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Jasper Maskelyne, the magician who fooled the Nazis

He was a little-known British illusionist, unlike his father and grandfather. That’s probably why Jasper enlisted in World War II, to exploit his skills as an illusionist with which he didn’t succeed in England. He would not use weapons against the Germans, but cunning and illusionism.

jasper maskelyne-war magician-second world war-erwin rommel-germany-germans-cairo-alexandria-maryut bay-afrika korps-luftwaffe-magic-ilusionism
Jasper Maskelyne, the “war magician” who fooled the Afrika Korps. DelSol

His most famous interventions occurred while he was stationed in Cairo in the Experimental Camouflage Section, an undercover counter-espionage service. We warn that the story we are about to tell you must be taken with caution, as there are few documents available to back up this episode. It is possible that all the keys are still in the archives of the British intelligence services.

jasper maskelyne-war magician-second world war-erwin rommel-germany-germans-cairo-alexandria-maryut bay-afrika korps-luftwaffe-magic-ilusionism
Inflatable tanks and planes were a trick used on several occasions throughout the war to mislead the enemy. Canal Historia

In 1941, the Luftwaffe intended to bomb the port of Alexandria, an important supply center for British forces, so the British had to find a way to avoid it. How? By reproducing a fake port elsewhere. And that’s what Maskelyne did: he built the Bay of Alexandria out of models. It is said that together with his unit, the “Magic Gang”, he erected buildings, vehicles and even fake boats. Well, it seems that he managed to throw off the German pilots, who in the absence of radar had to be guided by the naked eye, and who ended up bombing the fake port instead of the real one. In fact, he would even have blown up some buildings in the real Alexandria to make the Germans think they had hit the target. Logically, for this and other fascinating strategies, he won recognition as the “war magician”.

jasper maskelyne-war magician-second world war-erwin rommel-germany-germans-cairo-alexandria-maryut bay-afrika korps-luftwaffe-magic-ilusionism
This could have been the false port of Alexandria allegedly built by Jasper Maskelyne. Cultura colectiva

THE FACT

It would also have succeeded in concealing the Suez Canal by means of rotating stroboscopic mirrors and reflectors that at key moments would blind Luftwaffe pilots to miss the shot.

jasper maskelyne-war magician-second world war-erwin rommel-germany-germans-cairo-alexandria-maryut bay-afrika korps-luftwaffe-magic-ilusionism
Jasper had the idea of using mirrors and reflectors to divert the German bombing of the Suez Canal. El reto histórico

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