high key can u give me a rundown of ur fav wacky wwii shenanigans
Okay friends today we are gonna learn
about the GHOST ARMY, which, disappointingly, was not actually an
army made of ghosts
pictured: the unit patch for the
Ghost Army, which is DOPE AS FUCK
see one of the things that made WWII so
fucking nuts was the totally bizarre level of technology. Like wow we
invented the first real computer and radar but also if you wanted to
see how many troops were hanging out somewhere you had to send a dude
to fly over and take pictures manually??? this left A LOT of room for
so the normal method of dealing with
aerial surveillance was to cover shit with camouflage netting. Say
you’ve got an nice air base that you really don’t want any bombs
dropped on- you literally just cover that with a ludicrous amount of
netting and some fake trees and BAM now it looks like just an empty
field from the air
there’s a building under that weird
that’s cool! That’s
really cool! But not cool enough
At some point
somebody sat down and went “hey wait. What if…what if instead of
disguising buildings and units as fields, we disguise fields as
the British had
used a bunch of fake tanks and like, boxes of provisions stacked up
in tank shape and then covered with a tarp in 1942 during Operation
Bertram and it worked really well, but they didn’t have a special
unit devoted to just clowning on the Germans like that.
so the US military
decides they do want a designated clowning unit and goes out and
recruits a bunch of fucking nerds from all the art schools and makes
them into the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops aka THE
GHOST ARMY, WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU USE ANY OTHER NAME LIKE SERIOUSLY
the ghost army’s
job was basically to go in, sidle up to a real unit, and then
basically set up a fake version of that unit while the actual unit
sneaked away to go dunk on Nazis where the Nazis weren’t expecting
okay time to get
into the really cool part of this story, which is HOW the ghost army
faked being a real unit:
step 1: INFLATABLE
TANKS AND AIRCRAFT OH MY GOD
that’s a big ol balloon!!!
the ghost army had
a stockpile of inflatable tanks, aircraft, artillery, cars, whatever,
that they would set up and then poorly cover with camouflage
netting so from the air it looked like someone had just done a
real shit job of hiding actual materiel. They even had dummy soldiers
that they would set up to make the scene look populated, since the
ghost army itself was about 1,000 dudes regularly imitating units of
what’s really cool
is that visual deception was more than just the inflatable stuff
itself. If the ghost army plopped down a balloon tank, they then also
had to go out with shovels and rakes and shit to make a fake track
that a real tank would have left, because it turns out tanks are
really hard on your landscaping
step 2: “spoof
the last couple of
days before the real unit moved out, the radio operators of the ghost
army would move in. see, radio transmissions were done in Morse code,
and it turns out every radio operator has a slightly different “fist”
when typing Morse. A “fist” is basically typing style- some
people would take longer to type out certain letters or would have
pauses between groups or anything like. Anybody listening to the
radio transmissions who was skilled enough could tell different radio
operators apart from just their fist
anyway the ghost
army operators would move in and basically listen to all the real
unit’s radio transmissions until they had learned the real operators’
fists. Then they would take over radio traffic, imitating that fist
so it seemed like the real operator had never left. I forgot to make
this section funny because I was too caught up in how rad it is SORRY
step 3: making a
lot of noise
the ghost army had
special trucks fitted with huge fuck off speakers and a whole library
of stock sound effects. Once the real unit left and the fake unit
inflated, the sound trucks would come in, select a combination of
sound effects that matched the unit they were impersonating, and then
played everyone in the 15 mile radius of the speakers their fire mix
step 4: fuckin
see the thing about
impersonating your own units is that other allied units would know
about it and might talk about it where enemy collaborators could
hear. So the ghost army had to fool the Germans but they also had to
fool their own army. Every time they impersonated a new unit,
the ghost soldiers would paint that unit’s insignia on all the fake
materiel, make fake signs with the unit’s name and colors, and sew
the unit’s patches on their own uniforms
once they were
dressed up as soldiers from the impersonated unit, the ghost army
dudes would go into town and mingle with other soldiers from actual
fighting units nearby and hang out in bars while loudly saying things
like “YES HELLO I AM DEFINITELY A REAL SOLDIER FROM THE WHATEVER
DIVISION, ABSOLUTELY FOR REAL STATIONED ON THAT HILL OVER THERE”
so anyway this
bunch of weedy American art nerds staged 20+ battlefield deceptions
between 1944 and the end of the war, sometimes fooling that Germans
so successfully that they actually got shelled
I'mma leave you
with this quote from the book “The Ghost Army of World War II” by
Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles, because it’s a quote from an actual
member of the Ghost Army and that alone makes it funnier than
anything I could ever write:
occasion, two Frenchmen on bicycles somehow got through the security
perimeter. Shilstone managed to halt them, but not before they had
seen more than they should. “What they thought they saw was four
GIs picking up a forty-ton Sherman tank and turning it around. They
looked at me, and they were looking for answers, and I finally said
‘The Americans are very strong.‘”
During the introductory scene to Super Mario Galaxy 2, Peach’s Castle seems to be relatively close to the camera, only a few hills over. Zooming out, we can see it is positioned on a floating island far away from the path Mario is on.
The day after the battle, Hermione Granger got up before the sun did. The Lake was covered in fog, and she was used to having somewhere urgent to go, to be, to fight.
She closed the tent flap up behind her. Hogwarts had something like enough beds, but Hermione hadn’t had it in her to climb those moving staircases, to step through the painting’s open frame and make her way to the Gryffindor girls’ seventh year dormitory. Her bed would have been there, months untouched except for the bras and scarves and bottles of sparkly purple nail polish Parvati and Lavender had strewn onto every open surface.
The fog rolled in off the Lake and Hermione stood at the damp shore and shivered until the sun rose and burned it all away.
The day after the battle, they buried their dead out on an island in the Lake, the day after the battle. Madame Pomfrey fretted and hovered, but every injured witch, wizard, and squib made it out to those conjured chairs. They might sit with assistance– with spells, with braces, with a friend’s shoulder– but they sat quiet and they listened to Flitwick read out the names.
The day after the battle, Ron Weasley stood on tiptoe when he stepped back into the Great Hall, looking over a sea of bent heads to find a cluster of red. They’d brought the tables back.
The cluster was only a tiny blip of three– Bill and their parents were flitting about, helping Flitwick float steaming bowls of pasta down onto each table. But Ginny and Percy were sitting on either side of George, keeping up a lively conversation about Gilderoy Lockhart’s hair.
Ginny was sitting half in Harry’s lap, like if she didn’t he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from getting up to help, or to pace the castle, or to walk out to the Forest and not come back. She was holding his hand, her freckled thumb running over the words written into his skin.
Ron thought about sitting with Luna, instead. Percy tried to laugh at one of Ginny’s jokes, and Ron didn’t know how to be kind like that. Ginny held Harry’s hand. Ron had thought for a long terrible stretch of heartbeats that he had lost two brothers yesterday.
He could sit with Dean. He could walk out to the Forest and punch Aragog in his ugly eyes, because normally when he walked away from everyone he loved it was because he was scared and maybe change was good for the soul.
Ron pushed his hands through his hair. He crossed the Great Hall, swung into a seat next to Harry, and filled his plate with lukewarm pasta.
The day after the battle, Luna Lovegood climbed up to the Astronomy Tower, because it was the furthest she could get away from everything. She laid on her back on the cold stone and cast balls of light and enchanted birds to chase each other across the ceiling until she felt like descending down to the ground again.
The day after the battle, Neville Longbottom went down to the greenhouses to see what the damage was there. He had sat all night and all morning in the infirmary, fetching water for Anthony Goldstein and holding Dennis Creevey’s hand and folding extra blankets down over Professor Sprout’s cold feet. Madame Pomfrey had banished him to go get a spot to eat and some sleep, so he walked down to the greenhouses to see what was salvageable.
Whole panes of greenish glass stood jagged and shattered. Protective spells had put out any fires, but stray blasts of magic had killed beds of vegetables and flowers and taken almost all the silver-green leaves off an olive tree that twisted in the corner of Greenhouse 4.
Neville went in through the door, even though there as a broken hole in the glass wall big enough for him, and almost fell back through it when Hannah Abbott stood up from the row of pots she’d been crouching behind. Dirt streaked every crease of her hands. “Hey,” he said, and let the door click shut behind him.
“Hey.” When she saw where he was heading, she added, “The olive’s still alive.”
The bark was rough under his hand, gnarled from decades of slow growth. He could hear the green magic whispering down its xylem.
“I was thinking I’d try to mend up the walls, close this place up again,” said Hannah. “But I wasn’t sure I could do it alone."
"Alright,” said Neville. When Professor Sprout argued her way out of the infirmary and thumped downhill with the wind throwing her cloudy hair in her face, she found every pane of glass healed and Neville and Hannah asleep on the softest patch of moss in Greenhouse 2.
The day after the battle, Parvati Patil sent an owl to Lavender Brown’s parents.
The day after the end of it all, Hermione skipped lunch and found her favorite secluded corner of the library instead. The chairs stood silent and sober, all gouged dark wood. The high windows threw light gleaming across the polished table, catching on the dust motes drifting through the air above it.
She dumped her carry-all down on it and reached inside– up to her elbows, her shoulders. She tried not to feel like it was eating her alive and she pulled out protein bars and unicorn horn and crumpled wanted flyers.
She wasn’t sure when it had gotten so cluttered– sometime before the night in the ditch outside the little Scottish village with the awesome curry shop. Sometime after the time they hid out from a storm in an unknowing Muggle’s barn, wrinkling their noses at the itch of hay as they ate their dinner. Hermione had taken first watch, listening to the thunder roll over the shallow hills outside, and she’d gone through her bag pouch by endless pouch. Harry had twitched in his sleep with every flash of lightning, but everything in her bag had been where it was supposed to be.
She summoned a wastepaper bin to hover beside her and got to work. Quills and ballpoint pens went in a neat heap to her left. Books she stacked by subject matter around her, except for the ones she flew back to their homes on Hogwarts shelves. She checked potions ingredients for decay, tossed the bad ones and wrapped the good ones back up in their oiled cloth and ziplock bags.
She ate a protein bar while she piled duct tape and the radio and a travel-sized magnetic foldable Muggle chess set and a depleted first aid kit all up around her. She threw the wrapper away and wondered if the smell would ever come out of the bag’s insides, or if she should just buy another one.
The day after the battle, they started putting the stones of the castle back into place. They put bones back together, first, skin and knit muscle and tendons. McGonagall escorted every statue and suit of armor back to where it belonged.
Sue Li sat atop a pile of rubble and ate the biggest chocolate bar she’d ever seen her life. She thought she could still taste a film of Polyjuice on her tongue, but she told herself that was dumb. She dropped little pebbles down the ragged tumble of stones, counting their bounces and calculating averages, until Astoria Greengrass showed up with a glass of water and a pasty and put them down beside her.
Astoria got her hands dirty every chance she got, put her back into sweeping up glass shards or hauling bandages or Wingardium Leviosa-ing stone blocks the size of a horseless carriage. She would stay in the castle as long as she could, finding odd tasks and errands and corners to lurk in. When she finally went back to the Greengrass family estate, it would be to pack her bags, kiss the old house elf on the cheek, and steal her dog away with her.
The day after the battle, Ron went out to Hagrid’s cabin in the stubborn chill of the afternoon and sat in his pumpkin patch. He didn’t go knock on the rough-hewn door, and Hagrid didn’t come out, but after twenty minutes Fang trotted into the yard and patiently got slobber all over his shirt.
Ron watched the sway of the shadows beyond the Forest’s edge. Buckbeak’s old tying post stood among the twining squash vines and their giant fuzzy leaves, the metal ring hanging empty against weathered wood. He thought about Ginny brushing her thumb over Harry’s scars and wrapped
his hands over the pale marks that curled around his wrists.
When the air started biting and the sky started darkening, Ron pulled himself back to his feet and climbed up to the library. He had never lived there, never really liked its labyrinth of stacks and dusty air, but he knew the way there better than he knew the way to the Quidditch pitch or the Room of Requirement or all those other places he liked so much more.
It was empty, except for Hermione, and he was glad. She squeezed her last book into her bag and looked up at him, shoving her hair back off her forehead.
“They doing dinner down there?” she said, her dry throat rasping on it.
He shrugged. “Mum’s organizing, I think. It– helps, I think."
She nodded, looking down to do the clasps up slowly, one by one.
"I just wanted to go back to the tent,” said Ron. “Be alone. It’s quiet."
"I won’t get in your way,” she said. “It’s still pitched down there."
"I know,” he said. “With you, I meant.”
“That’s not alone,” she said. “I’m not quiet,” she said. She clasped and unclasped the bag.
“Words. Accuracy. I never claimed to be the clever one."
"But you are, Ron–"
"Hermione,” he said. “Come with me? You shouldn’t be sitting here alone. Come home.”
They went down the grass through chilling air. Ron could hear his mother in his head, telling him to take her bag and carry it for her, but he just reached out for her hand.
The day after the end of it all, Ron laid on the floor of the tent, counting stitches in the canvas, while Hermione read Hogwarts, A History like she didn’t have it memorized. She read her favorite parts aloud, stopping mid-sentence when the tent flap rustled and opened.
“Ginny’s sitting on Neville until he agrees to sleep in a real bed and not a pile of shrubbery,” Harry said, stepping inside and shutting it up behind him. “She got Luna to help because she says otherwise Luna will just fade into a corner and not come out for food.” He hunched his shoulders. “I’m not intruding, right?"
"Don’t be daft,” said Ron and patted a bit of floor next to him. “C'mon, join in, Hermione’s trying to bore me to sleep. I suspect it’s an act of caring concern.” Hermione threw a pillow at his head without looking up from the pages.
The day after the battle, they fell asleep in a tangle in the center of the tent that they had lugged across their country, across these long, cold days of the war. They had danced here to the radio, had chewed protein bars, played chess and bled and yelled at each other.
But the war was over and they were growing into it, slow, staying up too late as they leaned into each other and whispered on this threadbare rug. They meant to wobble to their feet and get to bed, but Harry was clinging to Hermione’s hand and none of them wanted to go.
They would get too old for this– hard floors and the way Harry’s neck was cricked up on Ron’s bony shoulder. Hermione’s snoring would get worse and Ron would have to sleep with four carefully arranged pillows to stop his back from aching in the mornings, but Harry would always have a place here. He had slept on Ron’s bedroom floor at fourteen, leaned on Hermione outside his parents’ broken home.
In the weeks after the battle, Hermione would track down her parents and move back home, and they would all help the Weasleys rebuild the Burrow. Harry would move in Andromeda Tonks’s spare room. “We’re almost like family, after all,” she’d say briskly, shooing him into the house and showing him where she kept the tea, Teddy’s diapers, and the whiskey. They’d come for visits and talk through the night in each of those homes, curled up under Molly’s quilts or out on the Granger’s back porch swing or over fingers of firewhiskey with Andromeda.
In the months after the war, he and Ron would get a flat while they went through Auror training and Hermione would crash there five nights out of seven. Her university textbooks would take over their countertops, shelves, tables, and floor and Harry wouldn’t tease them (too much) for how hilariously long they tried to pretend it was the couch Hermione slept on.
Every home Ron and Hermione lived in, for the rest of their lives, would have a place for Harry– a spare room or a patch of floor or an old sofa. He would know how Hermione took her coffee, and his favorite cereal and Ginny’s favorite oatmeal would always been in the cupboard, and their children would have giggly cousin-sleepovers in magical tents they pitched on the living room rug.
When the kids came shrieking in to wake them at absolutely unacceptable, ugly hours, Ginny would groan curse words they’d repeat gleefully among themselves, but Harry would let them grab his hands in their little sticky ones and pull him barefoot and messy-haired out into the morning.
BTS: After giving two years worth of paychecks to Namjoon, Taehyung gets a slot on Cypher pt.14. It becomes their lowest selling single, but BTS doesn’t notice as they are too busy trying to cover up the fact that Suga’s soul departed 8 years ago and they’ve been using his corpse as a puppet to still milk Army dry.
Exo: Kyungsoo quit to become an actor after getting tired of grinding canes. Suho left to go “find himself” in the Bahamas, and Baekhyun currently leads the remaining members as they perform the Chinese version of “Wolf” at Norwegian birthday parties for pay.
Got7: Currently only has 6 members. BamBam was kicked out in 2017 after pulling down his pants and playing “helicopter” at a fan meet. Currently tours with Jay Park while Got6 has 23 reality shows and 14 movies under their belts.
NCT: Johnny resigns to become a DJ after debuting only once. Haechan is jailed after it was discovered he had been slowly poisoning Mark for years. WinWin tries to leave SM, but is offered a solo career under Yixing’s company. Cracks immediately under the pressure of singing more than 2 words.
Day6: After pleading with JYP for years, finally get to have all of their social media accounts back. Jae immediately begins posting pics of Chihuahuas in taco costumes while Sungjin and Young K start a new petition to stop including the word “day” in all of their album titles.
Infinite: Sunggyu never came back from the war. Woohyun is pretty sure he’s actually just hiding in the basement. The fairies came to reclaim Sungjong to their magical kingdom, and Dongwoo asked them to give him a ride to Africa on their way.
Big Bang: Somehow GD has 5 kids by 6 different women. Taeyang opened a gym. Top moved into a museum. Seungri is a happily married soccer dad, and Daesung disappeared in Japan with 3 geishas and a bottle of soju 4 years ago.
Super Junior: Henry and Kyuhyun perform at Karaoke Taco Tuesdays every week, while Leeteuk and Siwon try to get everyone to come together for one last concert that Heechul refuses to attend, because that’s his dogs special grooming day.
Block B: Will leave Seven Seasons and start their own company with Zico as CEO. P.O. has been revealed to have had a secret wife and child in Brazil for the last 8 years and Taeil will have to resort to tattooing his eyeballs from lack of skin space.
Vixx: 4 of the members married fans while Hyuk and Hongbin enjoy the crazy bachelor life. Still continues to do deep concepts and just wrapped up their video where they portray vulnerable, voodoo veterans from Vermont.
Monsta X: banned from Korea after performing naked in hopes of a number 1. Comes back with cute concept through Youtube and gets an all kill. not allowed in Korea to accept award. Award goes to Seventeen instead.
Ikon: hasn’t made a comeback in 9 years. Everyone has had 4 solo projects. Bobby and B.I. moved into Seungri’s abandoned man cave and are refusing to come out until they get a clothing line and matching miniature poodles.
Astro: After a dramatic image change after all becoming adults, Rocky is now modeling for Calvin Klein, Sanha has his own line of hair products, and they all just released a sensual love album called “Baby Let Me Rocket All Night”.
Seventeen: After teasing Carats for 10 years, finally does a dark concept but 11 of the 13 members are in the military so it’s just Jun and Minghao tap dancing in leather jackets while whistling “Mansae” in a warehouse.
B.A.P: Jongup and Yongguk and Himchan promoting together as a hip-hop group called BangHimUp, while Daehyun and Youngjae make a living off of soundtrack singles. All decide on a whim to dye their hair straight blonde again and all of Zelo’s falls out in the first 5 minutes.
Knk: First male group to be the spokesperson for a stiletto company. Has 3 albums devoted to the best of their ballads. No longer allowed on ASC ever since the “incident” and Seungjun and Jihun being forced to live in separate cities after the rumors become far too great.
SHINee: Everyone has split up for their own solo careers, but still come together for dinner every night. Minho is currently homeless after betting his house in an intense Monopoly battle with Key. Planning a reunion tour where the truth will finally be revealed about Jongtae.
Up10tion: Rebel after their 53rd comeback in 10 years. Tie Andy up and hold him for ransom until he agrees to let them rest and never perm their poor hair again.
Romeo: Decided to change their name to something that would bring them up on Google. Now debuting as “Hamlet” they continue to do cute concepts even though they’re almost over the hill and have mortgages and light bills.
24K: Has found global fame after creating the world’s first rational storyline….realizes most of the fame came because everyone was googling Bruno Mars. Accepts fame anyway.
Winner: Reunites again with Namtae. Quits YG after leaving a steaming pile of dog poop on his desk. Produces music that heals and restores all of our broken souls.
Aries: your tears are so hot and your cheeks are flushed, you hide your face in your hands and you cry to all ends. I know you miss them, they made you feel like your heart was beating in your chest. But you were alive long before you knew you were, just as you were loved long before you believe you are.
Taurus: You made a rose garden with them. You each had your own, but yours were real and theirs was plastic. They kept tending them but it missed your loving touch, how could they screw you over? Love I don’t know. The universe isn’t fair; how can it be so cruel to something so precious?
Gemini: You used to talk to me, about politics and poetry. You used to tell me stories, about magic and all things pretty. You always told the story of you and them, you said it was the most beautiful one. The pen could never describe your pain, we’re in vain. Their lack of empathy to blame, you’re killing your brain. Your thoughts are violent and I know you can’t hide it.
Cancer: They said they were scared of you leaving, little did they know about how you wrote poems about their touch. How you stayed up just to talk to them, and complimented them everyday to make them feel like the world. Now you’re just another stripe on their wall, a number. It’s ironic, really. They take all your pieces one by one and then ask you why you’re empty.
Leo: They took your hand and walked with you through nights of blanched white stars and dark blue skies, you never liked boating until they took you on a cruise but they drowned you with the anchor of the ship. Now you’re a castaway on an island, you’re so isolated. What happened to your people spirit, did it go down with the anchor?
Virgo: You trusted them, you never believed in fairytales but goddamnit they were your Prince Charming. I’m so sorry they lied to you, happy endings were a religion to you but they didn’t believe in your God. I’m sorry that tears are your only remedy and everything hurts. I’m sorry that the midnight air burns on the places they’ve touched and that you don’t want to wake up in the morning anymore.
Libra: They were your favorite song, the one you kept on repeat when you were a teen. They were your high school sweetheart, they made you feel alive. They kissed your eyelids and looked at you with adoration, their back pocket held knifes you’d never seen. The silhouette you see in the dark frightens you. And you said “I don’t think people understand brokenness until they experience it, you keep getting stabbed with the broken pieces they made and it’s like a slap of nostalgia.”
Scorpio: You flinched from my touch, hid away in the dark. Little water sign with a shattered heart and atrocious eyes; I’m sorry that your trust has been crumpled like your thousands of papers in the wind. You told me you’d never love or trust anyone again.
Sagittarius: You ran to the edge the world and drowned in seas of sadness, you went over heartbreak hills and lied in beaches with suns burning your face, when you came back you were even more empty than when you left. Your eyes look so much more dull.
Capricorn: There was something enchanting about the way their eyes made your light up and their touch made you smile so broadly, now that they’re gone you’ve gone in a zone of workaholic mode. Anything to keep you busy. Anything to keep you from thinking of them.
Aquarius: You threw away your independence for them, took care of them when they were sick and tangled your hands in their bushy hair. They were your everything, your own world map with compass saying “Go find yourself.”
Where are you? You’ve lost yourself.
Pisces: The smoke from weed lingers in your home, your bed hasn’t been made in two weeks. Vodka bottles lie on the floor. You haven’t washed your hair in all of these weeks, you didn’t leave your bad. You listen to their favorite band, I told you to get outside and you said that the only oxygen you had left, abandoned your lungs. They were oxygen, they were toxic.
Ampleforth/Lay Me Low by The Albion Band (this was written in the ‘70s, but The Albion Band, and this album in particular, is made up of a bunch of old Fairport Convention members with vocals from people like Martin Carthy and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, and you really don’t get more Traditional English Folk than that)