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Ghosts of the ETO:

American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theater, 1944 - 1945

Paperback (352 pages), kindle
The ghosts of the European theater in World War II were members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops who worked to deceive the Germans on the battlefield.

Ghosts of the ETO:

Highly recommended reading as being a simply fascinating military history of a hidden aspect of World War II that would have a profound and lasting influence on military strategy and tactics.

— Midwest Book Review

No history of the war in Europe has ever taken into account the actions of the men of the US 23rd Special Troops. These men took part in over 22 deception operations against the German Army. Some of these operations had tremendous impact upon how the battles in Europe were fought. The men who participated in these actions were sworn to secrecy for 50 years, and are only now willing to talk about their role.

The 23rd was composed of four main units. A signal deception unit to broadcast fake radio signals, an engineer camouflage unit to set up rubber dummies of tanks and trucks, a combat engineer unit to construct emplacements and provide local security, and a sonic deception company. The sonic unit was developed to fool German listening posts by playing audio recordings of various sounds, such as tanks moving up or bridges being built.

The 23rd was the only tactical deception unit of the American Army in World War ll combining all aspects of deception. This book also covers the birthplace of sonic deception: the Army Experimental Station at Pine Camp; and their smaller sister unit, the 3133rd Sonic Deception company that saw action for 14 days in Italy.

Jonathan Gawne is a leading military historian and is the author of the best selling Spearheading D Day and The US Army Photo Album (both published by Histoire & Collections and available from Casemate) as well as books in the Greenhill Books "GI Series". He has contributed articles to numerous military magazines. He lives in Framingham, MA.

REVIEWS

... provides the reader with an informed and informative look at the 23rd Special Troops, who fought the German army at the end of World War II using deception as an effective military tactic. Telling the compelling story of courageous and cunning soldiers through declassified memos and the testimony of survivors, Ghosts Of The ETO is highly recommended reading as being a simply fascinating military history of a hidden aspect of World War II that would have a profound and lasting influence on military strategy and tactics.

Midwest Book Review

Jonathan Gawne's engrossing book outlines US Army Psychological Warfare tactics employed to befuddle Germans in World War II.

Armorama

The ghosts of the European theater in World War II were members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops who worked to deceive the Germans on the battlefield. Numbering about 75 officers and 950 enlisted men, mainly Engineer and Signal Corps soldiers, attached to the 12th Army Group, the 23rd, starting early in July 1944, carried out twenty-two operations during the course of the campaigns. Each assignment receives a chapter in Jonathan Gawne's account...Jonathan Gawne, so far as I know, is the first to describe in detail the work of this tactical deception unit. He also narrates its origin, training, and postwar history.

Martin Blumenson, Journal of Military History

An excellent, balanced history of the 23rd Special Troops. Gawne tells the story like it was -- warts and all. I say this because I was there as commander of the 406th Engineer Combat Company...there is reason to believe that GHOSTS OF THE ETO may be one of the most important books to come out of World War II. It should be read by all officers from the highest to lowest rank and by all noncommissioned officers.

Engineer Magazine

Illusion and deception in WWII...

Related Scanning WWII dates...

  • 23 Oct 42: British "Magic Gang" brilliantly deceive Rommel's Afrika Korps
  • 15 Sep 45: The US "Ghost Army" tactical deception unit is deactivated

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