Five hundred dummies descended on the French coast on the night of June 5th 1944. The crack of gunfire sounded from each one, courtesy of a small pyrotechnic device. As they thumped to the ground, explosive charges mimicked paratroopers setting their parachutes ablaze. The hessian invaders were the vanguard of a phantom army, the most ambitious conjuring trick in military history.
The Allied powers wanted to invade France, but did not want Germany to know where or when. So they put George Patton, a real general, in charge of the First United States Army Group, a made-up unit. The deception campaign was named Bodyguard, a sly reference to Winston Churchill’s remark that: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
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