How the British deceived the Germans over D-Day
DWIGHT D EISENHOWER
As World War II reached its final stages, the world knew something big was coming. Though the exact plans for the D-Day landings were top-secret, people on both sides already anticipated an invasion – they just weren’t sure where or when it would take place. For the Allies, the element of surprise would make or break the entire operation. Then, on the dreary morning of 6 June 1944, the momentous events of D-Day became clear to all. However, its success almost came down to luck.
Several months earlier, an enormous deception plan had been launched by the Allied nations, named Operation Fortitude. It aimed to take the attention away from Normandy and trick the Axis powers into thinking the landings would take place further up the coast or in Norway. Luckily, the ploy was more successful than the Allies could have possibly hoped for.
The Nazis had largely prepared for an invasion of Calais, since spies working for the British had provided them with incorrect intelligence, and fake planes and artillery placed in Kent had fooled them. Even on D-Day itself, Nazi High Command still believed the Normandy landings were a distraction from the expected, larger Calais siege, which never came. They did not realise their mistake until it was too late.
Back at home in Britain, the first report on D-Day came from a homing pigeon named Gustav, whose message that the invasion was well underway was eagerly received by the army, government and press. But the war wasn’t over yet. It would be another year before Hitler was defeated, and the world could be at peace once more.
FLYING OBSTACLES ‘Barrage balloons’ tethered with metal cables were intended to defend against dive-bombers, forcing them higher and into the range of anti-aircraft fire.