How the Bri­tish de­ceived the Ger­mans over D-Day


History Revealed - - FROM THE EDITOR -

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.

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