Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis

Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis

by Paul B. Janeczko


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What do set design, sound effects, and showmanship have to do with winning World War II? Meet the Ghost Army that played a surprising role in helping to deceive — and defeat — the Nazis.

In his third book about deception during war, Paul B. Janeczko focuses his lens on World War II and the operations carried out by the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army. This remarkable unit included actors, camouflage experts, sound engineers, painters, and set designers who used their skills to secretly and systematically replace fighting units — fooling the Nazi army into believing what their eyes and ears told them, even though the sights and sounds of tanks and war machines and troops were entirely fabricated. Follow the Twenty-Third into Europe as they play a dangerous game of enticing the German army into making battlefield mistakes by using sonic deceptions, inflatable tanks, pyrotechnics, and camouflage in more than twenty operations. From the Normandy invasion to the crossing of the Rhine River, the men of the Ghost Army — several of whom went on to become famous artists and designers after the war — played an improbable role in the Allied victory.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763681531
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,259,311
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 1270L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Paul B. Janeczko (1945–2019) was a poet and teacher who edited numerous award-winning poetry anthologies for young people, including A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, A Foot in the Mouth, and The Death of the Hat, all of which were illustrated by Chris Raschka; Firefly July, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, illustrated by Richard Jones. He also wrote Worlds Afire; Requiem: Poems of the Terezín Ghetto; Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing; Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War; The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles, a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; and Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Ghost Army Is Born 5

Germans in South America 10

Beach Jumpers 18

Chapter 2 Recruitment and Training 25

Combat Engineers 42

The Army Half-Tracks 52

Chapter 3 Shipping Out … and More Waiting 57

Convoys 59

Liberty Ships 65

Chapter 4 The Twenty-Third Gets into Action 87

From Hollywood to the Battlefield: Frederic Fox 92

Artists of the 603rd; Ellsworth Kelly 108

Chapter 5 The First Big Test 121

The Red Ball Express 125

Artists of the 603rd: Victor Dowd 140

Chapter 6 A Trio of Deceptions 153

Artists of the 603rd: Arthur Singer 160

Bailey Bridges 170

Chapter 7 A Deadly Winter 175

Panzer Brigade 150 185

Artists of the 603rd: Bill Blass 196

Chapter 8 After the Battle of the Bulge 205

Trench Art 213

Artists of the 603rd: Harold Laynor 219

Chapter 9 The Final Deception 223

Artists of the 603rd: Arthur Shilstone 226

Commendation for the VIERSEN Deception 244

Epilogue 247

Source Notes 253

Bibliography 278

Image Credits 284

Index 287

Acknowledgments 295

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