SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
The author received a Certificate of Appreciation for his willingness to assist the Battalion with historical information and photographs for the 5th PSYOP Battalion Lineage and Honors celebration on 3 March 2014.
5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company logo
5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company
Veritas - Volume 10, Number 1, 2014
One never knows where a new story will come from. I have written about Psychological Operations units that went to war and others that never heard a shot fired in anger. In both cases the units had very specific functions to perform and they performed their responsibilities according to Army standards and achieved all of their objectives.
In this article we will look at the Fifth Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company (5th L&L Co) and study what they did in Germany during the Korean War while the First Loudspeaker and leaflet Company was deployed to the Korean peninsula.
In July 2012, I heard from former Private First Class Leonard Mather who said:
I was assigned to the 5th Loudspeaker and leaflet Company in 1954 because of an undergraduate degree in Psychology. Captain Fred C. Wilmott was our Commander and second in command was Lieutenant St. Marie. We operated out of Field Marshall Irwin Rommel's old WWII quarters on the Panzer Kaserne located in Boeblingen, Germany, part of the Stuttgart community. We did a lot of PSYOP, and dealt with a lot of displaced persons from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece and other nations where the Communists were either in power or trying to gain power. My nations of interest were Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. My languages were French and Polish.
After the end of the Korean War the 5th L&L did change radically from what they had done from 1951 to 1953. We had PSYOP teams. My Military Occupational Specialty was 1620. I was an Intelligence-Analyst-Linguist; a jeep driver; a writer (for pamphlets); and a photographer/printer who designed the pamphlet. The writer and I would come up with the text. The mobile unit would make the leaflet. These could be air dropped or broadcast. All this occurred during maneuvers and war games. I was often tasked with greeting the NATO officers from France. After leaving the army I pursued my Masters and Doctorate in psychology.
The 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company
Panzerkaserne Billets 24 January 1953
5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company 1951-1953 Booklet
I have mentioned the 5th L&L in past articles briefly and have a copy of the unit booklet 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company 1951-1953 in my bookcase. My initial thought was to give a brief history of what the unit had done during the war years and then fill in with what Mather had done starting about 1954. It should be interesting to see if the mission really changed radically. In 2016, the son of Private First Class Dick Cleveland sent me a pictorial review book of the unit from March 1952 through December 1952 entitled 700 hours. The book was published by members of the Mechanical Section of the Publication Platoon as part of a training exercise. I will quote from this pictorial booklet from time to time as needed. In March, 2017, Intelligence Specialist William Coons wrote to say he was assigned to the 5th L&L from early 1955 until spring 1956 and worked directly for Lieutenant St. Marie in the operations office. Bill sent some items which I have added to the article at the very end.
The 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company 1951-1953 Bookletis in two sections. The first is The job of an L&L Company. This section explains the platoons and sections of an L&L Company. The second is The company history.
This war game leaflet is designed to frighten the enemy by telling them of the deadly Kreuzotter snake. The adder (Vipera berus) is a medium-sized poisonous snake from the family of vipers. This same theme was also used by propaganda troops at Ft. Bragg who prepared leaflets warning the enemy of North Carolinas deadly snakes.
About a dozen years after I first wrote this story, Dr. Jared M. Tracy of the U.S. Army Special Operations Magazine Veritas wrote about the 5th L&L Company in an article entitled On the Loose Kreuzotters, in volume 10, issue 1, 2014. Tracy says:
In October 1951, the 5th L&L Company, Seventh U.S. Armys tactical Psywar asset in Germany, was in the throes of a major training exercise called COMBINE Stars and Stripes reported, Enemy aircraft showered propaganda leaflets by the thousands on Allied troops, one leaflet warning that the Allies were fighting in areas infested by poisonous snakes
Rumor had it that the guys were really scared about it and they sleep on the ground. They slept in their vehicles because they were afraid the snakes would crawl into their sleeping bags. The snakes hampered the exercise so much that German newspaper had to assure the American units that it did not exist
Pages from a Survival Booklet
Looking through my files I found two pages that appear to be torn from a survival booklet. They look very official and military and are numbered 51 through 54. They show the deadly German Kreuzotter snake and give additional information about it. There is also a warning about rabies and poisonous plants. I am reasonably certain the 5th L&L never printed an entire 50-plus page booklet, so it seems they printed these two pages to justify their propaganda campaign looking as if they came from a survival booklet and dropped them on the enemy. It is actually quite a brilliant idea.
A 23-man detachment from the 5th L&L prepared leaflets at the Seventh Armys Reproduction Plant at Heidelberg. Tracy adds:
The detachment developed and printed six different varieties of leaflets during the exercise. It also printed leaflets of six additional designs that were sent over by the Propaganda Section. The 5th L&L produced a high quantity of leaflets (over 120,000) during COMBINE.
A Loudspeaker Team Camouflages their "Weapon" before Making an Appeal
What are the duties of a Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company? The Korean War era Booklet says:
The L & L Company is a combat support weapon. It does its job with loudspeakers, set up close to the front line, hurling out messages to the enemy, and with leaflets thrown out by the thousands over enemy troops from airplanes or artillery shells.
An L & L Company is also an American propaganda agency. It is the voice of the United States Army addressing the enemy. Its words are as official as the commanding generals signature. Thus, each broadcast and each written message must be carefully prepared, must be accurate, and must conform to established policy. In a sense, the L & L men are simply the transmitters of messages from a whole people.
The men in L&L companies are carefully picked and trained for their jobs. The loudspeaker announcers must be experts in the enemy language; the leaflet writers must be skilled in the art of propaganda. But it takes many more men than these to run a Psywar company artists to design the leaflets; pressmen and lithographers to print them; intelligence specialist; mechanics; administrative and mess personnel.
5th Loudspeaker & Leaflet Members Study a Leaflet they just Printed
An L&L Company is made up of the following subordinate units:
Publication Platoon: The Intelligence Section is responsible for obtaining up-to-date factual information on enemy morale, monitoring enemy radio broadcasts and the interrogation of enemy prisoners. The Propaganda Section is composed of artists, writers and linguists that produce the written and illustrative material that forms the leaflet. The camera and plate section includes skilled technicians whose job it is to prepare the photographic plate for the platoon presses. The Press Section operates the offset presses mounted in the vans. Each press is capable of turning out thousands of leaflet impressions per hour. The Processing Section is where the finished leaflets or news sheets are packed into bundles for dissemination by artillery shells and bombs.
Loudspeaker Platoon: Headquarters and three sections. It is composed of linguists and radio mechanics that are responsible for one of the most important elements of combat psychological warfare, making loudspeaker appeals to the enemy.
Company Headquarters Platoon: Headquarters; administration; transportation; food; training, supply and operations.
What was the history of the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company? I have edited the booklet and some of the pertinent comments are:
The 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company was born on 19 March 1951, when Fifth Army Headquarters activated the unit and assigned it to duty at Fort Riley, Kansas. After extensive training, picking up active duty soldiers to replace most Reservists and passing a number of inspections with a superior rating, the body of the company left Fort Riley by rail on the afternoon of 19 August, and checked into Camp Kilmer two days later. The 5th was at Kilmer exactly one week. On 28 August, the 5th L & L left Camp Kilmer, went to Brooklyn by train, and boarded the transport USNS General C. H. Muir. That afternoon, the Muir steamed out of New York harbor. The Muir arrived at Bremerhaven, Germany on 9 September.
Seventh Army Patch
The company debarked and by 10 September arrived at its new home, Boeblingen Military Sub-Post. Their first major operation was a war game called Exercise Combine. The company was divided, into several sections for its part in the maneuver. The largest section went to Heidelberg to print leaflets at the Seventh Army Reproduction Plant. This group, composed of 23 members of the Publication Platoon, left for Heidelberg 27 September and stayed there throughout the maneuver. The group printed 120,000 copies of 12 leaflets, and, in addition, mimeographed a faked divisional daily bulletin.
Meet Combine Connie
This is a war game radio leaflet and lists five different propaganda stations on the back where you can hear Connies seditious messages. Combine Connie was Dorothea Kovelas who broadcast on American Forces Network Europe. She asked the men to visit Connies Inn, because she hated maneuvers but loved soldiers.
Exercise Combine was held a number of times after WWII. It was an aggressive maneuver where in 1951 most of the American troops in Germany, about 160,000 strong, took part. The Seventh Army tested the defense of the dangerous 85-mile front where the border of the Soviet zone swings west toward Frankfurt. In the early morning, armored combat teams of the crack American Constabulary thrust westward in a surprise attack. Paratroops dropped near Frankenthal to secure a Rhine bridgehead and partisan guerrillas closed in near Kaiserlautern and "destroyed" a supply dump.
In 2013 I was contacted by Anne Cioffi, the daughter of Combine Connie. She told me that her mother had worked for the U.S. Army in Germany after WWII. She never told her daughter much about those Cold War days. Dorothea passed away in 1988.
Connie broadcast multiple times a day on five frequencies on Aggressor Network during Exercise Combine U.S. forces were distracted by COMBINE Connies soothing voice which they heard several times a day on Aggressor Network, a mock enemy radio network.
The booklet continues:
All through the winter months, the Loudspeaker Platoon had its teams in the field. The men had two jobs; learning to operate the loudspeaker equipment and practicing making appeals. They had to get so familiar with their equipment and so expert in its use that they could move into a position, make an appeal, and get out again without wasting a minute of time. The loudspeaker men learned their jobs, got acquainted with their equipment, and found out how best to use it.
Intelligence Specialist Monitors a Foreign Language Radio Broadcast
In January 1952, the company instituted a program of monitoring radio broadcasts to train unit linguists. The Propaganda Section was designing and writing leaflets for Seventh Army maneuvers. A variety of leaflets was finished by 1 March, ready for production in quantity for stockpiling. Several others were produced later for divisional maneuvers. The company newspaper, The Leaflet, furnished training for both Propaganda and mechanical section personnel.
The presses came overseas with the company; but no spare parts came with them. Therefore, keeping the machinery going was a constant struggle. The pressmen had to use makeshifts and substitutes. As soon as the platoon vans arrived, in September, the men started installing their equipment, and shelves, platforms and cupboards. In spite of all the mechanical difficulties, the platoon produced in excess of 200,000 pieces of printed matter from September to April. Major jobs besides maneuver leaflets included five leaflets for a Psywar display at Headquarters and a brochure designed to assist 5th officers explain psychological warfare to other units.
Veritas mentions the newsletter The Leaflet:
That mimeographed newsletter reported on personnel changes, promotions, current events, training exercises, sports and other information. In November 1952, the Publication Platoon started printing The Leaflet on the offset press using the same processes involved in turning out actual leaflets From September 1951 to September 1952, the Publication Platoon printed over 350,000 products, mostly leaflets for exercises
700 Hours mentioned some of the achievements of the unit did in 1952:
Company pride based on craftsmanship is a main theme of this book. The Fifth is manned by mechanics, radiomen, pressmen, photographers, plate-makers, artists, writers and linguists. They are craftsmen who are confident in their ability to perform their jobs.
War is felt in the mind; in the soft spot called a soldiers morale An L&L Company seeks a psychological effect through the written or spoken propaganda appeal. The L&L Company tells the enemy of his hopeless position, warns him of death, betrays his faith in his leaders and weapons or the structure of his army, and fulfills his desire for news from back home The L&L Company uses its only weapon, the word, and directs its course to its only target the mind.
In April 1952, the company took part in a company exercise in the training area. This two day exercise included printing leaflets, combat problems and various alerts.
Later that spring the Company took part in a Seventh Army CPX. The unit published several newspapers in the field. In July 1952, elements of the unit again trained with the Seventh Army, printing leaflets in the field for civil affairs and the Military Government.
Corporal Boris A. Niepritzky (right) of the 5th Loudspeaker & Leaflet Company
makes a loudspeaker broadcast in Russian during a training exercise in 1952.
In September 1952, the unit took part in a war game with some members placed behind the lines while others dropped prepared (canned) leaflets and used loudspeaker appeals to demoralize aggressor troops.
Counting the days?
Most leaflets did not mention maneuvers because the propagandists wanted to pretend that they were fighting an actual war. A few leaflets do mention maneuvers, and this is one of them. On the back the leaflet tells the soldier to protect his health, get plenty of sleep and if he suspects illness, to go on sick call. The soldier is told to exaggerate symptoms on sick call to get more time off. If he doesnt want to go to all that trouble, the soldier can simply surrender to the enemy where he can stay in a warm barracks.
Maneuvers the Easy Way
As long as we are discussing maneuver leaflets we might as well show one more that depicts a Sad Sack soldier out in the hot sun thinking of a cold beer. The leaflet basically tells the soldier how to defeat the discomfort of being in the field by imaging all the good things he could be doing, drinking, eating, and girls. It is kind in insidious. It seems to be helping the morale of the soldier by telling him to think of good times, but by listing all of those good times it simply makes the maneuver more depressing.
We mention artists several times in this story. Here we see Private First Class John Sanders with paintings displayed at a local art contest. Sanders looks directly at his painting which took first prize.
So, it is clear that during 1951-1952 while the 5th L&L was in Germany it mostly produced leaflets for war games and printed some newspapers, magazines and practiced loudspeaker skills.
A Publication Platoon letterhead for the men to use when writing home
There seems to be a little joke here, as a unit member asks for $300 in U.S greenbacks. The publication Platoon truck advertises money of all countries so one assumes they are printing it fresh daily.
Peter A. Kontopoulos Cigarette Lighter
At the end of this article I ask readers to contact me with any comments. The son of former unit member Peter A. Kontopoulos was kind enough to send me a photo of his fathers 5th L&L lighter, carried all through his military tour. These lighters are a big deal in the military and quite collectible. There is a booming market in lighters from units that fought in the Vietnam War. In fact, it is a lucrative market for the fakers who turn out doctored Zippo lighters on a daily basis. It was very kind of his son Gus to send this genuine lighter for the readers to see.
Dick Cleveland was born in Philadelphia 12 September 1929. Cleveland attended the Bordentown Military Academy and later found work as a literary writer. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army on 23 February 1951 and took basic training at Ft. Jackson. He was ordered to Europe and sailed the USNS Barrett from Brooklyn to Germany. While aboard ship he wrote for the ships newspaper. While in Germany he was assigned to the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company. His military occupational specialty was 1569 - Army newspaper editor. He served just short of two years in the Army and was awarded the Army Occupation Medal for Germany, and discharged as a Private First Class. He received an honorable discharge on 31 January 1953.
Dick Cleveland poses for a photo during a training exercise
In October 1952, the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company took part in Exercise BELL HOOK. We dont know much about that exercise except that Dick apparently published a 2-page miniature newspaper for the participants.
Bell Hook News
The first issue dated 16 October 1952 has the heading: A Publication for troops participating in Exercise Bell Hook. The main story is about the Korean War and is titled, Stevenson says Eisenhower is Playing Politics with War.
ITS BEEN ROUGH HASNT IT?
Dick apparently did at least one anti-morale leaflet during the exercise. At the top and bottom units within the division are named. The leaflet depicts a soldier wearing the patch of the U.S. 28th Infantry Division. In September 1950, the 28th Infantry Division was called to active federal service (due to the hostilities in Korea) and started training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The Division embarked for Europe in November 1951 to become part of the NATO forces undergoing training in Germany. The training program was culminated in the fall by three large scale field exercises during which the Division was tested on its mobility and communications, the ability to sustain itself, and special techniques which had been practiced during the year. During the first two of these exercises, the 28th acted in the role of aggressor opposing the 43rd and 1st Infantry Divisions, respectively. In the last, the Division was faced by elements of the 1st Infantry Division attacking from the east. The leaflet text is:
Its been rough all the way. Youve been moving at night. Getting little sleep and have been constantly on the alert.
You have advanced into a blind alley.
On your right is the Main River. On you left are units of defending forces, and before you waits the impenetrable 1st Division.
BUT IT IS GOING TO GET EVEN ROUGHER.
Danger Rear Reporter
Dick also seems to have edited a base or unit newspaper at the very same time. I have a copy of Danger Rear Reporter from his files. The date is 16 October 1952, the same as the war exercise newspaper. The title is strange. In the military we have a term Danger Close that we use when we are calling for artillery fire close to where we are located. I have never heard the term Danger Rear, but assume it had to do with the fact that they were in Germany, while a war was being fought in Korea. They were in the rear but still facing the Russians. Once again the lead story is about an Adlai Stevenson attack on Eisenhower. A second story discusses a Nationalist Chinese claim that they attacked a small island close to the Chinese mainland.
We know a little bit about what the unit did in 1953 from a Corporal assigned to the Propaganda section. In a letter home he writes:
I just got through work a few minutes ago. The company is going to put on a demonstration in a few weeks to show some of the other units in Germany how a psychological warfare unit works; its purpose, etc. The demonstration is going to be presented in the form of a recorded show as well as actual appeals by the loudspeaker team and a leaflet will actually be dropped on the men to whom the demonstration will be presented. Tonight I have been helping to type up copies of the script for the recorded part of the show which one of the writers of the propaganda section is preparing. I think that we are going to begin recording it tomorrow; I am to be one of the voices in the thing, and I am rather anxious to see how I will sound on tape...
We will now discuss the mission of the company in 1954. Mather says:
In 1954, the 5th L & L was a unit of experts: linguists, artists and writers who learned how best to exploit basic emotions and hardships of soldiers. Many of them were trained at the Psychological Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC where the company's commanding officer, Capt. Fred W. Wilmot spent two years as an instructor.
Captain Wilmot was a firm believer in the usefulness of Psywar in battle. He served for eight months as Propaganda Officer, G-3 (Operations) Eighth Army in Korea in addition to his two years at Fort Bragg Psywar Center. He believed it was not just propaganda or force of arms that motivated a war weary soldier to surrender with a leaflet in his hands. He believed it was a smoothly coordinated campaign of both Psywar and military force that broke the enemys morale and his will to fight.
I remember decades later we watched television and saw thousands of Saddam Husseins soldiers surrendering with a leaflet that guaranteed they would be eating supper with their family soon after leaving their post with their rifle butt aimed upward. The other side of this leaflet depicted Coalition firepower destroying those who did not surrender. I think it proved the Captains theory.
The company maintained four platoons: Headquarters, Operations, Publications and Loudspeakers. Approximately 90% mobile, the unit's mission was to support tactical troops with psychological warfare in the field. During wartime, the company would be constantly on the lookout for reports of bad food, poor readership, weak supply lines, inferior weapons and physical hardships. These morale and supply problems offer PSYOP opportunity to demoralize the enemy.
The Linguist section of the operations platoon helped develop the propaganda. White is all truth and is clearly identified; Gray is truth mixed with lies and usually is not identified; and Black propaganda is mostly lies and rumors. Of course, we never did black propaganda. That is reserved for clandestine intelligence services. To get the absolute trust of the enemy who reads our leaflets they must be 100% truthful. In addition, linguists are trained to interrogate prisoners to ascertain enemy weak spots. Other sources such as enemy documents, aerial photos and observance of enemy activities are also used. Some of the linguists like Maurice Kamhi, a native of Yugoslavia, fought with anti-Nazi guerrilla forces during WWII. He was an expert with the foil, and later on his son competed in the Olympics with the foil. Two of the men were products of the Army Language School in Monterey, CA.
Mather told me that there were a number of members in the unit who had formerly been displaced persons from various European nations. Apparently, they were interviewed by Army intelligence while in Displaced Person camps, and those that were found to have languages that were in demand and other skills useful to the Army were offered a deal. After being vetted as a genuine displaced person and not a Communist plant, they were offered five years in the United States Army after which they would be citizens. He mentions some of their names; Fedor Koribanic; Zygumunt Musiol; Jan Kolencik, and Joe Varory. All apparently entered the 5th because of their knowledge and skills. What I found surprising, is that like the in French Foreign Legion, Mather says the European recruits were allowed to select a new name if they so desired.
Private Len Matublewski on Loudspeaker
Private Matublewski of the 5th L&L reads a script into a loudspeaker placed far enough away from his position not to draw enemy fire on himself.
Nine to twelve loudspeaker teams were maintained for field maneuvers. Like leaflets, loudspeaker messages could also be white, gray or black
The leaflets could be on any subject as long as they lowered the morale of the enemy. One typical 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet printed product used in a war game sympathetically patted the soldier on the back like an old friend and said:
Don't worry about it, Pal...The old timers say that time passes quickly in the field. If that's true, you'll be out of the Army before you know it, because there is a good chance you'll be spending a great deal more time in the field.
The leaflets were planned, written and illustrated in a completely equipped air-conditioned mobile van. The van contained photography equipment and a varitype machine with the codes for various languages. Besides the two men to run the equipment, there were also writers and illustrators and men to repair equipment that failed. In general, six men were assigned to a van. From there, copy and drawings were forwarded to a mobile offset lithography press, housed in a similar van. Mather adds:
The mobile press could print in any language that has an alphabet. The pressmen were in charge of this operation. The capacity of the machine was 42,000 leaflets an hour printed on both sides or 84,000 leaflets printed on one side, and it could print in color. The standard size leaflet was five by eight inches (this was the product of a very complicated mathematical formula that determined where a leaflet of a certain size, dropped from a certain height would land) and could be dropped from aircraft, disseminated from a 105 Howitzer shell or left by guerrillas where the enemy concentrates or passes by. The operation was geared for speed. After the pressman received the copy and art work, the product could be finished in as little as two hours. The type is set on a Varitype machine. By following code numbers, the operator can set copy in a foreign language, even though he has no personal understanding of the language.
This machine had over 300 different type styles available and could write in 55 languages. It could adjust the space between characters, and even produce right-justified copy.
I developed the concept and the information for a leaflet entitled Remember that was a direct result of my undercover visits to local Gasthauses to mingle with those military that I believed would be the enemy in the next war game. I was quite the spy. I gathered specific names of the men and the names of their girlfriends during conversation and jokes over fine German beer and sausage. I learned about their unit and where they might be positioned during the maneuver. Our Loudspeaker teams then used their names and their girlfriends names. Meanwhile, we littered their area with leaflets that had the same general information. It must have driven them crazy trying to figure out how the enemy knew so much about them. Remember the old saying, Loose lips sink ships. The actual writer of the leaflet was Corporal Russell F. Newbold. The photographer was Private William Coons and Private Smoczynski was the offset pressman on that leaflet.
Note A Gasthaus is a German inn or tavern with a bar, a restaurant, banquet facilities and hotel rooms for rent.
I am worried about you
The units in Germany sometimes made German-language training leaflets. This one shows a lovely woman thinking of her sweetheart and the text:
I am worried about you.
Please, be careful!
Don´t be a stupid hero!
Stupid heroes die young.
I want to have you healthy and alive.
Please, be careful, when they send you in the battle
During one war game, I was captured along with Sgt. Fedor Koribanic (born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia) after we successfully infiltrated the enemy Seventh Army (Patch Barracks) headquarters tent. We were dressed as German Civilians on bicycles, acting lost. The Umpires took a dim view of it; we were incarcerated, interrogated and my 6 mm Mölln pistol was found secreted under my left arm in a shoulder holster. Captain Wilmot was delighted at our ingenuity for infiltration. The Seventh Army Command took a dim view of our undercover operation and ordered an Article 15 that Captain Wilmot delivered with a wink and a nod while assuring me that what we did was exactly correct, but that the rules were the rules and he would have to comply with his orders. Surprisingly, he gave us no company punishment for our escapade. Normally you would get some distasteful duty for 14 days after such a charge.
Later on, Captain Wilmot wrote a glowing recommendation to the graduate schools to which I had applied to pursue my MS and PhD in psychology.
I should mention that an Article 15 does come with punishment. I got one about 60 years ago for diving for lobster off the side of a Navy LST anchored off an island close to the Chinese coast where we had a small radar detachment. Who knew the Navy frowned on such an act. It cost me 14 days digging air raid shelters with a shovel, two hours each evening after duty hours.
120,000 Dead Women and Children
This German-language training was written by US PSYOP troops in conjunction with their German partners. It depicts children on the front and a handwritten letter from a German youth on the back. The message is odd and seems to imply to the Germans that if the Soviets attack it will be with massive amounts of poison gas. The Russian vehicles were fairly air-tight and could operate in a gaseous environment, but I always thought that their basic tactic would be speed; to take Germany before it could be reinforced from the United States. In fact, when I was an instructor in a tactical course entitled Senior Battle Staff, the students were given a scenario where they were tasked with stopping Russian tank divisions coming down the Fulda Gap in Germany with just a few armored brigades. This was to give the United States time to reinforce Germany. We generally lost, but we died bravely and with great élan.
The text on the front is:
120,000 dead women and children due to Soviet gas attacks.
The text on the back is:
Dear Uncle Gerhard!
It's been a long time since we visited you in Leipzig. All because of the war. Yesterday we had to suddenly go into a bomb shelter. It was cold and dark. Mommy said the Russians attacked us with poison gas. I hope I can go outside again soon and play. I have to stop (writing) now.
Loudspeaker Platoon soldiers broadcasted recorded tank noise in order to confuse U.S. forces as to the size and location of the Aggressors armored forces.
The 5th L&L also took part in various training seminars and exercises with NATO officers. In one case they took part in a NATO psychological warfare conference sponsored by Seventh Army. A report says:
Sixteen officers from Greece, Turkey, Italy, Denmark and Norway will make up the special class Highlighting the meeting will be demonstrations under combat conditions with a back-drop of battle noises, including firing. An enemy Guerilla force will be attacked by psychological weapons, a leaflet drop, and loudspeaker assaults from jeeps, tanks and airplanes. They will also see artillery shells with leaflets for firing against the enemy. After the demonstration, a tour of all vans and special equipment of the company will be made.
A Russian-language War Game leaflet
This training leaflet depicts a sad young Russian girl talking to her soldier on the telephone. He is away at war and she is alone. The text on the front is:
Natasha is calling in vain
The back is all text:
How often do you hear from your family?
Are you sure that everything is in order with your family and with your friends?
Do you see them?
Do you trust your leaders?
It seems odd that all with all we have learned about the 5th Loudspeaker and Leaflet Company, we never hear of them doing any actual propaganda. That is, Cold War broadcasts to the USSR and Soviet-bloc nations. That would seem to be a primary mission. An individual conversant with the question told me:
One of the things I found in researching the Psywar units in Germany is that The United States European Command (EUCOM), United States Army Europe (USAREUR) and the U.S. Seventh Army were very reluctant to actually use these companies in any real operational sense. Information services were handled by the State Department, covert and strategic propaganda was handled by Central Intelligence Agency, and the Army got the proverbial scraps. I guess, with good reason, senior policymakers and top Army brass didn't want a Private First Class or a Second Lieutenant broadcasting some message that ran counter to national security objectives. So, these units trained for the prospect of actual combat operations, but were not allowed to actually conduct missions.
He could be correct. There are historical records of military conflicts breaking out from the incorrect interpretation of what certain words meant. One can make a case that both the Korean War and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq occurred after the leaders of the invading nations believed that the United States had no interest in the coveted nations.
The Hungarian Revolution was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Communist government of the Peoples Republic of Hungary, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. The U.S. propaganda campaign (mostly the Radio Free Europe broadcasts) have often been accused of encouraging the people to revolt against their Communist masters, and worse, leading them to believe that U.S. military aid was on the way. This became such a sensitive point that there were numerous official inquires dedicated to determining exactly what was said to the Hungarians and when it was said.
This Russian-language Cold War training leaflet was made by U.S. troops in conjunction with the German 800th PSV (Psychological Defense) Battalion. The front depicts two Russian soldiers with the girlfriends and the text:
On the back of the leaflet the two Russian soldiers have disappeared and only the girls remain. The text is:
Today, tomorrow, and then how long?
700 Hours mentions various European cities that the company members visited on leave. Stuttgart, Germany, was a favorite because it was close. Other unit members preferred Paris, France. The Psywarriors that could ski tended to visit Zurich and Berne, Switzerland. The Italian unit members flocked to Italy where they visited relatives in Rome, Naples and Palermo. However, the booklet points out that the most favored city of all was Bremerhaven, Germany, from where they departed for New York City, the United States of America.
The booklet also mentions the jobs the Ft. Riley pioneers returned to, which shows the kind of people that generally work in a PSYOP unit. Among the trades I see are four returning to advertising, two returning to jobs as writers for a newspaper while one returns as a photographer, two for State Department jobs, three returning to university to finish their degrees, one as a radio disk jockey, one as a machinist, two for import-export, and one as a writer for U.S. Army - Europe. I just list the first dozen or so listed, but you can see that all are very talented people.
This ends our brief review of the 5th Loudspeaker and leaflet Company from 1951 to 1955. We often write of the wartime exploits of propaganda units in the front lines. Every now and then it is good to look at the units that were not sent to a war zone but were trained and ready to deploy when called upon.
Intelligence Specialist Bill Coons on Leave in Germany>
The PSYOP troops never wore uniforms on leave
The 5th Anniversary of the Leaflet and Loudspeaker Company
PSYOP companies are always in great demand by the troops because they have a printing section and can do things like, menus, posters, calendars or printings for any kind of special celebration. Here, the 5th L&L has used its printing section to prepare what is basically a birthday card, for the 5th anniversary of the unit.
Christmas Menu 1955
As I mention above. A printing section was a very valuable asset of an L&L Company. I can recall times that I needed something for the unit; maybe a vehicle, maybe a tent GP Medium, maybe 5 pounds of coffee. I could casually walk over to another unit and offer their First Sergeant or Supply Sergeant a beautiful group of desk pads topped with From the desk of, with his name and title and then we could place his stripes nice and big right below his name. That was like gold. I could have got damn near anything for those pads. Units often wanted menus for special affairs. In this case we depict the 1955 Christmas menu printed by the Company.
The unit was still heavily involved with war games and training exercises in in August, 1955. Here Specialist 3 Thomas G. Williams operates a Varitype machine for a group of NATO officers during a field demonstration. The machine can type in several different languages. 35 NATO Officers attended the Psychological Warfare Orientation Conference from 8 to 12 August. Curiously, the officers in this photograph are all from Turkey and Greece and they are often at war with each other.
Planning a Campaign
There was another NATO demonstration in September, 1955. Here a group of enlisted men pretend to be officers and plan a campaign in view of a NATO audience. Although they wore Captain and Lieutenants rank, they are SP3 Schneider, and PFCs Khari, Kelman, Coons and McChonarie.
The Leaflet Newspaper
Folded This is the top half of the front page
The company printed its own newspaper. There had been an earlier newspaper called The Leaflet about 1952 but it was no longer being printed and the name was perfect for an L&L Company so it was appropriated. The editor brags that the L&L Company is the only psychological warfare unit in United States Army Europe. The first issue was Volume III, Number 1, dated June 1955. The major news was about the new TO&E (74 troops; 8 officers and 66 enlisted). The Loudspeaker Platoon now consists of 31 soldiers, Headquarters has 17, Publications 14 and Operations (Propaganda) has 13. Those numbers do not add up, but I did not write the story. The newspaper was long in the European style so I just show the top half here. By issue Number 4 they switched to the standard American stationery size.
The unit was often covered by military newspapers as they took part in exercises and maneuvers across Germany. They were featured in Stars and Stripes and the 7th Army Sentinel. The former added photographs depicting printers at work and artillery shells being loaded with leaflets. The latter printed a number of the Companys loudspeaker messages such as this one aimed at the 66th Tank Battalion:
Some guys like this kind of life. Why not let them do all the work? Sit back. Relax. Think of all the money you are saving by not taking that leave, or going out with the girl friend. This is such a pointless maneuver. Why are we forced to sit here in all this mud? How do you like those C-rations? You are not getting to see much of Germany, just wet muddy fields.
In the past 5 decades this unit has appeared, disappeared, and appeared again. The Company was re-designated on 24 June 1961 as the 5th PSYWAR Company.
Specialist Four Dave Urban
Dave Urban did his time in the military in the 1960s, later than most of the people we mention in this story. I asked Dave how he got started in printing. He told me:
I started in printing in 1954 with the kid across the street from us who had a small table top printer in his basement. It was a letterpress, one you had to set up your type to print. It was simple but messy. I also had an Uncle that worked for Alco Gravure Printing Company in Chicago, which printed the Magazine inserts for all the big Chicago Newspapers, and even magazines like Life, Look and Post. It was affiliated with the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times and the Herald. He got me in there to work. I was with Alco till 1961 when things got slow and I got laid off. Times were not too good back then; I couldnt find a job, so the next thing was to get the Service commitment thing done. Lots of company would not hire you if they knew you might be taken away by the military draft. I joined the Coast Guard but was diagnosed as 4F. I then tried the Reserves, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Army. The military was frozen and not hiring. My last stop was going to the draft board to ask that they draft me as soon as possible. I was told that I could fill out half the papers now and when they were ready to start drafting again they would send me the rest of the papers to fill out. In the meantime I got my job back, and went out and bought a brand new Impala. Drove it out of the showroom on a Friday night and Monday morning I got a greeting and draft notice from President John Kennedy.
He greeted me, told me I was in the Army and ordered me to report for my physical by the end of the week. I was soon off to Fort Leonard Wood to learn how to become an infantryman. Just before Graduation I got orders for Fort Sheridan, Illinois, for training in Intelligence. I showed up there and the Sergeant in the orderly room tells me there has been a change, I had new orders for Psychological Warfare training in North Carolina. He said You were a printer on the outside and now you will be a printer in the inside where the Army needs you. The needs of the Army is like four aces in a poker game. They take precedent over everything.
Dave Urban told me about his time in the 5th PSYWAR. In 1961 he was assigned to the 3rd Reproduction Company at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. As a civilian he had worked in the printing profession. He had no idea what psychological warfare was all about and most of the people at Ft. Bragg did not seem to know much either. He had asked the military police to take him to his new home and they had no idea where it was. They finally located it on Smoke Bomb Hill. The unit consisted of three buildings, the 2nd Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group and the 1st and 3rd Reproduction Companies.
I asked him to tell me about Ft. Bragg:
When I got to Ft. Bragg most of the company consisted of new recruits who were replacing the Regular Army guys being discharged. Most of us had been in the printing trade with different skills in the industry. This was good because we got to learn the different aspects of printing from each other. We learned fast; no books can replace on-the-job training. The first day at the shop I was asked if I could run the Multilith [a small printing press, one color], Of course I said Yes, no problem! I exaggerated just a little bit. The next day I went in and started my new job. I never even saw one of those printers, let alone run one. I didnt even know how to turn it on. Within 2 days I was running it with the help of a few other guys. Most of what I learned about printing was self-taught. From this point I went on and mastered Plate Making, Camera Work, Stripping [preparation for making plates], and bindery work.
They really didnt know what to do with us at Ft. Bragg so we spent lot of time doing KP, Guard Duty and cleaning up all over all over the base. They told us that PSYWAR never had any real mission until a real shooting war appeared. They also told us that the life expectancy in combat was about 60 seconds because thats how long it takes to zero in on you. I cant remember if I was still there when Kennedy came to Ft. Bragg or if I had just left. I might have been home on vacation before going overseas.
This was a time of turnover and almost all of the non-commissioned officers were leaving. The company was mostly Private First Class Soldiers. In August 1961 he got his orders for Germany. After a short leave he arrived in Germany in October. He stayed in Germany for 18 months eventually making the rank of Specialist Four.
Dave Urban Running the Harris Press for the Third Reproduction Company
Ft. Bragg Army Reserve Training - 1964-1965
Dave told me an interesting anecdote about the olive drab T-shirt he is wearing with the Specialist 4 rank on it:
We had an inspection one day with the big brass scheduled to visit. The previous day I had a few T-shirts printed with the E4 rank on them. During the inspection a Full Bird Colonel came up to me and asked about the T-shirt. I told him with a straight face that we cannot wear any jewelry or long sleeved and loose clothing while running the printing presses. The reason the E4 symbol was on the T-shirt is to let people know that was my military rank. To my surprise, he was impressed and said I like that. He took that story hook, line, and sinker.
Dave then told me about his time in Europe:
Next step was our voyage to Europe. We were sent to Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and then onto our port of departure. We sailed on a troop ship of course, no fancy airplanes for the likes of us.
It took about a week to get over there. Talking with some of the guys that got back from Germany they said When they ask, volunteer for KP on the ship. That was the best thing we did. [Authors note: I volunteered for mop duty and spent 21 days on a ship handing out mops to the troops that had to mop up the sea of vomit from 4,000 Midwestern land-lubbers on a violent sea]. You have to remember its the Navy and in the Navy the KPs eat first and get whatever they want. You cook your own. It was great. To keep busy for the week and out of trouble we grabbed clip boards and a pencil and went around the ship counting the rivets on the ship. No one would bother you if you looked busy. We saw a couple of Whales after leaving port and they stayed with us all the way, to just off the coast of Europe.
We sailed through the English Channel up to the port of Bremerhaven. Yes I did see The White Cliffs of Dover. The port is Gigantic. From there we took a train ride down to Stuttgart. It was the longest train ride I ever had, Jam packed, hot and must have stopped at every train station on the way to Stuttgart. Finally arriving at Boeblingen, our barracks were just inside the main gate. It was the old German Officers Club turned into barracks. It was home for the next year.
So, I was a full-fledged member of the 5th PSYWAR Company. It was located on Panzer Kaserne, and we were in the Tanks bay area, which was still all shot up from the Air Force in WWII. All our equipment was in trucks and trailers were completely mobile. My main job was running a roll-fed 2-color press which was in a semi-trailer. My other job was driving the tractor and trailer. Me and another guy from Chicago drove the semi-trailers. We had two which we took out on the Autobahn at least once a week and they were the biggest ones in Europe I was told.
Once a month we would have a 7th Army alert (usually the last Friday of the month; it was supposed to be a secret). We packed everything up in the trucks and headed out to the staging area and spend a couple days in the woods. So on one of the many alerts a General came out and sent our whole company back to post because he couldnt find any sober soldiers. No charges were made and nothing was ever said about that little episode. My tour went by quickly and I was on my way back home.
After Dave was discharged, he became a member of the Army Reserves located at OHare Airport in Chicago. He stayed in the Reserves for two years stationed at the Reserve Center just North of OHara Airport. In those days as a draftee, you did two years active duty and then owed the Army two more years as a member of the Reserves. He was a member of the 305th PSYWAR Detachment assigned to the Reproduction Company. His title was Offset Pressman with a military occupational specialty of 830 to 835.11. Each of his Reserve years he spent two weeks annual training at Ft. Bragg in the summer.
On one occasion he ran across a crew doing a book on PSYWAR and taking pictures of the press room. His picture was taken near the presses, but he never saw the book again until he ran across it at the library one day. He did manage to find his legs in one picture, with his feet resting on the printing press. I had the same thing happen when photographers came to make a short film of the use of computers. They shot about 30 minutes where I did different things with the old computer punch cards, sorted, and used them to run a program. When the short movie was shown, I had the family around me to see my starring role and the only time I appeared in the film was when my hand was depicted hitting a start button. Such is fame.
In November 1989, Dave’s wife took him back for a tour of Germany as a birthday present. He had some fun there talking to the German people:
When we got there, I told the people that I first came to Germany in 1961 to try and stop the Russians from building the Berlin Wall, and this time I came to take the damn thing down. Four days the Wall came down. I still think God had something to do with that.
This was a time of turnover and almost all of the non-commissioned officers were leaving. The company was mostly Private First Class Soldiers. In August 1961 he got his orders for Germany. After a short leave he arrived in Germany in October. He stayed in Germany for 18 months eventually making the rank of Specialist Four.
On 25 June 1965, the PSYWAR Company was designated the 5th PSYOP Battalion. The Battalion was inactivated on 20 June 1975 in Germany, then re-designated on 30 December 1975 as the 5th PSYOP Group and allotted to the Army Reserve. It was re-designated on 18 September 1990 as Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 5th PSYOP Group. The Group was deactivated on 15 September 1994, then re-designated on 18 November 2003 as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 5th PSYOP Battalion, and allotted to the Regular Army. The battalion was formally activated on 16 October 2004 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Stars and Stripes mentions the 5th L&L Company – 16 May 1966
The Company was featured by the newspaper in an article titled, “Unique 7th Army Unit uses Words as Weapons – Only Psychological Outfit in Europe, its Mission is to Demoralize Enemy with Pamphlets and Broadcasts.”
This company is one of the arms of the mighty 7th Army. Its weapons are the most dangerous of all – the printed word and the picture. With these two weapons the 5th L&L Company can destroy the morale of an enemy, create dissension and cause havoc. Its men are specialists – linguists, artists, writers, printers, mechanics, and lithographers – skilled technicians who know the potency of the printed word and picture.
The author would like to hear from other members of the 5th Loudspeaker & Leaflet Company and members of other units that are seldom mentioned in psychological warfare articles. Kindly contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.