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Deceptions of World War II

From camouflage techniques to deception tactics



Peter Darman

Gosford, NSW: Exisle Publishing, Apr 2024

Hardback  224pp   RRP: $39.99


Reviewer: Neville Taylor, March 2024


This is one of a boxed pair from Exisle Publishing. Its companion is Secret Heroes of World War II.

Its six chapters are between 30 and 40 pages in length and each consider one aspect of deception from both the Allied and Axis powers. Defensive deception and deception by intelligence are included, along with the four major theatres during the entire conflict.

Each chapter has its own peculiarity, from amazing characters to incredible subterfuges that required massive manpower to achieve the desired level of deception. Employed in many of them were co-opted personnel from the props departments of major film producers and camouflage units became part of the order or battle. Tanks in the Western Desert ‘became trucks’. After Germany’s Barbarossa (June 1942), it became a mandatory part of Russian orders to include a deception plan. Phantom armies were created, necessitating physical evidence of their existence as well as ‘phantom’ radio traffic having to be scripted and run to add to the realism.

Photographs are of excellent quality, as are the battle maps that clearly illustrate the positions and moves of the belligerents. Beside each map is a key indicating the name of the operation, its duration and location, the objective(s), outcome and details. There is a comprehensive Further Reading list and an easy-to-follow Index.

This is a most agreeable read, seeing how each side tried, and usually succeeded, to create an advantage for themselves whilst throwing the opposition off guard. So often was the strategy of one side influenced by a believable deception – resulting in a reduced and/or unprepared opposition.

A highly commendable publication.




The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.

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