TIL Leading up to Normandy, MI-5 conducted one of the largest military deception efforts to convince the Germans that a landing would instead take place at Calais; going so far as to fake a whole army, with radio messages of “coded” gibberish, fake vehicles, and ersatz camps to fool recon planes

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All warfare is based on deception – Sun Tzu The real gambit is waiting to see if your adversary will take the bait.


* Learn that Hitler and the German High Command are confident that Calais will the point of invasion since it’s the shortest distance away and has significant harbor facilities. * Use inflatable vehicles and movie-prop-quality buildings to fool the recon aircraft while letting some to get through the air defenses to make sure they report what the Allies want them to see. * Create coded and plain-language radio traffic to mimic entire divisions practicing maneuvers, including embark/debark drills. * Take a 2-star general that has had battlefield success, but political and PR missteps and put him in the area in some public appearances. * Then have your turned spies keep confirming everything the Germans could see, hear, and suspect. * Also take steps to make Germany believe that an invasion may be coming through Norway or Holland from Scotland instead of through France. To keep the lie going, drop dummies with pyrotechnics and parachutes in between actual parachute drops so that the Germans report that it’s a fake airborne invasion, all while the double agents are reporting for days that Normandy is still the fake operation.


I love the deception of World War II. Everything from the fake military equipment to double agents. My favorite story is when the British use the body of a vagrant who died on the street to convince the Germans not to reinforce Sicily prior to its invasion. They took a dead homeless guy, dressed him up as a British officer, and put fake correspondence on him indicating the plans to invade Sicily were a deception and the actual invasion target was Greece. They then brought the body close to the Spanish shore with a submarine and let it drift in. They knew that it would be picked up by the Spanish who, in their attempt to remain neutral, would share the information on the body with the Germans before returning it to the British. Which is exactly what happened. Right away, codebreakers working for the Allies reported that transmissions indicated Axis reinforcements were moving to Greece before and even during the invasion of Sicily. The Germans were convinced it was a ruse, even days after they became aware of the Allied landings beginning in Sicily.


Nice to see ‘ersatz’ in use. 👍🏾


And it worked, causing Hitler to hold back Panzer forces long enough for the invasion at Normandy to move inland