Thursday, June 02, 2005

The War Magician

Ever thought that what can a magician do during war? Think magic is just an entertainment? Read this:

"Jasper Maskelyne, was born in 1902 in England, a music hall conjurer, never fired a shot in battle, but his amazing feats played a key role in the Allied victory in Africa. Among his many triumphs, Maskelyne “hid” the Suez Canal and conjured up illusions of armies and battleships, fooling German forces led by General Erwin Rommel into retreat. The grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne, one of the founding fathers of British magic, Maskelyne was a celebrated stage magician before the war. Convinced he could use his skills to help the army, Maskelyne wooed sceptical officials by creating the illusion of a German warship floating down the Thames using mirrors and a model. He was placed in charge of the Royal Engineers Camouflage Corps and sent to Egypt where he performed some genuine mission impossibles. Asked to prevent the Germans from bombing Alexandria Harbour, the conjurer redirected the bombers by recreating the harbour’s exact lighting pattern three miles away. He “vanished” the Suez Canal by building a series of spinning strobe lights to put pilots off their bearings. Maskelyne’s greatest triumph came in 1942 when he successfully convinced Rommel that the British Eighth Army was in the south of the Egyptian desert and that the Alamein attack would begin there rather than in the north. Although praised privately by Churchill and hunted by Hitler, Maskelyne ended his days in relative obscurity as a farmer in Kenya and died in 1973."

Click here to know more about him.

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