World War II US Navy Special Warfare Units (Elite)
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When the United States entered World War II, it was apparent that the war would only be won by taking the fight to the Axis, in the shape of large-scale amphibious landings. Accordingly, the US Navy developed several types of specialized unit to reconnoiter potential landing areas, degrade the enemy's ability to resist, and assist the landing forces on to the beaches. These operatives had to get there first, alone, and carry out their missions before the GIs and Marines could land with any chance of success.
Formed in September 1942 and active in the Mediterranean, European, and Pacific theaters, the Scouts and Raiders were forerunners of the SEALs; they used canoes to secretly reconnoiter beaches before combat landings, and placed marker beacons. In the Mediterranean and the Philippines, the Beach Jumpers made elaborate simulated landings to fool the enemy as to real locations, including radar and sound deception.
Active in the Mediterranean, Normandy, and the South West Pacific, the Naval Combat Demolition Units cleared beach obstacles in advance of combat landings, and guided landing craft to their destination, while the Underwater Demolition Teams carried out similar tasks in the Pacific theater only. In co-operation (and sometimes competition) with the Office of Strategic Services, Naval Group China gathered intelligence in that theater, and trained and fought with Chinese guerrillas behind Japanese lines.
All these special warfare units played vital roles in the prosecution of the Allied war effort across the globe. Their distinctive uniforms, insignia, special clothing, equipment, and weaponry are illustrated and described in this engaging study.
bombardment. Most of the Gap teams landed on the eastern half of Omaha Beach, 10–15 minutes behind schedule. Machine-gun fire and shrapnel immediately brought down many demolitioneers and engineers as they left their LCMs; others abandoned their LCR(S)s when mortar fire started to hit the explosives in them, killing and wounding everyone nearby. The depleted teams, wet and seasick, found themselves mixed up with one another, and pooled their scattered explosives together to fulfill their mission
carried to and from hostile shores in LCP(R)s. These were initially armed with two .30cal machine guns mounted in the bow tubs, until they were replaced with .50cal machine guns at bow and stern for greater range and rate of fire. (Late in the war these would be mounted on the APDs, to thicken up their anti-kamikaze defense between operations.) Arriving at the designated position one at a time to avoid the appearance of an actual landing, each LCP(R) carried a platoon of 14 UDT swimmers, who
beaches. On the southern half, UDT-6 discovered a reef strewn with coral boulders and covered with posts, wire fences, and large sawhorse-shaped obstacles made with coconut-tree logs and barbed wire. For two days, starting on the morning of September 13, UDT-6 blasted two paths through the obstacles toward the beach, while ships fired over their heads to discourage snipers. UDT-7 blasted the posts off the reef the night before the Marines landed on September 15. To the north, the Japanese were
Africa Waters) in January 1943, the US Navy © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com 13 had already been convinced of the merits of such a unit due to the efforts of Prof Harold Burris-Meyer of the Stevens Institute of Technology. An expert in the effective use of sound in theatrical productions, Burris-Meyer was in charge of research and development for the National Defense Research Committee’s Project 17:3-1, which tested concepts of using sound to harm, terrify, and deceive the enemy.
with infrared paper placed over the lenses of damage control lights, or clusters of five-cell flashlights; but infrared paper was fragile, and when it split over the lens it revealed slivers of bright light that attracted enemy fire. Blue, red, green, or yellow cellophane sheets were also taped to the lenses of damage control lights to designate the specific color-coded beach to which the scout boat was assigned. Battle lanterns equipped with their own colored lenses were later mounted on