The mysterious “ghost troops” in World War II

  On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces landed in Normandy, France, opening the second battlefield. A few days later, two Frenchmen rode their bicycles across the cordon of the 23rd Special Forces of the U.S. Army Command. They were stunned by the scene: they saw four U.S. soldiers lift a car for about 40%. Tons of Sherman tank. Later, one of the American soldiers, Arthur Hilston, recalled: “The French were a bit stunned. Obviously they were waiting for our statement. I finally told them that the American army is very powerful.”
  In fact, the soldiers of this special unit There is no other superhuman military power—their tanks are gas-filled tanks.
  Hillston is one of the 1,100 soldiers of the 23rd Special Forces. In January 1944, Hilston and his comrades enlisted from art academies in New York and Philadelphia with the task of fooling the German army. Their methods include arranging inflatable tanks, using 500-pound loudspeakers to play the sound of army assembly, and sending some fake wireless telegrams.
  Jack Massey was only 18 years old when he was recruited to the “Ghost Army”. When told that they would use inflatable equipment to pretend to be a team to fool the Germans, Jack thought, “I joined a rubber army.”
  From 1944 They participated in the battle at the beginning of the year to the end of World War II, and they performed a total of 20 times of “Crossing the Sea”, saving the lives of 15,000 to 30,000 American soldiers. During the war, they never showed “the true face of Lushan”, and even the other soldiers who participated in the war knew nothing about it.
  After 40 years of keeping it secret, the story of this “ghost army” first appeared in the newspapers in 1985. In 2013, the painter Hilston and 18 other soldiers of the 23rd Special Forces recounted their peculiar experience in the war in the PBS documentary “Ghost Force”.
  Rick Bell is the director of this documentary. When he first heard about this story, he was also very surprised, “I felt that he had understood it wrong, or this kind of thing might have happened once.”
  This is also the feeling of many people. Once, when Rick Bell was telling the story of the “ghost army” for the elderly, a veteran who had fought in General Patton’s Third Army questioned him because he had never heard of the “ghost army”. “. Bell patiently showed them various pictures. In the end, the old man walked up to him and said: “This is the most amazing story I have ever heard!” The
  insatiable and deceptive methods of soldiers have always been part of the history of human warfare, and the Trojan horse is perhaps the most famous example. The “Ghost Army” took this camouflage spirit to the extreme. They use a variety of technologies to perform sound and light “touring performances”, “acting” on the battlefield, designing sounds, and creating sets. Moreover, after the performance on the first day, they packed all the performance props, and then rushed to another place the next day to stage the same good show.
  In order to make up for the weak link in the Allied defense line, this unit can use inflatable tanks, and use large speakers with a loudspeaker range of 15 miles to create the illusion of a large unit assembly, plus some false wireless intelligence, which is a “scam” on the battlefield. Tried and tested.
  From the Normandy landing to the Battle of the Ardennes (Germany’s largest counterattack on the Western Front in World War II, with heavy casualties. After this battle, the Germans were no longer able to stop the advance of the Allies on the Western Front), this “ghost force” carried out a lot. A realistic “military show”.
  Their most successful performance was performed shortly before the end of World War II. At that time, the German army had retreated to the country, relying on the Rhine to resist. The U.S. Ninth Army is ready to cross the Rhine and go deep into Germany to fight. The task of the 23rd Special Force is to attract the attention of the German army and distract its defensive forces. The 23rd Special Force with only 1,100 soldiers needs to be disguised as two divisions, the 30th and 79th Divisions of the US Army, and these two divisions have a total strength of about 30,000.
  The 23rd Special Forces mixes real tanks with inflatable tanks, creating the illusion that the army is under pressure to confuse the enemy. The fake reconnaissance planes they made even fooled themselves: some American pilots tried to park the plane next to these fake planes. Their lifelike performances helped the vanguard of the Allied forces cross the Rhine smoothly, and there was almost no resistance from the Germans along the way. The German army gave up the bridgehead on the Rhine, and the “ghost troops” were also commended for this.
  Since this unit must act in secret, they often disguise themselves as other units. When on vacation in the city, their tanks will be given fake numbers or fake badges sewn on their military uniforms to avoid spies.
  The confidentiality of the mission separated them from other troops, which also provided an unusual perspective for people to understand the war. During the march, they found a bombed church in the small town of Trevière in northern France. Some of the art soldiers stopped and tried to paint the structure of the church. In Paris and Luxembourg, these art soldiers used paintbrushes to record everything they saw: charming women passing by on their bicycles, rooftop skylines and picturesque streetscapes. Bell has collected more than 500 sketches of this kind during his 8 years of shooting for the documentary, and these paintings will be exhibited at the Edward Hope Art Center in New York as the documentary is broadcast.
  ”One talked about the war,” Bell said, “People may think of frontline soldiers fought a bloody war and headquarters in strategizing generals. War brings the experience of ordinary people never seem to have been ignored.”
  ”Whether it is blown under painting Destroyed churches, or spending a frustrating Christmas after the Battle of the Ardennes, or comforting Polish orphans in the refugee camps of Verdun, these are all part of that war. I want to make these full of human touch Tell everyone the story of the war.”
  In July 1945, the “Ghost Force” returned to the United States. After Japan surrendered, this force also ended its mission on September 15, 1945 and was disbanded on the spot.
  Many people in this special force later engaged in art work, including painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly, and fashion designer Bill Blass. Before the confidential documents were declassified, the authorities did not allow them to tell their family and friends about their experiences in World War II, and there was no statement about this force in the official history of World War II. Bell said: “This incident also tells us that although it has been 70 years since the end of World War II, there are still many surprising anecdotes waiting for us to discover.”