Operation Titanic – Normandy landing

Operation Titanic

D-Day air operations

A copy of a canvas dummy nicknamed “Rupert” and used during Operation Titanic to mislead the German intelligence services.
Photo: IWM

In order to mislead the German military forces both on their intentions, on their mode of operation and on their overall capabilities on D-Day, the Allies imagined to drop fake units over Normandy at the same time as the actual airborne operations.

This deception operation, which is responsible for blurring the tracks, is carried out by canvas mannequins, hung on parachutes. The Allies choose certain drop zones in order to make the most of this incredible deception maneuver: they select the region of Saint-Lô, Yvetot, the south of Caen and the east of the Orne river.

Plan of the deception operations carried out by the Allies on the night of June 5-6, 1944 in preparation for Operation Overlord. Operation Titanic is one of them.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, in full darkness, the “Rupert” mannequins are dumped over the drop zones: 200 at Saint-Lô, 200 at Yvetôt, 50 south of Caen and 50 east of the Orne. These mannequins are fifty centimeters long and are made of burlap. Some models are equipped with devices to generate automatic weapon sounds.

To increase the realism effect of the ambient sound, six Special Air Service commandos divided into two teams are parachuted together with the 200 mannequins destined for the Yvetôt region. They carry with them sound equipment broadcasting shooting sounds that they put into action once on the ground.

To prevent the Germans from detecting this deception too soon, the models are also equipped with a self-destructing system which activates shortly after landing, so that the Germans can only discover parachutes without their owner.

These dummies, nicknamed “Rupert”, are dropped from Short Stirling light bombers. When flying over their drop zones on D-Day, two aircraft are shot down by German anti-aircraft defense.