The SBS and the UDT's/SEALS

#1
Hi folks, new member here. Just come across this site and have been on for an hour and only scratched the surface. Cracking site.


To my questions:

1--Did the SBS in 1940-41 help train the American UDT/naval commando style units, either here or in the US?. I know they did when UDT's arrived in the UK later in the war, but did any SBS/British naval experts go across the pond pre-Pearl Harbour to train the new US units?.

2--Are the US Seals heavily based on the SBS?. And did the SBS train the early SEALS?.
 
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wet_blobby

War Hero
Moderator
#2
The SBS didn't really exist in 1940, it was an idea pioneered by the likes of "Blondie" Hasler of cockleshell heroes fame a bit later in the war, RM boom patrol etc.

The US Rangers did some cross training with UK Commando forces (Which it must be remembered was predominantly Army personnel to start with during WW2) are you getting the two things a bit muddled?
 
#3
A lot of it's down to this fellow who was initially trained in the rendering safe of bombs and mines at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth:

Childhood and education

Draper L. Kauffman, the son of Vice Admiral and Mrs. James L. Kauffman, was born in San Diego, California, on 4 August 1911. He attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and Kent School in Kent, Connecticut and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Ohio in 1929.

Kauffman graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933, but poor eyesight denied him a commission in the regular Navy.

World War II

Volunteer service in Europe, 1940-1941

Employed by the United States Lines Steamship Company, his travels in Europe alerted him to the danger of Nazi Germany. In February 1940, he joined the American Volunteer Ambulance Corps in France. On 16 June, he was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for two months.

Released in August, he made his way to England and was commissioned a sub-Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, later rising to Lieutenant. At the height of the Blitz on L0nd0n (1940–1941), he served as a bomb and mine disposal officer, and achieved a high degree of proficiency in bomb disposal techniques.

U.S. Navy service, 1941-1945

Securing a U.S. Naval Reserve commission a month before Pearl Harbor, Kauffman was rushed to Hawaii after the Japanese attack, and there disarmed an enemy bomb, the first to be recovered intact for study. For this action, the Navy awarded him a Navy Cross.

In January 1942, he was assigned the task of organizing a U.S. Naval Bomb Disposal School at the Washington Navy Yard. This school is the forefather to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (NAVSCOLEOD) and the Underwater Building at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which is run by the Navy and trains all services EOD technicians. As an additional duty he assisted the U.S. Army in setting up a comparable school at Aberdeen, Maryland.

In June 1943, he organized the first U.S. Navy Demolition Teams, which later became the well-known Underwater Demolition Teams (the forerunner of the SEALs) and received orders as the first commanding officer of the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, Naval Amphibious Training Base, Fort Pierce, Florida. While there, he also organized and was the first chairman of the Joint Army-Navy Experimental and Testing Board (JANET).

In April 1944, he was ordered to the Pacific Fleet and served at the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base, Maui, Hawaii as the commanding officer of Underwater Demolition Team 5 (UDT 5); as senior staff officer, Underwater Demolition Teams, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet; and as Underwater Demolition Training Officer, Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet.

As commander of UDT 5, he participated in the invasion of Saipan, and received a second Navy Cross for leading his team in a daylight reconnaissance of fortified enemy beaches under heavy fire, and on 10 July 1944, leading a night reconnaissance of heavily defended beaches at Tinian island.

During World War II, Kauffman also participated in the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa as Commander Underwater Demolition Teams. On two occasions, he had to transfer from a damaged ship to another to carry on operations. In one such occasion at Iwo Jima in 1945, after an enemy aircraft bombed his ship and started a raging fire, he directed fire control efforts in the face of exploding ammunition...
Also see: America's First Frogman: The Draper Kauffman Story by Elizabeth Kaufman Bush, sister of Draper Kauffman and sister-in-law of former President George H. W. Bush (George Dubya's father).
 
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#4
The SBS didn't really exist in 1940, it was an idea pioneered by the likes of "Blondie" Hasler of cockleshell heroes fame a bit later in the war, RM boom patrol etc.

The US Rangers did some cross training with UK Commando forces (Which it must be remembered was predominantly Army personnel to start with during WW2) are you getting the two things a bit muddled?
July 1940, was it not?. Even if very small and rudimentary to start with. Certainly it was offically called the SBS by early 1941 and carried out missions a few months later.

No, I know the Ranger training. I am talking about SBS-American training 40-45, I know they trained with the British when they trained in the UK for Sicily and esp Normandy. I am just wondering the very early training, ie 1940-41, pre US entry.

We know that the first US paratroop commander, General Lee, came over to see the new British paras in 1940, and took ideas back for his. And we all know the spycraft we trained the US in pre-Pearl Harbour. So I wouldnt be surprised if SBS/RN experts helped train the new US naval units like the UDT's in those days of 40-41 prior to US entry. I am just wondering if anyone has seen anything in books/online to confirm that.
 
#6
Here's another fascinating book in which Draper Kauffman features heavily, as well as the other Americans who rallied to the cause before the USA entered the Second World War. They are all commemorated on a plaque set into the deck of the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The plaque was unveiled in the presence of Elizabeth Kauffman Bush and Draper Kauffman Jr in 2007:


Finally, take a look at this RR thread of old:

 
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