Ritchie Boy Secrets : How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II
(as of Oct 22,2021 10:09:16 UTC – Details)
In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training and went on to make vital contributions to victory in World War II. This is their story, which Beverley Driver Eddy tells thoroughly and colorfully, drawing heavily on interviews with surviving Ritchie Boys.
The army recruited not just those fluent in German, French, Italian, and Polish (approximately a fifth were Jewish refugees from Europe), but also Arabic, Japanese, Dutch, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, and other languages—as well as some 200 Native Americans and 200 WACs. They were trained in photo interpretation, terrain analysis, POW interrogation, counterintelligence, espionage, signal intelligence (including pigeons), mapmaking, intelligence gathering, and close combat.
Many landed in France on D-Day. Many more fanned out across Europe and around the world completing their missions, often in cooperation with the OSS and Counterintelligence Corps, sometimes on the front lines, often behind the lines. The Ritchie Boys’ intelligence proved vital during the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. They helped craft the print and radio propaganda that wore down German homefront morale. If caught, they could have been executed as spies. After the war they translated and interrogated at the Nuremberg trials. One participated in using war criminal Klaus Barbie as an anti-communist agent. Meanwhile, Ritchie Boys in the Pacific Theater of Operations collected intelligence in Burma and China, directed bombing raids in New Guinea and the Philippines, and fought on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
This is a different kind of World War II story, and Eddy tells it with conviction, supported by years of research and interviews.
From the Publisher
The story of Camp Ritchie, combining history with personal anecdote.
Stories of individuals or small groups of camp veterans are fascinating. However, the men’s knowledge of the camp’s training program is circumscribed by the class they attended and the particular specialty in which they were trained. And these veterans place far less emphasis on their training than on their actions in the war. As I looked at and listened to their stories, I could not help but notice a great variety in the men’s wartime activities. And I asked: How were these men trained for their remarkable assignments? And how effective was this training when put into practice in the field?
Training at Camp Ritchie
A signal intelligence class listens to and interprets Morse code messages. SOURCE: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
The men study a 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 as part of their Camp Ritchie instruction. SOURCE: WESTERN MARYLAND REGIONAL LIBRARY, MARYLAND STATE ARCHIVES
An instructor explains the details of an enemy uniform. SOURCE: NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
Excerpt — Chapter Two: The First Class
Originally the training program consisted of six sections, each headed by a chief officer in charge of instruction in that area. These were Terrain Intelligence (headed by Raymond Grazier), Signal Intelligence (George Le Blanc), Staff Duties (Arthur Jorgenson), Counterintelligence (William C. Piper), Enemy Armies (Charles Warndof), and Aerial Photo Interpretation (Theodore Fuller). In very short order, three sections were added to the mix: Military Intelligence (Delbert Pryor), Close Combat (Rex Applegate), and Visual Demonstration (George Weber). The last section added to the mix was Enemy Order of Battle, drawing upon material gathered by British intelligence and published under the name Order of Battle of the German Army in October 1942. It was the task of the section chiefs both to serve as teachers at Ritchie and to supervise the instructors assigned to their particular section. They did this by observing classes and by holding weekly meetings to discuss and critique both the program and the instruction.
Some of the section chiefs, such as Austrian-born Charles Warndof and Oregonian Rex Applegate, held their positions throughout the war. Others, such as Theodore Fuller and George O. Weber, entered active service in Europe. For his service in Italy, Weber would receive the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Because Britain was already far ahead of the United States in military intelligence training, British colonel Thomas Robbins came to Camp Ritchie in June to provide instructional oversight. Robbins had been stationed at the British School for Interrogators of Prisoners of War at Cambridge University, and he was an expert in all areas of intelligence instruction. Under his guidance, the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie, in the first few months, developed a full spectrum of specialty classes. The basic class instruction now consisted of ten curricular components.
Publisher:Stackpole Books (September 7, 2021)
Item Weight:1.62 pounds
Dimensions:6.38 x 1.16 x 9.39 inches