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Walter Paul Manser

2LT in 3132nd Signal Service Co : T&M Platoon


Born 1919 in IL, Died 2010

County of residence at enlistment: DeKalb County, IL
Other residence(s): Squaw Grove Township, IL;  Hinckley, IL; Janesville, WI
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: shipping and receiving clerks
Notes: "The Pod"; talented modest guy; achieved rank of MAJ in Army Reserves after the war
Source: 3132 Caption List; Al Albrecht; ; Post War Sonic List from Bill Anderson; 3132 Pine Camp Photo Names; photo (of Manser in helmet) courtesy Heather Collins Mendigorin from the collection of Ralston Barrett Collins

Walter Manser was born on August 2, 1919 in Squaw Grove Township, IL, the second of four children born to a farm family. He grew up in the Hinckley, IL area and graduated from Hinckley Community High School in 1937.

When he registered for the draft, on October 16, 1940, he was working as a laborer at All Steel Equipment in Aurora, IL. He enlisted a year later, on November 26, 1941, at which time he was working as a shipping/receiving clerk. His first assignment in the Army was to attend radio electrician school at Fort Knox in the early months of 1942.

Walter married Shirley Hazel Holmes on July 1, 1943. By that time he had achieved the rank of LT and was stationed in Asbury Park, NJ, where Shirley joined him after the wedding. So he must have attended Officer Candidate School during the prior year.

Walter and Shirley had their first child, Kathlene, at about the same time as he headed overseas with the 3132 Signal Service Co. According to fellow 3132 veteran, Al Albrecht, Walter was “a fantastic man” who had worked on recording the sounds that the 3132nd would later use. A 2004 article in Cabinet magazine goes into more detail: “Electronics geek Walter Manser was hired to record a custom library of sound effects. For three weeks, he directed tanks and cars to start, stop, idle, approach, retreat, drive over bridges and up and down hills, while he recorded the sounds onto glass disks in a portable studio set up in the back of a van. Building an exhaustive audio catalogue of military activity, he recorded soldiers’ voices, bulldozers, the racket of bridge construction, and every sound that might be of use in a deceptive operation. Learning that the Japanese peasant infantry superstitiously associated the sound of barking dogs with impending death, Manser had his men round up and record packs of noisy canines, whose barking and yapping he embedded in ambient sounds recorded in the Panamanian rainforest.”

After he returned from Europe, he and Shirley and Kathlene (and eventually two more daughters: Kay and Karen) settled in Hinckley where he owned and operated Manser Appliance. He ran the business there until 1955, when he moved his family and his business to Janesville, WI, about 85 miles north of Hinckley. There he operated Manser's GE Appliance Store for many years.

Walter stayed active with the military in the Army Reserves, where he achieved the rank of MAJ. He was also a 50-year member of the American Legion.

In Hinckley he was a member of the Hinckley Commerce Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Churchmen's Brotherhood at St. Paul's Evangelical Church.

Walter was a fisherman and a deer hunter, and enjoyed taking his daughters camping and fishing on summer weekends. He also enjoyed photography, and later traveling in the southern US with Shirley.

Walter died on March 17, 2010 and is buried at West Big Rock Cemetery in Big Rock, IL.


1920 census

1930 census

1940 draft card

1941 Aurora, IL city directory

1941 enlistment record

1942 article in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL); he is at Fort Knox

1942 article in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL); he has been transferred to Texas

1943 marriage record

1943 article in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL); he is now a LT

1949 photo in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL); he is in Army Reserve

1950 census

1950 article in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL) re his membership in the Chamber of Commerce

1954 article in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle (IL) re his participation in Churchmen's Brotherhood

1955 article in the Janesville Daily Gazette (WI) about his new appliance store there

1955 ad in the Janesville Daily Gazette (WI) for his new business

1960 Janesville, WI city directory

1967 article in the Janesville Daily Gazette (WI) re his Army Reserve assignment

1973 Wisconsin employment records

1981-84 US Public Records Index

1993 article in the Janesville Gazette (WI) re his 50th wedding anniversary

2001 article in the Janesville Gazette (WI) re his 45 years in American Legion

2004 article in Cabinet magazine about Ghost Army sound deception

2010 Find a Grave record (includes obituary)

2010 Social Security death index

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