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A soldier stands next to a dummy tank in May 1944.

US National Archives

The tricksters who saved lives during World War II

Few April Fool's Day pranks could hold a candle to the tricks of the US “Ghost Army,” a group of World War II soldiers whose knack for illusion saved tens of thousands of lives.

“All warfare is based on deception,” wrote the ancient strategist Sun Tzu, and as the Allies prepared to invade Nazi-occupied France, two American military planners dreamed up a clever ruse. Using troops handpicked for their creative talents and intelligence, they would flood Nazi intelligence with disinformation, whipping up whole divisions out of theater props and carefully staged media.

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