The Ghost Army
Sunday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m.
In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of G.I.s landed in France to conduct a special mission.
Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, they created a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe, with the German Army as their audience. From Normandy to the Rhine, the 1,100 men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the Ghost Army, conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy about the strength and location of American units. Every move they made was top secret, and their story was hushed up for decades after the war’s end.
This remarkable tale of a top-secret mission that was at once absurd, deadly and amazingly effective is told through the stories of the veterans, many of whom — like fashion designer Bill Blass and painter Ellsworth Kelly — would go on to have illustrious careers in art, design and fashion.
Pictured above: A half-track outfitted with playback equipment and a 500-pound speaker with a range of 15 miles, used by the Ghost Army for sonic deception.
At right: Ghost Army soldier Bill Blass, who served in the unit and later earned international fame as a fashion designer.