tv National History Day - The Ghost Army Exhibit CSPAN August 3, 2019 9:15pm-9:32pm EDT
>> learn more about richard nixon's life sunday. you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. >> this is about the ghost army of world war ii. 1996, soclassified in not a lot of people know about it. my grandfather was a part of it, and it is a combination of just getting to know my family history and telling the story about these men who never got recognized that i just really wanted to do. >> what is a ghost army? >> the ghost army was a deceptive unit that used decoys ands, fake radio messages, sounds of tanks and activity to fool the germans.
they shorten the war and save lives by preventing conflict. >> where would they do this? >> where they were needed. sometimes, it was really close to the front lines, not close enough to suggest their secret. or it could have been farther away. elephant,operation they fool the germans that the second armored division was staying when it was actually moving closer to the front lines. so they operated anywhere they were needed. >> tell me about some of the pictures and things you have here. here in the have section are some of what they were in the war and what they are now. showing just that they were not recognized in the war and are still not recognized now. we have the iconic picture of the inflatable tank in the
center. 93 pound inflatable tank that should have been four times more.e -- tons or up there, credited for the original idea of the ghost army. he was just an officer. and here, we have pictures of the unit. we have the six 03, 3130 seconds, and the signal company 31-32, and the signal company. they painted the tanks, they made the fake patches. the 32nd, they would record sounds of tanks and the play them at night with the speakers. germans across the river would
hear the sounds and think the unit was moving and that a unit was there because they heard men swearing and a campfire and things. then we have the signal company special, which is where my grandfather was. they would send these fake radio messages that would say there is a unit telegraphing things, sometimes they would be in morse code. 406, theye have the were kind of like the security team. they were mostly the ones that were lightly armed. they would just make sure nobody knew these were inflatable tanks. also, they have bulldozers because they did not have any real artillery. but you can't have tanks without t-rex. -- tracks. would make the tracks and the tanks on top of it. so does little things like that.
they all participated in special effects and impersonation. they would wear patches and say "oh, yes, we are the second armored division." they would set up fake command posts, all of these things to make it real. so why was this kept secret until 1996? >> they wanted to keep it secret for a little bit of time, like 25 years or so, just to make and everything was settled to make sure it was not too new. right after the war, like, this is how we beat you. anthe time it got to appropriate time, the cold war was in heat and they did not want to tell the russians what worked on the germans. it was like they did not want to say this because it worked, was nonviolent, and sheep -- cheap.
like, you wants a couple hundred men with some canvas? you got it. after the cold war, it was set aside and in 1966 -- 1996 it was declassified. of this history was an article writer and was trying for years to get the story declassified so he could tell it and write it in his news articles and tell the stories. off, so eveng today, these are still ghosts and they are becoming actual ghosts faster than we can catch up with them. that is why it was classified for so long and that's why nobody knows it. >> did you talk to your grandfather about it? >> yeah. i interviewed him. how i learned about the topic was his 100th birthday party, he
got all of the family together. we saw his books and i was like this is not real. i started searching it up, sure enough, it was real. i got interested enough to make a project about it. andlked to my grandfather throughout the stages i had been showing it to him. he lives in the salt lake valley , so the competition was kind of close to where he lived. drivel to bring him in and show them the project. he is proud and knows what i'm -- drove tocomplish bring him in and show him the project. he is proud and knows what i'm trying to a published. on is a sewing kit to sell -- sew on the patches.
they were impersonating. some of them, like two of them time toey did not have wait for issued patches to come. they had to have the artist paint patches, and it worked. germans --fool the full the germans -- fooled the germans. coverte on the inside that all of the operations he , the coordinates, the time, and other field manuals. that is my grandfather stuff. grandfather's stuff. that is his command and his radio truck. , iht next to him is bernie
actually interviewed him. as a on a tour of europe family member to be in place of my grandfather who could not make it as a representative. he came on the tour and i got to meet him while we were there following the footsteps of the ghost army. knew.are the veterans i , there are less than 15 alive, and i was able to interview eight of them. there are at least seven interviews that a historian conducted that i was able to get the transcripts and videos for for research. i have gotten to know them pretty well. on my way home, we are driving and i'm going to stop with some of the veterans. it's fun. >> i see this switch year. >> yeah, for all of my projects, i like some sort of physical
representation that helps to carry the story. for this year, it is hard to do something that is not just military. so i made the representation of secrecy to highlight the secrets of the ghost army and what this ghost army was. have it highlighting where they were in the operations, some quotes that were from ghost army's and really relate to what the ghost armies were. it helps to have this flashlight to make it brighter. and it's kind of just fun and the bright light to have this and he see that little hint -- you see that little hint that makes it very secretive. it really conveys a lot of the message of this topic. it is just that physical toresentation, something carry the point across without saying it inwards. -- in words.
>> where did you get all of your information for the exhibit? >> ordinarily, it was from the historians -- veterans and the historian who let my tour-- led my tour. he also made the pbs documentary. active -- he is a very active. we actually have a bill to get the congressional medals for these men. and since he was on my tour, i got to know him very well. he was able to give me some contact information for more veterans that i would not have been able to get anyways. september, and i was not in full on research mode yet, but with the help of the tour, i was able to learn something. it was helpful to be there and see what it was.
>> where did you go on the tour? to five countries, six including the united states. , that was in england where the ghost army trained. it was only the sonic division that was not there. they were all training and practiced with the decoys. we moved across the channel to france and saw the normandy beaches where the ghost army landed. they were not a major part of operation fortitude, but they landed after d-day on the beaches. andthen we moved to paris did a different world war ii things. there is no ghost army museum. i was there because of the historical marker, it is the first in the world to honor these men. we just kind of saw some of
parissites and moved to where they stayed in paris. they were in that area of france. luxembourged over to where the operation was, and that is where the historical marker was. belgium,oved into where the battle of the bulge was. the ghost army convicted to operations that were the larger outations that helped before and after the battle of the bulge. with ad operation codec heavy best-known relief efforts -- had the best-known relief efforts.
we stock in germany for a bit, and from there, back to america. same way they did, on a plane, not a ship. this quote says it all, they really had a dignity to their service. they drew attention to themselves without wanting to just massacre the germans. there were pulling it away to save american lives, and by doing that saving german lives by not having them fight the americans. it, but so humble about they did it and only three men died. at 1100, on the front lines all the time, pulling enemy attention to themselves, never fired a shot. they only have three men died and one of them was more of an accident and the other was just a stray shell rather than
getting on the front lines. they did not kill anyone and it was just amazing. a true triumph. >> thank you very much. >> madelyn christiansen's exhibit on the ghost army one the senior-level world war ii history prize at national history day. mcadams of utah recently entered the story of her great-grandfather and the official congressional record. here is video from the congressman's office as he reads the entry to sergeant stanley. in may 1944, 1100 military men joined the ranks of what would be called the ghost army. composed largely of artists, this unit had unusual orders not to avoid detection but to actively attract attention through an ingenious optical illusion. one of them was staff sergeant stanley, of the 23rd
headquarters special troops. the tactics were to impersonate allied units using inflated tanks made of sticks and burlap to make the enemy believe that large factions of on omaha beacd surrounding areas after d-day. speakers were mounted on the back of vehicles blasting ambient noises of a larger unit. they were recorded months before in fort knox. armytory of the ghost serves as a tale of young americans' bold actions. nance'slater, granddaughter told his story through a history project which at the national history competition. her project is an amazing recreation of a story of skill, courage, and triumph, unique in
history. as we prepare to celebrate independence day, we honor two generations of you tons -- utahns. the soldier and his great granddaughter who is keeping the story of heroism alive. [applause] of all the transmissions i radio, whichmy were many, if one of those that i sent changed the tide of one new wife or putting a golded star in their front window, that operation was all
about. saving lives. did.is what we we did not have guns. to win the war, force. the units of we shortened the war by at least six months because we were told we were going to be in this conflict two years. we were barely in it one year. that is what we did. we were able to shorten the war and save lives on the german army and the american army. if one mother or new bride was spared putting