The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel (Hardback)
  • The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel (Hardback)
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The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel (Hardback)

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£16.99
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 11/10/2012
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In 1940 a group of artists, sculptors, film makers, theatre designers and set painters came together to form the Camouflage Unit. Led by Major Geoffrey Barkas and including among their number the internationally renowned stage magician Jasper Maskelyne, the unit's projects became a crucial battlefield weapon. At the siege of Tobruk the unit made a vital desalination plant appear to have been destroyed by enemy bombers; from then on they used their storytelling skills to weave intricate webs of deception, making things appear that weren't actually there, and things that were, disappear, to deceive the enemy. Their stage was the enormous, flat and almost featureless Western Desert. The unit's schemes were so successful that in August 1942 the Unit was ordered by General Montgomery to come up with a way to hide the preparations for the Battle of Alamein, the biggest battle the 8th Army had ever fought. 'Operation Bertram' was born. In six short weeks two divisions, with armour, field guns and supporting vehicles, were conjured from the sand, while real tanks and lethal twenty-five pound field guns vanished from sight. Then, on the eve of the battle, the unit performed the biggest conjuring trick in military history. Right in front of the German's eyes they made 600 tanks disappear and reappear fifty miles away disguised as lorries. Rommel had been bamboozled by an army made of nothing but string and straw and bits of wood. The Phantom Army of Alamein tells for the first time the full story of how some of Britain's most creative men put down their brushes, pencils and cameras to join the rest of the world in the fight against the Nazis and played a vital role in the winning of the war.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781408829103
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 600 g
Dimensions: 234 x 153 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This is a wonderful book: charming, fascinating, crammed full of extraordinary nuggets of information, and containing a wide cast of largely unknown heroes and colourful characters, whose camouflaging feats scored a number of successes ... Stroud has interviewed survivors and scoured archives, leaving no stone unturned. The book is also beautifully illustrated, with original sketches and documents ... The result is a gem of a book and a classic of its kind * James Holland, Literary Review *
In The Phantom Army of Alamein, Rick Stroud has illuminated the shadowy antics of this little-recognised outfit during the battle of El Alamein. In doing so, he has created a fascinating study of how the most unlikely characters can become heroes * Independent on Sunday *
The unit's tale is told with clarity, humour and precision by Rick Stroud in The Phantom Army of Alamein * The Times *
Stroud has a storyteller's eye for human detail matched with a researcher's diligence * Independent on Sunday *
I don't know of a better description of what these Allied tricksters did * Roy R. Behrens *

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