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
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.
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.