Battle Stations! Your Navy in Action


During World War II, Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) Divers used TNT to destroy man-made objects before amphibious assaults on beachheads. Without these “demos,” enemy emplacements would rip holes in boats and sink landing craft, making it impossible for Allied forces to make it ashore. Navy divers were part of a totally secret operation during the war, and they had one of the highest casualty rates due to the nature of their missions (40% on D-Day). Their sacrifices helped to minimize the casualties of landing parties and provided vital intelligence about the state of beachheads and enemy fortifications.

Established in 1943 to address the need for unconventional warfare techniques and amphibious assaults, UDT units saw action in every major amphibious assault undertaken by the U.S. Navy during WWII. UDTs also saw action in Korea and Vietnam before being melded into Navy SEAL units.

SEALs were officially organized in January 1962 as part of President Kennedy’s emphasis on unconventional guerilla tactics to meet the needs of modern warfare. The Navy wanted a force with all the expertise of UDT divers coupled with an increased flexibility to operate in all manner of battlefields; hence, SEa, Air, and Land (SEAL) units were born. Four organizations active during World War II formed the nucleus of the new SEAL mission: Scouts and Raiders, Naval Combat Demolition Units, OSS Operational Swimmers, and UDT Divers. 

View this book in the library catalog.

Drawn from the Museum & Library's rare book collection, this special display is part of SEAL The Unspoken Sacrifice—providing a unique glimpse into the history of the U.S. Navy. Featuring authentic texts and compelling illustrations dating to the Navy's beginnings in the late 18th century, these rare books and documents trace the evolution of naval warfare from an era of masts, sails, and pirates to the advent of steam-powered ironclads, and from the UDT Divers of WWII to the Navy SEALs of today.

Anyone can use PMML Rare Book Room resources. Click to make an appontment.