In this episode, we’re going to be looking at US Navy combat divers. The Combat Demolition Unit would land on D-Day with the first wave of troops. It was their job to clear coastal defences that might get in the way of landing craft.
In the Pacific, Underwater Demolition Teams were carrying out similar tasks on islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
I’m joined by Andrew Dubbins. Andrew managed to track down one of the surviving divers who landed on Omaha beach, then was shipped to the Pacific to land on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. His book is Into Enemy Waters: A World War II Story of the Demolition Divers Who Became the Navy SEALS.
In late 1944, as a precursor to the invasion of the Philippines, U.S. military analysts decided to seize the small island of Peleliu to ensure that the Japanese airfield could not threaten the invasion forces.
It was estimated that the island would fall in a week or so. In fact, the fighting on Peleliu would go on for 74 days. The US would pay a heavy price for capturing the island with a higher casualty rate than the fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
In this episode, I'm joined by Pacific War historian Joseph Wheelan, author of Bitter Peleliu: The Forgotten Struggle on the Pacific War's Worst Battlefield.