Correcting an Error

   Credit for the 1269th Engineer Combat Battalion's support of the Alsos Mission at the German atomic research center in Haigerloch has been wrongly attributed by some authors to the 1279th ECB, a battalion which served in the Southwest Pacific.

   That error was initiated by General Leslie R. Groves in his prestigious book Now It Can Be Told (1962). Other publications which copied that error include The Hunt for German Scientists (1967) by Michael Bar-Zahar; The German Atomic Bomb (1969) by David Irving; A History of the War Department Scientific Intelligence Mission (Alsos) (1981) a Ph.D. thesis by Leo J. Mahoney; British Intelligence in the Second World War (1984) by F.H. Hinsley, et al. and Time Bomb (1986) by Malcom C. MacPherson.

   Books which have correctly cited the 1269th ECB for its action at Haigerloch include The Alsos Mission (1969) by Col. Boris T. Pash, and The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany (1985) by Alfred M. Beck, et al., of the U. S. Army's Center of Military History.

   A letter I wrote to the office of Military History of the Department of the Army brought a response from Edward J. Drea, Chief of the Staff Support Branch (5 Oct. 1988) stating that the 1279th ECB "served in the Southwest Pacific theater under General Douglas MacArthur." Commenting on the error in General Groves' book, Mr. Drea stated: "Most likely this was a simple typographical error for the 1269th Combat Engineer Battalion that everyone missed. Our conjecture is that subsequent authors and historians relied on the Groves account and perpetuated the error."

William H. Allison