HISTORY UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAM TEN
                                                                     
 By
                                                 
       “Mack” Boynton

[Editor’s note: this article is a continuation of the series provided by Mack Boynton, who preserved an old history of UDTs of which there is one typewritten copy extant. There is more to come. Just a reminder to the reader that the grammar and misspellings are largely left as they appear without question or comment. For those who may not be familiar with it, the term (sic) is an editorial way of saying the preceding spelling, etc. is the error of the author not the editor.

 This chapter had many spelling errors so the editor took the liberty of correcting them without noting each instance with sic.

*****

In March 1944, Class 6A was in training at Fort Pierce Florida. When the program was through, this unit was divided into teams EIGHT, NINE and TEN.  With Lieutenant Commander MCADAMS as Commanding Officer and Lieutenant H. F. BROOKS as Executive Officer, newly commissioned Team TEN left for San Francisco on 2 June. Boarding the U.S.S. MONTEREY, the outfit reached Maui H.T. on the 19th of the month.

There it was joined by twenty-one men and five officers from the office of Strategic Services, headed by  Lieutenant A. O. CHOATE, Jr. As all of these men had undergone special underwater swimming and explosive training, they were to be worked into the backbone of the team. When Lieutenant Commander MC ADAMS left the team for duty elsewhere.  Lieutenant CHOATE became the Commanding Officer and Lieutenant James KNOTT became his Executive Officer.

With the Maui stage of the training complete, the team embarked upon the U.S.S. RATHBURNE, an APD, on 18 August, and arrived at Guadalcanal Island off Cape Esperance where it took part in rehearsal maneuvers for the coming operations against the Caroline Islands. Under Rear Admiral KINGMAN, teams EIGHT and TEN formed the Demolition Unit assigned to make a reconnaissance of Anguar on 14 September.

Undercover of a bombardment from the fire-support ships, the team embarked in PRs approximately 3000 yards seaward of Blue Beach. Swimmers dropped in the water about 300 yards off shore, were handicapped by strong current off the southern part of the beach, but all were recovered with no casualties. Scattered sniper fire was encountered. A report of the reconnaissance, showing that no demolition work would be necessary was dispatched to Admiral KINGMAN.

On 15 September a similar operation conducted on Red Beach revealed no signs of underwater obstacles. The next day, however, while further current observations were being made of both of these beaches, activity was noted on them. Further investigation showed that barbed wire and jetted rails had been erected.

The following morning two platoons, equipped for demolition work, reported to the Beachmaster of Blue Beach. At first the men were delegated to guide in the assault waves, but about 1000 a mine was located,  so the platoons were sent to search for more mines. In all eight mines were found moored about 300 yards from shore from five to ten feet under the surface. Four of them were buoyed, but as the team had no equipment for cutting them loose, no attempt was made to destroy them. In the afternoon, coral heads and limestone ledges were demolished and a channel cleared for landing craft on the southern extremity of Blue Beach.

On 19 September, orders were received to join the Ulithi Fire-Support Group operating under the command of Rear Admiral Hayler.  Arriving there two days, later, the mission of Team TEN was to accomplish prior to Jig Day, 23 September, the clearance of mines and obstacles on five beaches, each on a different island. On the morning of the 21st, under cover of Naval Bombardment the team carried out a reconnaissance of two of the beaches, discovering that no demolition work was necessary. At noon the team proceeded similarly on the remaining three beaches. On one of these, Red Beach, it was deemed expedient to blow two channels in the coral fringe to permit access to the beach at low tide. This operation was completed at 1600. On the following morning, buoys were placed to mark the best approaches to all beaches. That afternoon, the two channels into Red Beach were completed and properly buoyed. During the next three days, the team assisted the Beachmaster and Boat Control Officer with landing operations.

Leaving Ulithi on 25 September, the RATHBURNE transported the team to the Admiralties for rest. Some two weeks later, as part of the Beach Demolition Group under Rear Admiral OLDENDORE, THE RATHBURNE departed for Leyte Gulf, reaching its destination on 18 October. Because of a delay in minesweeping operations, caused by a typhoon, the team was a day late in reaching San Pedro Bay, its assigned beach area. When the reconnaissance was conducted however, swimmers were dropped about 400 yards off shore. Throughout the operation both swimmers and PRs, especially on the southern portion of the beach drew heavy fire from shore, consisting principally of mortar and machine guns. Complete observation, which showed the beach to be clear of all obstacles, was nevertheless, accomplished. The next day, Team TEN was allowed to go ashore where it witnessed General Mac ARTHUR come ashore to view his troops as they plunged inland.

 Leaving the following morning for the Admiralties, the ship stayed there just long enough to refuel before pushing on to Florida Island, Guadalcanal where the team remained a week previous to sailing to Noumea, New Caledonia, on 8 November. Here the team enjoyed a pleasant two weeks rest. The Officer in Charge of the Receiving Station where the team was billeted was very helpful in organizing swimming and recreational parties with beer and food for all.

Next came a one-day stop at Finchaven, New Guinea, after which the team proceeded to Hollandia where it spent Christmas.  A long overdue load of mail and packages arrived on Christmas Eve, helping a great deal to make that as pleasant a holiday as possible.

30 December found the RATHBURNE, with the team once more aboard, off Kossol Passage. On 3 January 1945, Leyte Island was reached. Once again, under Rear Admiral OLENDORF’s Fire-support Group, the ship arrived off the entrance to Lingayen Gulf on the morning on 6 January. Team TEN prepared to carry out its reconnaissance of Blue Beach on the following morning, but because of turbid water and heavy swells, the operation was postponed until the afternoon. Although scattered mortar fire was reported from time to time, the reconnaissance was completed with casualty. (?) On 9 January all the information gathered on Blue Beach was turned over to the Beachmaster and Beach Control Officer.    

Two days later, the Rathburne left for Leyte Gulf, at which place the team rested before departing for Subic Bay just north of Manila on 25 January Here the operation plan called for a night reconnaissance of surf conditions on Red Beach. Arriving at the destination approximately four miles seaward of the beach at 0245, navigation was checked and a true compass course to the beach determined.

The radar screen indicated a large object offshore about one half mile south of the beach. At the time it was suspected that this was an enemy barge or patrol boat, but it later turned out to be a beached freighter. At 0300 four officers and eight men left the APD to conduct the reconnaissance. The sea was calm with an offshore breeze of about three knots, and a full moon made for good visibility. The operation was carried out without incident.

The following day upon reporting to the Beachmaster, the team was assigned to survey the beach front for suitable landing places for LSTs. This proved to be a difficult task (as a sandbar ran along most of the beach at a distance of 100 yards "with a water depth varying from six to twelve feet. Some changes were found on part of Reel Beach, however, and one excellent beaching area was discovered in Capone Cove about three miles south of the beach.

Departing from Subic Bay, proceeding via Leyte Gulf and Ulithi, the RATHBURNE disembarked the team on Guam in the last week of February. Here with Team EIGHT, it erected a small Demolition Base. On 5 May Team TEN left for the Maui Base, at which it arrived on the 16th. Soon orders were received to proceed with Teams NINE, FOURTEEN and FIFTEEN to the United States. Upon arrival here, all team personnel were granted delay en-route to Fort Pierce, Florida until 1 July.

After re-assembling at Fort Pierce, there were several changes in personnel; the Coast Guard men being transferred to separation centers in September and the Marines to Great Lakes, Illinois. Lieutenant Commander CHOATE, Lieutenants HANKA,  SPEAKS, and GAWERS, and Ensign GARRETT were transferred to home naval districts. Lieutenant (jg) DOUGHERTY became Commanding Officer and Ensign MORAN, Executive Officer. All men eligible for discharge were transferred to separation centers and replacements received. The team remained at Fort Pierce helping to tear down buildings, until 2 February 1946, when it was decommissioned.

                                                                      ~~~

BACK

NEXT PAGE

2015reunion Vol.21.1