As they say, all is fair in war, and brilliant military minds from the earliest recorded feuds to modern conflicts such as the Vietnam War knew this. If you think that only serious, hardline tactics have a place in battle, think again. Militaries from ancient to modern times have engaged in surprising and unconventional wartime tricks. Never underestimate the power of juvenile chicanery in the midst of battle.
These historical military tricks range from kind of ingeniously dumb to risky as heck, but here's the wild part: they all worked. This list includes some of the most unexpected tricks in military history, so put up your best defenses and steel yourself against the onslaught of these brilliant but unusual tactics.
The British Used A Deceased Man To Trick Hitler Into Leaving Sicily Undefended
Did you know a Welshman basically won WWII? Glyndwr Michael died a hero. He wasn't a soldier, though - he was a vagrant and a drinker who passed in January 1943. It was his body that would be used to secure the most vital territory for Allied shipping across the Mediterranean: Sicily.
Operation Mincemeat was perhaps the greatest disinformation ruse of all time. The Allies had to trick the Nazis into being nowhere near Sicily, so they could take it. How? Well, they convinced the German high command they would attack Greece and Sardinia instead, of course.
They turned the deceased Michael into Captain Bill Martin, a pilot who tragically passed when a plane went down off the coast of Spain. They loaded him with fake documents and forged plans in order to bamboozle the Germans into thinking the Brits and Americans would go elsewhere. Though Hitler had his doubts, the plan worked - the Germans waited patiently in Greece and Sardinia until the Allies stormed Sicily, taking it once and for all. Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley and Royal Navy Intelligence Officer Ewen Montagu were credited with such a shamelessl effective plan.
Poles 'Invented' A Disease To Repel The Nazis
In the small Polish town of Rozwadow, Dr. Eugene Lazowski and Stanislaw Matulewicz discovered that they could inject fellow townspeople with non-living Typhus bacteria, and it would show up positive on blood tests without actually making them sick. During WWII, Lazowski "gave" villagers who were about to be sent off to work or concentration camps the disease.
He was able to convince the German Public Health Authority that Rozwadow was a Typhus-afflicted area, and the Nazis - terrified of the disease - pulled out and quarantined it. His plan saved thousands of Jews from their almost certain demises.
A Fake Army Of Inflatable Tanks Confused The Axis Powers
They were the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. And they were special all right. They weren't even real. To this day, they're called the Ghost Army of WWII. Here's what they did: they simulated actual army units using blow-up tanks, jeeps, airplanes, cannons, and trucks - and positioned them right where enemy reconnaissance would see them. They'd blare loud sounds of angry soldiers doing soldier things. And to finalize the deception, they'd relay pseudo-Morse code in radio broadcasts.
The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops would situate themselves right near the front lines, and impersonate a boastful army of thousands to confuse Hitler's henchmen and make them believe the Allied army was much bigger and stronger than it actually was.
In fact, there were only 1,100 men. And they were civilians - artists, architects, actors, set designers, and engineers. They staged 20 fake battlefields during the war and saved tens of thousands of lives - not bad for a battalion that wasn't even real.
The US Military Spooked The Vietcong By Pretending To Be Ghosts
Operation Wandering Soul was carried out by the Americans during the Vietnam War and involved blaring sounds of ghostly moans and groans from speakers in the woods. The goal was to rattle the Vietcong, and it worked. Vietcong would hear their "fallen comrades" and believe they were haunted by poltergeists, lowering morale.
It played on the popular Vietnamese superstition that souls wandered the earth after life.