Men volunteered for training in demolition. The training here covered the handling of explosives, blasting tree stumps, clearing of wooded areas, and general demolition. During this period the men underwent intense and thorough physical training and conditioning program. The physical training was conducted by Marine enlisted personnel whose zeal often exceeded the requirements of training. Forced marches during any and all hours of the day or night were not too uncommon.
While still in the training stages, the men displayed marked "esprit de corps" much to the dismay of the Marine personnel. The Marines never quite succeeded in pacifying this ever-exuberant display of organizational spirit in spite of having the men run an extra mile or two after a strenuous day.
During this period while the enlisted men
were undergoing their own particular trials and privations, most of the
original officers of Team 7 were experiencing a mode of training
euphemistically termed by the Navy as "Indoctrination" in Area
Most of the members of Team 7 received
their training in Class 5 and 5A and represent approximately half of the group
that was assigned to the Pacific, the other half becoming UDT 6. While in
Particular emphasis was placed upon handling of explosives and demolition work. Military explosives and their uses were well covered. As soon as proficiency in handling of explosives was attained, practical work on blasting of obstacles both in and out of the water was undertaken. These operations were performed both day and night using a seaward approach to the beach to be cleared.
Except for a very casual amount of swimming in connection with physical training no emphasis was placed upon what later became a major portion of the work of a UDT.
During training, no overall plan was apparent of the work and functions later performed by UDTS. The problem of approaching a beach and performance of a mission was never solved at least to the extent of a maximum survival of personnel. To illustrate, a daylight approach to obstacles within a few yards in from the beach in the water was generally in a rubber boat filled with powder with paddlers fully exposed.
About the second week in the training program the officers and men were teamed up into crews of one officer and six or seven men and operated in this way until the last week when they were reorganized into the standard units. The last week of the training program covered practical work on obstacles along beach shorelines. In general three days was devoted to daylight blasting and about the same number at night. During these operations crews operated as units of three using rubber boats to bring the powder to the obstacles and were required to detonate their powder electrically on the exact hour.
As a point of contrast to later experiences of the team it is interesting to note that the powder was taken in by rubber boats and all personnel were dressed completely in combat greens, field shoes, helmets, and heavy "Mae West" life jackets. While a plan for fire support for such a mission may have been developed at this time, this particular phase was not introduced in the briefing for the problems.
Late during the night of the last day of the pay-off course, word was received that operations were to be called off because of heavy weather. Most of the work, however, had already been performed, but at the expense of losing several rubber boats, innumerable paddles, and all but capsizing the LCVP'S.
On Easter Sunday, April 9, the westward bound units of class 5 and 5A together with certain crews of the staff that were desirous of overseas duty boarded troop trains for their journey westward - amidst sad farewells. Contrary to the advertisements of the Pullman Company in national magazines the trip was neither comfortable nor enjoyable. Somewhere along in the western states an empty coach for prisoners was added to the last section of the train. The fortunate few who could manage to get back to this coach rode across the balance of the way in some degree of luxury.
Two days after arrival in
The introduction to demolition life at
The base and grounds were just being developed at this time and during the first weeks open pipe trenches for water and sewage were everywhere.
Immediately upon arrival at Maui the units were divided on practically an alphabetical basis of the officers and their attached crews into UDT's 6 and 7 respectively with Lt. (jg) (Pappy) METTIVIN as officer in charge of Team Six and Lt. (jg) A.B. ONDERDONK as officer in charge of Team Seven.
Under the direction of Lt. (jg) ONDERDONK sixteen officers and their crews totaling 80
men listed by enclosures were formed into UDT 7. At the start the team
consisted entirely of
About a week after the team's arrival at Maui the team's first commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. then Lieutenant, R.F. BURKE reported aboard for temporary duty as as observer with UDT 5. Lt. Comdr. BURKE was offered and accepted the command of the team. Lt. (jg) ONDERDONK became the executive officer with Lt. (jg) ROBBINS, Lt. (jg) PHELPS, Lt. (jg) JONES, Lt. (jg) WELLS, and Lt. (jg) McCALLISTER as platoon leaders.
From the very first it was apparent the
training program here was not integrated or coordinated in any way to that of
Most of the practical work
Originally the embarkation date for combat areas was about 15 May 1944. At this date, however, the team's training was continued for another two weeks to cover an entirely new and hitherto uncalled for function - reconnaissance.
Operating jointly and oft-times
competitively with Team 5 reconnaissance methods and systems were tried off the
Compared to the gear later considered
essential for a reconnaissance swimmers the swimmers were bare of all gizmos
and gadgets considered necessary by the various experimental departments later
established. They were trunks, swim shoes, sheath knives, face mask, and
carried a plexiglass slate and pencil. In the last
combat operation of the team at
While in the
preliminary reconnaissance training period at
The first charts were drawn up on the back of laundry paper and were merely sketches and no attempt was made toward draftsmanship. At first there were no instruments, drawing equipment, or paper. These were procured only in time for the first operation after a great many demands by team officers.
Through the efforts and experiences of Team 7, preparation of charts was developed to a fair degree of proficiency and draftsmanship. On their return to Maui some six months after their first combat experience the team under Lt. ROBBINS set a drafting room, with but a negative amount of approval from the base officers, but with the "go ahead" sign of Comdr. KAUFMANN, the Training Officer and Lt. Comdr. BURKE, the Chief of Staff.
During the reconnaissance training
periods the later elemental fact of keeping the landing craft moving at all
times during the operation as well as picking up swimmers on the move was not
yet apparent. For the most part, the LCPR would pull up alongside the swimmer,
stop practically dead in the water, while the crew aboard would help the
swimmers climb the rope ladder hung over the side. Shooting Japs
At no time during the training period at
On 30 May, 1944, three APDs converted World War I four stackers, veterans of the fighting through Guadalcanal, the U.S.S. GILMER, U.S.S. WATERS and the U.S.S. BROOKS, pulled into Maui anchorage and were boarded the same day by Teams 5, 6, and 7 respectively. The next day the ships pulled out and started the trip westward.
Unknown to most of the members of the
team at this time, but known evidently to most of the seamen at Pearl, the
bombardment group of which the
After the ship was well underway from
Since the information available concerned
While the charts available were of a sufficiently large scale for the use of the team, overlays on clouded cellulose acetate showing the beach and reef in outline were made up to be used by each platoon leader while on the reconnaissance and in preparation of the rough beach chart.
During the period of travel to
While the team has some experience
working under fire on practice runs at
No opportunity for previous training
between the ship and the team was possible while en route or while training at
At 0830 on
In regards to demolition UDT 7 was ordered by the Operation Plan to do the following:
To insure that the maximum benefit from reconnaissance be attained it was ordered that the data obtained be disseminated to Admirals HILL, TURNER, and OLDENDORF stationed on ships U.S.S. CAMBRIA, MOROVIA, and INDIANAPOLIS respectively as soon as possible after reconnaissance.
While the beaches had been fairly easy to distinguish before disembarking, platoon leaders were given last minute instructions to rendezvous about the ship to get proper compass bearings to each beach. This information was not received and the LCPR's proceeded without guidance.
Proceeding under sporadic and poorly directed Naval gunfire support, each platoon conducted it's reconnaissance as detailed in Enclosure (A). While casualties had been suffered by some of the personnel in the LCPR's prior to leaving the craft, the reconnaissance was completed and all required information secured.
The reaction of the Japanese to our Naval
fire is difficult to evaluate. At
Due to the intensity of fire along Yellow 1 beach which beach had been assigned to Platoon 3, a usual reconnaissance from the LCPR was made and no swimmers were dropped in the water. On the other beaches, the reconnaissance, although under heavy fire, proceeded in accordance with the original plans. After most of the swimmers were picked up, Platoons 3 and 4 returned to the ship and Platoon 1 proceeded to pick up six swimmers who had been unable to be picked up because of a near miss which the LCPR from which they had been discharged had received, and consequently, it had returned to the ship.
In training at Maui the only tactic used in picking up a swimmer was to approach him with the craft, bring it to a stop and allow the swimmer to drag himself into a rubber boat which was provided alongside the LCPR and from there jump into the LCPR. Here it was discovered that motion of the LCPR was imminent to minimize the chances of receiving hits from the mortar shells that the Japs were dropping around the LCPR'S. Consequently a life ring with a line attached was rigged and this was thrown to a swimmer as the LCPR approached and passed him. The end of the line was held by a man in the boat and the swimmer was dragged safely into the LCPR.
A smoke screen was ordered by Lieut. BURKE just prior to this which probably helped reduce the accuracy of the enemy fire.
During the reconnaissance, Japs could be seen moving around the beach and several gun
and sniper positions were apparent. By using .30 caliber machine guns mounted
on the LCPR's and manned by
By drawing enemy fire from the beach installations and barges valuable information as to the enemy fire power was secured. Heavy Navy gunfire was later concentrated on known targets on the beach, barges, and snipers in the tree tops on D-1 Day and the morning of D-Day preparatory to the landing of the assault troops.
While all swimmers had plastic diver's slates and pencils with them to use on the reconnaissance to note information, none were used by the men because of the undesirability of stopping long enough to record what was being seen, thus minimizing the chances of being hit by the enemy.
The practice of dropping buoys in the water was used and is mentioned here and explained more fully in Enclosure (A). These buoys were dropped for the purpose of marking the seaward ends of the lanes which each swimmer was assigned to reconnoiter and also for the purpose of orientation as he progressed shoreward. However, this bit of nicety was found to be impractical for use under combat conditions and was discarded on future operations.
Radio communication between the LCPR's and the swimmers was carried out with no success on
this operation but the use of
Radio communication between the LCPR's and the
No obstacles of man made nature or mines were found on the beaches in place.
Consequently, no demolition of man made obstacles was required, however, wire, concrete, posts lying on the beach proper, an indication that the enemy had intended to make it a bit more difficult for Underwater Demolition Units at Saipan.
As noted heretofore the Operation Plan called for clearing and marking of certain channels through the reef. However, the discovery of a highly navigable natural channel, Charan Kanoa Channel, on Blue Beach 1 and upon investigating, the finding that it would serve well to get Landing Craft into the beach proper minimized the necessity for blasting channels through the reef.
As navigational aids to small craft, two buoys were placed at the mouth of Charan Kanoa Channel at 2200 on D-Day. In the morning of D plus 1 Day the Blue Beach master requested that a 100 foot channel be blasted through the reef several hundred yards to some deeper water along the beach. The previous days reconnaissance had showed however, that the water along the beach at the part selected was not navigable even for small craft and a channel would serve no useful purpose. However, it was decided that an attempt should be made and on D plus 1 night the work was performed. The details of transporting and loading the powder are set forth in Enclosure (A1). The reasons for failure to realize a true channel are several of which the following may be noted:
(a) Just prior to firing a message was received to hold the firing period until the following morning, as at that time, the front line was less than 200 yards offshore and any blasting would have endangered our own Marines...Thus after being exposed to the action of the surf overnight, it was found on firing the explosive charge the next morning that some of the Prima Cord had become wet. As a result, detonation of the powder was not complete. (b) The nature of the coral surrounding the Mariannas Islands is that of a very high density sand-cemented coral which does not lend itself to disintegration. Thus, on charging it and blasting, the result is an area of craters and free coral boulders which require further blasting or removal by earth moving equipment.
On D plus 3 morning, powder was placed in an attempt to form an LST ramp 100 yards wide and 35 yards deep. This operation was fairly successful although the ramp was rough and somewhat irregular.
Experience in blasting of coral for this operation indicate the inability to improve the face of a sloping hard coral reef for an LST ramp. While blasting is extremely effective in clearing boulders or coral beach and roughly shearing the lip off an abrupt reef any demolition on a sloping reef worn facily smooth by wind, water and tidal action, will result only in scattered craters and the formation of a coral lip that in themselves constitute obstacles unless the scattered debris is cleared by earth moving equipment.
Miscellaneous blasting of coral heads and boulders along the beaches to clear roads for LVT's and trucks along the reef top and buoying and flagging positions along the reef lip for LST approaches completed the work required of UDT 7 on the Saipan operation.
The operation of Saipan was the first in the Pacific Theater of operations which fully committed Underwater Demolition. Consequently much was learned there about the various tactics which constitutes an Underwater Demolition operation. These lessons could not have been foreseen and were not foreseen by the various training staffs to which Team 7 had been exposed.
It can be very easily seen that in order for a demolition team to conduct its work successfully with a minimum of exposure of it's personnel to enemy intimidation, the enemy must be kept in abeyance. This can be done by a fire support which closely coordinates itself with the work of a demolition team and is sympathetic toward its problems.
As a result of the Saipan operation it was found expedient to recommend and realize a fire support to, the source of which is as close to the beach as possible and one in which the use of rapid fire small caliber guns is emphasized. Further and later it was thought feasible to assign members of Under-water Demolition Teams directly to fire support ships to act as liaison between the two factions during the course of an operation and to acquaint the gunnery officers aboard these ships with the type of fire which would best serve demolition.
Things were learned too about the communication network of a demolition team in operation. The striking point here was that radio communication between the LCPR's and the fire support ships should be direct and fire calling should be familiar to all officers of a demolition team. Also it was learned that communication between swimmers and LCPR personnel was impractical and almost impossible when enemy harassing passes a certain point, so much communication was discontinued.
The use of swimmers and LCPR's was mildly revolutionized as a result of the Saipan operation. As stated heretofore in the operation of Saipan all four platoons of the teams were assigned a beach and all personnel of each platoon were assigned duty within that platoon. It later became apparent that should any one of these LCPR's become casualized by enemy fire or causes inherent in machinery, there would be no help or relief for it without imposing upon another LCPR which was busily engaged on another beach. Thus, it was felt expedient to embody in plans of future operations provisions for reserve and standby LCPR's whose sole function would be that of aiding operational LCPR's which had become immobilized. Further, swimmers were redistributed in the LCPR's in accordance with the "operational reserve" plan. It was felt that fewer swimmers would be used in an operation proper and the remaining swimmers allocated to the reserve LCPR's as reserve swimmers again in case an operational LCPR became immobilized.
It has been stated heretofore that Team
7's training at Maui involved the handling of landing craft during demolition
operations in such a manners as to involve the use of 2 bow grapnels and 1
stern anchor to stay the craft while works of loading charges was in progress.
This procedure is sheer folly in the presence of a hostile beach. In the Saipan operation it was apparent that immobility of landing
craft was an invitation to disaster and maneuvers of LCPR's
were initiated and employed by the coxswains. Such, for example, as approaching
and leaving the beach in a zig-zag, picking up
swimmers while in motion of a speed of up to 2200
With the necessity for this continuous
speed came the need for methods of discharging and retrieving swimmers while
the LCPR was moving. The use of a rubber boat tied along the seaward side of an
LCPR had been initiated at Maui and was being practiced at Maui and was still
being practiced, however, the problem was of getting an exhausted and scared
swimmer into it while going 2200
Much was learned about the gunnery required on an LCPR being employed in an Underwater Demolition operation. On the Saipan operation the gunnery consisted of two .30 caliber machine guns mounted in the two forward machine gun mounts and a tommy gun operated by a gunner positioned between those in the ramp of the LCPR. Later operations saw the inclusion of a bow and stern .50 caliber machine gun in addition to the two .30 caliber machine guns.
All of the suggestions, recommendations, and changes made apparent by Team 7's operation on Saipan were made on future operations by that team and were incorporated into the Underwater Demolition scheme of things to become standard procedure in all Underwater Demolition operations in the Pacific. They were embodied in the training at Maui when Team 7 was sent there later to train new teams coming to the Pacific.
The interim of time between the Operation
of Underwater Demolition Team 7 on Saipan and that on
Tinian, It's next operation, was spent for the main
part in confinement aboard the
During this time and shortly after the conclusion of the work on Saipan, bangalore torpedoes which had been made a part of Team 7's gear requirement were moved ashore at Blue 2 beach and given to the Marines who, it was found, had more use and need for bangalore torpedoes than UDT.
The noteworthy occurrences involving the team in this time were:
(a) On 22 June 1944 the team was
transferred from it's
The main operation by UDT 7 on Tinian was on 23 July 1944 and was a diversionary daylight reconnaissance of a barrier reef off Red, Green, and Blue beaches for a total of 2500 yards. These beaches were just of Sunharin Town and it was thought to make the enemy believe that this was where the anticipated landings, which were to be made on the following day, would be staged.
Between the time of 20 June and 23 July
but for the exception of the preparation for and performance of the work
enumerated above, UDT 7 was retained aboard the
Details of the combat night and day reconnaissance are set forth in Enclosure B and B1 respectively. However certain points about these reconnaissances should be brought out at this time.
The night practice reconnaissance was
conducted to determine the probability of a swimmer finding mines and other
obstacles on a reef in complete darkness of night. The practice powder floating
problem was conducted to determine the ease with which a 500 pound stack of
powder would be floated into an enemy beach without detection and how it best
could be floated. On both operations observers from the team were stationed on
the beach equipped with binoculars to note the ease with which the
Before embarking on the combat Recon of
Yellow beaches Captain, now Major, James L. JONES, C.O. of the marine
contingent and Lt. BURKE were warned not to alert the beaches and Lt. BURKE
ordered that should signs of the beach having bear alerted themselves,
personnel shall retire from the beach. As the swimmers on this operation were
debarking from their rubber boats which had been brought in to within 500 yards
from the beach several shots were heard which gave the impression that the
beach had been alerted and that the enemy knew of our presence. In accordance
with the orders the swim personnel returned to the rubber boats to the
The plans for the diversionary reconnaissance embodied many of the recommendations developed as a result of the operation on Saipan. For this operation only three LCPR's were used as operational craft, and from each of these only swimmers were dropped. A fourth boat located a thousand yards from the reef was dispatched as a reserve and standby boat and in this were present seven standby swimmers.
The curtain of gunfire and air strikes were described as superb in accomplishing their purpose. The effectiveness of this support can be demonstrated by stating that the only enemy fire encountered was sniper fire and this, upon investigating, totaled three shots in number. Large caliber naval fire at known targets combined with steady 40 mm fire into the beach and above the water's edge effectively covered the Recon operation. The reef which was reconnoitered on this operation was of the barrier type and extended out from the beach proper from 500 to 1000 yards. Since this was only a diversionary feint, swimmers were ordered to go no closer to shore than the inner edge of the reef. One natural channel and a questionable natural small boat channel presented themselves on aerial photographs and maps. Certain swimmers were designated to investigate the former for it's navigability and freeness of obstructions and mines and the latter for its questionable being. This channel was not found and proved to be a misinterpretation of the photographs.
The reef was found to be a flat, relatively smooth top reef which would present no obstruction to passage of LVT's or DUKW's. No obstacles or mines were found after 45 minutes of reconnoitering by the swimmers. The recon was concluded with no casualties.
The post assault work of UDT 7 commenced on D-Day. A thorough search for anti-boat mines off the fringing reefs on Beaches White 1 and 2 was made. No mines were found, but unexploded rockets and bombs were removed to the beach. Personnel encountered enemy machine gun fire but no casualties were incurred.
On D plus 1 and D plus 2 pontoon were placed on White 1 and White 2. This team aided in the placing of these pontoons and some demolition on the beach was necessary. Due to the conditions of the reef and the approaches to the beach, a minimum amount of blasting was necessary.
The work at Tinian completed, UDT 7 began dreaming about coming back to the states. A transfer of personnel from Team 7 and the U.S.S STRINGHAM to Team 5 and the U.S.S. GILMER was made at this time since it was rather definite that the latters were returning to Maui. The following were those who were more fortunate than those who remained with Team 7:
At this time Lt. (jg)
The U.S.S. STRINGHAM with Team 7 aboard departed the Marianas Islands with Espiritus Santos as the objective. The two events which marked this trip were the initiation of all members of UDT 7 into King Neptune's order of the Shell-backs and the several hours we spent motionless in the water as the fuel system of the ship was being cleared of water which had found its way into the fuel oil. However, Espiritus Santos was reached with little damage either to the ship or the personnel aboard despite the rotten salmon served on the day of our initiation.
The stop at Espiritus
was short, however, the team left it not on the U.S.S. STRINGHAM but on the
U.S.S. ELMORE (
The route of arriving at the final destination, Turner City and Florida Island, was a rather circuitous one for the ELMORE proceeded right past it and came to a stop at Russell Island on 23 August, several miles west of Florida Island. It was there that Team 7 disembarked for one night, only to reembark again the following morning on an LCT which proceeded back to Guadalcanal. There Team 7 disembarked into two LCM's which proceeded 22 miles across the strait to Turner City and Florida, arriving in the dark of the night of 24 August.
The enlisted men will long remember their first night in Turner City sleeping in a mediocrity cleared swamp in hastily prepared net-less tents. They will also remember their stay here because of the suffering their appetites underwent and the introduction to tooba juice. If it had not been for the resources of one Mims BOWEN, who always managed to have a store house of food in his sea bag, life would have been impossible there.
The reason for Team 7's presence in
No replacements for these men were taken.
Ten long days were spent here and on 6 September Team 7 once again boarded the U.S.S. STRINGHAM which had come there from Espiritu Santos where it had left it.
On the following day the STRINGHAM shoved off with Manus Island as the objective where the staging of the Task Force which was to invade Pelelieu Island was taking place. The stay at Manus was short and uneventful, with the exception of the joining of the huge task force of which we were a part.
The Operation Plan which was to be used in the invasion of Palau was made available to the team while it was still in Turner City. Hydrographic charts of the water surrounding Pelelieu and maps of the island itself were also made available at this time. Aerial photographs of the beaches were not available at this time but were promised at a later date and before the invasion.
The time from the sailing of the ship from Turner City to its arrival off White beaches at Pelelieu on 12 September was spent by the personnel of Team 7 in preparation for the coming operation. All officers were required to read the Operation Plan and to study the charts and pictures of the beaches.
Endless conferences between Lieut. BURKE as C.O. and team officers, between the team C.O. and the ship C.O., between the officers of the team themselves were held.
Numerous briefing periods of the team officers by the C.O. of the men by the C.O. and of the men by their officers were held.
The foregoing operations were conducted both for reconnaissance and the demolition but especially for the former at this time, since that was more imminent. Intelligence and photo interpretation had reported the presence of obstacles on the beaches but before detailed plans could be laid for their demolition reconnaissance was necessary.
Details of the reconnaissance are set forth in Enclosure (C) but it is believed that certain points concerning it should be brought out at this point.
The hour at which the team would operate
was not known until one hour previous to it's being committed. At about 0600
the U.S.S. NOA (
The fourth LCPR of the ship which was intended to be used became unusable when, as it was being lowered by the ship's davits into the water, the ship's sea painter became fouled in the boat's screw and attempts to extricate the line proved unsuccessful. Consequently, last minute changes had to be made.
Fortunately, the beach to be reconnoitered required only twelve swimmers which were to be dropped by only one LCPR so that this last minute change necessitated only the elimination of an LCPR whose sole function was to have been to pick up swimmers returning from the beach.
This reconnaissance was planned embodying the idea of using as few swimmers as possible of providing for standby and reserve LCPR's and swimmers, of using direct communication between LCPR's and fire support ships, of maintaining constant mobility of LCPR's and of using .50 caliber machine guns to supplement the thirties.
The results of the reconnaissance were recorded on an outline overlay which had been previously prepared and showed range markers, steel tripods, and rows of wooden posts 75 yards from the beach were present on the reef. It was further noted that all of these had been in place for a long time as they were rusted and decayed and from all appearances formed no obstacles to landing vehicles.
The reef was smooth and flat with a gentle slope to the beach. Log barriers and concrete cubes were seen on the beach about thirty yards above the high water mark. The pill boxes observed had been demolished by naval gun-fire.
This reconnaissance was made at a time when the tide was low and the reef awash for 100 yards from the beach. There was no water to provide cover for the swimmers over much of the reef and this limited the area which could be investigated. Consequently, it was to be recommended that wherever possible reconnaissances should be conducted at high tide or as close to this stage of tide as possible. Such a stage of tide will provide more cover for the swimmers and allow them to approach much closer to the beach.
As stated heretofore it was believed that the obstacles on the reef, were no hazard to landing vehicles, however it was decided that they should be removed. This operation of demolition was planned for the following night (D minus 2) 13 September 1944, but was not actually performed until the night of (D minus 1), 14 September 1944.
The delay in the demolition was caused by
the fact that the STRINGHAM was ordered to tow the three LCPR's
salvaged from the
However, in accordance with the new plan, demolition of obstacles was performed on White 1 & 2 beaches at Pelelieu on D minus 1 night. This work committed three LCPR's and Boat Crews and four officered demolition crews to attach single blocks of tetrytol which had been previously rigged with readily attaching fixtures to the obstacles and demolish them.
Details of this operation are set forth in enclosure (C1) but it should be stated here that because of poor planning coupled with the fact that an over excessive number of personnel was employed and the impossibility of coordination in the darkness of night, the operation was one characterized by con-fusion and uncertainty. Although some obstacles were loaded and blown the expected ends were not realized. This operation exemplified the extreme disadvantages encountered in night work. The removed obstacles were noted on the previously mentioned prepared charts.
On D-Day morning at 0600 three team
officers were dispatched with the charts showing the condition of the beaches
at that time. One officer was sent to the Commander Pelelieu
Transport Group, one to the White beach control vessel, and the third to report
to the control vessel of the Division Beach-master. However, the
At 1030 on D-Day one LCPR with personnel and explosives aboard prepared to do necessary demolition was sent in to the beach to stand by for orders from the beachmaster. This was done by Platoon 1 officered by Lt. (jg) ROBBINS and Ensign MILLNER.
At 1130 on D Day, Carpenter R.F. WELLS was called upon to assist in laying anchorage buoys for fuel and crane barges.
At 0600 on D plus 1 Day Carp. R.F. WELLS again reported to the Senior Beachmaster and assisted in completing the laying of anchorage buoys.
At 0600 on D plus 2 Day the beachmaster was contacted again but no work for Team 7 was requested.
At 0900 on D plus 3 a reconnaissance was conducted on beach Orange 3 for anti-tank mines as the erection of a pontoon causeway was proposed at this site. The reef was awash and the reconnaissance resolved itself into walking over it and looking for the mines. This work was done by Platoon 3 officered by Lt.(jg) ONDERDONK and Ensigns C.E. JONES and CLARK WAKEFIELD.
Further work at this site was the demolition of boulders which were too large to be moved as they were by a bulldozer.
The remainder of the post assault work performed by Team 7 at Pelelieu was concentrated at the southwest side of the island on Scarlet beaches 1,2, and 3 and 200 yards of Purple beach. Here reconnaissances were conducted in post assault fashion with no fire support since the beaches were supposedly neutralized. However, recons were necessary to investigate for obstacles and mines.
The first recon was conducted on the afternoon of D plus 3 at 1500. The beachmaster had reported the beaches secured and had ordered a reconnaissance of Scarlet 3 beach. This reconnaissance was performed by Platoons 1 & 2 officered by Lt.(jg) Sidney ROBBINS an Ens. MILLNER, Lieut. BURKE, and Ensigns R.M. PHELPS and Fay RAYMON. This beach was found to be highly defended by man made obstacles and J-13 anti-tank mines. The obstacles found here consisted of embedded steel and concrete rails and steel tetrahedrons along seaward edge of reef. The steel rails were twenty pound light gauge railroad rails and planted about 5 feet high. The concrete rails were about 6" x 6" x 5' and reinforced with steel. The tetrahedron were about 7' x 7' and made of light weight pipe or reinforcing bars.
A row of 39 J-13 mines about 100 yards in from the seaward obstacles was found. Enclosure (c) is a chart prepared from this reconnaissance.
Some low strung barbed wire entanglements and wood pickets along the edge of the beach proper with some J-13 mines were found. The reef was found to be flat with only scattered coral heads.
Demolition of most of the mines was accomplished by Platoons 1 & 2 that afternoon. The first method adopted was to carry them in a rubber boat out to sea and drop them overboard. This caused the mines to detonate when they reach a depth great enough to break the horns and glass acid vile. The second method was to gather up all the mines into one pile and load it with tetrytol and blow them up. In this way most of the mines were demolished.
On the following day platoons 3 & 4 officered by Lt.(jg) SCHANTZ and Ensign John D. TURCI and Ensign C.E. JONES and CLARK WAKEFIELD were dispatched to complete the clearing of the entire reef of obstacles and mines.
A reconnaissance was conducted to determine what remained to be cleared and it was found that all the obstacles were still intact and a few of the mines remained unexploded. These were divided between platoons 3 & 4, loaded and demolished.
On D plus 5 Day all platoons were dispatched to demolish the obstacles and mines known to be present on Scarlet beaches 1 & 2. A reconnaissance revealed that the obstacles along the seaward edge of reef consisted of 6"x6"x5' concrete rails about fifteen feet on centers with barbed and plain wire between, wood tetrahedrons filled with rocks built around every third or fourth rail. A row of 29 mines about 100 yards in from seaward obstacles was found. A few scattered "Tape Measure" anti tank mines were found among the concrete rails. Platoon 1 was detailed to demolish the obstacles on Scarlet 2 beach; platoon 2 to demolish the obstacles on Scarlet 1 beach and Platoons 3 & 4 were detailed to demolish the existing mines.
Much powder was required to demolish these obstacles because of the sturdiness of them. Enclosure (C) is a detailed explanation and drawing of these obstacles and consultation of that enclosure will convince the reader of the necessity of loading heavily in order to completely demolish. Full haversacks of tetrytol were used on the single-element obstacles. Several full haversacks of tetrytol were used on the coral packed multiple element obstacles.
In the morning Platoon 1 started loading from the north end of Scarlet Beach 2 and Platoon 2 started loading from the south end of Scarlet Beach 1. At noon when it came time for all hands to return to the ship for chow these charges were detonated. In the afternoon Platoon 1 started loading from the north end of the remaining line of obstacle and Platoon 2 from the south end meeting in the center of the line of obstacles and tying the two charges together to require only one shot. The shot was detonated and was completely successful in demolishing all obstacles.
In the meantime Platoons 3 & 4 had been charging the J-13 mines with single blocks of tetrytol by tying them to the horns of the mines with marlin and into a Prima Cord trunk line. This charge was detonated but to the surprise of all concerned, the majority of the mines remained intact. Upon investigating it was found that the mines inexplicably had not been armed and consequently the rupture of the glass acid vile in the horns had meant nothing toward detonation of the mine. The force of a single block of tetrytol had not been sufficient to detonate the charge of the mines sympathetically.
It was decided to return the following morning to subject each mine to the force of a full haversack of tetrytol and trust that the mines would be detonated sympathetically from such a force. Platoon 4 was dispatched to do this work and was successful in clearing the reef of all mines.
On D plus 6 at 0800 Platoon 2 officered by Ens. PHELPS was dispatched to make a reconnaissance of the southern extremity of Purple beach for a distance of 200 yards. This reconnaissance disclosed the presence of three rows of obstacles paralleling the beach, and just off the beach proper. The first of these rows and to seaward was of reinforced concrete posts; the second and shoreward of the first was of steel rails and the third and along the water mark was of wood log. This data in the form of a print was recorded and is set forth in Enclosure C4.
On this same day at 1400 platoon 3 was dispatched to clear the reconnoitered area of Purple beach of the obstacles found. This was done by loading each obstacle with single blocks of tetrytol and circuiting these with a single Prima Cord trunk line. The shot was fired and the demolition was successful in clearing the entire area of obstacles.
Thus on D plus 6 or 21 September 1944, Team 7 concluded it's duties on the island of Pelelieu and it's personnel were visualizing the San Francisco Bay bridge.
On the following day the
The task of transferring Team 7's powder
from the hold of the USS STRINGHAM to that of the USS CLEMSON (
Fortunately, those men who had been engaged in handling the explosives had the presence of mind to quickly throw all loose tetrytol over the side and the ship's engineer enough to suggest cutting the lines which held the two ships to each other, thus allowing them to separate.
The fire fighting ships and craft stationed in the vicinity and the ship's company personnel were quickly organized to subdue it. Landing craft from all directions came to the aid of personnel evacuation.
The fire was completely subdued before it found it's way to the depth charges or the gasoline tanks of the LCPR's, some of which were in their davits or the explosives which were being transferred. The source of the fire is not determinable but the most satisfactory explanation is that a cigarette butt had been thrown to the deck and not completely stomped out, thus igniting granules of the explosive being handled which had been left on the deck during the transfer.
The following day the STRINGHAM got underway regardless of the fire the night before and Team 7 was Pearl Harbor bound, and on the morning of 14 August 1944 Pearl Harbor was a reality.
Team 7's ultimate destination, however, was not Pearl Harbor but Maui, and the Naval Combat Demolition and Experimental Base at Kameole. Transporting was not immediately available for the team, consequently a night's lay-over at Pearl was necessary. Early the following morning a transfer was made from the STRINGHAM, which was to proceed to the states, to an LCI which would proceed with the team to Maui. Thus once again as eight months before, Team 7 found itself aboard an LCI proceeding from Pearl Harbor to Maui. This second trip was made in the daytime, however, which far outmoded the first trip at night.
Maui was reached late in the day of 15 October and after much confusion with transference of gear and personnel from the LCI to the base via LCVP's and trucks the night was spent in making our presence on the base known.
After a ten day leave the limits of which was the islands, Team 7 personnel was commandeered by the training department for training of new teams coming to Maui from Fort Pierce.
Much had been done at the base since Team 7 had left it on 1 May 1944 to improve it as a training base. The living conditions with respect to quarters for men and officers were much improved, messing facilities were apparent although yet not ready for an influx of new teams, recreation facilities were being developed, but transportation facilities were still as scant as ever.
The training department had also grown
into a mentionable thing. Under the supervision of Lt. Comdr, now Comdr. D.L.
KAUFFMAN, a vast training program was being initiated.
An experimental department was being started under the immediate direction of Lt.(jg) Edgar O. McALLISTER whose sympathies were with problems which were closely associated with the demolition work. Heretofore, all experimental departments connected with demolition had interests lying in methods and equipment which were theoretical and hypothetical and were not being used by demolition units in the field and probably never would.
A mapping and photography department was being initiated but like all other departments, was still in a very embryonic stage. The thoughts for this elaborate and comprehensive training program were to be made an actuality by the personnel of Team 7.
The officers of Team 7 were assigned the various duties purporting to developing a training schedule which would bring to the new teams a thorough understanding of a combat reconnaissance and demolition operation.
Lieut. now Lt. Comdr. R.F. BURKE was made Training Officer under the immediate supervision of Comdr. D.L. KAUFFMAN.
Lt. (jg) ROBBINS was placed in charge of developing the mapping, charting and photography department.
Ens. now Lt.(jg) JONES and Ens. now Lt.(jg) W.T. FLYNN were assigned as observers on the various recon and demolition maneuvers with specific duties to serve and report and recommend.
Ens. now Lt.(jg) PHELPS was assigned to the experimental department and laboratory under McALLISTER and with him his platoon to help in discovering solution to the problems immediately effecting demolition.
Ensigns now Lt.(jg)'s R. MILLNER, F. RAYMAN, M.
All of the above officers were given the necessary number of Team 7 enlisted personnel to help them in the instruction.
Teams 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 which
reported at Maui during Team 7's sojourn there received their training at the
hands of Team 7 personnel. When they were ready to pull out for their first
encounter with the enemy they had been versed in as many tactics and strategies
as Team 7 had encountered on it's operations, daylight reconnaissances,
night reconnaissances, daylight demolition of both
obstacles and coral and night demolition of both. They had seen what it was
like to live aboard an
At this time and during the teams' stay at Maui the personnel of Team 7 received a rather drastic change. It was here that Lt.(jg) ONDERDONK left this team and became C.O. of Team 14. Lt.(jg) ROBBINS then became executive officer and in his stead as Platoon Leader of Platoon 1, Lt.(jg) MILLNER became Platoon Leader.
Ensigns McWAKEFIELD and J.T. STEGMAIER left the team to become permanently attached to the base and as replacements Ensigns W. MARROW and A.W. HORTON were added to the team.
Chief Carp. WELLS left the team to become executive officer of Team 11 and later C.O. of that same team and Ens. D.J. WRYSINSKI was added as personnel officer. Lt.(jg) SCHANTZ left the team to become executive officer of Team 15 and Ens. now Lt.(jg) J.D. TURCI succeeded him as platoon leader of Platoon 4.
The team's officer organization then became as follows:
So this well trained bunch of teams left
Maui and Team 7 was regrouped and informed that Okinawa was in sight for it. So
on 8 January a training program and reconditioning was imposed on Team 7 which
continued until 14 February at which time it pulled away from Maui on board the
U.S.S. HOPPING (
The immediate objective was Eniwetok where after a day's stay the HOPPING was ordered to join a small fleet of escort ships which would escort a convoy of merchant ships to Samar and Leyte Gulf where staging for the Okinawa Operation was intended, and where a rehearsal of the coming operation at Okinawa was performed.
For this operation the staging area was San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P.I. UDT 7 was there for 29 days during which, one rehearsal for the Okinawa operation was held. This took the form of a reconnaissance with some elements of the fire support group participating. The rest of the time here was spent aboard ship at anchor.
Underwater Demolition Team 7, embarked aboard the USS HOPPING, left Leyte Gulf, P.I. on 23 March 1945 for the objective, Okinawa Gunto. Plans were formulated for the reconnaissance of Yellow beaches on the western side of Okinawa Shima.
The reconnaissance, originally planned for LOVE minus 4 day (28 March 1945), was postponed for one day to enable the minesweepers to complete their mission. The sea was flat and calm, with negligible surf, and the swimmers approaching the beach faced the sun. The conditions provided little or no cover for the swimmers, and caused them to be easily seen in the water. Since the reconnaissance was made at high tide, the swimmers were enabled to remain well submerged at all times.
The plans provided for one pair of swimmers every hundred yards on a twelve hundred yard beach, to swim to the high water mark. In addition, four swimmers (making a total of 20 swimmers) were assigned to swim across the reef parallel to the beach. In ordere to have as few landing craft as possible approach the beach, on two were used to drop the swimmers in the water. One additional boat with the reserve swimmers was held in readiness 2000 yards from the beach. The primary fire support for this operation was provided by LCI(G)'s firing 40 MM shells at the beach, between the high water line and the dune line. This support was thoroughly backed up by destroyers, cruisers, battleships and air combat patrols.
Chronological order of events on 29 March 1945 are as follows:
0900 Landing craft lowered and loaded
0920 Landing craft headed for destroyer line (2500 yards from beach)
0930 Roger Hour - Boats crossed destroyer line. Reserve boat placed
Marine Corps observers and team officers aboard the LCI(G)'s.
0935 Boats 500 yards from beach; commenced dropping swimmers into water
0945 All swimmers in the water, and boats standing out to LCI(G) line (1000 yards from beach)
1045 Boats commence picking up swimmers who have returned from the beach.
1100 All swimmers recovered
1115 All observers recovered
1130 All landing craft and swimmers
aboard USS HOPPING (
A list of each man's assignment in the team for this operation is included at the end of this section also a chart of the beach reconnoitered.
The information brought back by the swimmers on these beaches was fairly comprehensive. It was found that LVT's and DUKW's could cross the reef, but that fissures in the reef would prevent landing craft from unloading tanks and other vehicles on the reef off Yellow 1, but on Yellow 2 both LST's and LCM's could unload with no difficulty. The reef was composed of hard live coral covered with sand and had a gradual slope. Only a couple of coral heads were found that would interfere with an amphibious operation. The beach was well defended with pill boxes and gun positions, but no opposition was encountered except for sporadic sniper fire.
Three rows of wooden posts, imbedded in the reef, were in place across Yellow 2 beach, approximately 40 yards from the high water mark. It was esti-mated that there were 200 of these posts (six feet high, averaging six inches in diameter) wedged into holes on the reef. From the amount of sea growth on the posts, it was apparent that they had been in the water some time. Although the team reported that they did not constitute an obstacle to assault waves mounted in LVT's, it was decided to return the following day and destroy them, in order to eliminate any possible hazard.
The following morning Platoon 2 carried out the mission of demolishing the posts. One Hagansen Pack or one 2 and one half pound block of tetrytol was required for each post. One hundred Hagansen Packs had been prepared by the team. These plus enough 2 and one half pound blocks for a hundred percent reserve supply of explosives, were made ready. The 2 and one half pound blocks were prepared in the following manner. All prima cord was cut free, and each block was reprimed with five tight wraps of prima cord held in place with friction tape. Old inner tubes were then cut into rubber bands, and one rubber band was secured to one end of each block. Thus the rubber band could be stretched around the post and looped over the end of the block; this caused the tetrytol to be secured firmly to the post. To permit the use of blocks on large posts, another rubber band was secured to the first to lengthen the stretch of the band, and the block was then used in the same manner as above.
Six Hagansen Packs or six reprimed tetrytol blocks were put into one havesack and secured therein. Each such pack was made bouyant by securing one marine jungle flotation bladder to the outside of the pack. Eight rolls of primacord were placed in a haversack and made bouyant in the same manner.
The plan called for eleven swimmers to transport explosives to the obstacles and two more to transport primacord. Three bouyant packs were secured together as a chain, and were dropped from the landing craft as each swimmer went into the water. Eleven swimmers each carried eighteen single block charges to the obstacles and commenced placing them and two other swimmers carried the primacord to tie in all charges to one firing load. A chronological order of events is as follows:
0900 Landing craft lowered and loaded
0920 Landing craft headed for destroyer line (2500 yards from beach)
0930 (1) One landing craft with swimmers and explosives headed for beach (2) Reserve boat placed observers aboard fire support ships
(3) Reserve boat with swimmers and powder remained 2000 yards from the beach
0940 Landing craft at reef edge; dropped swimmers and explosives
0950 All swimmers and explosives in the water. Landing craft underway 500 yards from beach.
1100 (1) All explosives placed and tied in.
(2) All swimmers recovered with the exception of two who remained to
detonate the charge at the firing signal.
1200 Fuzes pulled, and the remaining swimmers on way to boat.
1205 Swimmers recovered
1215 Charge detonated. 14 out of two hundred posts remained on beach.
This operation differed from the proceeding one in organization of personnel in that during the first operations, the swimmers were selected due to their experience and ability in the water. In the second Platoon Two went into the beach for the demolition work with Platoon Four as the standby. There was no opposition from the beach during all the time the men were in there. This was even more important than usual because the tide was receding while the men were working. When they first reached the posts, there was sufficient water for protection, but by the time they were ready to come back out it was only ankle deep. There was a delay in the firing time which meant that Lt.(jg) R.M. PHELPS and J.B. DAVIS, SF1c had to remain just a few yards off the enemy beach an extra half hour before pulling the fuzes. These two men spent their time, while waiting, counting the various enemy pillboxes and fortifications that were plainly visible from such a short distance.
The fire support plan for this operation was much the same as the preceding day. The deep support was presumably good but the close-in fire of 40 MM guns was in both cases erratic. One man, BRITTAIN, G.W. MM2c was wounded on the demolition operation as a result of a forty shell hitting a post near where he was working. All this fire which was supplied by LCI(G)'s, while very necessary, should be better controlled. On both operation numerous shells landed short of the beach and amongst the swimmers. A possible solution to this would be to have the LCI(G) firing line to move in to 750 yards or have the 40MM fire support done by destroyers using director fire and at a maximum range of 2000 yards. Another fault with the fire support was the lack of co-ordination between the ships and the team. There was considerable confusion when a request for fire on a particular area was made. However, the practice of having team officers aboard some of the fire support ships made up for this. This last is a great help because the C.O. of the ship gets a better picture of what's wanted in a much better position to spot any trouble and so correct it immediately.
Many of the swimmers were affected by the cold water and suffered severe cramps. Whenever possible, underwater demolition teams would be given the opportunity to become accustomed to cold weather and cold water swimming prior to an operation where such conditions are to be expected. Aluminum camouflage hoods and aluminum paint were practically of no value.
On 1 April 1945, Love Day, Lt. Comdr. BURKE went aboard SC 630 to be with the senior beachmaster. Lt.(jg) JONES went aboard the PC 1600 to aid the beachmaster of Yellow beaches while Ensigns RAYMAN and SPELLMAN with two men each went aboard control boats to assist guiding in the first two waves. On the afternoon of Love Day a reconnaissance was made of Yellow 3 beach by Ensign MORROW and 10 men of Platoon 4. Soundings were made of the river mouth and 200 yards on up the river. No demolition work was necessary except for several Sampans that partial obstructed the channel, but the beachmaster decided to leave them alone.
During the next four or five days a reconnaissance was made on White Baker 1, 2, & 3; Purple Baker 1, 2, & 3; and Brown Baker 1, 2, & 3. These beaches, all behind the front lines, were reconnoitered on order of Commander Task Force 51.19 in order to ascertain their usability for unloading supplies. The greatest difficulty experienced on these operations was in keeping the men from going up on the beach and looking for souvenirs.
On 7 April 1945 a reconnaissance was made
of Red Baker 3 beach, Tsugon Shima,
on the verbal order of Commander Group one, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet
(CTF 51.19) three days before the invasion of Tsugon Shima. Eight swimmers were used to reconnoiter the reef to
the water line, and four more to cover the surrounding reef edge. Three landing
craft were used on this operation - one to drop swimmers, another as a salvage
boat, and another to carry reserve swimmers. The results of this are shown by
enclosure (D5). No enemy fire was received at any time, and no casualties
occurred. Two destroyers, the USS MORRISON and the USS
Two days later, 9 April 1945, while
aboard the USS HOPPING, UDT 7 suffered nine casualties with one man being
After remaining at anchor in Ulithi several days, it was decided to put the team ashore and they were quartered on Asor Island. Five weeks were spent here during which time a natural channel was cleared and widened on 15 May 1945, west side of Hangejang Island. This was done to enable small boats to reach high water mark. The rest of the stay here was spent in wasting time. Each morning a half hour was devoted to P.T. and then there usually was a softball or volleyball game. The rest of the day was spent in trying to escape the heat. All the time demolition teams were on the island there was trouble with the island command. They discriminated between demolition personnel and base company to the extent that what few facilities were to be had on the island often were kept from them. Also an attempt was made to keep demolition officers from using the officer's club that was abortive.
Finally after too many days of sweating
and shell hunting Team 7's orders for rehabilitation leave in the United States
came through. A merchant marine transport, SS. JEAN LAFETTE, carried the team
from Ulithi to Pearl Harbor. From there to Maui for a
couple of days and then back to San Francisco on an
The Oceanside experience was a very bitter
one for the older members of Team 7 as many teams with less time overseas and
fewer operations to their credit had not only received their leave earlier but
had had stateside duty as well at Ft. Pierce. All along promises had been made
that Team 7 would get theirs. The original plan called for cold water
conditioning here to last at least six weeks. Instead, a few hours after the
return of most of the team, scuttlebut had it that
the team was going out again to participate in the occupation of Japan. The
ugly rumor seemed well founded when a large group of
Lieut. ROBBINS, C.O., relieving Lt.
Comdr. BURKE who received a Chief of Staff job with one of the two Demolition
Squadrons, was frantically questioned after he returned from each meeting with
the powers. Finally, definite word came to load and the team minus most of
their personal gear and little of the team gear went aboard the USS AUMAN (
The trip to Eniwetok which was our next stop was uneventful except for the fact that we learned our ultimate destination - Tokyo Bay. The official word came as no surprise to the team. The stay at Eniwetok was much the same at Pearl. More gear to bring aboard with only eight hours to work. The last boat load of gear was brought aboard while we were underway heading out of the anchorage and for Japan. We left another officer at Eniwetok, Lt.(jg) Bill FLYNN, who was also being returned to inactive duty via the Silver Star route. The speed was still 18 knots and only three ships left in the convoy as the final lap of the trip got underway. There was much work to be done in the few days we had before reaching Tokyo Bay. All carbines, machine guns, and pistols were put in readiness for the coming operation. Blocks of tetrytol were attached with rubber bands and prima cord to be used as mine detonators and also to remove posts and other small obstacles. New type screws were installed on the landing craft to insure more speed. Radios were checked to make sure they were in proper working order. Everything was completed and the team was ready to carry out a demolition operation as it came into Tokyo Bay early in the morning on 4 September.
Scuttlebutt was running wild as to what the team was going to do. There was talk of clearing mine fields and obstacles, destroying small Japanese sui-cide boats and destroying the Japanese two man submarines that were said to be in hiding along the Japanese coast. But nothing happened and the feeling of unrest was very prominent among the members of the team. Also life aboard the AUMAN was not all roses as there was a mutual feeling of resentment between the ship's company and the team. The team seemed to be regarded as intruders on the ship and were often treated as such.
We lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay just off shore from Yokosuko, an industrial center just a few miles below Yokahama, for ten days. During these ten days the team engaged on occasional liberty in either Yokosuko or Yokahama. Liberty in Japan wasn't much to look forward to as there were no purchases to be made of articles worth carrying back to the ship. The civilians were always smiling characteristically at the Americans and seemed to be perfectly content that the war had ended. The cities were by no means clean and gave off a very revolting odor as did the natives.
On 14 September the team received orders to proceed north along the east coast of Honshu about 185 miles to Sundai and conduct a reconnaissance of the beach the next morning. The AUMAN shoved off from Tokyo Bay that evening. The boats and personnel gear was made ready during the trip. Platoon leaders were briefed and in turn briefed their platoons, giving each individual man instructions for carrying out his assignment.
Revielle the next morning was at 0545 at which time the ship had just reached a point of Yuriage beach which was the name given to the beach to be reconnoitered by Team 7. The plan of the day called for muster at 0720 at which time the gear lists were rechecked to see that everything was in order. The LCPR's were lowered into the water and brought alongside for loading the men and gear. After the loading, the boats made a quick radio check and every-thing was ready on schedule.
The boats started shoreward at full speed guided by the ship's radar toward the river which was the center of the beach. All guns were manned and in general all were prepared for any eventuality for there had been many rumors of resistance from the civilian population and several standing on the beach watching the operation. The swimmers were to be dropped in pairs each 100 yards in at least 25 feet of water and in no event closer than 100 yards to the beach. At about 200 yards from shore boats number 1 and 3 turned right and boats 2 and 4 turned left. The swimmers began hitting the water imme-diately after the turn was made. Each swimmer wore a face mask, swim fins, a sheath knife, and a plexi-glass slate with an outline of the beach marked on it and used for taking notes as to the depth of water, mines, obstacles during the reconnaissance. Rubber boats were used to cover the flanks of the beach due to the small number of swimmers available for the size of the beach. The rubber boats were equipped with outboard motors, carbines and lead lines to determine the exact depth of water. The boats were manned by one officer and two enlisted men. Buoys were dropped by the LCPR's to determine the flanks of the usable beach.
The water was very cold and murky, making it very disagreeable swimming and difficult to see under the water. Also the surf was very bad, making it difficult even for the landing craft and impossible for the rubber boats.
The reconnaissance was completed in about 45 minutes at which time all swimmers and rubber boats weer picked up. The C.O. then gave the word to send scouts ashore. Each platoon was to beach their landing craft and send ashore one officer and one enlisted man to look for exits and roads to be used by the incoming troops. Af first the scouts didn't know what to do about the Japs that were standing on the beach, not knowing whether they were hostile or not. When the scouts approached the Japs on the beach all fears were forgotten. The Japs were smiling and bowing. Most of them even wanted to shake hands and did before the scouting party was picked up. The land reconnaissance only took about 30 minutes as there was very little of importance on the beach. The C.O. again passed the word for the landing craft to beach and the scouting parties were picked up and the team headed back for the ship with all necessary infor-mation.
Upon arrival at the ship interrogation of swimmers, rubber boat crews, and scouting parties was held immediately. A rough chart showing all informa-tion that was obtained was drawn up that morning. Demolition work was scheduled to take place that afternoon but none was necessary. That afternoon was taken up by preparing the dispatch and the final detailed chart of the beach. This was completed by mid-afternoon and was delivered to the C.T.G. 32.2 by the team C.O. The chart and dispatch were accepted as very complete and satisfactory. Early next morning the team was on its way to Tokyo Bay.
We no more than reached Tokyo Bay than we found ourselves in the midst of a typhoon. However, the bay afforded protection and took the fierceness out of the storm. Practically every ship in the bay was blown away from it's original anchorage but no real damage was done. The next few days in Tokyo Bay was taken up with liberty and wild stories about immediate discharge for Underwater Demolition Team members. We shoved off from Tokyo Bay on 21 September homeward bound.
The first stop was Guam where the team spent three and a half days mostly taken up with loading the ship with excess demolition gear and powder to be taken back to the states. The ship was loaded to capacity and the team shoved off again for Eniwetok. This stop was only a few hours, which was taken up with refueling and the team was off again, this time for Pearl Harbor where the team spent two days and two liberties and then off again. This time it was the final lap to San Diego, California.
Upon arrival at San Diego, 13 October 1945, the team was immediately sent over to the Amphibious Training Base at Coronado where the post-war demolition was to make its headquarters. All members of the team thought that here at last was UDT 7's opportunity for some stateside duty. Everyone thought that the teams would remain there for a month or so and then gradually decom-mission. Instead the rather intangible process of decommissioning was started on Monday morning. This consisted mainly of paper work and signing over the gear.
The men not eligible for discharge were transferred to ATB for further assignment by Commander Western Sea Frontier. The officers not eligible for discharge were made available to BuPers for reassignment. Team 7 officially went out of existence on 27 October 1945, the same morning that men and officers who were on the Marianas operation received their medals.
Though demolition was a war baby, the officers and men of Team 7 were veterans in every sense of the word. From the start on Saipan to the finish of combat at Tsugan Shima a high brand of courage and fine work was displayed at all times. Probably the most noteworthy thing about demolition as a whole was the splendid group of officers and men assembled together.
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF TRAINING PERIODS,
JANUARY 1944 - FEBRUARY 1944: Majority of enlisted men trained together at Camp Peary, Virginia.
MARCH 1944 - 9 APRIL 1944: Trained at Fort Pierce, Florida as individual Naval Combat Demolition Units as members of Class 5 and 5A.
21 APRIL 1944 - 30
12 JUNE 1944: Reconnaissance made of Yellow and Blue beaches on Saipan Island.
15 JUNE 1944: Post-assault work done from D-Day to D plus 5 consisting of buoying channels and blasting work done at request of beachmaster.
23 JULY 1944: Reconnaissance of Red, Green, and Blue beaches, Tinian Island.
24 JULY 1944: Post-assault work commenced on D-Day and lasted till D plus 2. the work consisted of searching for anti-boat mines on fringing reef off White 1 and 2 beaches and aiding in placing pontoons on these beaches.
AUGUST 1944: Turner City, Florida Islands. 11 days ashore for reconditioning.
12 SEPTEMBER 1944: White beaches, Pelelieu, Palau, were reconnoitered.
15 SEPTEMBER 1944: Post-assault work done under orders of beachmaster from D- Day to D plus 6. Work consisting of placing anchorage buoys and clearing mines and obstacles from Orange, Scarlet, and Purple beaches.
1 OCTOBER 1944: Fire of explosive loaded
on deck of USS STRINGHAM (
16 OCTOBER 1944 - 14 FEBRUARY 1945: Maui participated in training of new teams and received a month of additional training and conditioning.
23 FEBRUARY 1945 - 15 MARCH 1945: San Pedro anchorage Letye, staging area and one practice reconnaissance.
MARCH 1945: Reconnaissance made of Yellow beaches on Okinawa Shima.
MARCH 1945: Demolition work clearing of wooden posts on Yellow 2 beach.
1 APRIL 1945: Post assault work done on D-Day to D plus 5 with Yellow 3 beach reconnoitered and beaches White Baker 1, 2, & 3; Purple Baker 1, 2, & 3; Brown Baker 1, 2, & 3. These last named group of beaches were behind enemy lines and were reconnoitered to ascertain their usability for unloading supplies.
7 APRIL 1945: Reconnaissance made of Red Baker 3 beach, Tsugon Shima.
9 APRIL 1945: Casualties suffered aboard
USS HOPPING (
JULY 1945: Returned to states for thirty days leave.
15 AUGUST 1945: Boarded ship from Oceanside, California for occupation of Japan. At anchor Tokyo Bay.
14 SEPTEMBER 1945: Reconnaissance of Urarigi Beaches near Sendai, Honshu Island.
13 OCTOBER 1945: Returned to A.T.B. Coronado, California.
20 OCTOBER 1945: UDT #7 decommissioned.
(compiled by Robert Allan
King for the