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The Ghost Army: The Real Heroes

Lately, we, at threeminutes, have been reading a lot about strategies deployed on the battlefield. Like, a lot! But we are not to be blamed here. The kind of planning and strategy you can find on the battlefields is quite unmatched.

To make this claim of ours more believable, we got you a story today –A story about the ghost army!

This story goes back to the times of World War 2 where for those you can’t recall, we had two sides –Allied Powers (US, Great Britain, China and USSR) and Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan primarily).

Some background now.

It is 1944. Both the sides are actively preparing for an attack on the enemy to declare themselves the supreme power. USSR has been trying to attack Germans from the Far East but got no victory, Britain has been fighting for their lives literally and for the US, we saw mixed success. Now, in those times, like anyone else, Germans were expecting an invasion by the Allied powers and thus, had heavily fortified borders.

Enter Operation Fortitude.

Operation Fortitude was a deception operation that was conducted by the US. Now, like any typical movie, you would imagine how deception works? Feed the wrong information to the opponents but make it sound true. Give them an illusion, let them prepare for that and then surprise them with the real plan. It is majorly “act before they can react” philosophy.

Back to the story, amidst of this anticipation, Germans who were constantly trying to track the radio channels of the opponents heard signals from British and English Channels. From what they heard, it seemed like a huge attack was coming for them. But, in reality, it was all staged by the US. The deception was aimed to create an illusion of an omnipresent army, diverting the attention of Germans from the real ones. The radio communication alerted the German Army. In response to this crucial info that Germans ‘believed’ they cracked, they sent aeroplanes across the territory to gauge the army strength of opponents and to their surprise, saw tanks lined up on the English Channel.

In fact, they were constantly sending the aircraft to get updates on the enemy’s movement post this incident.

Ready for a surprise? During one such inspection, a steady wind blew and one of the tankers rose up in the air (went unnoticed by the Germans!). This is hilarious, no? Not if the tanks were not real tanks! These tanks, lined up on the English coats and deployed elsewhere, were inflatable tanks, which looked like real ones. Adding to that, the huge army that Germans were reporting was actually a group of 1100 artists recruited from cinema, ad agencies, designing and other creative walks of life. To stage such a real looking battlefield, sounds were equally important. Inflatable tanks don’t really make scary real sounds and a team of 1100 soldiers cannot be as noisy as tens of thousands. Worry not, US got that covered. Sound engineers were working from the US, mixing sounds in real-time and it was being played on huge speakers on the battlefield, sounds which could be heard up to 15 miles. Crazy, right?

The funny thing is that one of the biggest invasions of history was not really an invasion really. But this doesn’t mean that there was no invasion at all. Real soldiers were coming, just not from where the Germans were looking. Meanwhile, the real army reaches and take down the Germans, the ghost army was just given one task: MAKE THE GERMANS BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE FACING A MUCH BIGGER ATTACK. And these guys did their jobs pretty well. They staged their conversations and actions to suggest a big threat and constantly were changing their costumes and batches to show that many different units have entered the territory (though they were just counting the same person again and again) and confuse the Germans about the real location of each troop. These guys often went to French cafes and passed on wrong information, shared secrets with pretty waitresses and started rumours, aware that German spies were listening and hunting. They talked about attacks at locations far away from the real location so as to break down the strength of the German Army at the time of the real attack. This is achieved by another tactic they used, SPOOF RADIO!

As the name suggests, Spoof radio was being used to pass on wrong information about the troop movements, the battles which were never being fought and a lot more. This induced wrong actions by Germany Army, confusing them and providing Allied powers with an opportunity to act before Germans can react.

If it hasn’t been the Ghost Army, the real army couldn’t have entered the heart of Germany and a lot of them would have been attacked and killed at the highly fortified Rhine River.

So, these are the ones who we know the Ghost Army, the real heroes of the war who fought with rubber tanks!

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