Book's Crosshairs on WWII Former GI Recounts the Little Known Actions of Military Intelligence

By Meltzer, Erica | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 14, 2005 | Go to article overview

Book's Crosshairs on WWII Former GI Recounts the Little Known Actions of Military Intelligence


Meltzer, Erica, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Erica Meltzer Daily Herald Staff Writer

There have been many movies and many books about World War II, but the work of the military intelligence teams remains little known. Karl Abt of Rolling Meadows has set out to rectify that situation with a book about his own service in that war.

His book, "A Few Who Made A Difference: The World War II Teams of the Military Intelligence Service" recounts the experiences of Abt and his fellow intelligence service team members in the last year of the war.

"I just wrote it to record what happened," he said.

The military intelligence teams landed in August of 1944, in the wake of the D-Day invasion of June 1944, and followed the Allied forces as they advanced through France and into German territory.

Their job was to review captured documents and interview prisoners in search of strategically important information.

Abt chose the title because there were just 558 interrogators out of an array of roughly 400,000 American troops along the front with Germany.

The advice of the military intelligence personnel wasn't always heeded, as Abt's book notes. In December 1944, the Allied advance stalled. Because they had bombed the port facilities so fiercely earlier in the war, the Allies couldn't bring in supplies fast enough to support the advancing troops. As the Allied advance slowed, the Germans massed for a last counteroffensive. Interrogations with captured soldiers revealed the Germans were massing troops and supplies along the front, but the generals believed the Germans were too weak for a major assault.

The Germans attacked Dec. 16, 1944, in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, for the indentation the Germans made in the Allied lines. Fierce winter weather, which kept Allied planes from the skies for 10 days, gave the Germans an added advantage.

Abt remembers returning from a courier run to take reports to headquarters and hearing cannon fire. The counteroffensive the intelligence teams predicted had started.

Officially known as the Ardennes Campaign, more American soldiers died during that battle than in the Normandy Invasion.

The book recounts happier times as well, such as dances with local girls and visits with families who opened their homes to American soldiers. …

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