Ritchie Boy Secrets
How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II
Beverly Driver Eddy
Stackpole Books, Guilford, Connecticut, 2021, 440 pages
Book Review published on: July 8, 2022
If anyone has been hesitant to read a book about diversity, then Ritchie Boy Secrets: How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II is ideal. This book tells the story of a World War II secret intelligence training program that recruited immigrants, refugees, and others who had language and cultural skills of areas of the world that were of vital interest to the United States during World War II. The book captures the essence of those contributions and how they gave the United States both tactical and strategic advantages in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation.
In 1942, the U.S. Army began identifying and bringing these recruits to a traditional vacation resort spot near the Maryland–Pennsylvania border that became known as Camp Ritchie. These soon-to-be intelligence agents included domestic and international people from more than thirty-two different countries along with Native Americans, and eventually more than two hundred women from the Women’s Army Corps. These people were trained in multiple intelligence disciplines that included photo interpretation, terrain analysis, POW interrogation, espionage, counterintelligence, signal intelligence (including homing pigeons), map making, intelligence gathering, and close combat.
The book contains twenty-one chapters that start with the chronology of the camp and its early program. It proceeds to explain the basics of the program of instruction in the various intelligence areas, then covers some of the recorded exploits of graduates in both the European and Pacific theaters o operation. The book concludes with post-World War II contributions in the aftermath of the surrender of Germany and Japan and the agents’ contributions to the prosecution of war crimes and intelligence support to nation rebuilding.
This book if informative as well as interesting. The author, Beverly Driver Eddy, has collected extensive records, photographs, and interviews with Camp Ritchie graduates and family members and provided all the citations necessary. It is laid out in a chronological sequence that is easy to follow and understand by the military or civilian reader. The book offers extraordinary insight into a little-known, previously classified program that also came to light in a recent 60 Minutes episode. Not only did this group of diverse men and women make immeasurable contributions to the war effort but they also helped lay the groundwork for modern day U.S. intelligence programs.
I recommend this book to those interested in World War II history, especially in areas of intelligence training, and the appreciation of capitalizing on diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.
Book Review written by: Lt. Col. George Hodge, U.S. Army, Retired, Olathe, Kansas