One of the War’s greatest deception operations
As D-Day approached, Kent became the stage for one of the War’s greatest deception plans, Operation Fortitude South. In order to mislead the German army and conceal the real location of the Allied invasion of Western Europe, extensive military preparations were made around Dover. But it was all fake.
Operation Fortitude sought to mislead the German army and conceal the real location of the foreseen Allied invasion of Normandy (June 1944). Operation Fortitude North was designed to give the impression of an impending Allied invasion of Norway, while Operation Fortitude South was to develop a mock invasion at Pas-de-Calais, all working to divert German troops away from Normandy.
For the Germans, Pas-de-Calais looked to be the obvious place for an Allied invasion into Europe, offering the shortest route across the Channel. A fictitious 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG) was placed in Kent, supported by the construction of roads, bridges, buildings, airfields and embarkation points where dummy airplanes and landing crafts were stationed. Even false radio transmissions were made.
A decrypted transmission from the Japanese Ambassador to his government, recounting a conversation with Hitler, revealed that the Germans indeed expected an Allied invasion via the Straits of Dover. On 5 June 1944, a mock invasion was launched from Dover, while the real invasion on 6 June, Operation Overlord, successfully delivered 185.000 troops across to Normandy.
Even long after the Normandy landings, Adolf Hitler retained his best troops in Pas-de-Calais, expecting an even larger invasion at a later date.
D-Day is one of the most remembered campaigns of the Second World War. The operation involved troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and several other countries. On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces sailed across the English Channel to begin their campaign to gain victory against the German forces. Planning the invasion was an enormous undertaking.
At the frontline of England’s defences for many centuries, Dover has often been subjected to attacks from foreign invaders. During the Second World War, the area was set up as the base camp of the fictitious 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG), part of the top secret Operation Fortitude.
At the first phase of the Second World War, the tunnels of Dover Castle housed the command centre of the great evacuation of Dunkerque (Operation Dynamo). Later, Dover Castle and the surrounding area were also used as the notional centre of the fictitious 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG). From here misleading radio signals were broadcast as part of Operation Fortitude South.
As part of the planning for Operation Overlord, it was decided that artificial harbours would be needed in order to offload the heavy and bulky cargo needed to mount a successful invasion of Normandy. These harbours were built in Britain, towed across the channel and then assembled by the army once in the waters surrounding France.
While preparing for Operation Overlord, the Allied strategists decided they to build two artificial, pre-fabricated ports in Normandy. These were considered essential for bringing reinforcements and equipment to the Continent. The remains of the port of Arromanches are still visible today as silent witnesses to this bold gamble and stunning technical achievement.
The Overlord Museum can be found in Colleville-sur-mer just a short distance from Omaha beach. The museum retraces the period of the Allied landings in Normandy until the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944. The museum’s collection displays personal items from individual soldiers and armoured fighting vehicles from the six armies in Normandy.
Re-opened in April 2018, the D-Day Story takes the visitors through the build up to the event, D-Day itself and the Battle of Normandy. The story is told through the perspectives of the people involved using objects, interactives and video. The impressive 83-metre long Overlord Embroidery offers a fantastic finale to the visit.
During the Second World War much of the Allied planning for operations was conducted in London. The plans for Operation Overlord (D-Day) were finalised at Southwick House in Hampshire. This became the headquarters of the main Allied commanders, led by General Eisenhower. The whole of the village was taken over by the Allied command.
Juan Pujol Garcia, known by the British codename Garbo, was a double agent during the Second World War. Pujol played a key role in the success of Operation Fortitude, misleading the Germans about the timing and location of the Allied invasion of Normandy, convincing them that it would happen via Pas-de-Calais.
The longest Day 6 June 1944 entered history under the now legendary name of D-Day, the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy. It was the most dramatic part of Operation Overlord, that marked the beginning of the liberation of