The Corner

A Little History After Hours

In a posting the other day entitled “God Still Loves the Big Battalions,” I put up an email in which a reader described a vast operation that had been carried out by American troops in postwar Germany. (The troops, my correspondent said, had swept through Frankfurt, collecting illegal weapons and rounding up bad guys. His point? That if we had more troops on the ground in Iraq, they’d be able to carry out similar sweeps of such places as Falluja and Basra.) Intrigued, another reader went to the history books.

Herewith an email from this second reader, which nails down the facts very smartly:

I was intrigued by this idea of half a million soldiers doing house-to-house searches in Frankfurt. What I found was that it was not limited to Frankfurt, that it was called “Operation TALLYHO”, and that it occurred on the weekend of 21 July 1945.

The best resource I have found so far is in Chapter 17 of the book “THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY: 1944-1946″ by Earl F. Ziemke, published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, available online here. [To quote:]

“As a kind of housewarming for the zone, USFET [U.S. Forces European Theater]planned and, in forty-eight hours beginning at daybreak on 21 July, executed a check and search operation code-named TALLYHO. The objectives were to check the credentials of all persons in the zone, civilian or military; to search all premises and individuals for prohibited articles, such as firearms and stolen US government property; and to search for evidence of black-marketeering. Staged in secret, to the extent that an operation employing 163,000 troops in the Western Military District alone could be kept a secret, TALLYHO apparently did at least take most Germans by surprise. It raised a fast-traveling wave of rumors: that there had been a jailbreak, that an American officer had been shot, that the Americans were making a last minute search for loot before turning the zone over to the Russians. After the surprise wore off, which took no more than four hours, the Germans became quite co-operative; and some of them began to arrange their property in neat displays, as if for ’showdown inspection.’ The search brought in 2,747 illegal small arms, 2,658 miscellaneous items of Army clothing and equipment, 340 AWOL soldiers, and evidence for 23 fraternization cases. The confiscated black-market goods amounted to 100 gallons of gasoline, 1,000 pounds each of sugar and flour, 75 pounds of coffee, 138 automobile tires, and 300 pairs of shoes, which in total, [the American forces]…concluded with not quite flawless logic, constituted ‘no evidence of an organized black market.’ Of the 83,000 Germans arrested, 77,000 were held for nothing more than improper identification papers. In the end, however, USFET believed TALLYHO was a success in that it impressed German population ‘with the serious intention of the American troops.’”

“The serious intention of the American troops.” Here’s to hoping that by this time next week certain miscreants in Iraq will have been likewise impressed.

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