excellent fire support was given by six LCI's while a destroyer, cruiser, and a battleship stood by to offer counter-battery fire as requested. Little or no surf was experienced and the water was clear. The entire beach area was combed for mines, but none were found. It was, by the way, during this work that the team erected the "Welcome Marines" sign which gave it so much publicity.
Charts were drawn of all the beaches, showing the location of channels, obstacles, water depths, obstruction buoys, and improvements made by the team. This chart was dispatched to the U.S.S. APPALACHIAN on the afternoon of the 20th, where it was photographed and copies sent by destroyer to the transports.
Reporting to the Beachmaster the next day, members of Team FOUR under his direction led the landing waves ashore, acting as pilots for LCT's and LSTs. It was while guiding small craft ashore that Ensign T. D. NIXON, the only casualty of the operation, was killed by Japanese sniper fire. On the same day the team also blew a channel off Yellow Beach in front of Ogat Village, large enough to accommodate their LST'S. Still later a one-half mile section of the beach near Ogat Village was cleared of obstacles.
Leaving Guam on 23 July, the APD transported the team to Maui via Saipan and Eniwetok. There the time was passed in further training and perfecting methods developed at Guam. On 14 September, aboard the U.S.S. GOLDSBOROUGH (APD 132), headed for Eniwetok, the team prepared equipment for landings on Yap. Orders were received en route, however, that the Yap Operation was canceled, but that FOUR was to participate in the landings on Leyte.
In company with the fire support and bombardment group, the APD proceeded through a typhoon, the violence of which prevented any further preparations of equipment, arriving at Leyte Gulf on the morning of 18 October. The team was scheduled to make a reconnaissance of Violet Beach near Dulag, after a preliminary bombardment, but because the typhoon had delayed the work of the mine sweepers, it was impossible to take heavy units of the fleet into the gulf to support the teams. Nevertheless, at 1500 that day, in company with the other teams, Team FOUR, with four APD's and five destroyers for fire support, closed the beach to 6000 yards, where boats with three platoons put over the side while one platoon acted as standby. As the landing craft approached the beach, they were met by intensive mortar, machine-gun and small arms fire.
Platoon TWO, proceeding to within one hundred-fifty yards of the shore, launched its swimmers. Just as the last of these swimmers cleared the boat, two hits were received which wounded three men. The boat, in sinking condition, was headed out to sea; lifeboats on the wounded were inflated, and the rescue landing craft was called on the radio. Machine gunners continued to answer the fire from the beach, but two additional hits sank the boat. The wounded were towed out to meet the approaching rescue craft.
Platoon FOUR, meanwhile, had been heading for the beach but was forced to retire at three hundred-fifty yards under exceedingly heavy fire. Noticing that boat TWO had been hit, FOUR went to its rescue, ordering the rescue craft to stand by for the swimmers previously launched by Platoon TWO. At the same time, the GOLDSBOROUGH closed on the beach to give fire support. While so engaged, she received a direct hit on her number one stack which killed two men and wounded sixteen. Of this number, six were from demolition personnel. One of whom, W. B. KASUMAN , was killed.
In the intervening time, the swimmers who had been released by platoon TWO, proceeded to the beach, completed their reconnaissance, and withdrew on schedule to be picked up by the rescue craft. Reports on the basis of their information were compiled and submitted to the landing force commander on the morning of the invasion. On 22 October, after two days screening duty, the team was ordered to Hollandia, New Guinea, from which, after a sixteen day sojourn, it returned to Maui to engage in advanced training for two and one-half months.
On 13 February 1945 Team FOUR embarked on to the U.S.S. LOY (APD-56) proceeding to Leyte Gulf to join other fleet units assembling for the landings at Okinawa on 20 March, the team practiced operations on the island of Homonhon.
At Okinawa, the first reconnaissance was conducted on 28 March of the Purple and Orange Beaches on the western side of the island. With excellent fire support from the LCI(G)'s, destroyers, cruisers, and battleships this team completed its assignment within two hours after it commenced at 1530. There was no opposition from the shore. No mines were encountered, but rows of posts four deep were found extending the full length of the beaches. The following morning, Team FOUR succeeded in removing the posts, having loaded and fired its first shot in two hours. On 1 April members of the team guided the assault waves to their assigned beaches. For the following six days, the team did post-assault demolition work under the direction of the Beachmaster, blowing channels on Purple ONE and Purple TWO Beaches.
On the 7th, the team received orders to make pre-assault reconnaissance on lo Shima and Minna Shima on 13 April. Approaches suitable for LCM's and DUKW's were found, buoyed, and improved by demolition on Minna Shima. The reconnaissance of the Green T-1 Beaches on Io Shima showed no mines or obstacles, other than a fringing reef which LVT's would have no trouble negotiating. A similar reconnaissance was made on the island's Blue Beaches on the following day. On 17 April the Beachmaster requested demolition improvements made in the area west of Blue T-1 Beaches, but heavy sniper fire prevented this from being accomplished. The next day, demolition operations were conducted on Red T-3, and a channel was located and buoyed on the left flank of Blue T-3 under light sniper fire. Returning to the Blue T-1 on the next day, the team was successful in blasting a channel as desired.
On 25 April, after nearly a month of Kamikaze attacks, the team gratefully received orders for Guam, where it moved ashore into the camp that had been built by Team EIGHT. There the team worked improving the camp's facilities and inspected some of the beaches on which it had performed reconnaissance and demolition work nearly a year previously.
On 5 June Team FOUR was ordered aboard the U.S.S. FUGUS (APA-82) bound for Pearl Harbor, where the team transferred aboard the U.S.S. MONTAUK (LSV-6) for transportation to San Francisco. On Independence Day, after sixteen and one-half months overseas, Team FOUR passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Of the original complement of ninety officers and men, there was still sixty-seven in the unit. After thirty days leave, the team was ordered to the Amphibious Training Base at Oceanside, California, where it was dissolved on 20 October 1945.
(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 Four and you would like further information, we suggest you contact the UDT-SEAL Museum.