By Dennis Dufrene, TopSecretWriters.com
Every General knows that to win a war, it takes more than just overpowering the opponent. It takes a streak of cleverness; especially when dealing with someone as war savvy as Adolf Hitler.
However, Patton had a plan. That plan was to create a unit that the U.S. army had never seen before. A unit, only 1,000 strong, whose main talents relied less on traditional combat skills and more on art, design, and radio engineering. The unit was officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, but was commonly referred to as the Ghost Army.
The ghost army was skilled in the ways of deception. Overnight, they could transform any empty farm into a U.S. military camp that appeared to be 40,000 soldiers strong and that included tanks, planes, and jeeps.
These instant camps, of course, would gain the attention of the Germans. However, what the Germans did not realize at the time was that the entire base was a farce. All of the equipment that was being captured by German recon was nothing more than full scale inflatable dummies.
The sounds of the base were nothing more than records being played to simulate the sounds of an active base. Even the radio chatter was staged. All of this deception was to lure the Germans’ attention away from actual U.S. Army units.
Yet, to pull this deception off successfully, it took complete coordination between the four subunits that made up the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops: 603rd Camouflage Engineers, 3132 Signal Company, The Signal Company Special and the 406th Combat Engineers.
One of the Largest Subunits
The 603rd Camouflage Engineers was the largest of the four subunits and was responsible for all of the visual tactics deployed during a battlefield deception. It was these men that created the life-sized inflatable tanks, planes, and other faux army equipment that was inflated by air compressors.
The 603rd was not only responsible for fake equipment; they were also responsible for fake structures. They would create motor pools and bivouac sites. One ingenious method the 603rd would use is that they would create these sites, but then camouflage them “imperfectly so that enemy air reconnaissance could see them.” (1)
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