When the pen, brush, and record were mightier than the sword
October 5, 2007 11:35 AM Subscribe
Ellsworth Kelley, Bill Blass, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and a host of lesser known but equally talented painters
, designers, sound engineers
and actors served together during World War II in the Ghost Army
– the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit whose existence remained an official secret
until 1996. German soldiers referred to them as the "Phantom Army," because one moment they were in one place, and the next, they were attacking their flanks or from the rear.
Together, they made rubber tanks and fake Jeeps; their changing unit insignia
were designed to fool spies and allied units alike. They recorded the sounds of Allied units building bridges or moving troops and broadcast them from special sound trucks
, leading the Germans to conclude that the U.S. Army had more troops in more places than it did. "Guys drew, or painted, all the time
," documenting their lives, the lives of their fellow soldiers, and that of the local populations in wartime Europe.
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