Ghosts of America - Dallas & Vicinity (Ghosts of America Local Book 1)
Naturally, the real 5th Armored moved north under radio silence while the 23rd used its call signs, frequencies, cryptographic systems and distinctive traits. The big lesson relearned in WILTZ was the absolute necessity for coordinating deceptive efforts with the actions of the covered unit. Because of the unconcealed movement of the 5th Armored Division, the chances for success of this operation were greatly endangered.
A sonic task force, however, headed north for what looked like the first operation inside Germany. Its mission was to indicate an Armored Division 5th concentrating for an attack across the border just south of Monschau. It would have been loud, short and possibly furious because the play area was under intense enemy observed artillery fire.
The sonic unit was heavily supported by a company of medium tanks, a company of armored infantry and a battery of armored artillery. The action would have been completed in one night and the real 5th Armored attack was to have jumped off the following morning from a concealed position further south. Note heavy wire concentration in this picture and the one above.
For the next three weeks, the 23rd mostly enjoyed Luxembourg. Many soldiers and officers found friends among the Luxembourgeosie. Perhaps in deference to General Bradley, the Germans started pumping some large caliber railroad shells into the city. It was another "cover job. At least it was supposed to make it easier for the 4th Infantry Division to participate in this operation. First, the 28th Infantry left Elsenborn barracks to replace the 9th Infantry for the abortive push toward the Roer River dams. The 9th Infantry then came to Elsenborn for a rest. The Elsenborn sector was under V Corps.
No dummies or sonic were used. It was purely a radio and special effects show. It was ample time for the 23rd radios to become identified as the 4th. When the 9th Infantry was resting at Elsenborn it was instructed by V Corps prompted by the 23rd to take a three-day radio exercise — otherwise, its radios would naturally have been silent.
This established a precedent and enabled the phony 4th to take the same Corps-directed exercise. Every afternoon from November, 23rd radios, which had been spotted as the 4th Infantry by the German Signal Intelligence, blared forth from Elsenborn. One hundred operators and 22 transmitters were engaged in this deception. The rest of the play was filled out by the Special Effects section whose road signs were especially effective. As far as the U. Army was concerned, everyone thought the 4th was resting in Elsenborn barracks — even officers of the real division were sucked into the phony CP and stared blankly around at the unfamiliar faces.
The first snow of made vehicular movement difficult but 4-X bumpers and MPs were spread liberally around the neighborhood. This operation was especially notable for the cooperation given by both V Corps and the 4th Infantry. It was a model in this respect. The division signal section made the 23rd radio infiltration very easy and originated, sustaining traffic in order to keep the nets alive.
Before moving, the division blacked out thoroughly by erasing all visual evidences and then infiltrated north on secondary roads at night. And when the 4th finally jumped off into the terrible woods of Hurtgen, it is said that the enemy was surprised by their presence. In fact, a captured German overlay was supposed to have placed them in Elsenborn. The idea was to use the nd sonic bridge-building program together with the diversionary crossing by a battalion of the 95th Infantry Division dressed as soldiers of the 90th.
At the last moment, however, the Commanding General of the 95th Division decided against the use of sonic because he decided to build a real bridge at Ukange and did not want to call his shot in advance. It merely splattered the Ukage area with 90th division atmosphere. No dummies, sonic or radio were used.
The 23rd also had a hand in this. The phony artillery brigade was not completely phony. Every battalion was reinforced by at least one battery of real shooting pieces. One battalion had a battery of captured German 88s. The Dallas battalions were built around the gun batteries and expanded to regular size by the addition of rubber dummies and flash devices. In all, the XX Corps supplied over men and 12 guns to replace 2, men and 48 guns.
The 23rd taskforce consisted of men, 36 dummies and art flashes. The same tempo of harassing fire was maintained as before. Mock flashes were synchronized with the fire orders to give the effect of battalion concentrations. Patrolling and adjustment of fire by liaison planes was continued. Real Corps units departed secretly and at night. Nearly a month elapsed before the 23rd was given any more work. Although this inactivity led to boredom, obesity and internecine strife, the weather in Luxembourg was getting colder by the minute and operations lost their picnic attraction.
The troops were kept busy and unhappy taking basic courses in military courtesy, interior guard, first aid and sanitation. The irrepressible Sgt. He estimates that he shot 2,, feet of film of 69, fellow soldiers during his tour in the ETO. This amount of entertainment could run for continuous hours or the entire month of February day and night. However, it was not through lack of trying that the 23rd was twiddling its thumbs. On 15 November the command started planning what turned out to be the most embarrassing operation of the war. For a long time, the Luxembourg sector was the dullest part of the Western front.
It was held lightly by VIII Corps and used primarily as a rest area for tired divisions or an orientation area for new divisions. Over a period of a few weeks, the 2nd, 8th and 83rd Infantry Divisions were replaced by the 9th Armored and th Infantry brand-new and the 28th and 4th, both weak from the Forest of Hurtgen. On the other side of the border, the Germans seemed to be doing the same thing. They would bring in a baby-fresh Volksgrenadier division or a pea-green "Battle Group," permit them to enjoy a short course of leisurely combat and then move them either north or south into the steaming cauldrons of the Roer or Saar.
The American High Command did not like to see the fresh German troops being trained in an deployed from such a rest sector so steps were taken to prevent the enemy from moving its units around at will. On 15 November, the 23rd was directed to prepare and submit to 12th Army Group a deception plan with the objective of containing the present German strength on the VIII Corps front until 30 December. It was to have been executed in two phases but only the first one was completed December.
While the 23rd thought they were waving a red flag at a sucking calf, a Nazi bull was preparing to charge. Instead of Luxembourg being the dullest sector with school troops and resting veterans, it soon hit the headlines of the world when two raging Panzer Armies drove into the "bulge. It acted in a supervisory capacity for VIII Corps and, of course, supplied its skilled deceptive units.
But the best part of the operation was the fact that Corps actually drew up plans to attack through Trier to Koblenz. Preliminary air bombardment was to have been started 9 December and last for five days. Corps artillery moved some units into support position using assumed names. Real infantry patrolling was to have been intensified and on 13 December a feint made by the 28th Infantry Division. Engineer and Ordnance dumps were to have moved as if in a "buildup. The 23rd would supply an extra "division. The guise of the 23rd was changed four times: from the 9th to the 78th to the th to the 75th.
Each time a name was decided upon, the operation was postponed and the real division appeared in person somewhere else along the front. The 9th stayed around Elsenborn; the 78th went into the Hurtgen Forest; and the ill-fated th took over St. The 75th was finally chosen because it was moving from England to France and the enemy probably did not know its exact location. A 23rd Liaison Officer was, therefore, flown to England to "type" the 75th i.
On 7 December, Lt. Col Schroeder of the 23rd, acting as billeting officer for the "75th" Infantry, reported to the Town Major sic and arranged for division billets east and northeast of Luxembourg. Sector then held by the 4th Infantry Division. On this same date, 23rd "CT" and unit commanders reconnoitered their assigned areas preparatory to bringing in troops, The phony 75th moved in over a three-day period beginning 9 December.
This was accomplished by infiltrating unmarked 23rd vehicles into a hidden transit area west of Arlon, Belgium, where signs, bumpers and insignia were supplied. The vehicles then moved out in "75th" convoys. Traffic was augmented at night by use of sonic deception. Beginning 11 December, "CT" commanders began reconnaissance of forward areas as if in preparation for an attack.
Beginning 12 December, some real tanks were moved up to Osweiler and at night were tripled by sonic means. On that day, too, the 75th began "fading" from the area and fictional columns were reported by spook radio to be moving north. The ruse was complete about a fortnight later when the real 75th came in on the northwest slops of the "bulge" near Marche, Belgium. The 23rd was destined to act in its advisory role and also to impersonate the 76th Infantry Division — which, incidentally, reported into this exact location five weeks later.
Although no formal cancellation of Phase II was ever made, it soon became obvious that it would never be attempted — especially after the 23rd Liaison Officer with VIII Corps lost his trailer in Bastogne. On December 16th, the German counterattack was launched after the 23rd had returned to its base in Luxembourg.
Then, as the official chronology states in terse, unexcited prose: "Organization alerted, documents and records placed in vehicles under guard for immediate departure. Rubber items and special equipment prepared for fire. Guard doubled. Machine gun nests set up for defense of sector surrounding billets. Attacked by air; 23rd gunners posted on roofs fired at enemy planes during entire night. It was the first and last time they were to have been shot at the enemy.
The danger to Luxembourg City was not great enough to force the retreat of the 23rd but the arrival of thousands of fighting reinforcements necessitated the evacuation of all 23rd units. The 4th Infantry was less than a mile outside of town. On this date the 23rd columns were streaming ignominiously westward to some cold, dirty flophouse barracks in Doncourt near Longuyon, France.
Only 23rd headquarters remained behind and they decided to stick it out in the Italian Legation with Mme Nestgen. Halfway to Doncourt, the Signal Company was notified that it was to engage in another operation. Ralph M. Ingersoll editor-on-leave from the newspaper, PM. He chose this name because he considered the operation an attempt to confuse the enemy by presenting them a "double exposure" of our order of battle.
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But the 23rd had barely enough time to load the camera before it was all over. KODAK only last 24 hours. The 23rd mission was to show by spoof radio alone, the presence of the 80th Infantry and 4th Armored Divisions slightly northeast of Luxembourg and in position to forestall any German plans of extending their counterattack southwest through Echternach. At the same time the real 80th was preparing to jump off due north of Luxembourg and the 4th Armored was getting ready to roll up from Arlon to effect its historical juncture with the st Airborne in Bastogne. The desired result may have been achieved because plenty of enticingly insecure traffic was put on the air.
The brevity of the operation and the confused situation made it impractical to produce a polished reproduction of the 4th or 80th. Therefore, no sonic, dummies or special effects were used. On 26 December all of the command, less Headquarters, which stayed in Luxembourg and the rd, which was bogged down in Doncourt, arrived in Verdun.
They took over a very dirty and windy French military caserne. People with plum pudding and yuletide goodies soon found them eaten by rats. The rd joined the rest of the unit here. The men busied themselves with the interminable training schedule and guard duty for the 12th Army Group Main. Verdun is a depressing city filled with a million ghosts of other unhappy soldiers. That makes it much too crowded. It was a small effort by less than special effects men. A little spoof radio was donated by the rd Signal Service Battalion, a sister unit which practiced strategic signal deception and usually left the tactical field alone.
The objective was to cover the non-secret movement of the 87th Infantry Division when it came up to Reims to take part in the attack on the Nazi bulge. A phony 87th Headquarters was established in Metz and divisional bumper markings, shoulder patches, signs and vehicular traffic helped to fill out the picture.
A total of 50 signs were posted around town. The results of the operation are, of course, unknown but the usual number of friendly troops was deceived without harmful results. It is hard to celebrate in dreary, cold, unlighted barracks, especially when neither liquor, victory, home nor girls are available. The first job of the new year was rather sloppy and unsatisfying.
The Battle of the Bulge was still taking all available American divisions. In fact the bottom of the barrel had been reached and General Patton was demanding some of the staves. The 90th Infantry, a veteran Normandy outfit, was holding the Saar line east of Thionville. It was needed for the American drive against the Nazi bulge at Bastogne. The 94th Infantry was rushing over from Lorient to take its place but it took like it would be a little late.
Eleven 23rd radios replaced the existing 90th network for three to 18 hours but there was no message traffic and only the most infrequent call-ups. It is doubtful if the hard-pressed German Signal Intelligence was able or willing to allot receivers to these practically inoperable nets. It was an unremunerative use of radios for deception. In Metz the rest of the command set up the normal SOP on division special effects. Shoulders, bumpers and signs advertised the presence of the 90th throughout the area.
It was very cold and the roads were slick with packed snow but 23rd men and vehicles were kept out of doors during most of the daylight hours. No sonic, dummies or radio were used in Metz. In spite of the fact that one 90th Regiment had pulled out without obliterating its identity, the 12th Army Group G-2 spotlighted the secret move as a model and called it a complete success. The 90th did do a splendid job in the Bulge It cut off an entire Nazi paratroop regiment on the first day. But the 23rd hesitates to take much credit for it.
As soon as METZ-2 was completed, 23rd deception machinery was set in motion to do the same job for the 94th Infantry Division, which was going to be relieved by the Bulge-tired 26th. By the time the 94th network was taken over by the 23rd radios, however, the situation had become less critical and METZ-3 was called off.
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On the way up, some members dropped off in Briey, France, which was to be headquarters of the main body until April. They began to clean out the Caserne Guard Mobile in preparation for the return of the command. Due to some local politics it was difficult to turn on the plumbing. The Briey Water Commissioner demanded a "pourbois" of two dozen bars of chocolate, a case of soap and 16 loaves of white bread. This was not given him so the plumbing was very erratic.
At this time, the 4th Armored Division fighting with the st Airborne Division at Bastogne was being withdrawn. It was to be used in a new blow east of Luxembourg. The effectiveness of this attack was going to be increased by making this move under secret blackout and covering the departure with the 23rd.
They really were not needed. The region was swarming with tanks from four armored divisions: 4th blacked out. It was frightfully cold but the snow was lovelier than the finest Belgian lace. Everyone was snugly billeted. The fictional headquarters was especially comfortable in a home, which later turned out to belong to a notorious collaborator. He kept the fires high and served hot chocolate every night. The 4th Armored did not attack, however, until March when it broke through to the Rhine.
Until that time, it remained under a security blackout and its location was not even carried in the 12th Army Group G-3 periodic. The 23rd maintained its ruse for a few days and then returned to its new base camp in Briey. The planning staff officers went back to their Italian Legation in Luxembourg.
Four days later, the nd tore up to the Moselle River east of Luxembourg for a one-night stand involving sonic alone. It was designed to assist the XII Corps Diekirch attack by supporting a river crossing demonstration 19 miles to the south. This diversion was operated by the 2nd Cavalry Group. The Cavalry stepped up reconnaissance; displayed bridging material and boas, threw over some artillery concentrations and smoke; moved some tanks up and crossed the river with combat patrols.
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Te nd augmented the deception with a heavy sound play. From to on a little road yards from the river, the sonic vehicles raced up and down broadcasting the arrival of tank forces, A decided increase in enemy artillery fire was received in this section on the following morning but the nd had slipped back to Briey before daylight. If it was successful, it was one of the most economical ever attempted. A total of 72 men, four officers and 22 vehicles were used. No mess was carried.
There were plenty of warm messes in this area and people ate wherever they happened to be. The weather continued icy cold and snow lay round about: deep, crisp and even. It was made easier due to the fact that 23rd operators had already worked with the 4th Division and were familiar with its procedure. In the big picture, the 4th Infantry was going to be pulled out of the line Diekirch-Echternach to swing north for a surprise punch into Houffalize. By radio, the 23rd was to show a notional 4th in XII Corps reserve near Luxembourg until the real 4th jumped off.
In addition to the secret 4th, the 76th Infantry under a security blackout had just replaced the 87th on the right flank; the 80th had come down to relive the 4th; a little further west the 26th had withdrawn to make a secret move to XX Corps and the 95th was making a similar move northwards.
In all, four divisions were tearing around with their bumper markings and shoulder patches removed. The Advance Party reconnoitered the Houffalize area in full 4-X display and there were a few untouched bumpers and shoulders in the daylight convoys. Naturally, it does not take many oversights like these to compromise the secret movement of a division. Even to the same area. Only in this case the 95th Infantry was being replaced by the 26th. The 23rd played the 95th and by radio alone held them in position for hours until the ticklish transition period was completed.
Then the notional 95th was brought back into reserve east of Metz by radio and special effects. Both real divisions obliterated all identifying marks and insignia during the relief. The fake CP of 95th was in the gloomiest chateau in all Lorraine.
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Luckily, however, someone received a bottle of Southern Comfort from home and the arctic weather finally broke on 1 February. The ride back to the base camp in Briey was slushy but almost balmy. The most popular food during this operation was a bar of D-ration heated to fudge-like consistency over a pot-bellied stove. Almost immediately the 23rd was called out to aid in a diversionary effort along the southern half of the Third Army front. No special effects or spoof radio were used although the signal company furnished its usual straight communication. The sonic half of the job took place in the sector east of Luxembourg.
This time it projected the sound assembly of three tank battalions in Grevenmacher on the night of February. The following night it did the same thing in Wormeldingen. During the third night it broadcast random tank movements around both areas and then returned to Briey.
Again the sonic demonstration was greatly assisted by real diversionary tactics of the 2nd Cavalry Group. The Germans reacted to the combined deceptive effort by a generous use of flares, increase in mortar and artillery fire and low-flying reconnaissance planes. The decoy FA operation was not as profitable. Rubber dummies and camouflage nets were installed in positions formerly occupied by real U. It was just a static representation of two battalions of field artillery.
Insofar as enemy aerial reconnaissance was nil, the results of this part of the operation are believed to be negligible. Sonic deception was becoming more popular. The 11th Panzers were variously reported all over the front and as far east as Russia but there were strong indications that most of the outfit was near Remich opposite the U.
In this position they were fairly harmless so 12th Army Group wanted them to stay there. For this purpose the nd simulated by sound the concentration of American armor in the vicinity of Merzig some 15 miles to the southeast. The Cavalry diversionary effort included a real tank buildup, increased fire and a smokescreen. Naturally, this flesh and blood deception materially assisted the more gossamer contribution of the 23rd unit.
No one ever knew exactly what happened to the 11th Panzer but the enemy certainly acted up locally. During the two nights of operation, rounds of 80 mm mortar and 28 rounds of artillery fire exploded in the vicinity. Also, enemy planes flew over on the hour every hour of darkness dropping flares. The MERZIG commander was sorry he did not have rubber tanks to simulate a combat command in march column along the road. It was a complete success. It was a little like the old shell game with someone knocking over the table halfway in between.
On 28 February, the 23rd was called in by its best customer, XX Corps, to help cover the juggling of three divisions on the Saar front. First: the tired 94th on the north was to be relieved by the 26th, the division on its immediate right. Second: the hole left by the 26th was to be filled by the 65th, cosmolene-fresh from the States.
This is what was going to happen but the 23rd was supposed to deceive the enemy into believing that the 94th and 26th were merely exchanging sectors. The freshman 65th was to be hid under the veteran mantle of the 94th. The 65th infantrymen were to wear 94th shoulder patches; the 65th vehicles were to be marked X; spoof radios, which had infiltrated into the 94th nets were to move down and play in the 65th area. Meanwhile, the real 94th was to go into Corps reserve and get a good rest. What actually happened was something else again. When the operation was only partially complete, the Germans took advantage of the unstable situation and attacked.
The vulnerable 94th, half in and half out of the line, returned to its original position. Two 23rd spoof radios were damaged by shellfire and two others were cut off by the enemy for about 48 hours. The visual evidences of the other two divisions were also obliterated. The 23rd furnished only radios and advice in this operation. No dummies, sonic or special effects were employed.
No division was simulated. This was done in practically the same area and was the last deception job pulled for XX Corps. Thomas G. George C. Peddle, enterprising radio platoon sergeant, were killed in action 12 March near Picard, Germany. To draw attention away from it, the 23rd was to show a buildup further south opposite Saarlautern. For this purpose, the 80th Infantry Division was simulated assembling in the rear of the 65th. On the morning of the real attack the 65th Div Arty was to put on a demonstration supplemented by 23rd rubber guns and artflashes.
On the night of 12 March, the sonic unit played a tank program along the west bank of the river two miles north of Saarlautern. Spoof radio nets were set up on a division SOP but no traffic was carried. Special Effects duplicated all visual evidences of the 80th while the real division attacked on the morning of the 13th under a security blackout.
XX Corps was pleased. The 23rd's last deceptive effort of the War was fortunately the best. ARMY deception plan, to deceive the enemy as to the actual Rhine River crossing area, strength of the crossing and time of crossing. The beauty of this operation lay in three facts: 1 the contribution of the 23rd was only a part of a giant spectacle involving practically all of the real NINTH ARMY; 2 the 23rd had reached its highest state of efficiency and all of its deceptive strength was employed; 3 from all evidences, the operation was a success.
The latter two were heaviest with three infantry and one armored division apiece. Two crack infantry divisions, therefore, were taken from the other two corps and added to XVI's 35th Infantry, 75th Infantry and 8th Armored Divisions. From north to south, this is what was done by each of the three corps to conceal or exaggerate their intentions:. XVI: the assault buildup was done under the most absolute security. Divisions 30th and 79th coming into the zone moved in darkness and remained visually obliterated. Artillery positions and engineer parks were either hidden or camouflaged.
Artillery registration was done by battery fire on normal harassing missions. XIII: prepared all evidences for a river-crossing operation, the maximum effect to be attained about 1 April. Corps and Division Artilleries stepped up fire and spread out installations by the addition of rubber dummies from the 23rd. Corps Engineers established new parks and paraded with bridging equipment. Preparations were supplemented by dummy items, installed and maintained by personnel from the 84th Infantry and th Engineer Camouflage Battalion. The AA was built up with sixty-four 40 mm and sixteen 90mm rubber guns furnished by the 23rd.
This is a region where spirits swarm over the land, reminding us of the lives they once lived. This spiritually fertile ground has been well tended by other authors from the aristocratic Marguerite DuPont Lee in her Virginia Ghosts first published in to the prolific L. Taylor, Jr. Kinney endeavors to tend stories that were first documented by these authors, adding new reports of activity and her own impressions and experiences at each of these locations. Cart 0. Tip: All of your saved places can be found here in My Trips.
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