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Psychological Warfare in the Mediterranean Theater

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A report to the War Department on the part played by the United States Army in the development of Psychological Warfare organization, policy and operational technique in the North African, Sicilian, Italian and Southern France campaigns.

Allied Forces Headquarters

PARTS OF THE REPORT:

I. Organizational Evolution of PWB

II. Policy and Operational Coordination in PWB

III. Strategical and Tactical Leaflet Propaganda

IV. Strategical and Tactical Radio Propaganda

V. Post-combat Consolidation Functions

VI. A Study of Enemy Reaction to Allied Propaganda

Naples, Italy 31 August 1945

 

PART I

AN OVER-ALL REVIEW OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL EVOLUTION OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE BRANCH OF ALLIED FORCE HEADQUARTERS, AS A STAFF SECTION.

FOREWORD

It would be impossible to present a comprehensive picture of the part played by the United States Army in the development and operation of Psychological Warfare in the Mediterranean Theater without giving full consideration to the contributions of the other three principal elements of the team. They are: The United States Office of War Information, the British War Office, and the British Foreign Office. Credit must also be given to many other participating agencies, such as the Office of Strategic Services, the Federal Communications Commission, the British Ministry of Information, and certain other British and American governmental agencies. The Psychological Warfare Branch started as, and has continued to be, a thoroughly integrated civilian-military, British-American team.

Prior to the Torch operation the Army had prepared no psychological warfare plan for that campaign; it had made little, if any, provision for personnel with proper training and background for propaganda or political intelligence functions; it provided no equipment tables for psychological warfare needs.

In making a factual appraisal of PWB's development and operation acknowledgment must be made of the following:

1. The principal immediate control of policy and operation in PWB has been provided from civilian agencies, especially since January, 1944.

2. A large part of the funds required for PWB's operations have been provided from civilian agencies, principally OWI.

3. The principal contributions of the United States Army have been in the fields of radio-technical personnel and equipment, military transport, and administrative housekeeping.

 

THE BEGINNING

It was early recognized that the British War Office and the Foreign Office were far ahead of the United States Army in the propaganda and political intelligence fields, and in September 1941 – three months before Pearl Harbor – Robert E. Sherwood was sent to England on a confidential mission to study the whole British propaganda and political warfare program and machinery. Contacts were made with the Ministry of Information and the Political Warfare Executive, and the basis established for the close relationship which has existed between the cooperating agencies throughout the Mediterranean campaigns.

Following these conferences Mr. Sherwood organized the Foreign Information Service in the Office of Coordinator of Information, headed by Colonel (now Major General) William J. Donovan. The first American airplane leaflet was produced in London in December, 1941, and dropped by the RAF over France, a few weeks later.

In June, 1942, the Foreign Information Service was transferred by Executive Order to the newly created Office of War Information, and the Foreign Information Service became the Overseas Branch of OWI remainder of the COI formed the foundation upon which the Office of Strategic Services was built.

In July of 1942 a conference was held in London which included, besides officers of General Eisenhower's staff – a representative of OWI, and Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart and Ritchie Calder of the Political Warfare Executive's office. Brigadier General Robert A. McClure was the responsible officer on General Eisenhower's staff and directed the formation of the limited American group which combined with the British contribution toward the Torch team for psychological warfare.

During the period of this conference, Major General George V. Strong, Assistant Chief of Staff G-2, in Washington, was planning the organization of the psychological warfare teams to participate with the Western Task Force in the African Landings. Working with General Strong were the Honorable David Bowes-Lyon and Walter Adams of the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) office, who had been sent to Washington for the purpose, and Mr. Sherwood, head of the Overseas Branch of OWI.

 

INITIAL ORGANIZATION FOR AFRICAN LANDINGS

The group which formed the nucleus of what later became the Psychological Warfare Branch of AFHQ was assembled in London in early October, 1942. The American military contribution to this group of less than fifty individuals consisted of but three officers and three privates. The two senior officers were drawn from G-2 in Washington, and the privates had been employees of OWI prior to their induction. The London nucleus also included eight American civilians from OWI, twenty-four British officers, nine British "other ranks" and two British civilians.

The early British advantage of having many available "career men" in propaganda and diplomatic fields was soon recognized. Most of the officers who had been "seconded" to psychological warfare by PWE were selected because of special occupational or linguistic qualifications, or familiarity with the North African country. Some had been in the diplomatic service. All of them had at least the benefit of some weeks of intelligence and propaganda training at a special school. With the exception of the American Major who participated in the landing at Algiers, none of the American military was even informed of the nature of the assignment until the task force had embarked.

Simultaneously with the preparation of the London teams a group of about fifteen, mostly civilians, was organized in Washington to accompany the Western Task Force to Casablanca. This team, which was to be built into the AFHQ-PWE organization after the landings, was in charge of Mr. Jay Allen, of OWI.

Following the departure of the Task Forces from the United Kingdom, on October 27, 1942, General Eisenhower appointed Colonel C.B. Hazeltine, Cav., USA, to head the Psychological Warfare Service of AFHQ, and he, with Mr. Percy Winner of OWI, who had been in charge of the formation of the teams up to the time of their departure, joined the headquarters section at Gibraltar, where it had been diverted from the Task Force with other AFHQ personnel.

Colonel Hazeltine organized his staff at Gibraltar, two days prior to the Torch attack. Monitoring facilities were immediately set up, though on a very small scale, and monitor reports of enemy and friendly radio broadcasts were provided for the various sections of the AFHQ staff. Offices were established in the Rock Fortress itself, and in the annex of Government House.

It was at Gibraltar that the organizational pattern of PWB was established – a pattern which has been largely maintained throughout the ensuing campaigns,

The Psychological Warfare Service, as it was at first called, was in a large measure "on its own." It was not recognized as a special section of the General Staff. It had no tables of organization or equipment and had to fight for every additional officer and enlisted man, and for such equipment as it needed during the earlier campaigns.

In brief, headquarters of PWB included an Administrative Section, a Planning Board, a Political Intelligence Section and an Operations Section. Each included Americans and British, military and civilian; and because of the shortage of personnel there were many who doubled in function.

The initial Administrative Section included the Commanding Officer, his executive officer (Lt. Col.), and a fiscal officer (Major) in addition to necessary clerical, mess and supply personnel. The two staff officers were American. The Planning Board was composed of the heads of the Political Intelligence and Operational Sections with the Commanding Officer. The Intelligence and Operations heads were civilians from OSS and OWI, respectively.

The need for a well-organized Intelligence Section became at once apparent. It was the source of much of the material upon which the propaganda output through the Operations Section was based. Its function was of critical importance during the tense Darlan-Giraud phase.

Monitoring was also an important factor in the intelligence function. With improvised commercial receivers provided from British sources, and with inexperienced personnel, the monitoring section turned out daily digests of enemy broadcasts, providing the service for AFHQ as well as for background for propaganda and counter-propaganda output. It was not until the Federal Communications Commission provided an expert to organize this function, in January, 1943, that it was properly manned and equipped. The Army was unable to provide personnel for this work in its initial phases.

The Operations Section was responsible for the implementation and control of the various propaganda media, which included Radio, Press, Leaflets, Cinema and Displays.

 

FOLLOWING THE LANDINGS

A few days after the African landings, Colonel Hazeltine crossed to Algiers by air, to be followed, on November 26th, by the remainder of his headquarters staff. The Psychological Warfare groups which had actually participated in the landings had taken over all radio and press facilities, and had arranged necessary offices and quarters.

Aside from the activities of the headquarters group, it was only at Algiers that United States Army personnel took any notable part in the early operations during and following the landings. The psychological warfare group that accompanied the Task Force there included Major F.M. Seeger, formerly of G-2, Washington, who served as executive officer for Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Johnstone, British, commanding the team; and 1st Lt. H. A. Donegan, who by megaphone persuaded French forces in the Algiers sector to cease firing upon American and British troops. One American private assigned to psychological warfare was also present during the attack.

Prior to December 3, 1942, psychological warfare had no written charter from Allied Force Headquarters, and the only directives were those which had been prepared in the initial stages, prior to the Torch operation. Col. Hazeltine and selected members of his staff conferred three times weekly with Mr. Robert Murphy, political advisor to General Eisenhower, for coordination of political phases of propaganda. Col. Hazeltine, handicapped by the lack of recognized tables of organization and equipment, pressed AFHQ for some authoritative recognition, and the first charter, issued by command of General Eisenhower, was distributed as of December 3, 1942. (See Annex No. 1)

Every effort was made to obtain additional American military personnel and equipment, and with the help of G-l and G-4, NATOUSA, a number of specialists and administrative officers were made available to PWB, and a few trucks were turned over for its use. Rented civilian cars and trucks, provided from OWI funds, were used in the units at Casablanca, Rabat, Oran, Algiers, and later at Constantine. Tables of organization and equipment were formulated at frequent intervals, but the rapid acceleration of PWB functions rendered such tables obsolete before they could be officially acted upon.

In fact, PWB, as such, has never, throughout its history, been given an official American military Table of Organization. The three radio units later attached to PWB had War Department T/Os. The 2679th Headquarters Company, activated in August 1943 to administer the bulk of American military personnel, functioned through a series of rapidly changing allotment tables, issued by G-l as frequently as personnel pressure on the Theater Overhead demanded. No less than ten such allotment tables were issued to the company between 17 August 1943 and 21 July 1945, (See Annex No. 2)

Furthermore, the changing conditions presented by each new phase of the psychological warfare program made accurate predictions of future needs impossible, and only rough estimates could be formulated. Such American officers and enlisted men as could be obtained through G-l were assigned to the PWB staff, with administration by the Headquarters Command.

Until the establishment of the Information and Censorship Section of the General Staff of AFHQ and the designation of the Psychological Warfare Branch of that section, the line of command, so far as operations were concerned, was from the Commander-in-Chief through the Chief of Staff, directly to the head of the psychological warfare organization, which was not officially named prior to the formation of INC.

 

OPERATION CONTROLLED BY INC

On February 1, 1943, Brigadier General Robert A. McClure, who had figured in the initial London conferences on psychological warfare, became Chief of the newly formed Information and Censorship Section of General Eisenhower's staff, and the psychological warfare function was placed under his supervision as PWB, with Colonel Hazeltine retaining his position as head of the Branch, under General McClure. PWB relationship to INC was principally due to its use of news, and corresponding censorship, as a means of propaganda. In addition, INC provided a media to coordinate use of communications for maximum efficiency. While access to the Chief of Staff was provided to the head of PWB, INC presented a channel for both control and representation.

At the time of its inclusion in INC, PWB had only seven American officers and thirty American enlisted men, exclusive of the personnel of the two radio units which had been attached. The Branch was greatly handicapped by lack of T/O and T/E, and the necessity of wangling personnel and equipment on a straight personal accommodation basis. Operations, during this period, consisted principally of minor leaflet dropping and the beginning of what was later to become a powerful radio and news organization.

 

ARMY RADIO UNITS ARRIVE

One of the most important contributions of the United States Army to PWB was the assignment to the Allied Force Headquarters "for duty with the Psychological Warfare Branch, Information And Censor ship Section," from the Atlantic Base Section, of the 1st and 2nd Broadcast Station Operating Detachments, on February 19 1943, and the similar assignment of the 1st Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company on May 21, 1943.

The two detachments each had 11 officers and 19 enlisted men all radio technical specialists; the Mobile Company had 16 officers and 112 enlisted men, including radio engineers and technicians linguists and programming experts, all trained for combat propaganda work at Camp Ritchie. All three were War Department organizations and were excellently equipped. These organizations enabled PWB to undertake a vast radio construction and operation program which included the huge "Hippo" and "Swindle" transmitters installed at Algiers which were later to make a tremendous contribution to long-range radio propaganda activity for the Allies. While the expense of installation of those transmitters was largely absorbed by OWI, the Signal Corps of the United States Army gave valuable assistance and provided a considerable quantity of auxiliary equipment. Details of the radio operations involved in these stations will be given in a subsequent section of this report.

American army personnel had little part in the Combat Propaganda Team participation in the Tunisian campaign's early phases. The teams were in charge of a British Lieutenant Colonel and a civilian (later commissioned) from OSS. But full credit must be given to the 2nd Broadcast Station Operating Detachment for the prompt rehabilitation of the powerful 100 kw transmitter at Tunis, which later became one of our most valued media of propaganda dissemination. The Germans had completely destroyed the greater part of the equipment of the station. Personnel of the detachment, laboring day and night under the direction of Captain William C. Ellis, demonstrated high engineering skill and in short time had Radio Tunis beaming propaganda to the Germans and Italians,

Personnel of the 2nd BSOD was constructively occupied during this phase in the construction of radio transmitters at Algiers, At the same time the specialists of the 1st MRBC contributed greatly to the radio output of Radio Algier and Radio Rabat. Due to the need for those specialists in various sections of PWB, the 1st MRBC was not used as a propaganda unit, although its three propaganda sections and mobile 1 kw transmitters were prepared for special assignments.

 

THE ITALIAN CAMPAIGNS

The complete collapse of the German and Italian forces in Tunisia, and the part obviously played by leaflet propaganda in that campaign, opened the way for a complete reorganization and augmentation of PWB's forces. During the Tunisian campaign, and especially after PWB came under the wing of INC, a considerable number of American officers and enlisted men were drawn to the organization, Most of them were linguists, radio technicians, drivers or other specialists. The American military personnel was all carried for administration and supply on the strength of the Headquarters Company, AFHQ, and assigned for operational control to the staff of INC.

The pattern of psychological warfare developed rapidly, following a planned leaflet campaign tied with the attack on Pantelleria, on July 6, 1943. PWB Combat Propaganda Teams participating in the final phases of the Tunisian campaign had been fragmentary and poorly equipped, but had nevertheless accompanied the attacking forces into Tunis itself and had captured Radio Tunis, with its 100kw transmitter.

On July 1, 1943, a staff memorandum was issued by General Eisenhower's headquarters, clarifying the activities of Psychological Warfare and coordinating them with all concerned. (See Annex No. 3)

At the outset of the Sicilian campaign, on July 10, 1943 the INC staff carried an allotment of 17 American officers and 65 enlisted men for PWB. This number, added to the strength of the three radio units which were assigned to PWB, brought the total of American military personnel to 55 officers and 215 men. In the meantime the American civilian strength had been increased in similar proportion most of the personnel having been provided by the Office of War Information and two or three by the Office of Strategic Services and the Federal Communications Commission. The British contingent, however, regained almost static throughout this phase, with few additions to its original 24 officers and 9 other ranks, and a slightly larger augmentation of its civilian component.

The planning of psychological warfare in the Italian campaign was carefully coordinated with brigadier General McClure, Chief of INC, with the Chief of Staff, AFHQ, and with the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Combat propaganda teams of PWB were sent into the field with the 5th and 8th Armies, where they were attached for administration and supply, but were held under the operational control of PWB-AFHQ at Algiers. These small combat propaganda teams, although composed largely of British and civilian personnel, nevertheless included two or three American officers from the PWB staff, and sufficient personnel from the 1st Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company and the 2nd Broadcast Station Operating Detachment, to rehabilitate the radio transmitters at Palermo and Catania, and to get PWB programs on the air with but little delay.

The PWB team working with the Eighth Army, prior to the junction of the armies, was hampered in its activity by the rather cool reception given PWB by the members of the army staff. Personnel of the 2nd BSOD, however, captured the radio transmitter at Bari and members of the 1st MRBC assisted in staffing the studios for transmission of propaganda. Radio Bari later became the principal Allied radio outlet to the Balkans.

 

ACTIVATION OF 2679th HQ. CO. PWB

The midsummer of 1943 brought many changes in PWB, due to preparations for the "Avalanche" campaign, starting with the Salerno landings. Additional American military personnel brought the U.S. Army strength up to 27 officers and 130 enlisted men, exclusive of the radio units. This number put a heavy administrative load on the Headquarters Company, Allied Force, and on August 17, 1943 the 2679th Headquarters Company, PWB (Provisional) was activated, with an allotment of 10 officers and 60 enlisted men, grades and ratings immaterial. This provisional allotment was increased to 50 officers and 300 enlisted men on November 8, due to the heavy need for American personnel in the Italian campaign. The company was then designated as "Overhead" rather than "provisional."

General Orders No. 61, of 17 August 1943, which authorized the activation of the 2679th Headquarters Company, stipulated that the internal organization and operational details of the unit were authorized as requested by the Chief of the Information and Censorship Section. The unit was assigned to Special Troops, Headquarters Command, Allied Force, for all other normal functions.

 

THE SALERNO OPERATION

The initial PWB Combat Propaganda Team for service with the Fifth Army was attached to Fifth Army units in Mostaganem, Algeria late in August. The team was in charge of Mr. John Whitaker of OSS who received his commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in the course of the operation. The group included six American officers, 11 American enlisted men, 11 American civilians, 2 British officers, two British other ranks and one British civilian. Lt. Col. John O. Weaver, American, was second in command and commanded the military contingent. He later became commanding officer of the Fifth Army team.

Seven jeeps and two 2.5 ton trucks were provided by the U.S. Army for the team to participate in the Salerno landing. A loudspeaker truck was furnished by OWI.

It should be noted that the United States Army provided practically all of the military motor transport for PWB, throughout its organization, from the beginning to the early spring of 1944, when the British personnel and equipment from Cairo became available in limited quantities.

In the meantime a small combat propaganda team including two British officers, one American officer and an American enlisted man, under the command of a British captain, accompanied the convoys which joined the Eighth Army at Bari, and augmented the American radio unit personnel who were already engaged there.

With the Salerno landing on September 9, 1943, and the capture of Naples on October 1, PWB took advantage of the facilities available for printing leaflets, news dissemination, radio propaganda activity and motion picture programs. Large numbers of specialists, mostly civilian, were rushed to the new center at Naples, where the Italy Headquarters of PWB was set up, and to Bari, which gained in importance as the center of radio and leaflet propaganda to the Balkans.

Control was still maintained from Algiers, and considerable autonomy was given to the Italian units, due to difficulties in travel and communications. This relative autonomy also resulted in the tendency toward "empire building" in the Naples and Bari units, and the number of French and Italian employees of PWB expanded to 3,000. During this phase civilian participation in policy and operations steadily increased. The representations of the Office of War Information and of Political Warfare Executive on the policy control groups of PWB were strengthened, and the position of the "Commanding Officer" was steadily weakened, so far as control was concerned. Most of the expense of propaganda operations throughout the theater was being met by OWI, including the salaries of all of the 3, 000 hired local civilians, French and Italian. The Army was still definitely needed as an administrative framework, and for housekeeping purposes, but the trend toward an almost completely civilian control was obvious. It should be borne in mind, however, that the policy and operational activities were, and have remained, under the ultimate control of the Allied Force Commander and the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

In the meantime, North Africa itself provided a great field for PWB activity. News-gathering and distributing functions, radio, film distribution and control, propaganda display shops, propaganda intelligence, and publications – all required efforts of staffs scattered in Algiers, Casablanca, Rabat, Oran, Constantine and Tunis, And fairly extensive operations were also in progress in Palermo and Catania. To those activities the Army contributed administrative personnel, drivers, printers, assorted specialists, and particularly the trained radio-technical personnel of the three radio units. The Army also provided all of the motor transport equipment not hired by OWI. Most of the petrol and lubricants, and the communications, without which PWB could not have functioned at all.

The Combat Propaganda Teams with the Fifth and Eighth Armies expanded their functions rapidly and to the expressed satisfaction of General Clark and General Alexander. Complications arose, however at the headquarters of AAI (Allied Armies in Italy), which later became the 15th Army Group Headquarters. A small liaison group, headed by Lt. Col. Donald Macfarlane (British) found certain staff members of the AAI hostile to the principle of AFHQ control of combat teams serving in Italy, and it was only after long discussions between Algiers and Naples that the issue was settled, and AFHQ recognized as the real authority. Certain concessions as to concurrences on directives and reports were made to AAI, however.

Lt. Col. Macfarlane was nominally in command of PWB combat operations in Italy, but he was forced to limit his control to the Eighth Army team, and to serve in an advisory capacity only, so far as the Fifth Army team was concerned. The commanding officer of the latter team resented control by the 15th Army Group and looked to the Algiers PWB directives and to the Fifth Army Staff for guidance.

 

COMPLETE REORGANIZATION IN 1944

The turn of the new year, 1944, brought a complete reorganization and a distinct change of policy to psychological warfare in the Mediterranean, with the change of the Allied Force Command from General Eisenhower to General Wilson. As has been pointed out above, the last months of 1943 saw the gradual shift of PWB control from the American military to the civilian leaders. On December 24, 1943, Colonel Hazeltine was summarily relieved of his assignment with PWB.

His executive was informally instructed to take over the strictly military duties connected with PWB, including a somewhat informal control of the limited British military on duty with the organization. At the same time, Mr. C.D. Jackson, who for many months had served as deputy chief of PWB, was just as informally placed at the head of the organization, operationally, retaining that position until late in January of 1944,

Another notable change included the greatly increased participation by British elements with the cessation of most of the propaganda activities in the Mid-East, coincident with the transfer of responsibility for the Balkans from the Mid-East to the Mediterranean Theater.

With the change of high command, the issues involved in the wide differential of funds, materiel and personnel provided by the respective American and British governments, prompted a coordinated effort to establish an adequate and elastic tale of organization for PWB on the American side, and the authorization of a British war establishment on the other side, which would bring the relative contributions of the two governments more nearly to a parallel.

As of January 31, 1944, the personnel situation in PWB was as follows:

U.S. Military

101 Officers

1 WO

470 EM

Total 572 *

British Military

36 Officers

2 WO

41 OR

Total 79

U.S. Civilians

152 (paid from OWI funds)

British Civilians

71 (paid from British funds)

Other Civilians

1009 (paid from OWI funds)

*Includes attached radio units

 

Of the "other civilians" listed approximately 700 were employed in Italy, including casual labor, spot radio talent and part-time construction employees. Average payment of Italian personnel in Italy was $25 per month.

At this time, in addition to the actual frontline combat propaganda, PWB was operating a radio network of 11 transmitters in North Africa and 7 in Italy (these figures include transmitters under construction); a basic news service which, from monitoring and cable sources, supplied news for PWB networks, Stars and Stripes, Union Jack, and newspapers throughout North Africa, Sicily and occupied Italy. It was also providing Allied control of newspapers, radio and films, and was conducting the distribution of film throughout the theater.

With the inclusion of the Mid-East organization of PWE in General Wilson's command, steps were taken to use a large number of specially schooled British officers and civilians, in bringing the over-all PWB contributions more nearly to a parity. With prospects of a much larger responsibility in Italy, a new responsibility in the Balkans, and a contemplated operation in Southern France, PWB officials prepared a draft of a new table of organization and a parallel draft of a proposed war establishment on the British side, calling for totals of 110 officers and 334 enlisted men from each, exclusive of attached units.

These proposals were presented to the War Department and to the War Office. British action was soon forthcoming, and the PWB war establishment was approved, with minor qualifications. No action has ever been taken by the War Department, so far as is known.

On the American side, the proposal coincided with drastic manpower curtailments imposed upon the theater by the War Department, and the plan was emphatically opposed by Brigadier General Sawbridge, NATOUSA G-1. He not only opposed the table of organization but insisted on further drastic cuts in American military personnel for PWB, and made further recommendations to the War Department, as follows: (paraphrased)

"That the OWI drastically curtail the employment of civilians paid by OWI funds, and that funds be provided from British sources on a 50-50 basis to meet expenses of hiring personnel for Allied propaganda activity.

"That draft-eligible U.S. citizens deferred because of OWI employment in this theater be classified for induction and that they be reassigned to their present duties under a War Department allotment. (The pay differential between OWI civilian employees and similarly qualified military personnel was also stressed by General Sawbridge. )

"That the OWI get an allotment for field operations similar to that of OSS, and that personnel assigned under this allotment should not be charged against the theater overhead."

In keeping with his convictions, General Sawbridge, on March 2, 1944, cut the allotment of the 2679th Hq. Co. from 50 officers and 300 enlisted men to 24 officers and 100 enlisted men. Before the end of the month, however, the previous figure was restored, and the reduction was never actually realized.

During the first three months of 1944 Mr. Russell Barnes, whom OWI had brought from Cairo to assume the post of Deputy Director of PWB, served as the acting chief of the organization, pending the arrival of Mr. Paul Vellacott, of PWE, who had been selected by General Wilson as the Chief of PWB under the new plan of organization. Mr. Vellacott was delayed because of ill health, and upon arrival remained only a short time. Upon his departure Mr. Barnes became Director of PWB, with Mr. T.G.M. Harman as his British Deputy.

 

BRITISH COMPONENT AUGMENTED

Upon activation of the newly authorized British war establishment for PWB, a large number of officers, other ranks and civilians were brought to Algiers and Italy from Cairo. This influx was particularly true in Bari, because of the increased emphasis on radio and leaflet dissemination to the Balkans. The Bari functions were largely operated by the British, as Balkan operations had previously been within the Cairo jurisdiction. Brigadier W.F. Jeffries, who had been the commandant of the PWE detachment and political warfare training school at Cairo took the post of British Military Director, and Lt. Col. Hall remained as American Military Director. Under the initial plan these officers were to function on a parallel basis, but the relative seniority of the British officer brought him recognition as the "Military Director," with the American serving as his deputy. Relative rank played no other part in the relationship, however, which continued on a thoroughly cooperative basis throughout the life of PWB. The British contingent from Cairo included many officers who had completed the political warfare school courses, and they were much more widely employed in operational assignments than the American officers, who were of particular value in the administrative functions.

During this period Brigadier General McClure was replaced by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Arthur J. McChrystal, as head of the Information and Censorship Section of AFHQ, under which the Psychological Warfare Branch operated. The actual line of control through INC was not clearly drawn during the early months of 1944, due to the uncertainty of Mr, Vellacott's position, and to the tendency toward direct contacts with the AFHQ Chief of Staff by British leaders in PWB. This issue was clarified with the appointment of Mr. Barnes as Director, upon the departure of Mr. Vellacott.

The new organization scheme of PWB was somewhat clarified late in February, 1944, in letter orders issued by command of General Wilson. (See Annex No. 4. with Chart) The orders established the position of "Psychological Warfare Officer" who was to serve in the capacity of:

1. Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief, to the senior U.S. Diplomatic Representatives, and the British Resident Minister, on psychological and political warfare matters.

2. Coordinator for psychological warfare policy, plans and activities in the theater; to secure proper integration of psychological warfare policy with military strategy and political requirements.

3. Director of Psychological Warfare Branch, AFHQ, "which branch includes the joint personnel and operating resources of the U.S. State Department and Foreign Office agencies of Office of War Information, Political Warfare Executive, and Ministry of Information. PWB also includes a portion of the Morale Operations Division of the Office of Strategic Services."

The order placed the PWB of the Information and Censorship Section under the Commander-in-Chief, charged with the responsibility for all psychological warfare activities in the theater. The internal administration of PWB personnel, resources and technical operations were also made a responsibility of the Director, to be carried out in conformity with general theater policy.

Four zones were set up under the new organization plan: North African, Central Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean. The orders provided for the designation, by AFHQ of a Deputy Psychological Warfare Officer for each zone, together with a small Anglo-American military and administrative Staff. These Deputy Psychological Warfare Officers were to represent AFHQ and the Psychological Warfare Officer, AFHQ with the Force or Area commanders involved, and were to be normally attached to the staffs of such commanders. It was provided that these deputies would be the Officers-in-Charge of all PWB echelons operating in their respective zones.

 

EVOLUTION OF PWB ITALY

The growing importance of the PWB commitments in Italy, in both occupational and combat functions, necessitated the formation early in 1944, of a somewhat autonomous organization patterned after that of the North African plan. PWB AFHQ remained the final authority on allocation of personnel, and kept a firm hold on major policy matters and the conduct of long-range or strategic propaganda. These organizational changes did much to eliminate the previous tendency toward individual activities operating on their own, and made for vastly improved coordination. A closer tie-in on a military basis with the staff of Allied Armies in Italy, and the Allied Control Commission was established through this installation of the forward Italian Theater Headquarters.

The new pattern of psychological warfare became formally established. It provided a division between combat and occupational propaganda. Tactical leaflets, broadcasts, loudspeaker campaigns, and the delivery of the Frontpost to the German troops by plane and artillery began to fit into the tactical requirements of the army commanders concerned, and worked directly under their control, but within the AFHQ directives.

At the same time, while following the general propaganda line established by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, and passed through the varying subordinate headquarters, each element concerned was permitted. to operate under directives which directly affected their operations. Free exchange of directives up and down was established.

On the occupational side, the major activities included news dissemination, radio, film distribution and control, propaganda display shops, propaganda intelligence and publications.

At this stage the Italian Theater organization included 37 U.S. officers and 155 American enlisted men, in addition to the 1st MRBC and 2nd BSOD units, as compared to the 55 British officers and. 89 other ranks. (See Annex No. 5)

 

AFHQ MOVES TO ITALY

In the summer of 1944 PWB was confronted with three developments which had far-reaching effects on the organization: the capture of Rome on June 4th; the movement of AFHQ, including PWB Headquarters, to the Naples-Caserta area, and the landings in Southern France.

The capture of Rome made available the vast facilities for radio and news dissemination, and provided PWB for the first time with adequate printing supplies, presses and personnel to meet the tremendous leaflet demands for Italy, the Balkans and Southern France. The larger part of the PWB staff at Naples took up quarters and offices in Rome within a few days of its capture.

AFHQ moved from Algiers to Caserta on July 27. PWB established its headquarters in Naples, as most of its activities were tied in with facilities to be found there. Close liaison was maintained with AFHQ at Caserta, 18 miles away, and with INC, which established its headquarters in the city of Caserta.

Plans for PWB participation in the Southern France operation and occupancy were started in Algiers, in close cooperation with the military Task Force staff, many months before the landing took place on August 15th.

The PWB plans for Southern France were put in charge of Mr. William Tyler and Mr. Simon Bessie, both of whom had taken prominent parts in the development and operation of PWB in Africa, Sicily and Italy. The military contingent of the PWB team was placed under the command of Major Erik B. J. Roos, (American) and included three American officers and 55 enlisted men from the 2679th Headquarters Company PWB, five or six British officers, and a detachment of 22 drivers, with an administrative officer for that detachment, from the French forces in Algiers.

The entire team for Southern France was completely organized in Italy, and made its entry with the attacking forces. One detachment of the 1st MRBC, then in Italy, also accompanied the PWB team, but was diverted in France for troop morale broadcasts, and never was permitted to function as a propaganda broadcast unit. Practically all of the British element of the team was soon withdrawn to other functions in France or England, and the entire team personnel was transferred to SHAEF with the Seventh Army and Sixth Army Group. The detachment of the 1st MRBC was also later transferred to SHAEF, involving a complete loss to the parent unit, which was never permitted to replace the men or officers lost in the transfer, despite the fact it operated on a War Department T/O. All of the transport, supplies and other equipment taken by the PWB team into France was dropped to SHAEF on shipping tickets. The 2679th Hq. Co. PWB allotment from, the theater overhead was decreased upon the transfer of the Southern France team by the number of ratings and grades involved. (See Annex No. 6 for charts showing distribution and functions of American military personnel in PWB just after the Southern France Landings. )

Prior to the transfer of the Southern France responsibility to SHAEF, PWB was functioning with a staff at 6th Army Group Headquarters, headed by Major Homer Shields; a staff with the 7th Army Headquarters, in charge of Major Roos, and with combat propaganda and other minor team units in various centers throughout the area. The entire PWB operation in Southern France was under the command of Mr. James Clark, of OWI who had previously commanded the 5th Army Combat Propaganda Team in Italy.

The passionate desire of the French to take over all responsibility for operations in their country resulted in a rapid curtailment of American activity along propaganda lines, until German territory was reached, when it took up its normal function again, but under SHAEF control.

A more detailed account of the part played by PWB in preparing Southern France for the landings, and in propagandizing the enemy by radio and leaflets, is provided in later phases of this report.

 

PWB ITALY REMAINS [AN] INTEGRATED ORGANIZATION

Further reorganization of the Italy PWB machine was necessitated by the slowness of the campaign in the fall of 1944. Under the organizational plan in effect at that time Psychological Warfare functions under PWB's jurisdiction were divided into three general areas: Eastern Mediterranean, including the Balkans, Central Mediterranean, including Sicily, and Western Mediterranean, which included the Southern French operation.

While PWB still operated on an integrated basis, the predominance of British interests in the Eastern Mediterranean Zone, and a divergence in national policies made it obvious that this area should be primarily a British activity. Similarly, the combination of French and American troops in Southern France landing, with their ultimate absorption by SHAEF, made the Western Mediterranean primarily a U.S. responsibility. Psychological Warfare Branch activities in North Africa ceased except for technical operation of the powerful American transmitters there, and that operation was closed during the autumn period.

North Africa was passed back to the Office of War Information and the Ministry of Information as a result of combined pressures from the Army and State Department. Lieutenant General Devers wanted all possible American soldiers removed from North Africa. While every possible pressure was brought to bear by PWB on OWI for sufficient experienced personnel and for adequate publications to properly publicize the American interests in North Africa, certain army leaders and some State Department officials complained that British subject matter and personnel ware much more in evidence in propaganda display shops operated by PWB in many North African centers.

Italy therefore remained, in the fall of 1944, as the only balanced and completely integrated British-American commitment of PWB. With the slowness of the Italian campaign it was possible to establish Italy into a clear-out operational and territorial division between the combat and occupational propaganda activities. It was further possible to concentrate British activities against the Balkans.

 

DIVERGENT POLICIES ON GREECE AND BALKANS

The first break in the Anglo-American front, so far as PWB is concerned, occurred in September, 1944, when the Greek operation was being planned. American representation was contemplated, but the State Department ordered Americans withdrawn, including PWB. The Psychological Warfare Branch of AFHQ was instructed to cease joint propaganda to liberated countries. OWI then undertook to set up OWI outposts in Balkan countries. The British side of PWB continued to provide propaganda services in the Balkan field, without American participation.

 

PWB BECOMES SPECIAL STAFF SECTION

With the clarification of organizational pattern, particularly in the Italian field of operation, it was considered that PWB no longer required the control previously held by INC, and as of October 23, 1944, the Psychological Warfare Branch became a Special Staff Section under a civilian director, reporting directly to the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Force. The Psychological Warfare Subcommittee to the Supreme Allied Commander's Political Committee was formed at this time, consisting of representatives of PWB, Allied Commission and G-2 under the chairmanship of the Chief of INC. This committee was made responsible for general policy of psychological warfare and its application by PWB.

 

WAC CONTRIBUTION TO PWB

Mention should be made of the excellent service given by eight members of the Women's Army Corps who served with PWB from February, 1943 to February of 1945. Four of these young women served in secretarial capacity, two in news and monitoring sections, and two in radio sections. All did excellent work.

In December of 1944 WAC officers reported to G-1, MTOUSA, that the difference in prestige and pay differentials of WACS and civilian secretaries in PWB had caused friction and dissatisfaction. The WAC officers also complained that their charges were not promoted rapidly enough, and threatened to withdraw them from PWB if that situation were not remedied. An investigation indicated that the promotion rate of the women had been almost 5 times as high as that of the enlisted men in the company. Several of the WAC enlisted women reported in writing that in their positions, at least, there had been no friction with civilian girls, nor was there any disposition to leave the organization. Two of the secretaries officially requested that they be permitted to continue to work for PWB.

G-l was adamant, however, and after a 60-day delay the order to remove all WACS from PWB was enforced.

 

FINAL PHASES OF PWB ACTIVITY

PWB undoubtedly reached its highest state of efficiency following its designation as a Special Staff Section. Under the leadership of Mr. Barnes, and with a complete cooperation between the American and British military contingents, the organization gained a prestige in all quarters which made its work run smoothly and effectively. Combat teams operating under 15th Army Group direction in the 5th and 8th Armies contributed materially toward the final break-up of the Axis forces. Coincident with the introduction into Italy of private news agencies on January 23, 1945, the various activities of news distribution and radio dissemination in the occupied area, from the Apennines southward, were turned over to the Italian government without confusion or serious incident.

During this period the British and American information services, Ministry of Information and the Office of War Information, respectively, began the establishment of themselves on a permanent basis in liberated Italy, taking over much of the PWB responsibility for information services of lasting nature.

A considerable reservoir of military and civilian personnel, British and American, was maintained during this period for possible use in the Po Valley centers in event of capitulation. When the surrender came, on May 2nd, it was found that the Partisans and governmental agencies in such centers as Milan, Turin, Bologna, Venice and Genoa were able to control the situation so that only a limited assistance was required from PWB. This resulted in a gradual reduction in PWB effort and personnel, and PWB operations in Italy, as an integrated program, closed as of July 15, 1945, with the exception of film distribution, certain limited monitoring for AFHQ, the Allied Publications Board and the maintenance of an information and propaganda service in Trieste.

The delicate political and military situation in Venezia Giulia, involving the perennial tangle between the Yugoslavs and the Italians, necessitated the establishment of a complete PWB program there, although the title of Allied Information Service was substituted for Psychological Warfare Branch, for obvious reasons.

Although every effort was made to realize a true parity between British and American personnel in the Trieste team, there were not available sufficient qualified American individuals to take important posts on the policy and operational levels, either on the civilian or military side. The area was occupied by the XIIIth Corps, with a British Commanding General. British occupying troops vastly outnumbered the American, and the entire area was generally recognized as a British zone, by the local population. The American military contribution to the Trieste operation totals 6 officers and 16 enlisted men.

 

AUSTRIAN INFORMATION SERVICES DRAWS ON PWB

Plans for the organization of an American Information Service in the Austrian zone which it was planned to place under the United States' jurisdiction in event of the capitulation of Austria were started by AFHQ early in 1945. PWB was asked to participate in this planning and a PWB representative was placed on the Austrian Planning Board. Brigadier General Arthur J. McChrystal, Chief of INC, was placed in charge of Austrian planning, and Lt. Col. Robert Shinn, INC Executive Officer, was named as head of the organization which was to later become the Information Service Branch and come under SHAEF jurisdiction

As had been the case in the initial Psychological Warfare Division in SHAEF, the Austrian ISB drew heavily upon American personnel of PWB. Leaders who had gained their experience in the Italian campaigns with the Psychological Warfare Branch were transferred to the new organization, despite the fact that the sudden release of Northern Italy, with its complicated political, military and economic situation required the utmost from PWB leadership and personnel.

All of the 1st Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company and the 2nd Broadcast Station Operating Detachment were transferred in toto to Austria, leaving the personnel of the 1st BSOD to care for the radio-technical needs of PWB in Bologna, Turin, Milan, Bolzano and other cities above the Apennines.

Six officers and forty-four enlisted men of the 2679th Hq. Co. PWB were also transferred to Austria, with a considerable quantity of transport, radio and other supplies.

 

THE SITUATION AS OF SEPTEMBER FIRST

As of the last of August the military strength of PWB was disappearing steadily as the functions gradually came to a close. The allotment strength of the 2679th Hq, Co. was reduced on July 21st to 20 Officers and 100 Enlisted Men, and a few days later was out to 18 officers and 85 enlisted men. By the first of September it is contemplated that the allotment will be further reduced to 10 officers and 50 men.

A somewhat larger number of American militaires actually remained on hand, however, for the Replacement Command found it impossible to absorb the surplus personnel, and the 2679th continued to keep house for some 80 men more than it had use for, pending shipment of high point men to the United States,

The 1st BSOD is still intact, as a War Department organization. Attached to the 2679th, it is merely marking time until its scheduled return as a unit in November.

Officers and enlisted men are being gradually eliminated by transfer and repatriation, however, and except for the Trieste operation, it appears that the American military contribution to psychological warfare in the Mediterranean theater is about finished.

 

DONALD F. HALL,
Colonel, F.A.,
Commanding 2679th Hq. Co. PWB
Military Director, PWB

Parts: I II III IV


 

 

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