Camp Bouse and the "Candlelight Caper"


Battalion Roster

Pictures from Justino's service time

Tank #13


The 739th Tank Battalion was one of the last groups to leave Camp Bouse in Butler Valley, Arizona. Bouse was a secret installation used to train men and their tanks in the use of the CDL, or the Canal Defense Light. The camp was hot, dusty, with entertainment in only what you thought up, and the food was always covered in a layer of golden-brown dust. The CDL was the brainchild of Commander Oscar de Thoren of the British Royal Navy. Thoren believed that if a light was turned on and off repeatedly in the time slot of a second, the enemy would be confused because his pupils would dialate and contract so much that his focusing abilities would temporarily be damaged and they would not be able to accurately attack the tank that the CDL was being operated from. Thoren appealed to the British War Office for his light theiry and on the third try, the War Office agreed to test his theory. A crude model was made, tested, and highly recommended. In 1933, Thoren pushed aheadwith his theory and in June 1940 the tests were finished and 300 turrets, called the Canal Defense Light, were ordered to be manufactured. The CDL was stamped "Most Secret" (the equivalent of the U.S. "Top Secret"). The British were impressd with the CDL and tested it with a volunteer at the Lulworth Firing Range in Dorset. The volunteer had only a CDL while his opposition had a 25lb. field gun loaded with live ammunition. The crew loaded, aimed, and fired again and again where they believed the tank to be. The test was terminated and the CDL was pointed towards the ground. It was shown that the tank had been maneuvering back and forth, while the crew could not detect the deception.

The British were so impressed , they decided to show the CDL off to the Americans. A demonstration was arranged, the Americans were impressed, and the technical plans were obtained for the U.S. Thus, the U.S. created Camp Bouse for the training in the use of the CDL.

edwaro keller


Unfortunately, the U.S. did not use the CDLs as was intended, becuase of the fact that they did not respond well in the field. The project was scrapped and the men kept quiet for over fifty years. Many will not talk about their days in Camp Bouse because of the secrecy policy held them to silence.