SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)

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The Lensatic Compas

I have always found maps interesting. I don’t know how the U.S. Army teaches the subject today with the preponderance of GPS devices, but back in the 70s and 80s when I instructed troops on tactics, maps were one of the most difficult courses. I would stand in front of the students and hold up a 1:50,000 military map and tell them, “A map is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional world.” Some students would quickly understand and look at the different contour lines on a map and immediately realize that each line represented a height (usually 20 meters).

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A New Shipment of Imaginary Grid Squares Arrives at Supply

Sometimes I had to explain that the printed grid lines on their maps were just arbitrary and imaginary and did not actually appear on the ground. Other students had great difficulty with that transition and just saw a plain flat ground no matter how many times you explained. Land navigation was one of the courses that many students failed the first time out. They got three chances and about 50 percent would fail the first day, and perhaps 10% of the remainder on the second day. By the third and last chance they had enough experience that most students with the exception of a very few were able to pass.

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GTA 5-2-12 Coordinate Scale and Protractor

The way soldiers could invent new methods to fail land navigation always amazed me. For instance, there is a clear plastic protractor that is placed over the map. I had to constantly remind the troops that if they could not read “Department of the Army…”on the protractor (for instance by placing it on the map upside down) they were going to go in the wrong direction.

Each map has a mathematical formula to make that map correct for the area issued. You had to take that formula into account or you were going in the wrong direction. You needed a very sharp pencil point. I always recommended a mechanical pencil. With a scale of 1:50,000, a thick point could take you off 20 meters. There were a series of steps; the distance you would walk by ruler and math, the direction by compass and protractor, the number of steps you would walk by previous tests and mathematical formula, the correct compass heading using the formula on the map to account for magnetic pull, etc. I wanted those steps done in exactly the same order every time so they would be ingrained in the student's mind.

There was also a way to determine how far you had to walk that required multiplication of steps by distance and demanded that a decimal point be moved two places to the left. If they knew a point was 400 meters away and they knew they took 120 steps per 100 meters they would multiply and come up with an answer of 48,000. If they moved that decimal point two places to the left they would have the proper answer, 480 steps. If they forgot, they were walking 48,000 steps to Connecticut. You would be surprised how many college graduates made that mistake.

The Mil Protractor  

Special Forces Staff Sergeant Richard H. Dick James wrote about the supply problems being so bad in Vietnam that he wrote to his mother asking her to buy protractors for his unit. He wanted a mil protractor which is much more precise, and since we talk about protractors in this article, I thought I would add his statement:

Mom couldn’t find the mil scale protractor I wanted, but that was the only item she couldn’t obtain. The difference between a mil protractor and a normal protractor is that a mil protractor measures in mils, rather than degrees. A complete circle is 360 degrees, or 6400 mils. It so happened that the day the package arrived, the executive officer (second in command) of 5th Special Forces Group was visiting our camp. When we showed him the contents, including the requisition form, he laughed and asked for a copy of the form. He told me he was going to take it to 5th Group Supply and tell them that this was how fast we were getting supplies from my mother, while they took much longer, and sometimes never bothered to reply.

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Sometimes the Students made you wonder if their Compass looked like this

Once we were out in a jeep looking for some wayward students and we found them about three miles away in a Dairy Queen. My sergeant says to me “What a couple of dopes!” I said to him, “we are driving around in 100-degree heat looking for them and they are sitting in air conditioned comfort drinking milkshakes…and you think they are the dopes?”

I had a soldier that could not walk a straight line. He could shoot an azimuth to a tree 100 meters away, and although the tree was in plain sight, he would walk toward it looking at his compass and end up 20 feet off to the left. I talked to other instructors about how to solve his problem. One said “Make him hold his compass in his right hand;” another said “Put a brick in his right pocket:” a third said “Make him go around every obstacle on the right side, never the left side.” Nothing helped. He failed the course and lost his promotion. I felt terrible about that, but I could not find a way to make him walk a straight line.

Sometimes they did something as silly as holding their compass near their steel helmet, thus throwing the compass off. There is a lot of math and a requirement for attention to detail when taking a land navigation test. Students could always find new ways to fail the test.

My favorite story is one where I am the goat. I lined up the troops one morning and sent them on their way to find four hidden points in this heavily wooded area and report back to me with the code painted on a coffee can at each location. One young soldier walked past me with a straw in his mouth and I did not see his compass. I asked him where it was and he said “In my backpack sergeant.” OK. I wish him good luck. This is a four-hour exercise and I know many of these troops will not be at the finish line in four hours. To my surprise, that soldier I met is the first one to complete in maybe 2.5 hours. I congratulate him and think no more about it. Weeks later at graduation, he asked me if he can tell me something and do I promise I won’t get mad. Of course I agree. He says “I forgot my compass that day and knew you would fail me on the spot. I did the whole course just by reading the map and using the terrain.” Damn! I have students who cannot find a point on the map with a compass and this “good ole boy” from the backwoods did the entire test just looking at the ground and seeing the difference in elevation. I told him that I was not mad at all; in fact I was very proud of him and his ability. I would have never believed it if I had not seen it. Of course, at the time I would have failed him on the spot for going into the field without his proper equipment.

There is an old Army adage that the most dangerous thing on the battlefield is a Second Lieutenant with a compass. If you talk to a hundred sergeants, probably 75 of them will have a story about some lieutenant getting them lost sometime in the past. That apparently is why God in his gracious goodness invented Sergeants, to get those Lieutenants home safely

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The British comedy Blackadder parodied military skills on a regular basis. In the above scene a British general marvels at how barren and featureless the desert is. His aide explains that he is looking at the back of the map. That is probably exaggerating it just a bit.

To give the reader of how hard it can actually be to navigate in the field under combat conditions, I quote with his permission retired Master Sergeant Gregory H. Murry, who talks about navigating with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam in his book: Content with My Wages, A Sergeant's Story, No End To Publishing Company, 2015.

Dead reckoning in the jungle is similar to navigation on the ocean. You use the compass to determine direction and instead of time and the stars to find your location, you measure the distance you have traveled from a known point designated on the map. The distance is measured by pace-count. Two men in the platoon were assigned the duty of keeping count. Every time their left foot hit the ground they would add one to their count. Their count would be added together, and divided by two for the average number of meters, a few inches more than a yard, that the patrol had moved from the last known point.

After the points were plotted, the routes were determined. In the jungle, the route was usually a straight line between Point A and Point B, unless other factors dictated changes in direction, such as: suspected enemy concentrations, impassible or difficult terrain, or the need to investigate certain locations that were generally between point A and point B. Once the routes were determined, a protractor was used to determine the azimuth or compass direction of each leg of the route. There is a difference between a magnetic azimuth from a compass and a grid azimuth on the map, but in Vietnam the difference was so small that there was no need for conversion, which was a good thing, because azimuth conversions were confusing and always caused problems with inexperienced soldiers.

It was critical that the patrol knew where they were at all times. The checkpoints would be given code words and could be used as target reference points for describing your location or for calling for fire support. If the patrol made contact with a superior enemy force, its only chance for survival would be the fire support that could be provided by the company’s 81mm mortars, the 4.2-inch mortars at battalion, and the various types of artillery available from brigade and higher echelons. Without an accurate understanding of the patrol’s position on the map, it would be difficult if not impossible to bring fire on the enemy before the patrol was overrun. If you had an improper understanding of your location, it was also possible to bring fire on your own position.

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There is an old Army adage that the most dangerous thing on the battlefield is a Second Lieutenant with a map and compass. If you talk to a hundred sergeants, probably 75 of them will have a story about some lieutenant getting them lost sometime in the past. That apparently is why God in his gracious goodness invented Sergeants, to get those Lieutenants home safely.

Standard 1:50,000 Military Map of Thang Duc, Vietnam

We mention Forward Air Controllers below. Notice that this Controller has placed comments all over the map. He shows the location of friendly forces, friendly patrols, and a Special Forces camp which is important because he might otherwise call in fire on friendly forces should he spot movement in the bush. Target B is between the friendly forces so this will call for some careful preparation before calling in aircraft. Target A is well in the clear.

Forward Air Controllers, commonly referred to as FACs are responsible for reconnoitering along known routes of enemy movement and adjacent areas for evidence of new enemy activity. If during this surveillance, a lucrative or fleeting target is spotted, the FAC can call for fighter/bomber aircraft and direct air strikes against it. Often the FAC is called upon to direct strikes against strategic targets selected by higher headquarters. He bears the responsibility for correctly identifying the target and conducting the strikes to avoid hitting friendly or neutral areas.

Making a mistake in land navigation can be dangerous. An example is a story told to me by a Marine officer who did several tours in Vietnam, this one in 1969. He was a Forward Observer in Marine Observation Squadron 2. He was flying over the Marine Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) where it bordered the Army’s Area of Operation south of Danang. He was probably in a Marine OV-10 Bronco aircraft. The boundary between the Marines and Army was a mountain range. It was a regular route of infiltration by the North Vietnamese Army.

On one mission he spotted a platoon size (30 to 40 men) tactical column movement well inside his TAOR boundary. He checked with his Department of the Army Systems Coordinator and Operations to see if there were any friendlies in area. The response was “Negative” so it was a free-fire zone. He monitored the enemy movement and called for a flight of A-6 Intruders, all-weather medium attack aircraft to attack and bomb site. I will now quote him:

We had two A-6 aircraft overhead with “Snake and Nape,” (250-pound Snakeye bombs and 500-pound napalm canisters) for a total of 40 bombs and 4 napalm canisters. I kept the A-6s at altitude and distance. Then rolled in and fired White Prosperous markers at the head and tail of this NVA column. That was the signal for the A-6s to roll-in and drop everything.

But, when the WP markers hit, there were immediate smoke-pops of many colors. [Note: U.S. Troops carry various colors of smoke to mark their position and enemy targets. In this case they apparently popped everything they had].

Just in time the A-6's aborted we went in for a very fast but closer look. That NVA column was a US Army unit that misread their maps and thought they were still in the Army’s Americal Infantry Division TAOR. There was no GPS then. We went on the Americal frequencies and confirmed they were “friendlies.” We provided the “lost platoon” with an 8-digit coordinate so they knew exactly where they were.

This terrible “Friendly Fire” accident was averted by (probably) by a very quick-thinking Army platoon commander who realized he had been marked for attack. Those Army guys probably never knew how close they came to obliteration.

The 3rd PSYOP Battalion Trains on Maps

This is an old picture from the October 2000 issue of the 3rd PSYOP Battalion’s magazine DISSEMINATOR. It depicts Sergeant Meisenhiemer and Specialist Argon plotting grid coordinates for squad level movement during a field training exercise. They have their map and their sheet telling them where they must go. Now they must do the mathematics required on the map, the direction, and the distance, and find that spot hidden somewhere in the deep woods.

Land navigation is very difficult and requires lots of practice. You need to be able to judge the length of your own steps in different situations and if you find that you tend to wander a bit to the right or the left, made slight changes to bring you where you want to be. The U.S. Army figured out that more practice was needed in 2015 and changed the land navigation portion of Basic Combat Training by reducing the amount of classroom instruction, creating more demanding end-of-course land navigation evaluations, and changing from four-man land navigation teams in training to two-man land navigation teams. Smaller teams means a decreased likelihood that Soldiers with less-developed knowledge of land navigation will be able to simply "tag along" with more skilled Soldiers. Of course, when I taught this subject decades ago you sent the man out alone. He was on his own with a map and compass and had nobody to lean on.

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Military 1:50,000 Map

From time to time I search for new themes for articles on psychological operations (PSYOP). I was discussing maps today and thought that they have been extensively used in propaganda campaigns and could be the basis of a short story illustrating the use of maps on aerial leaflets. Maps have been used as propaganda in just about every war in the last 100 years. The reason is simple. PSYOP works best on a beaten enemy when it can be shown that his own officers and government are lying to him and instead of taking part in a glorious victory, he is in actually being defeated and sometimes in full retreat. The simplest way to do that is to show the enemy soldier a truthful and accurate map that depicts the current battle lines. In many armies, only the officers are issued maps. The soldier simply goes where he is told with no idea of what is happening on his flanks. When we wish to demoralize an enemy, we tell him the absolute truth about his current situation.

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Viet Cong very good at Maps!

I love this cartoon. When I was an Army instructor I taught a course called Senior Battle Staff. It was designed to put senior NCOs under terrific stress by assigning them to act as officers defending the German Fulda Gap against a WWIII Soviet armored attack. The battle was unwinnable; we had three Brigades and the Russian had 4 or 5 divisions. But, it taught the sergeants to think and called for complete concentration and discipline. Each man was given a position; Operations Officer (S3), Intelligence Officer (S2), etc. They made their own Giant maps for the operation and spent days placing hundreds of units both large and small on the map. It was my job as the Commander to make them plan and think and understand the tactics.

I would call for a briefing and then ask the S1, or S2 or S3: “What is this unit I see in the valley?” If I did did not get an immediate and correct answer I would tell them, “They were just all killed in a Soviet Spetsznaz commando attack,” and erase the unit from their map. Know your units or lose your units. It was a way to make the soldiers study and concentrate. Nobody wanted to lose his fuel or ammo depot.

In the above Phil Fehrenbacher In-Country cartoon a Vietnamese cleaning lady who is very likely a Viet Cong sleeper agent glances at a map and identifies an enemy unit unknown to American troops. That cartoon might be closer to truth than to fiction. Phil was assigned as an 81E Illustrator assigned to 6th PSYOP Battalion at Bien Hoa, but landed in Vietnam during Tet 1968. He ended up for 14 months in the 519th military Information S2/S3 section where he was awarded a 96B MOS and promoted to staff sergeant, and the last 8 months was with the Combined Document Exploitation Center, Saigon.

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The Author's Personal Map Kit that he Took to the Field

Often we have very few examples to depict in a story. This time we have hundreds of specimens of map leaflets. I have therefore selected just a very few pieces that I found interesting.

Before I get to the actual use of leaflets I should point out that maps have not only been used as propaganda in wartime. Many states that argued over borders and territories have placed maps on their postage stamps in an attempt to declare their ownership of disputed territory. For instance, many of the Argentine postage stamps that feature maps include both the Falkland Islands and a small slice of Antarctica. Some other countries displaying maps on stamps with contested territories include Canada, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Greece and the Dominican Republic.


Another In-Country Cartoon Making Fun of 2nd Lieutenants with a Compass
Fehrenbacher Captures this infantryman’s Belief so Well

World War One

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The Siege of the Allies

The German armies were never told that the war was going badly for them. The above British leaflet was printed in September 1918 and depicted the advance of the Entente Powers (the “Allies”) across the map during the months of August and September 1918. Seven red vertical lines show the continual retreat of the Central Powers as they are pushed eastward. Some of the text is:

The Siege of the Allies

Prisoners and Cannon captured by the British

From 8 August 1918 to 16 August 1918 - 34,000 prisoners and 600 cannon

From 31 August 1918 to 8 September 1918 - 75,892 prisoners and 720 cannon

About a dozen such map leaflets were printed by the British and dropped by aircraft over the enemy during the war. All are extremely difficult to read since the British printed their text in red over a very busy military map. Some of the later maps mentioned the Americans and depicted their progress once they had entered the war and seen combat.

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Useless Sacrifice, Bitter Considerations

This second type of British map leaflet is a bit easier to read. It is more tactical in nature and shows an Allied push toward Cambrai and points out to the Germans in a long propaganda text that the city cannot be held and any attempt to defend it is just useless sacrifice. 100,000 copies of this leaflet were printed and disseminated in September 1918.

The British had attempted to take Cambrai in 1917 using their new secret weapon, the tank. 476 tanks attacked the German lines. The gains were dramatic, breaching the Hindenburg line to close to five miles in some places. However, the British cavalry failed to take advantage of the breakthrough and the line returned to a stalemate. The British would not make the same mistake in 1918. The second battle for Cambrai took place between 8 October and 10 October 1918. The battle incorporated newer tactics and 324 tanks supported by 150 cannon. The Germans deserted the town and with only sporadic fighting the Allies lost less than 20 men.

World War Two

Some soldiers could not walk a straight line. When sent out with a map it is as if they were drunk. They might veer either left or right. Training them was a struggle. I had one really good kid who always veered to the right. I would stand next to him, “shoot an azimuth” to a nearby tree, then tell him to follow the compass to that tree. Even though the tree was in plain sight, he would end up 15 feet to the right of it. I asked everyone for suggestions. Everyone had an idea: “Make him hold the compass in his left hand,” “put a brick in his left pocket,” “make him pass every obstacle on the left side.” Nothing helped. I could not get him to walk straight and had to fail him and send him home. I feel a sense of loss for that failure until this day.

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The Situation as of 12 June

We don’t see much in the way of map leaflets from the Allies in the early stages of WWII. The Germans were rolling across Europe and the British and French were retreating everywhere. The German map above targets the French and shows them the forces advancing on Paris. It also mentions the fact that Italy has entered the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had said about this betrayal, “On this 10th day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of his neighbor.”

The text on the leaflet is:

The Situation as of 12 June

Italy has entered the war!

What to do? Why do you force us to annihilate you? Show us that you want peace!

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The Situation as of 13 June

The following day the Germans dropped a similar leaflet showing further advances into France and the text:

Italy gets rid of the English yoke!
It is senseless to fight longer!
Go home!
Your family needs you.
Show us that you desire peace.

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Soldiers of France

Just a few weeks later as France continued to collapse the Germans printed 800,000 copies of this map leaflet and dropped it over the retreating Allied forces. The map depicts the German advance on all fronts and also the Italian “stab in the back” at the bottom of the map. The text on the other side of the leaflet is:

Soldiers of France!

The situation is desperate!
Your Military leaders know and demand an immediate peace. But your runaway government wants to continue the fight for England.
Put an end to this bloody madness! Save your life, France needs you.
Throw down your Arms!
Raise a white flag!

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Dunkirk - Dunkurque

This bi-lingual German leaflet was dropped to further demoralize the British and French and show them their true situation. The British are completely surrounded and at the mercy of the German forces. We know now that the Germans wasted this opportunity and instead of advancing on the land allowed the Luftwaffe to attack the British. As a result, there was a miracle at Dunkirk between 27 May and 4 June 1940 and a total of 338,226 soldiers were rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats. If the Germans had taken those troops prisoner there would have been no one left to defend the British Isles.

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2017 Movie Prop Leaflet from “Dunkirk”

Dunkirk was a 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. The film was a British-American-French-Dutch co-production, and was distributed by Warner Brothers. Above we depict the "prop" leaflet used in the movie. We might say that it looks better than the real thing.

2020 Movie Prop Leaflet from “World on Fire”

In 2020, the Public Broadcasting Service Masterpiece Theater series World on Fire, number 5, also showed the German surrender leaflets being dropped on British troops heading for the coast.

British soldiers on their way to the Coast are buried in a Blizzard of Leaflets

Their leaflets looked just a bit better, being almost identical to the real German leaflets and in the proper black and white. I might also add that I found the scenes at Dunkirk much better in the PBS TV series than in the actual movie Dunkirk.

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Metz and Belfort! - ZG 85

In this Allied leaflet to Germany the historical invasion routes are mentioned. The leaflet goes on to say on the other side that there are three historical routes, and the Allies have taken them all. The leaflet was printed at the request of the French First Army, and is considered a “short-term leaflet for specially limited drops on specific targets." 1,504,000 leaflets were dropped from 26 November to 3 December 1944. The text on the other side says in part:

After Aachen: METZ and BELFORT!

The Gate of Belfort has been forced

There are three historic invasion routes into Germany through which in past centuries invading armies have marched: The Belfort Gap, The Gate of Lorraine, and the area north of Aachen.

In the South, the French Army in one fell stroke broke through the Belfort Gap, captured the Fortress of Belfort and reached the Rhine. In the Central Sector Metz was taken and is already far behind the American lines. Heavy tank and infantry units are advancing at several points toward the Rhine. In the North, the West Wall near Aachen has been broken. Britons and Americans are continuing to penetrate into the Rhineland.

History shows that often hundreds of thousands have died long after the outcome of the war had already been decided. A glance on the map will show the implications of the break-through at Belfort.

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This was the Plan - ZG-98

There are many Allied leaflets that depict maps but my favorite are those that were printed after the German surprise attack known as “The Battle of the Bulge” in December 1944. The Germans made amazing advances after they caught the Americans by surprise, but as the Allies deployed troops to the front lines and the skies cleared and allowed Allied air power to rule the skies, the German attack first faltered and then failed. There are several map leaflets that simply say “This was the plan” and tell the German army what Hitler tried to do and how it failed. 7,285, 656 copies of the above leaflet were printed and disseminated from 1 January to 15 February 1945. The map shows the German soldier exactly what the German master plan was. Some of the text is:

This was the Plan

The map below illustrates the breakdown of the Western Command Plan. It shows the German goals. What the map does not show is the whereabouts of the Allied tank armies.

The back of the leaflet is all text:

The Last Attempt

WHY DID the counter-offensive have to come? Because the German reserves in both men and material were systematically being smashed in the battle of attrition between Emmerich and Basel. Because German gasoline stores were exhausted. Supplies had to be captured. Because Himmler saw that the German people became more and more opposed to forced evacuation and would not have themselves dragged away from their homes.

WHY DID the counter-offensive have to fail? Because Rundstedt did not have enough tanks, not enough planes, not enough artillery in order to execute a first-rate plan. Because next to elite troops, half-trained grenadiers were thrown into the battle. Because the SS leadership failed. Manteuffel did his part. He relied on the Panzer-SS, but Sepp Dietrich didn’t come through. Because the V1 and V2 failed as substitutes for artillery and air power. Because the Allies were able to throw 6,000 planes into the battle in one day in support of their troops.

WHY DOES the German soldier have to make his own decision?



This map leaflet is coded T/46. According to my Guide to Series Codes booklet, that means the leaflet was dropped by the British 8th Army in 1944 over German troops fighting in Italy. The front shows the advance of Russian forces moving toward Germany through Hungary and Yugoslavia. The text on the map is:


The other side of the leaflet is all text:


German soldiers in Italy, look to your left. Look to the east, where a new danger threatens you. The Russian 3rd Ukrainian Army Group, under Marshal Tolbukhin, which at the beginning of September this year was still fighting on the Black Sea, has in the last three months broken through 900 kilometers to the west. On December 10th this Army Group was 70 kilometers from the Austrian frontier and 280 kilometers from Trieste. The Yugoslav People's Army, together with the Bulgarian Army, which has changed sides and is now fighting against Germany, are driving westwards through Yugoslavia.

Look at the map overleaf, German soldiers, and see in what a hopeless situation your Fuehrer has put you.

At any moment each one of you may have to make a personal decision whether, in such a situation, it is worthwhile to fight on or not. When that moment comes, remember: Look to the East. Eyes left!

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ZG.103 – The Wise Man Looks Ahead!

This leaflet depicts a map showing the German supply lines cut by the Allies. 1,360,000 leaflets were printed and dropped on the German forces on 15 and 16 January 1945. The text on the front is:

You have already asked yourselves why your supplies of food, munitions and gasoline begin to get thinner and thinner. This leaflet gives you the answer.

The back is all text and tells the German troops that their supplies have been cut, and possibly even hints…How will you get back home? The text says in part:


Now you are advancing – grenadiers, armored grenadiers, paratroopers. Now at last you can look forward once again. Before you lie the goals which your leadership has set for you: Antwerp, Brussels, Verdun, Paris…Don’t look back! For this is the picture that presents itself behind your lines. Your supplies and men came over seven railroad lines and seven bridges…Five of the seven bridges are in ruins today. The American Air Force destroyed them in the past days…Today your supplies and reserves have to be brought to the front by the most part in trucks, or the German soldier has to march into action.


By 25 January 1945 the battle was over and Germany could never put a major offensive force into the field again.

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Just before the War’s End

This American Psychological Warfare Branch leaflet is from late in the war and depicts Germany being attacked from the south, east and west. The war is clearly over for Germany. The PWB was attached to the U.S. 3rd Army and produced about 56 leaflets that I am aware of. The leaflet is coded PWB 8. The text on the front is:


The Allied armies stand on Germany’s borders, ready for the final assault. Their air fleets and navies stand ready to give the necessary pressure to this assault. German confronts her choice: annihilation or surrender.

German soldier! The same choice is yours: Surrender and live to see the peace or stand and be annihilated.

Die in the last minute?

The PWB Series – Produced by the Third U.S. Army

All the American Armies fighting in Europe had their own units for preparing leaflets. Each one used a different code, were printed in German and I usually show them and translate them into English for the readers. In the case of the Third Army, I have the actual leaflets prepared in English as file copies so I thought I would show you two of them already in English.


This leaflet depicts Germany being attacked and bombed from all sides. The back is all text. A long letter addressed To All German Soldiers telling them that the war is hopelessly lost and an ending with the remark, SURRENDER NOW AND LIVE RATHER THAN DIE IN A HOPELESS CAUSE.


This leaflet shows additional Allied advances into German territory. The back is all text, telling them their fate is YOURS TO DECIDE, telling them to carry a white flag and shout I SURRENDER, and ends by telling them not to be afraid or fear reprisals. The Reich SS has no time to worry about individual surrenders, and their families will be safe.

The CPH Series – Produced by the Ninth U.S. Army


U.S. 9th Army produced approximately 40 different CPH leaflets. They were generally disseminated by artillery. The CPH leaflets were tactical leaflets. They were used in limited local operations against the Wehrmacht for a specific operation or campaign. CPH-19 depicts a map of Germany on the front depicting its military status in the final years of the war. This are not going well. Germany at its Apex is depicted in grey, its current status in black. The text is:


At the turn of the year 1944-45, this picture confronts Germany, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Helsinki, Riga, Rome, Athens, Brussels, and Paris lost. Rumania, Bulgaria, and Finland out of the war. The Battleship Tirpitz at the bottom of the sea. The Gustav and Adolf Hitler Lines taken, the Gothic and Siegfried Lines breached, the Atlantic Wall gone. Generals Dietl, von Kluge, and Rommel dead. 700,000 German prisoners of war taken in the West alone, among them six admirals, 34 Generals and two Field Marshals.

The back is all text and reminds the Germans that this is their sixth winter at war, their industrial centers are destroyed, The Volkssturm has failed, and there is an implication that Hitler and Himmler are feuding. The leaflet ends:


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The Only Exit…

I got to talking to a British friend about the use of meters on military maps rather than feet and inches, and that reminded me of the Cold War days when I taught the Senior Battle Staff Course (BSC) and the Fulda Gap scenario where a few American non-commissioned officers with one division try to hold back a number of Soviet armored divisions sweeping across Germany. It is just about impossible of course, but it is good training as the senior sergeants try to move their units around, supply them with men, ammo, fuel and food and hold the line until reinforcements arrive. The concept is to regularly transfer the sergeants from section to section so that they will understand how every part of the General Staff system works and make them more aware and able to accept more responsibility from their officers.

We always start that class with a map exercise. We select student soldiers to play Personnel (G1), Intelligence (G2), Operations (G3) and Logistics (G4) and hand each a big pile of maps of the German countryside. Each section is expected to cut the maps, fit them together properly, place them on a board and then mark them with every bit of information they need to know to carry on a war. Operations needs to know where all the friendly forces are and make recommendations to the Commander, and Intelligence need to know where the enemy is located and what his plans might be. The map portion of the exercise alone can take over a day because there are hundreds of units, water points, ammo points, fuel points, and supply routes and each one has to be carefully and correctly placed on the map and identified.

We demanded perfection. If I walked up to the G3 map and pointed at a unit and asked “who is that?” and the Operations Officer could not immediately identify it, then I told him, “They have been attacked with chemical weapons and no longer exist.” The students quickly learned to mark the maps well and to study them so that they could identify anything I asked about. They were already fighting a much superior Soviet force and could not afford to lose any of their scarce combat units. It was a case of “learn it or lose it.”

Since we mention the Soviet Union I have included a map leaflet produced by them during WWII to show the Germans their current situation on the Crimean Peninsula.The Battle of the Crimea began on 24 September 1941, the Germans making early advances against a weaker Soviet force. In December 1941, the Soviets made two landings putting a total of 41,930 troops of the Soviet 44th and 51st Armies into the battle. The leaflet above was dropped in late December 1941 so clearly the Soviets wanted the Germans to think they were cut off and about to be decimated. They were a bit premature. In fact, the following May, the Germans counterattacked and took 170,000 Soviet prisoners.

The leaflet depicts German soldiers dead or trapped on the peninsula by Russian tanks and artillery while their officers run away with bags of loot. Some of the text is:

The Only Exit – Chose between death or life as a prisoner

The German Army is in retreat everywhere. You are fighting to cover their retreat and face certain death. Why should you die? You can serve your children and your family back at home. If you let yourself be captured, then you will return home at the end of the war.

The Soviet Union

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The Fall of Stalingrad

When the Germans lost their gamble in the Ardennes the Allies produced map leaflets showing the way they were crushed. At Stalingrad the German Army met its first major defeat. From August 1942 through February 1943, more than two million troops fought in close quarters and nearly two million people were killed or injured in the fighting.

Russian forces were able to form what in essence was a defensive ring around the city by late November 1942, trapping the nearly 300,000 German and Axis troops in the 6th Army. By February 1943, Russian troops had retaken Stalingrad and captured nearly 100,000 German soldiers.

In a series of leaflets numbered 2154, 2331, 2334, 2399, 2401 and 2404 the Russians depict the gradual defeat of the German Army. Each leaflet gives the numbers of more Germans captured or killed. The text on leaflet 2154 about half-way through the battle is:

The troops of the Red Army continue to advance in the area of Stalingrad. In the course of the 30th of November, the troops of the Red Army in the area of Stalingrad overcame fiendish resistance.

The text on 2404 depicted above at the end of the battle is:

The towns that were occupied by the Red Army prior to February 12 are marked by full colored black circles on the map.


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Brave Soldiers of the Thirteenth Division!

We seldom get to see the training leaflets that candidates for PSYOP positions prepared as part of their curriculum. The above leaflet was designed and printed by the OWI outpost training class in San Francisco in 1944 as it prepared for deployment to the Pacific. The purpose of the project was to gain experience in studying military conditions for which leaflets would conceivably be used in the field, and to practice writing and producing leaflets that would deal with hypothetical situations set up by the class.

The candidates attempted to function as a combat field team made up of an artist, a military liaison, writers, a Japanese translator, two Davidson pressmen, an advisor-critic and an elected chief of project. The team was given no advice on how to prepare a leaflet. This was entirely their project. This leaflet is tactical in style and targets Japanese troops in Burma based on a change of command in the Japanese forces prior to a major counter-attack. You can tell this is an early practice leaflet because it bears a map on one side and yet it is never mentioned in the text and does not explain to the Japanese soldiers how it is to be used. This is a major error. The OWI leaflet teams would get better; much better. The map depicts the military situation and is labeled “Burma” at the lower left. The Short text at the right says:

After the battles of the brave Kokang over the last three months you can see the status of it all.

The text on the back says in part:

Brave Soldiers of the Thirteenth Division!

Your victories in the campaigns of Malaya and Java have established you as brave and gallant troops. Because you fought so valiantly and heroically in the battle of Java, you were chosen as the spearhead of the drive into India…Despite your courage, despite your great sacrifice, Imphal is not yet yours.

The planes in the skies belong to the Allies. Your supply lines become weaker day by day. Look about you. Is not the ground strewn with the bodies of your comrades who have died uselessly because of lack of medicine?

The Allied armies stand before you. They, too, are strong and brave. But, they are also well fed and there are many more of them than there are of you.

Soldiers of Japan! To die uselessly in a hopeless battle in which you can gain nothing for your country is ignominious.

The text by the map doesn’t seem to make much sense. Historically, Kokang was Burma's feudal state for Burmese Chinese located in the northern part of Shan State bordering on China's Yunnan Province. After the war it became part of Burma, now Myanmar. One assumes that the scenario had the Japanese fighting in the area but the text is so poor that my translator said: “It seems like it was not written by a Japanese native.” In fact, the name of the OWI translator for this exercise was Sung Soo Whang, which sounds more Chinese than Japanese.

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Many Roads Lead to Tokyo

The Office of War Information (OWI) on Saipan prepared and dropped millions of leaflets and Japan and its occupied nations. Many of these leaflets depicted maps; usually showing Japan surrounded and cut off by Allied forces. In this OWI map leaflet coded 415 the Japanese are under siege. This leaflet targeted occupied Taiwan and told the people of that island about the United Nations aims to destroy Japan. The leaflet depicts Japan with lines pointing to it from the Aleutians, Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, India and China. Any Japanese soldier seeing this leaflet would have cause to worry. Some if the text is:

Many Roads lead to Tokyo!

People of Taiwan – Taiwan is on the Road to Tokyo

President Roosevelt declared on 12 February 1943 that “There are many roads which lead right to Tokyo. We shall neglect none of them…”

Taiwan is one of the roads to Tokyo that the President mentioned…And in order that the Taiwan road may be used, together with the other roads, in the final great attack on Tokyo, capital of the Japanese pirates, we must wrest the island from the Japanese.

This we tell you so you will understand why we bomb the hunchback barbarians on your island…

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Leaflet 2003

OWI map leaflet 2003 was prepared to lower the morale of Japanese civilians by emphasizing American air power. The front depicts vast forces converging upon Japan and would certainly terrify any Japanese citizen seeing the image. The text is:

For months before Germany’s defeat, the newspapers of occidental nations were filled daily with headlines and articles revealing American airpower. Such headlines as “5,000 allied bombers strike Germany” were common.

Now that the war in Europe is over, we can concentrate on you. Our new giant B-29 bombers have already bombed your homeland and Manchuria. Soon the power of the air attacks will increase, and headlines will describe the devastating bombings of your war plants in Japan.

Your defeat is only a matter of time.

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Leaflet 116-J-1

This two-color leaflet is in the form of a tactical map depicts individual American and Japanese units on North Luzon. It was produced by General MacArthur’s U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Board on the Philippines and allows the Japanese troops to see exactly what their position is and how hopeless it is to fight on. The text is a long surrender message and I quote it in part:

The American forces, constantly increasing in strength and fully supplied with every sort of military equipment, have established an impregnable position. Under the circumstances it is no longer possible for you to expect aid. Now that the struggle for Okinawa is going on, you cannot think that the Japanese Navy or Air Force will appear again in the Philippines.

Soldiers! Think Well! Surrounded by the enemy, suffering hunger and thirst, unable even to fight properly, is it true loyalty to go on dying? Soldiers! If you decide on rebirth, in order that mistakes may not occur, throw away your weapons and approach our positions or sentries waving this leaflet. We urge that you make your decision quickly.

The Korean War

We always assigned troops to stand around the land navigation course to be sure that we did not lose anyone. It did not work. Somehow, at the end of the day we would always be a few students short and then we would drive around the countryside and eventually find them walking, compass in hand, a mile or two outside the navigation area. I sometimes wondered if it was an accident. One hot day in sweltering Pennsylvania we hunted for two students and found them about a mile away in an ice cream shop. I mentioned to the other instructors how stupid those soldiers were to get so lost and one answered, “Stupid? We were out in the hot sun all day and they were sitting in an air conditioned shop enjoying a milkshake.” It makes one wonder!

Some students were “naturals.” As I walked around the test area one day I saw a student that looked like a “country bumpkin” walking along casually with a straw in his mouth. I asked him where his compass and protractor were and he answered “In my knapsack Sergeant.” Later as I stood by the finish line, he was the first one to correctly find the four points within the heavily wooded land navigation area and return to the starting point with a correct sheet. I was very impressed by his ability. Weeks later, after graduation, he came up to me and asked if he could tell me something in private. I told him “Of course.” He said, “Sergeant, that day you stopped me in the field I had forgotten my compass and left it in the barracks on my bunk. I knew you would fail me on the spot so I lied.” I was amazed. “How did you manage to complete the course correctly in record time while others were out in the woods for hours or failed the course completely?” His answer was “dead reckoning.” This student was a country boy and so good that he was able to just use his map and determine by the symbols and contour lines where he was. Without a compass he found his way through the brush and located hidden targets. I wanted to get mad at him for lying to me and tear him a new butt hole. But he was so damn good and he beat my course fair and square while at a terrible disadvantage. I could only admire and congratulate him.

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Leaflet 1034

Most of the Allied Korean War map leaflets are not quite as detailed as the WWII map leaflets. Leaflet 1034 is entitled “Report Communist Stragglers” It was printed by the Far East Command Psychological Warfare Section. It targets South Korean civilians harassed by North Korean stragglers who have been left in the rear of the allied advance. The front of the leaflet depicts those advances while the back is all text. The map clearly shows that this was the high point of the war for the Allies, just before the Chinese “volunteers” entered the war with hundreds of thousands of troops. Some of the Korean-language message is:

The Republic of Korea Army has reached the Yalu River.

The final defeat of the Communists is near. The 6th Division of the Republic of Korean Army reached the Yalu River near Chosan on 26 October, and at many other points from the west to the east, the Republic of Korea and United Nations troops are only a few miles from the northern border of North Korea. In making these rapid advances our forces bypassed many small groups of Communist soldiers in order to hurry ahead and trap the larger groups. Some of these Communist remnants are trying to terrorize the people by raiding the towns and spreading false rumors…Report to your local authorities any information that might help in locating these Communist remnants and wiping them out.

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A PSYOP soldier demonstrates how to load a roll of leaflet
number 1034 into a 105 mm leaflet artillery shell

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Leaflet 1205

This leaflet was prepared by the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet group on 12 July 1952 in Korean and entitled “You are next.” It was part of Plan Strike and uses a map of north Korea showing the transportation, supply, and communication lines used by the Communists. The text is:


Military targets along the railroads and highways will be bombed by the United Nations.

There is a long propaganda message on the back that says in part:


United Nations fighters and bombers will soon destroy all military targets along the railroads and highways outlined in red on the map.

Obey this warning and you will live:

Leave this area immediately. Take your families with you. Warn your friends to do the same. If the Communists force you to remain in the danger area, send your women and children to safety. The UN wants to protect Korean civilians; you must obey these instructions to live. Leave this area.

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Leaflet 1094

Leaflet 1094 depicts a map of Korea showing a Communist fist holding a hammer and sickle, and United Nations B-29 bombers, battleships, aircraft carriers and tanks. It was printed by the Far East Command Psychological Warfare Section and targets North Korean civilians and military. The leaflet is entitled “Demilitarized Zone” and contrasts United Nations and North Korean proposals for the DMZ. Some of the Korean-language text is:

Communist line for divided Korea

Communist line for prolongation of war

Present battle line: 20 to 35 miles north of the 38th Parallel

The battle line on the ground is 20 to 35 miles north of the 38th Parallel. The battle line in the air and at sea extends to the Yalu River. The United Nations forces are willing to establish a demilitarized zone along the ground battle fronts in order to bring an end to the war. Communist leaders are arguing for moving the line back to the 38th Parallel, which for five years has symbolized Korean disunity…

Demand and end to this unnecessary war; support a just peace based on the present battle line, without political conditions.

There are a number of Korean War Chinese-language map leaflets coded from 8600. They all seem to show the Chinese routes to the south that they can use to surrender.

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Leaflet 7002

This and the following map leaflet both use the theme of setbacks in the Communist invasion. This Korean-language crude map was prepared by the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Far East Command and depicts U.N. troops landing at Inchon and cutting off supplies and manpower. There is an explosion near Inchon and Seoul and the Text:


The text on the back asks them to choose between surrender and death. The text is:


Powerful United Nations forces have landed at Inchon and are advancing rapidly. You can see from this map how hopeless your situation has become. Your supply lines are cut. Your line of retreat is closed. Reinforcements cannot reach you, nor can you withdraw to the north. The odds against you are tremendous. 53 of the 59 nations in the U.N. are opposing you. You are outnumbered in equipment, manpower and firepower. Further resistance in futile. Your choice is simple: Surrender or die. Come over to the U.N. side and you will receive good food and prompt medical care.

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Leaflet 7005

The leaflet was prepared just a few days later and depicts the capture of Inchon, Kimpo Air Base and the liberation of the South Korean capital of Seoul. Scissors cut off the influx of supplies from the north and the ability of invading troops in the south to escape. The text on the back says:


The U.N. and ROK forces have captured Seoul! Inchon and Kimpo Air Base have fallen. The Communists have been dealt a severe defeat. The loss of Seoul cuts the supply routes from the war material factories and arsenals of North Korea to the Communist troops in the south. It cuts off the slow of reinforcements to these forces and severs their path of retreat. Further resistance in futile. The U.N. forces, representing 53 of the 59 member nations of the U.N., have guaranteed humane treatment for all North Korean soldiers who surrender. If the Communist leaders insist on continuing their war of aggression, they and they alone will bear full responsibility for the needless death of many innocent people.

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Leaflet 8620

This Eighth U.S. Army Korea (EUSAK) leaflet is in red and depicts a map on the front with four arrows leading south. The vignette on the back shows a Smiling United Nations soldier smoking and holding a pack of cigarettes. A Chinese soldier is seen coming out of the woods with a surrender leaflet in his hand. He has apparently been seduced by the offer of the cigarettes. I have also seen a version of this same leaflet in brown on an 8 x 10-inch sheet with the UN symbol. The text on the front of this leaflet is:

This is our lifesaving gift to you.

(1) Select a well-covered hiding place where you will not be discovered, in front of your positions near the UN force.
(2) Sneak away from your unit at night and hide in this place.
(3) Remain hidden and wait for daylight.
(4) Throw away your weapons, at daylight come over to the UN forces and bring your wounded comrades.
(5) When approaching UN positions raise your hands.

The back has a tactical message to specific named Chinese regiments:

Officers and men of the 349th, 350th and 351st Regiments of the 117th division: This is the good news you have been waiting so long to hear! You must be fed up with the inhuman treatment given to you by the Communist party, no one could put up with it! Accept our good will offer and escape using the routes and instructions shown on the back and you won't have to suffer as a victim anymore!

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Leaflet 8621

This full sized 8 x 10-inch Eighth U.S. Army Korea sheet is printed in red-brown and depicts three arrows pointing southward toward safety. The title at the top of the map is:

Here is a way out!

The term “way out” as written can also mean “livelihood” or “career change” or literally a “life road” or “living road.” It is an excellent use of the Chinese terminology. The surrender message beneath the map is identical to that of 8620 above.

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Leaflet 8159

Map leaflet 8159 is interesting because not only does it show the way to defect to United Nations lines; it also shows a pair of hands holding steaming bowl of rice. The implication to the starving enemy must have been very tempting; come over to our side and get a bowl of hot food. The leaflet was requested from the G3, U.S Eighth Army (Korea) by the U.S. Army X Corps for use against the North Korean 12th Army Division. As in most Korean War leaflets the back is all text. Some of the text is:

Officers and men of the North Korean 12th Division

You are suffering many hardships from starvation and powerful United Nations air and artillery bombardment. Why do you not seek safety at once by escaping the horror and death?

Follow the route indicated on the map on the reverse side. We are waiting for you with warm cooked rice and good treatment.  

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Leaflet 8153

I decided to add this leaflet because it is one of the very few that actually show defectors and the map they used to cross the United Nations lines. This Eight U.S. Army Korea (EUSAK) tactical leaflet targets the North Korean V Corps. It depicts four North Korean soldiers who defected using an earlier map leaflet aimed at V Corps. The text on the front is:

Follow These Wise Comrades

The text on back says in part:

Acting platoon leader Lyuh Yong-Hi, squad leader Hun Min-Hyuk, Privates Lee Rui-Bok and Ro Ki-Sup, former North Korean soldiers who followed the map sketch on a recent leaflet to safety….

Some other Allied leaflets that show maps to be used by North Koreans and Chinese troops to escape their Communist masters are: 8142, 8243, 8144, 8151 and 8152,

The Vietnam War

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Captain Carlisle T. Bastian of the 1st Cavalry Division sights his company’s position with a compass during a search and destroy mission during Operation Wallowa on 10 December 1967 about 18 miles southwest of Da Nang.

U.S. Army Photograph

There were little ways to cheat on a land navigation course. My wife hated it when I said “cheat” because I was really talking about how to give yourself the best chance of passing the test. One of the first things I told troops was to go out and buy an automatic pencil with the thinnest lead they could find. Since the small grid boxes were 1000 meters each, a thick line from a standard number 3 pencil might put you 50 meters off. Get a small metal ruler that is absolutely straight. Check your protractor twice. Is the right side up? Are you using the proper 1:50,000 cutout? There are also 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 cutouts on the protractor. Use the wrong one and the results are disastrous.

I also preached estimation. Troops often went in the wrong direction and travelled either too short or too long a distance. I told them that before they started they needed to make an estimate. If they knew they were going to follow a path of 5 degrees, that was almost dead north. If they knew they were going to walk 400 meters and that each grid box was 1000 meters, when they looked at their first leg the line they drew had better be almost straight up and about half way through a grid. If it was anything else, they needed to do the math and draw the route again.

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Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets

Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets was a 1968 publication on the creation and distribution of propaganda in Vietnam. It was produced by the Field Development Division and the Office of Policy, Plans, and Research of the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO). The 62 page illustrated booklet was written by Monta Osborne with illustrations added by Phil Katz. Monta L. Osborne was the Chief of Field Development Division in Saigon in charge of the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program during the Vietnam War. The booklet was issued to Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MACV) to be issued to field PSYOP personnel. Also offered to Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) and additional copies printed for all new PSYOP officers and civilians assigned to Vietnam. The booklet depicts a map on page 18 and says:

Maps are useful to show the Viet Cong where to rally or how to reach a Chieu Hoi Center or District Chieu Hoi Office. They are useful to designate and identify zones that civilians are required to evacuate, streams or coastal areas which fishermen must not frequent during specified hours, free fire zones, bases or camp areas that must be avoided, or areas to which curfew regulations apply.

But maps are useless if the target audience cannot read them. The best maps for PSYOP purposes include building that the recipients know, or easily distinguished streams or mountains.

Another Cartoon beating up Second Lieutenants

In this article we have shown just a few of the dozens of cartoons making fun of those Second Lieutenants. This is another. Two LTs have walked their men into the middle of a rice paddy in Vietnam and are now arguing over which way to go next. One says East, the other says west. Two of the enlisted men are betting on the winner. One points out that Lieutenant Hall has been a commissioned officer longer and in theory is higher ranking, but also points out that the other officer is a "ring knocker." That is a derogatory term for a West Point graduate who makes sure everyone knows where he graduated by showing off his ring prominently. The other soldier bets that the ring knocker will win the argument. This is really an inside military joke, but I think even civilians can understand the humor of it.

I mentioned this to my buddy Major Ed Rouse, and he told me about his experience:

My one experience with a "ring knocker" was when I was the adjutant for the 1st PSYOP Battalion. I had a West Pointer Captain report to duty. I was looking at the TO&E as to what vacancies he could be assigned when I hear "knock, knock." He was knocking his damn West Point ring on my desk. Now I had heard the term "ring knocker" but I had never witnessed it.

I looked up from my papers and asked him: "Are you a West Pointer?"

Leaning back in his chair he smiled and replied: "Why yes, I am!"

I looked at him and said: "Well, by the way you are sitting there I would have pegged you for an Irish Setter."

I never had a problem with ring knockers, but some 2nd Lieutenants were tough to deal with. As a Sergeant Major at the right hand of the Commander, I was sometimes asked to find some work for the new officers as kind of a test. I remember asking one if he knew the alphabet. He admitted that he did, so I pointed to a pile of about 200 personnel folders and asked him the file them alphabetically.

Another new graduate came in and I gave him a simple job, to write a short letter. Military letters are very strict about form, and they must be perfect and correct before you send them upstairs. I found about five errors. I red-penciled them and asked him to do it again. This time three errors. I did the same thing and he brought me a third letter with some new errors. I then found some simple job for him to do and wrote the letter myself. This is not to berate young officers. They were often good guys and very intelligent, but the style of Army is strict and precise, and at one time I taught a course on Army Regulation 25-50 – Preparing and Managing Correspondence, and Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-67 – Effective Writing for Army Leaders, so the paperwork had to be perfect, or the career of a young officer could be harmed.

One young lieutenant came in and told me in confidence that he was a card-carrying Ninja from some school in the woods of Indiana. I liked the kid and wanted to help him so told him, "Never mention that to anyone again…ever!" Later he wrote a very informal letter to some general and I was aghast. As I said above, there is a specific format for such letters. I told him that he was never to mail any military letter without my looking at it first. It was more work for me, but I wanted to mentor the kid before he got himself in trouble.

Leaflet 137-66

This early map leaflet was prepared before the PSYOP companies were sent to Vietnam. It was created by the I Corps PSYWAR and Civil Affairs Center in 1966. Later the 244th PSYOP Company, and then the 7th PSYOP Battalion, would print leaflets for the I Corps Tactical Zone in the far north of the country. This leaflet is the standard size in Vietnam which is 6 x 3-inches. The standard Vietnam leaflet provided a better and more accurate spread over the target. The stains on the leaflet were caused by glue used 50+ years ago to paste the leaflets into a leaflet catalog. The text on the front above the map is:


The text on the back is:

If you want to:

Quit the hard life in the National Liberation Front.
Escape from dishonest and useless death.
Be united with your father, mother, children, and relatives.
Have a good opportunity to restore your future life.


The country and the people of Vietnam are waiting for you to return. The South Vietnamese government will reserve a suitable reward for you if you return to the Government of Vietnam with any type of Viet Cong weapon. The Chieu Hoi centers have opened their doors to welcome and help you as far as health, clothes, and medicine are concerned and will try and help you unite with your family. You should consider this offer and not pass up a good opportunity. The military and civilians in South Vietnam affectionally send you this map to guide your return to freedom, democracy, and happiness.

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You Should be Aware that…

During the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese Army hid in Cambodia believing that since it had declared itself neutral, they would find sanctuary there from American forces. This American leaflet coded T-1-SPC depicts a map of the Cambodian sanctuary and warns the North Vietnamese troops and workers that their days of peaceful rest and relaxation are over. The text is:

We are determined to put an end to the communist sanctuaries and restore sovereignty and neutrality to the Cambodian people.

The back is all text and says in part:


On 1 May 1970, at 0900 hours Indo-China time, the President of the United States called the Free World’s attention to North Vietnam’s violation of Cambodia’s sovereignty and neutrality.

President Nixon stated: “Cambodia, a small county of seven million people, has been a neutral nation since the Geneva Agreement of 1954. This agreement was signed by the Government of North Vietnam.

“North Vietnam has stripped away all pretense of respecting the sovereignty and neutrality of Cambodia. Thousands of their soldiers are invading the country from sanctuaries; they are encircling the capitol of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has sent out a call for assistance.”

President Nixon further asserted: “We will not allow our men to be killed by an enemy in privileged sanctuaries…American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters of the entire communist military operation…Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and their military supplies destroyed, we will withdraw.”

For the aforementioned reason we are determined to put an end to the communist sanctuaries and restore sovereignty and neutrality to the Cambodian people.

Several other leaflets in this series depict the same map of the Vietnamese sanctuary in Cambodia, but with different text on the front and the back. They are coded 3802 and 3808. The short messages on the fronts of the two are:

3802: Your former hiding places have become battlefields strewn with the bodies of your dead and wounded.

3808: No longer can you use Cambodian territory as a place for you to rest and receive supplies.

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To All North Vietnamese Soldiers in Laos

The North Vietnamese Army also hid in neutral Laos as they worked their way down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In this map leaflet coded T-20 the North Vietnamese soldiers are told that they can escape to a safe area and where they can find a useful and peaceful life. The Vietnamese language text on the front below the map is:

You will be safe in the dark areas in Laos. To reach it you can follow Route 9 going toward the setting sun or you can follow the Se Bang Hieng River walking in the direction the water flows. Avoid people until you reach the safe area.

The back of the leaflet has text in Both Lao and Vietnamese. The Vietnamese text is:

To All North Vietnamese Soldiers in Laos

You are offered the chance to escape death and live in peace and safety for the duration. The Royal Lao Government and people will welcome you and treat you as a brother.

Commander in Chief
Lao National Armed Forces

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Leaflet 1438

This early leaflet to Communist forces in Vietnam shows a lonely and homesick soldier at the bottom left. Above him is an owl. Vietnamese superstition says that if you hear an owl hoot at night someone will die. To the right is a map of the area. Some crossroads are circled and we assume that those are places where the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army fighter could turn himself in to Government forces. The text at the top is:

Where are you located right now? You should find your way to Hau Nghia Province.

The back of the leaflet is a standard "rewards for weapons" message showing Communist-issued pistols, rifles and automatic weapons and mentioning the price that will be paid for each.

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Leaflet 245-18-68

This leaflet was prepared by the 245th PSYOP Company at Nha Trang in 1968. 200,000 copies were requested by the 1st Cavalry Division to inform soldiers of the enemy 18th North Vietnamese Army Regiment how to defect. The front depicts a map with several position marked with an “X.” There is a long propaganda message on the back that says in part:

Rally on the 18th of July, the “Special Rallying Day” for the valiant men of the Quyet Thang Regiment.

Now is the time to walk away from the misery and slaughter. Now is the time to join the masses of people who reject communism. They will welcome you as a Hoi Chanh. Your families need you alive!

The 1st Air Cavalry Division opens the door to freedom on July 18. 1st Cavalry troops will not fire unless fired upon from daylight to sunset. Come to the points marked on the map. Yellow smoke will mark rally points for 5 minutes every half-hour. Listen to the loudspeaker telling you which direction to go…

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Leaflet 6-830-69

The 1969 tactical leaflet was produced by the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Bien Hoa and targeted the soldiers of the Dong Nai Regiment. It depicts a map on one side and the text:

Diagram showing the way to go to Rally

The other side is all text and bears the message:

To the Cadres and Soldiers of the Dong Nai Regiment

From the area where you are located, you can rally by following Route 14 (Inter-Provincial Route 1A), or you can rally to any ARVN or Allied soldiers that you might meet. Or, more easily, you can to the nearest village or hamlet and tell the village chief that you want to rally. Before you turn yourself in as a rallier, you can hide your weapons somewhere in order to avoid any possible danger to yourself. Afterwards, you can then lead ARVN or Allied forces back to get the weapons in order to collect a reward.

“Dong Nai” is the Communist name of a province that covers the general area of Bien Hoa - Long Khanh - Phuoc Tuy provinces. The 4th Viet Cong Regiment was formed in 1965 and named the “Dong Nai” Regiment because its primary operating area was in that province.

Leaflet 7-117-71

This rather crude hand-drawn 7th PSYOP Battalion map leaflet is one of the strangest I have ever seen. It basically warns local citizens to stay away from a mountain because the Americans are going to blow the top of it off and some rocks might come down. I think we can be sure some rocks will come down. The leaflet was called “Do not enter the danger area.” It was requested by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. The text on the back of the leaflet is:

Attention, people of Hoa Phu, Hoc Loc, and Hoa Thanh Village

You are requested not to go to the west side of Xuan Loc Mountain from 10 September 1971 to 1 October 1971. During this time, U.S. troops will clear this mountain with explosives. Shrapnel and broken stones may hurt you in the area up to a few kilometers in radius. Please do not enter the west side of Xuan Loc Mountain during this period.

Thank you.

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Leaflet 8(2)8-89-68

This leaflet was prepared by the 8th PSYOP Battalion in 1968. This leaflet was one selected by the Department of Defense to be evaluated for effectiveness by a test group of about 1,757 Vietnamese civilians, Hoi Chanhs (former Viet Cong who had defected) and North Vietnamese and Viet Cong prisoners of war. The leaflets were judged as very effective, moderately effective or ineffective in a publication entitled The Effectiveness of U.S. PSYOPS Leaflets: A Scale for Pretesting, published 7 January 1969. This leaflet was judged very bad, counter-effective and unintelligible. I assume the skulls were meant to frighten the enemy and the map on the back is unreadable and has no explanation. This one is a “stinker.”

Leaflet 246-20-67

Cu Chi is famous for its tunnels as the Americans found out when they fought in that area. In this case it is featured in a 246th PSYOP Company leaflet surrender leaflet. 50,000 copies were printed and distributed by air over the contested territory. The 25th U.S. Army Infantry Division requested these leaflets to entice the enemy to surrender. The text is long and says in part:

How many Viet Cong do you know that have rallied to the Government’s winning side? Over 2,000 rallied last month, over 11,000 for 1965, and over 40,000 since the Chieu Hoi program started in 1963. More and more Viet Cong rally daily than ever before because they know the Government’s word is just and true. You will be given medical care and a comfortable place to sleep away from the disease infested jungle…Go to any of the four places shown on this map and the Government authorities will welcome you. Rally now and put your mind to rest with the Government Chieu Hoi Program.

An Illustration of a typical Cu Chi Tunnel.

The JUSPAO 4-Map Series SP-1551 to 1554

This is an interesting series because the four maps featuring different views of the same general area, showing ARVN bases where any Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier can surrender and be treated well. Each of the four maps features the Rach River (now the Soai River) and National Route 15 (now National Route 51). The various ARVN bases are depicted with the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. The other three maps show the scene further west, further east, and further south. The legend at the bottom of the map shows the three major signals and identifies them as:


Meeting point where you will be accommodated.

Arrow showing the direction.

My buddy, Vietnam Veteran Chad Spawr saw my mention of this leaflet and responded:

We used something similar in III CTZ in late 1968-early 1969. I interrogated a few defectors; when asked about the map, they all said it was useless because they did not know where they were to begin with. There were all from the North. When I talked to a couple of VC defectors, they knew precisely where they were because they were local and knew the area. Mixed results. I was convinced that the map idea was not worth much after Tet 1968 because so many VC battalions were filled with Northern replacements due to huge combat losses.

Australian Forces in the Vietnam War

The Australians were allies of the United States in the Vietnam War. They produced many of their own leaflets and in other cases had American PSYOP units print their leaflets. Looking through their archives I find several Australian leaflets that feature maps as a theme.

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This Australian Task Force leaflet depicts the Long Hai hills, Route 44, Long Hai Village and shows a way that defectors can move southwest to surrender. The leaflet was produced by the 1st Psychological Operations Unit on 3 October 1970. The text is:

Follow the Arrows

The back is all text and two Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) symbols.

Do you enjoy a life of hardships and running? Are you really happy hiding in the hills and living in caves? Come and join a happy way of life. Go to the RF at Long Hai village in daylight and you will be welcomed.

This same map is depicted on leaflet 090-71 in red, but with a different text on the back.

Follow the arrows to peace and prosperity. Rally to the GVN now. Chieu Hoi.

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This leaflet depicts two ways that Viet Cong can move south to surrender. It shows the area bounded by Eastings 57-77 and Northings 61-92 showing: Xuyen Moc and Thau Tich, Nui May Taos, Province and District Borders, Major rivers, and Routes 23 and 329. The leaflet was produced by the 1st Psychological Operations Unit on 4 March 1971. The text is:

Follow the arrows

The back depicts Chieu Hoi symbols and the text:

>Rally to the just cause now. Follow the arrows to prosperity. Rally now.

Operations Desert Storm and Provide Comfort

There really were no map leaflets produced by the Coalition for Operation Desert Storm. It was thought that the raw recruits placed along the Saudi Arabian border in Kuwait would not be able to read a map and probably had no access to a compass. However, every good Muslim prays toward Mecca five times a day and they always know where Mecca (Saudi Arabia) is. So, the Coalition told them that if they wished to surrender, simply walk toward Mecca. Some of the leaflets that depicted the B-52 bomber had a message that said:

The bombing will be heavy. If you want to save yourself, leave your location and do not allow anyone to stop you. Save yourself and head toward the Saudi border, where you will be welcomed as a brother.

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French As Salman Map Leaflet

The French Coalition forces produced a leaflet for use in As Salman. It told the locals where to meet so that they could be safely removed from danger. Curiously, the French did not have permission to produce leaflets but apparently did this one item.

The front is a map of As Salman with an arrow pointing to an open area. The text is:

Peace be upon you. We are your friends. Read the instructions on the back of this leaflet. Join quietly at the gathering place that is designated by the arrow. We will come to the assembly place and we will protect you. Welcome.

The back has a U.S. and French flag at top. The text is:


We are French soldiers. France is your friend. We bring you peace and tranquility. We invite the civilian and religious authorities to meet with us at the place drawn on the map so that we can arrange their reception. Take your families and meet at the gathering place with your identity cards. We will separate the women from the men. If you have weapons, leave them in front of your door. We have doctors, medicine, food and supplies. We will treat you with respect. Once you have gathered, we will enter the city and protect and respect your belongings. You will return to your city and homes after the completion of the inspection.

You will live in peace and security under our protection.

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Danger – mines may be located off the road

Once the Persian Gulf War was over the Coalition took part in humanitarian activities. One of the major programs was trying to provide the Kurds with food and shelter. The leaflet above was printed on blue cardboard. On one side there are two drawings with text in Arabic and Kurdish depicting Kurds walking on a mountain pass. One man has wandered off the path and been killed by a mine. The text in both languages is:


The map side of the leaflet depicts the roads that lead to safety and where the Kurds can find gas, water, food or medical care. Besides the identification of the villages and supply points, there is one sentence of text at the bottom:


There is a very rare second map leaflet on white cardboard that shows safe roads and indicate in English, Arabic and Kurdish; foot movement, vehicle movement, towns, way station, emergency helicopter landing zones and a French hospital.

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The War against the Islamic State

The United States began fighting the Islamic State about 2014. The Islamic movement made great gains at first and gradually the United States escalated its attacks. In 2015, the U.S. began bombing oil centers and trucks carrying the oil that was sold to finance the ISIS organization. The targets included well heads, oil collection points, trucks and the distribution network. The air campaign was named Tidal Wave II, after the World War II air bombing campaign aimed at destroying refineries in Romania to cut off oil for the Axis powers.

This Coalition warning leaflet coded LF02 depicted a map of eastern Syria and the major roads and smuggling routes and implied that the U.S. fighter-bombers knew the terrain and the secret roads and that if any smuggler chose to ignore the U.S.-led Coalition's warning, they would be destroyed. "DAESH" is a derogatory term for ISIS. The text on the leaflet is:

Warning! Tankers and oilfield equipment that are used to support DAESH will be targeted by Coalition forces. Fuel tanker drivers and other workers at DAESH's oil refineries will be in danger and be a target for Coalition forces.

DAESH's oilfield operations are funding terrorism and repressing people. Coalition forces will continue to attack all of DAESH's oil refineries until the group is defeated. All must stay away from these refineries because Coalition forces are keeping up air attacks on DAESH and its oil refineries.

This ends our short look at training soldiers in the proper use of the map and the map as a psychological operations theme. With today’s global positioning satellites and Internet sites such as it is easy to forget that in the old days a solitary soldier with a map and compass was expected to be able to find his way to any point selected by his superiors. It was far more complicated than most people realize; especially when the soldier did not know his starting point and had to shoot back-azimuths from various points just to locate his position before he could go any further. I hope the reader has enjoyed my anecdotes. I enjoyed telling them.

Readers who would like to discuss any aspect of this article are encouraged to write the author at