world war ii: quote

anonymous asked:

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 shenanigans


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 lump


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 units”


holy fucking shit!!!


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 them


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 30,000 men


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 radio”


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 tape


step 4: fuckin partying!!!


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:

On another 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.‘”

The Nazis may write like schoolboys, but they’re capable of anything. That’s just why they’re so dangerous. People laugh at them, right up to the last moment…
—  Christopher Isherwood, “Goodbye to Berlin”
I wanted to write you a long letter, but my thoughts constantly disintegrate like houses which collapse under shellfire. I still have ten hours, then this letter has to be turned in. Ten hours is a long time for people who are waiting, but short for those in love.
—  An excerpt from a letter from a German soldier during the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-43)
Men, at any rate, never fulfilled expectations. They might, upon acquaintance, turn out more entertaining than they appeared; but almost always taking up with a man was like reading a book you had read when you had forgotten that you had read it. You had not been for ten minutes in any sort of intimacy with any man before you had said: ‘But I’ve read all this before…’ You knew the opening, you were already bored by the middle, and, especially, you knew the end….
—  Ford Madox Ford talking reality in “Parade’s End”

Boeing B-29 superfortress bomber “Enola Gay” named for Enola gay tibbets, the mother of the pilot Colonel paul tibbets. On the 6th of august 1945 Enola Gay became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb, codenamed little boy on the city of Hiroshima, japan. 

“My god, what have we done”

                                                 - Cpt Robert Lewis, co pilot of Enola gay 

Wir haben den Kampf gegen das Judentum jahrelang geführt und wir haben uns in Äußerungen ergangen, die furchtbar sind. Tausend Jahre werden vergehen und diese Schuld von Deutschland nicht wegnehmen.
— 

We have led the fight against Judaism for years, and we held forth statements that are terrible. A thousand years will pass and will not take away this guilt from Germany.

Hans Frank (1900 – 1946), German politician (NSDAP), governor-general of the Polish territories occupied during world war II., in a statement during the Nuremberg trials

Even as a soldier fighting I’m denied many of the privileges as a Negro, to which the guys who wear the swastika are welcomed. Negroes are doing their bit here, their supreme bit, not for glory, not for honor but for, I think, the generation that will come. If the blood that flows here on Italy’s mountains will wash from some folk’s minds the stigma that has been bred there for years, then I think that the men who have gone so bravely here will not have given their lives in vain. I’m proud to be one of these few men who are fighters. The American papers call us ‘Tan Yanks’ and other fancy names, but the Italians call us 'Americans,’ just plain Americans. That’s all we want to be, and one day I hope we will just be plain Americans.
—  US Army PFC Joe Johnson in a letter to his wife, early 1945
I mean in England we have a Queen for fuck’s sake. A Queen! We have to call her things like “Your Majesty” YOUR MAJESTY! Like she’s all majestic, like an eagle or a mountain. She’s just a person. A little old lady in a shiny hat – that we paid for. Or “Your Highness”! What the fuck is that?! What, she’s high up, above us, at the top of a class pyramid on a shelf of money with her own face on it. We should be calling her Mrs Windsor. In fact, that’s not even her real name, they changed it in the war to distract us from the inconvenient fact that they were as German as the enemy that teenage boys were being encouraged, conscripted actually, to die fighting. Her actual name is Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
—  Russell Brand
Some soldiers told about running onto another soldier stretched out in the back seat of a jeep, way up front, almost in No Man’s Land. His helmet was down over his eyes, and he had a half-smoked cigar in his mouth. They were in dangerous territory, and they went to take a closer look at the soldier so nonchalant.

He was dead. A sniper had shot him through the back of the helmet. He was just lying there, looking perfectly relaxed, the cigar still in his mouth. He had been dead over two days.
—  Ernie Pyle, Brave Men