The Ghost Army, also called 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, was a United States Army tactical deception unit during World War II. This unit consists of 1100 men and its mission was to deceive and mislead Hitler's forces. It was activated on January 20, 1944. Later in May, it arrived in Europe shortly before D-Day. When the war ended, it went back to the United States in July 1945. It carried out over twenty deception campaigns during its tenure, putting on a "travelling road show” and used inflatable tanks, sound trucks, fake radio transmissions, scripts and pretence. Until the misclassification in 1996, they kept their story a secret after the war for over fifty years. Unit members got Congressional Gold Medal in February 2022 for their top-quality distinguished service.
History And Deployment of Ghost Army:
Ralph Ingersoll and Billy Harris, the army planners of the United States, created the Ghost Army. While the unit's leader was Colonel Harry L. Leeder, the British units inspired the unit. It also had been honed the deception technique for Operation Bertram by these units at the end of 1942 during the El Alamein battle.
The Ghost Army was formed completely at Camp Pine, New York (now Fort Drum) before sailing for the UK in May 1944. And, it had its barracks at Camp Forrest, Tennessee. Their location was near Stratford upon Avon in Britain. Troops joined Operation Fortitude.
After fourteen days of D-Day, a few troops went to Normandy. Once they reached there, they simulated a Mulberry harbour at night with lights. Their plan was to draw German artillery from the actual ones. Later, all the members of the unit helped to tie up the German defenders of Brest. So, they stimulated a very large force.
Allied armies moved east. Therefore, the unit also did this and was based in Luxembourg. The unit engaged from this place in deceptions of the Ruhr river crossings, located along the Maginot Line, Hürtgen Forest. At last, they crossed the Rhine with the intention of drawing German soldiers away from the actual sites.
The intention was to give encouragement to the Ghost troops so that they could mislead, deceive, & befuddle the German Army by using their talent. Several soldiers were from advertising agencies, art schools, & other occupations which have encouraged soldiers with creative thinking. The unit's members had been actors, artists, architects, set designers, engineers and lawyers in civilian life.
While the team had only 1,100 soldiers, the contingent used equipment like dummy tanks & artillery, fake aircraft, and giant speakers. With the help of these speakers, they broadcasted artillery & men's sounds so that Germans thought it was a two-division 30,000-man force. This unit comprised 603rd Camouflage Engineers, 406th Combat Engineers to handle security, the 3132 Signal Service Company Special, and the Signal Company Special.
What Are The Tactics Used By The Ghost Army Unit?
This arm was the 603rd Camouflage Engineers. There were inflatable tanks, cannons, jeeps, trucks, and aeroplanes. After that, they camouflage imperfectly to let the enemy aerial reconnaissance see them. They were able to make dummy airfields, motor pools, artillery batteries, troop bivouacs, and tank formations in some hours.
The unit had several men who were artists by profession. They were recruited from New York and Philadelphia art schools. Ghost Army was like an incubator for young artists, and they were the ones who sketched & painted their route through Europe. Many of them went on so that they could have a major impact on art in the postwar US. A few names of artists who served in the 603rd were Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, wildlife artist Arthur Singer, and Art Kane.
It was handled by the 3132 Signal Service Company Special. The team from 3132 was aided by engineers from Bell Labs. Then, it moved to Fort Knox for recording the sounds of armoured & infantry units onto the sound effects records which they brought to Europe. For every deception, they needed to mix sounds with the scenario in that way the enemy could believe. State-of-the-art wire recorders were used to record the program. After that, it was played back using strong amplifiers & speakers. In that case, you need to know that a state-of-the-art wire recorder is a predecessor to the tape recorder. It was possible to hear sounds 15 miles (24 km) away.
We know this as"Spoof radio" that the Signal Company handled. It was the Special Operators who created traffic nets to impersonate their operators from real units. Every Morse Code operator follows an individual sending style. The operators of the Signal Company copied the style of a departed operator to prevent the enemy from detecting the actual unit.
With the intention of complementing existing techniques, Ghost Army employed theatrical effects to supplement deceptions. It is known collectively as "atmosphere."
The Ghost Army of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act:
The Ghost Army Legacy Project campaigned for 6.5 years to make the unit famous when Rick Beyer was the leader through four Congressional terms. He was also the producer and director of The Ghost Army 2013 PBS documentary.
On May 18, 2021, the voting was done by the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 707. There were seventy-one co-sponsors in the Senate bill, S. 1404. The 67th Senate co-sponsor was Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).
The Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the full U.S. The Senate, passed S. 1404, called the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act, on the evening of December 15, 2021, after a unanimous vote by the Senate Banking for passage. Whereas, the House of Representatives passed S. 1404 on January 19, 2022. The law: S. 1404, the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act, was signed by President Biden on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. It awarded the unit a Congressional Gold Medal for exceptional service in conducting European deception operations during World War II.
Representative Kuster and Senators Markey, Portman, Collins, and Blumenthal even appreciated President Biden's leadership. The effort of the Ghost Army of WWII Congressional Gold Medal got support from the American Legion, the National World War II Museum, the American Veterans Center, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, and so on.
In this article, we have covered everything that you should know about the ghost army which was created by the United States. Still if you have any doubts or queries, do ask us via comments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a ghost in the army?
It indicates the army soldiers whose names are seen on military rolls but not in military service. Q. What are the Famous members of the Ghost Army?
The names of the popular members are:
- Mickey McKane.
- Fred Fox.
- John Jarvie.
- Bill Blass.
- Ned Harris.
- Arthur Singer.
- Jack Masey.
- Bill Sayles.
Q. How did the Ghost Army start?
It was created by the U.S. Army in January 1944.