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Preparations of the Normandy landing

Operation Fortitude

War Intelligence

In 1943, operation Round-up begins. The Anglo-American transfer a large part of their military forces in England and these maneuvers are noticed by the Axis forces. The Germans quickly understands that is deals with a large-scale amphibious offensive preparation.

To learn more, and to adapt their settings in alert, the intelligence services of the Axis strengthen their presence in England. The Allies, who expected an increase of the German and Italian agents, decide to create a center sending false information to confuse the foreign services. It was the birth of operation Fortitude, led by Control Section in London.

False information sent by the control section are varied: Allied "punched" commando operations are reported to London, as well as troop movements in Norway or to the Pas-de-Calais. The main objective of this strategy is to keep the Germans out from Normandy and deceive them on the preparations for the landing.

A rubber army

To enhance the misleading effect, the Allies decide to build inflatable lures which, seen from a reconnaissance aircraft, are believed to be real units. The south-east landscape of England sees a large amount of fake tanks, transport vehicles and artillery, with painted marks of the 3rd Army commanded by the feared General Patton. In Harbors in the region of Dover, wood or rubber warships and cargoes take place.

The Germans receive in a first-time information from their reconnaissance aircrafts, which indicate that a huge army is organized in England, just opposite to the Pas-de-Calais. Indeed, Luftwaffe aircrafts were quite surprised to be able to fly so easily to the south-east England, while it was not possible do it before the beginning of 1944, due to the large number of British patrols in the area.

In fact, the airmen of the British Royal Air Force were ordered to let come the German reconnaissance aircrafts, but they had still, however, to shoot down enemy bombers. Thus, the German pilots can photograph the sites grouping units together which in truth are just balloons adopting the form of tanks, cannons or warships.


A false landing

The allied strategy aims at protecting both preparations for operation Overlord and also the course of this offensive. Indeed, military Anglos Americans know very well that the first 48 hours of Overlord will decide who is going to win the battle. They have to disembark quickly units that can counter immediate German attacks.

To have the time to establish a beachhead relatively strong in Normandy, the control section of London starts, a few hours before D-Day, a series of maneuvers indicating that a large Allied amphibious attack is in course in front of the Pas-de-Calais. The Germans will have to maintain a significant military force in the region if they fall into the trap, and this force would not be used in other operation areas, as in Normandy.

The air raids are much more intense in the North of France, especially in front of Dover, since May 1944. On the night of June 5 to 6, 1944, several thousand tons of bombs are dropped by Allied bombers in the Pas-de-Calais region. German soldiers of the XVth army are in alert: their generals fear an Allied landing in the area.

To add to the confusion, a flotilla of small boats emitting false radio signatures leave England on June 5, 1944 to go to northern France. The German surveillance operators notice strong echoes on radar and give the alarm: they believe the landing will take place, it will be at the Pas-de-Calais.

The trap of Operation Fortitude strained by the Control Section based in London works perfectly. On D-Day, disturbed by the many contradictory reports from the Pas-de-Calais and Normandy on the night of June 5 to 6, 1944, the Germans believed that the landing on the Normandy beaches was as a diversion, at that the real landing would take place in the Pas-de-Calais.

The German generals were convinced that the Normandy landings was a diversion despite the deployed means. They chose to keep in alert 150,000 men of the fifteenth army in the Pas-de-Calais and decided not to send combat troops in Normandy from this region. Operation Fortitude is a very clear success, so much so that the Germans have engaged the fifteenth army only on August 1944. - Reproduction is submitted to authorization - Contact the webmaster