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Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II

In times of conflict and war, a good strategy can be the difference between victory and defeat. In WWII, the American Army receives help from artists to create a daring strategy to fool the enemy. This is the story of the Ghost Army.

~By Dana Nöllsch~

We had the opportunity to see Ghost Army at the Nevada Museum of Art. It is a great exhibit and educational of a time of great conflict. I was fascinated by the use of artists to create these decoys designed to fool the enemy.

Also on display is art that soldiers created on the front lines. Ghost Army is an exhibit you should see next time you are at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Here is an excerpt from the Museum’s press release that tells more about Ghost Army.

“The unique and top-secret “Ghost Army” unit — comprised of 82 officers and 1,023 men — was the brainchild of Colonel Billy Harris and Major Ralph Ingersoll. Activated on January 20, 1944, under the command of Army veteran Colonel Harry L. Reeder, the group was capable of simulating two whole divisions (approximately 30,000 troops) by using visual, sonic and radio deception to fool German forces during the final year of World War II. Armed with nothing heavier than .50-caliber machine guns, the 23rd took part in 22 large-scale deceptions in Europe from Normandy to the Rhine River, the bulk of the unit arriving in England in May 1944, shortly before D-Day.

Ghost Army explores the bravery, heroics and tactical brilliance of a first –
of-its kind military unit,” said Erin Clancey, Associate Vice President of Collections and Exhibits at The National WWII Museum. “Although their efforts were classified for over 50 years, the deceptive and groundbreaking strategies used on the battlefield saved lives and played a significant role in Allied victory. The National WWII Museum is proud to highlight their vital contributions that went unrecognized following the war.”

Ghost Army features inflatable military pieces, historical narrative text panels detailing unit operations, profiles of unit officers, archival photography and sketches and uniforms from unit officers. The exhibit presents exclusive, original content from The National WWII Museum archives along with a historical artifact collection curated and donated to the Museum by Ghost Army Legacy Project President and Exhibit Consultant Rick Beyer. The exhibition debuted at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans in March 2020 before embarking on a national tour to share the story of the Ghost Army with communities across the country.”

Check out the photos from the opening of Ghost Army

Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II will be on view through July 23, 2023, in the John Hawley Olds Lagatta Gallery.

For more information, go to the Nevada Museum of Art’s website at:

There are also a series of Programs and events that go with the Ghost Army Exhibit. To find out more about these events, go to:

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