Operation Fortitude, was part of a deceptive strategy, called Operation Bodyguard, which took place prior to the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. The allies intent, was to deceive the Germans into thinking the real invasion would take place elsewhere, and not at the beaches of Normandy.
The enemy must not know where I intend to give battle. For if he does not know where I
intend to give battle he must prepare in a great many places. And when he prepares in
a great many places, those I have to fight in any one place will be few…And when he
prepares everywhere he will be weak everywhere.
(Chinese Military General, author of the Art of War)
Operation Fortitude, was divided into two parts, both which were outfitted with fake field armies. The first was located in Edinburgh, Scotland, called Fortitude North, the other, Pas de Calais-Fortitude South. The goal, was to mislead the German high command, as to the location of the actual invasion at Normandy.
In an odd twist, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, was also a diversionary tactic. It was hoped that the real invading forces, would be seen as a diversionary tactic, for the fake invasion forces, stationed at Pas de Calais. The intent, was to delay any German reinforcements of the Normandy beaches, which in reality succeeded.
The gist of the operations, consisted of five main parts:
- Mislead the enemy by means of fake units, using fake infrastructure, rubber tanks and wooden artillery pieces.
- Control leaks through diplomatic channels.
- Use wireless communications to simulate actual unit movements.
- Capture and turn German agents who had infiltrated England, into “double agents,” in order to send false information back to Germany. (49 German agents were captured and turned into double agents for Britain).
- Make public, the presence of notable Generals and Staff of the fake armies. (General George S. Patton commanded the fake army of the FUSAG-First U.S. Army Group).
Several things were notable in Operation Fortitude’s success:
- German aerial reconnaissance was virtually non-existent at that time.
- All of Germany’s Agents in Britain had been captured and turned into double agents.
- Diplomatic leaks proved worthless and were dropped.
- Misleading wireless communications regarding the build-up of the fake armies and their potential invasion locations, were paramount in the success of the deception operations.
Operation Fortitude, was successful, beyond hope. Hitler was fooled into thinking that an invasion at Normandy was a ruse, and kept his Panzer forces at bay.
Wikipedia, Operation Fortitude
Wikipedia/File: DummyShermanTank.jpg USFG-PD
Symbol of 1st U.S. Army Group, 12 December 2007, Source: Wikipedia, User:Vindicator