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The Phantom Army of Alamein: How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel
by Rick Stroud
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 ...more
Published October 11th 2012 by Turtleback Books
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The concept of this book is very interesting and the story of the "camofluers" is an important one that has been largely neglected. Whilst this is a readable book, and informative in many ways, it is let down by poor research in some areas. For example I have never heard of 437 RTR, the Royal Tank Unit, the Australian Royal Engineers, or 90th Light Panzer Division and that as good as the 6 per anti-tank gun was it was not comparable to the German 88! I take exception to the author stating in an ...more
An interesting intimate look at the camouflage work done in North Africa by the British during World War II. The book flows quite well, it's not overwhelmed with personages, and deals with the various schemes quite well. There are speculative parts of the book like suggesting that O'Connor would have defeated Rommel which detract from the work. There is also a section near the end that gets speculative about future applications of technology to the art of camouflage which breaks the narrative fl ...more
Superb retelling of one of WWII's most successful gambits - the fashioning of an enormous fake army that successfully hoodwinked one of the most efficient armies and generals of all times. Mr Stroud brings to life a cast of eccentric, larger than life characters who successfully carried off one of the most elaborate deceptions of all times in the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain... Along with this exploits, is an incisive account of the Desert War leading up to El Alamein and revealing portrait ...more
I thought I had already reviewed this, but apparently not! It was a good historical read, although at times and bit dry. Really interesting part of the war, how artists played a big part in one of the more important battles of the conflict. The characters are interesting, but not quite as interesting as your prototypical spies and war heroes. I'd still recommend it if you're into this type of book!
A solid historical companion to Ben Macintyre's "Operation Mincemeat", but I do find there isn't quite as much passion and investment by the author in this particular book. For sheer enjoyment, I prefer the intriguing & dramatic "Mincemeat". That said, Rick Stroud's work is the equal in historical scholarship.