Ghosts of the ETO - American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theatre, 1944-1945, Jonathan Gawne

Ghosts of the ETO - American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theatre, 1944-1945, Jonathan Gawne

During the Second World War the United States Army deployed two Tactical Deception units in the European Theatre -  the 23rd Special Troops in north-western Europe and the smaller 3133rd Signal Company in Italy. The 23rd used a variety of techniques, including the use of decoys, fake radio messages, audio recordings and the simple use of other unit's badges and insignia.

We start with a look at the original development of the unit in the United States, both the structure of the unit and the development of their tactics. We then move onto the 23rd's deployment to Europe, and a case by case description of each of their missions, including those that were cancelled without being implemented. In each case there is a look at the deception plan, how it was implemented, problems with it, lessons learnt, and any possible impact it had on the Germans.

In some ways that last item is the most interesting. The unit had to try and improve its deceptions without any clear idea of if the Germans had actually been fooled (or indeed even noticed what was going on). In some cases it was clear that the deception simply hadn't been noticed, but there is good evidence (from the German general involved) that the unit in Italy carried out at least one effective operation. It also seems likely that the 23rd's last major deception operation, during the crossing of the Rhine, helped the unit it was supported get across without heavy losses (although one recent researcher has cast doubt on that, looking at German records that show no sign of the deception and suggesting that by that point in 1945 German military intelligence had rather collapsed).

This is an interesting book on an unfamiliar topic - a rare achievement when looking at the fighting in north-western Europe in 1944-44.

Chapters
1 - Military Deception
2 - Developments in the United States
3 - On to England
4 - France and Operation ELEPHANT
5 - Sonic Deception
6 - Operation BRITTANY
7 - Operation BREST
8 - Operation BETTEMBOURG
9 - Operation WILTZ
10 - Artillery, Operation VASELINE and Propaganda
11 - Operation DALLAS
12 - Operation ELSENBORN
13 - Operation CASANOVA
14 - Operation KOBLENZ and the Bulge
15 - Operation KODAK
16 - Operation METZ-I
17 - Operation METZ-II
18 - Operation L'EGLISE
19 - Operation FLAXWEILER
20 - Operation STEINSEL
21 - Operation LANDONVILLIERS
22 - Operation WHIPSAW
23 - Operation MERZIG
24 - Operation LOCHNIVAR
25 - Operation BOUZONVILLE
26 - Operation VIERSEN
27 - The 3133rd and the War in Italy
28 - War's End and DP Camps
29 - After the War

Appendices
1 - The Correct Name of the 23rd
2 - Officers of the 23rd Special Troops
3 - Medals and Decorations Awarded in the 23rd Special Troops
4 - Tables of Organization
5 - Patton and Deception
6 - Original Poop Sheets

Author: Jonathan Gawne
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 192
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2014 edition of 2002 original


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