Musée de la Libération

Display Angelos Chatas

by Hugues Potdevin

Member of the NCDU, Naval Combat Demolition Units…

We have the honor of displaying in our museum the uniform of Petty Officer Second Class Angelos Tom Chatas.

This uniform has been confided by the Association D Day of the Friends of Utah Beach which has erected near the beach a stele in memory of the Reservists (Volunteers) of the US Navy. An alley also has the name of Angelos Chatas.

Angelos Chatas joined the US Naval Services in 1943.

He was finally assigned to the NCDU, Naval Combat Demolition Units, more specifically as a frogman. The teams of frogmen were called later UDT, Underwater Demolition Teams. In our days, these units are known under the name of SEALs, the cream of the Navy teams in matters of infiltration and reconnaissance.

The US Navy had deployed on Utah Beach the NCDU 125.2.3 under command of Lieutenant Commander Herbert Peterson.

Eleven teams of NCDU, eight active plus three in reserve, were assigned as follow :

4. Green Beach Demolition Party - Lt.(jg) E. P. Clayton

Unit #24 Lt.(jg) Clayton

Unit #26 Lt.(jg) Jeter

Unit #127 Ensign Padgett

Unit #136 Ensign Roloff

5. Red Beach Demolition Party - Lt. R. C. Smith

Unit #28 Lt. R. C. Smith

Unit #29 Ensign L. H. Bohne

Unit #30 Lt. Hagansen

Unit #132 Carp. Noyes

6. Reserve Demolition Units

Unit #134 Ensign Phillips

Unit #135 Carp. Sprouse

Unit #139 Ensign Itzkowitz

For the landing in Normandy, these teams were composed of six men from the Navy and six men from the Army Combat Engineers under command of a Navy officer. Thus the coordination was assured between the Navy in charge of the removal of all obstacles, mines and traps preventing the barges and other ships to approach the shoreline, and the Army in charge of the removal of the same obstacles to allow all the ground troops to leave the beach and move inland, as fast as possible.

The NCDU teams had to begin with the opening of four gaps of about 50 yards, spaced 250 yards apart, before enlarging them, so as to link the openings together.

The frogmen like Petty Officer Angelos Chatas landed on rubber boats and were able to work on the immersed obstacles.

The operations of removal and destruction of the obstacles and traps on Utah Beach also worked very well.

At first, during the landing of the NCDU, as second assault wave, the enemy fire was moderate to light. Then, the first troops of the 4th Infantry Division had crossed the beach despite the possible presence of mines, permitting the NCDU to work on the obstacles without having to pay attention to soldiers sheltering behind the obstacles like had been the case on Omaha Beach.

Moreover the NCDU have used electrical firing system, not fuse detonators like on Omaha Beach. This allowed them to work faster and safer among the landing troops.

The casualties of the NCDU on Utah Beach were six killed and eleven wounded. Angelos Chatas himself was wounded when his team was hit by a German artillery shell. Refusing to be evacuated, Petty Officer Chatas continued his mission.

Around 0800 hours, seven hundred yards of beach had already been cleared. Nine hundred additional yards were cleaned during the afternoon.

For the excellence of its action during D-Day, the NCDU 125.2.3 was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

The unit went back to England, mission accomplished, on June 13, 1944, some fifteen days before the NCDU engaged on Omaha.

It was again deployed during the landing in Provence (operation Dragoon) on the 15th of August 1944.


Portfolio

Angelos Chatas Juin 2009 Angelos and his granddaughter Elisabeth picture in front of the USNR monument ( utah-beach ) Angelos T Chatas uniforme

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