Source: Der Spiegel Online, article “Aufmarsch der Gummiarmee” by Christoph Gunkel (20.4.2010) Originally sent to me and translated by Muff99 (EU server), thank you Video: (English) http://www.spiegel.de/video/video-1061212.html After D-Day, a top-secret U.S. special unit went to war without any protection but inflatable tanks and trucks to lay traps for the Wehrmacht. Even today this “ghost army” is still a mystery: Did they rescue tens of thousands of lives – or did they fool their own troops? The two French civilians could not believe their eyes. In September 1944, they were stopped by U.S. soldiers at the border to Luxembourg. The GIs asked suspiciously what they wanted here, but the French hardly listened. For what they saw behind the patrol, left them speechless: Four U.S. soldiers walked towards a Sherman tank, bent down, lifted the tank effortles, turned it around and put it down again. Those Americans had neither used magic portions nor superhuman powers – the tank did not weigh more than 40 kilograms, since the “iron beast” was entirely made of rubber. The french civilians had accidently caught a top secret U.S. unit at work – the “23 Headquarters Special Troops.” This unusual unit was internally called “The Ghost Army” or “The Rubber Army”, since almost everything was inflatable: Artillery, planes, tanks, jeeps, trucks. The “ghost army” was meant to fool the Germans in believing that their 1100 soldiers looked more 30,000. This was one of the almost completely hidden attempts to win battles without firing a single shot. Hours of tank inflating “Never, under any circumstances, should we lift a tank and carry it over the street”, says Jack Masey under a laughter. “That could have given us away.” The now 85-year veteran from New York was responsible for the maintenance of the rubber arsenal – knowing that this rule was ignored quiote often. “For every maneuvers we had to let out the air, to pack everything into backpacks and inflate them again elsewhere.” Too laborious, too time-consuming – especially when there was no compressor available. Sometimes, as reported by Masey, the soldiers had to use bike pumps or use their lungs for hours to re-inflate the tanks. What sounds like Hollywood was the way of World War II, which was also a battle of the intelligence services. Misleading messages, false trails and manipulated documents were used by all sides alike. In May 1940 the Germans successfully hid the fact that their focus of attack was on France – this way winning the campaign against France, breaking through the front near Sedan. The British in turn duped General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, being a master of feints himself. They disguised tanks as trucks and trucks as tanks or deceived the german aerial reconnaissance with decoys of airfields. Before the D-Day 1944 the British emlated whole nion-existing divisions by using extensive radio communications. This legendary “Operation Fortitude” was one of the reasons rwhy the Wehrmacht believed that the invasion would take place at Pas-de-Calais – and not in the Normandy. In war, truth needa “a bodyguard of lies” as Winston Churchill remarked proudly after this coup. To date, however, its almost unknown to the public that the U.S. Army operated by such methods even months after D-Day. The “ghost army” was so secret that many veterans didnt want to talk about it for decades. Official U.S. documents were not released until the mid-nineties, and literature on the subject is rare. Army of artists Fascinated by the incredible history of this forgotten tale, the Americans Rick Beyer is researching witnesses and documents for over two years now. He wants to make a documentary about this army, that fought by peaceful methods – and possibly saved the lives of 40,000 soldiers by deceiving the Wehrmacht and prevented them from attacking …. according to U.S. journalist Jack Kneecem, who published this estimates in his book “Ghost Army of World War II”. Historian John Zimmermann of the Military History Research Institute in Potsdam has serious doubts with those: “The German war reports did not contain any indications that the Wehrmacht knew something of such an army or the ghost army had an impact on German war effort.” Was the camouflage a little too perfect? Were the maneuvers ultimately ineffective? This remains unknown: By the end of 1944, the germans were almost unable to fly aerial reconnaissance, argues Zimmermann. The use of dummies therefore really does not make much sense. For Jack Masey this surreal army became realty quite quickly when the army called him in in 1943 shortly after the 18-year-old was admitted to the prestigious High School for Music and Art in New York. Now the military wanted to benefit from his creativity. The “ghost army” recruited sound engineers, illustrators, photographers, actors and other creative people. Some became famous later on, like the painter Ellsworth Kelly or fashion designer Bill Blass, who bcame friends with Masey in his unit, the “603D Engineer Camouflage Battalion”. Masey made good careeer after the war, too: He designed museums and coordinated the building of pavilions at the World Expo for the U.S. government. Vulnerable to war The United States started training their first artist warriors in a conventional way, then the recruits were sent to England. The British had experience with the use of false weapons of war and finalised their training. For weeks, the soldiers not only crawled through ditches or practiced assaults – but also created harmless dummies until they looked real by a distance of 100 meters. A few weeks after D-Day, most of “ghost army” companies were shipped to France. “It was all pretty calm,” Masey reports on his arrival at the legendary Omaha Beach, where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944. “But I still was afraid. We were in the midst of war – using nothing more than inflatable weapons. And our task was to draw enemy fire on us.” For in their total of 21 operations,the “ghost army” followed the same procedure. They took the role of various divisions of the 12th U.S. Army, which really existed. In this way, scope for surprise attacks presented themselves. The false army units should keep German forces buy and distract from the true focus the maneuvers. This was a dangerous undertaking: If they would have been uncovered, the pseudo-army would be defeated instantly. Although they had several trucks and sometimes even a real tank – which left track marks as visible as possible. But the soldiers were neither battle-tested nor equipped for war. “For our defense we only had our standard rifle,” says Jack Masey. “That was all.” Too good a deception The dummy army truested their own smart weapons, which got Continue reading →

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