Places to visit

D-Day deception:
"Fortitude South"

Planning D-Day
Atlantic Wall
Creating a phantom landing force

What the Germans expected: German intelligence reports expected the main Allied invasion landings along the Pas-de-Calais and Belgian coast

Planning D-Day
Thousands of soldiers lives were saved by an elaborate but little-known deception in World War II - code-named "Fortitude South". When the Allies started planning the "Second Front" in 1943, they knew that landing on the far side of the channel and securing a bridgehead would be the most difficult part.

Whilst they planned to land in Normandy, they decided to try and deceive the Germans into thinking that the main attack would come in the Pas-de-Calais and the Low Countries to the east. Back to top

The Atlantic Wall
The Germans expected an invasion. They had erected strong fortifications right along the coast: beaches were lethal jungles of mines and barbed wire; guns faced out to sea; reinforcements waited inland.
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Creating a phantom landing force
Inflatable dummy tank WW2 German Aerial photo Dover Harbour Inflatable dummy tank WW2
1. Dummy landing craft 2. German aerial photo of dummy craft in Dover Harbour 3. Inflatable "tank"

From 1943, a skilled team worked to create the illusion of a large invasion force being massed in Kent. Dummy tanks and aircraft were built of inflatable rubber and placed in realistic looking "camps". Harbours were filled with fleets of mock landing craft. To German reconnaissance aircraft, it all looked real, even down to attempts at camouflage. Knowing that German intelligence would be trying to find out more, double agents planted stories and documents with known German spies. US General Patton was supposedly commander of the non-existent force. Pretend radio transmissions were broadcast, just as if a large army were busy being organised.

The hoax was successful beyond the Allies wildest hopes. German forces were concentrated in the Pas-de-Calais. The deception continued during and after D-Day. While the real invasion force landed in Normandy, Allied planes dropped silver foil to give the impression of massed planes and ships crossing from Dover. The Germans thought the Normandy landings were a diversion, and kept back reserves of tanks and troops in the Calais area - to counter what they thought would be the "real" invasion. By the time they realised, it was too late. The Normandy bridgehead had been secured, and Allied troops were fighting their way across northern France. Back to top


Places to visit:
Atlantic Wall Museum - World War 2 coastal fortifications, Audinghen near Cap Gris Nez.

Related background information
Second World War
German 'Vengeance weapons': V1 and V2

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A-Z © Copyright 1999 Invicta Media Last updated 18th November 1999