Battle of the Bulge - Bradley Detained

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Cancerkitty, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Cancerkitty

    Cancerkitty Member

    I've heard here and there that during the Battle of the Bulge, when German soldiers were attempting to infiltrate the Allied forces to cause confusion, MPs detained General Omar Bradley because he 'incorrectly' gave the answer of Springfield as the capital of Illinois instead of the 'correct' answer, Chicago.

    It sounds like an apocraphal story, can anyone confirm or deny this?
  2. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    Code named Operation Griffin (Fall Greif), this was Otto Skorzeny's 150th Panzerbrigade. During the Ardennes Offensive, these German soldiers passed through American lines dressed in American uniforms and driving American vehicles. Many were captured and executed by firing squad.

    One of the surviviors, Sgt. Heinz Rohde, gave a personal account of his experiences in Piekalkiewicz's book, Secret Agents, Spies, and Saboteurs.

    They did cause confusion by shooting couriers, firing fuel depots, erecting barriers, and delivering false orders. At one point they cut the telegraph wires connecting the headquarters of generals Bradley and Hodges.

    After the balloon went up, scores of MPs and CIC officers were on the roads stopping all sorts of people. One American officer, who wore German boots, spent several days in solitary confinement.

    There is no mention of detaining Bradley that I can find.

  3. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    I found this on a website. Supposedly, it is a quote from Gen. Omar Bradley.

    English-speaking Germans in captured American uniforms had infiltrated our lines in a brash attempt to panic our rear areas. Volunteers were selected and trained by the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny, the airborne privateer who the year before had snatched Mussolini out of the Italian hotel in which he had been imprisoned following his fall from power. Most of these GI-uniformed enemy troops were cut down before they reached the Meuse but not until a half-million GI's played cat and mouse with each other each time they met on the road. Neither rank nor credentials nor protests spared the traveler an inquisition at each intersection he passed.

    Three times I was ordered to prove my identity by cautious GI's. The first time by identifying Springfield as the capital of Illinois (my questioner held out for Chicago); the second time by locating the guard between the center and tackle on a line of scrimmage; the third time by naming the then current spouse of a blonde named Betty Grable.
    Grable stopped me but the sentry did not. Pleased at having stumped me, he nevertheless passed me on.
    ~General Omar Bradley

  4. Steen Ammentorp

    Steen Ammentorp Senior Member

    Just to clarify. This is Bradley's words though not completely correct quoted.

    See his book: A Soldier's Story. New York : Henry Holt & Company, 1951. p. 467-469. (Page 468 shows a map, so it is not much longer).
  5. Cancerkitty

    Cancerkitty Member

    Huh, so there's some truth to it. I'm surprised. Thanks guys!
  6. spidge


    Just for those that are not aware, Springfield is the capital of Illinois, not Chicago.

    Another few lines relating to this:

    In December 1944 Adolf Hitler sent his favorite and most daring commander, Maj. Otto Skorzeny, on secret mission deep within Allied territory. Skorzeny was accompanied by 500 men from the 150th Panzer Brigade. They were wearing American and British uniforms, all of them spoke English and many of them had spent time in Britain or the United States. They also had control of twenty Sherman tanks and thirty trucks. Their mission was to spread rumors, change signposts, and generally spread panic among the troops. Their mission coincided with the German counteroffensive that became The Battle of the Bulge, so not only would the Allies have to deal with armed Germans attacking them from the front, but also worry that the man next to him might be a Nazi in disguise.
    Once it was known the German battalion was behind the lines, the word traveled fast - trust no one. Soon a rumor was started saying that the main mission of Operation Greif was to assassinate Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and panic set in. Ike's movements were restricted and was constantly surrounded by a cadre of bodyguards. The soldiers also spent an inordinate amount of time checking up on each other, the GIs questioned everyone, right up to Gen. Omar Bradley. Questions that could only be answered by a "real" American. Who plays center field for the Yankees? Who is Mickey Mouse's wife? What is the capital of Illinois? General Bradley was detained for answering Springfield for the last question; the soldier who stopped him insisted it was Chicago. Another general was arrested because he said the Chicago Cubs played in the American League.
    The "Greifers," as they came to be known, had undergone months of training in order to properly act like American soldiers, but many were captured after inadvertently tripping up. One entire Jeep of undercover agents was captured at a gas station when the driver asked for "Petrol, please" instead of asking for "gas." Another German officer was captured because his forged identification card was too good. All American servicemen carried an ID card that said "Not a Pass - For Indentification Only." The German forger had spelled "identification" correctly on the fake card, and ended up costing the captured officer his life.
    For all of the problems caused by the members of Operation Greif, they were unable to stop the Americans. As the bulge was pushed back, the Greifers fled to Germany with the rest of their retreating comrades. Hitler awarded Otto Skorzeny the Iron Cross for his efforts in leading the operation.
  7. polsky78

    polsky78 Junior Member

    Q;did bradley (or patton) send in a platoon of black G.Is to ferret out the griefers?

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