I had the pleasure of playing the title role of Jasper Maskelyne in this very interesting Television Production of "The War Illusionist", which Tom Cruise will revise in the movie "The War Magician".
It is the unique story of the British Stage Magician, Jasper Maskelyne who, when war broke out, offered his 'special skills' to the War Dept. He promptly enlisted in the British Army and attempted to convince the Generals that his skills as an illusionist could be put to use against the Germans. At first, he was laughed at, "What could we possibly use a magician for?" He was asked. "If I could fool an audience only twenty feet away, I could certainly fool the enemy a mile away or more!" He answered. He was put into Camouflage School, where he succeeded in hiding a Machine-gun Bunker so completely that the Inspecting General couldn't find it (even when he was standing right on top of it). Jasper had made his point! He was sent to North Africa, where he put together a hand-picked team of men. His first job was to hide Alexandria Harbour from the Luftwaffe's nightly bombing raids. With the Magician's ability of 'mis-direction', he and his team created a phony harbour some miles away, which looked so like the original, that the invading bombers dropped their cargo on that instead of the correct target. His next task was to hide the Suez Canal, which by using a series of Anti-Aircraft searchlights combined with a collection of mirrors, Jasper and his team caused a 'blinding effect', which confused the Luftwaffe Pilots so, that they couldn't see the target to bomb it. He then put his 'skills' to disguising British tanks to look like harmless trucks and vice-versa. Rommel placed his main forces to oppose, what he thought was a strong force of British tanks, which in reality, were only trucks disguised as tanks. Meanwhile the real British tank force (disguised as trucks) were about to attack many miles away, against a now, very small opposing force. It was due, in no small part, to the stage illusionist, Jasper Maskelyne, that the British 8th Army won the battle of El Alamein, which spelled the end of the Afrika Korps' and General Field Marshall Rommel's aspirations in North Africa.
>>By Sean Barry-Weske (Monday, 17 Feb 2003 13:09)
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