Research at the National Archives II in College Park, MD provides an interesting insight as to the efforts of the U.S. Army at the end of WWII in the clean-up efforts on former training ranges. In a series of letters generated in April of 1945, the US Army Chief of Engineers established three specialized Bomb and Shell Disposal Squads to be trained in the detection, location and disposal of military munitions on various training installations that were used during the War. Initial training would be conducted at the Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, VA with follow-on training at the Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD.
Three squads were formed, consisting of one officer and six enlisted. Records indicate that the detachments were organized as the 9800th Technical Support Units Detachments 6th, 7th, and the 14th. Historical records of the 14th recovered from the National Archives provide an accurate historical listing of the actions took place from 1946 to 1948. Documents include individual reports of clearance operations conducted, inventories of munitions recovered, and destroyed maps and photographs of work conducted.
Among the inventory lists of recovered/destroyed munitions include the following for Camp Claiborne, Louisiana in 1946:
- 57, 105, and 155mm projectiles
- 60 and 81mm mortars
- 100 pound practice bombs
- Smoke pots & Grenades
- TNT and Nitrostarch Blocks
- German Mine Fuzes
- Cans and sticks of Black Power
- Dutch Mushroom AT Mines
A detailed written record of the methodology that was utilized during the range operations indicates that the methods and procedures that were used in 1946 involved the use of German POW's as sweepers. Today the USACE FUDS Program relies on the use of civilian UXO contractors.