An inflatable Army helped D-Day to succeed

allthatsinteresting.com From a distance or from the air, this inflatable, 1:1 scale model balloon of an M-4 A-4 Sherman tank was one of many fakes created to deceive the Germans in the months before the Normandy Invasion.

DOVER — D-Day was an Allied codeword for the day selected for an amphibious landing; H-Hour was the planned time of day the invasion would begin. In this case, D-Day was the date selected for the invasion of northern France, the overall plan of which was named Operation Overlord.

Operation Overlord was the largest joint-military amphibious operation in history, and took two years to plan, because of the scope and complexity of the action. It also required that much to acquire supplies, equipment, machinery, as well as the water craft to execute such an operation. It would also require several supporting operations, such as Quicksilver.

Operation Quicksilver was necessary to convincing the Germans that the invasion of France would occur at Pas de Calais. Operation Quicksilver created fictional division within fictional armies that composed the fictional First United States Army Group (FUSAG), being put together at Dover in England.

To add credence to the deception, General Dwight D. Eisenhower placed in command of the phantom group, General George Smith Patton, Jr., Germans respected as the Allies’ best general. Patton at the time, however, was unemployed, having been relieved of 7th Army for slapping a shell-shocked soldier in Sicily. Compounding the insult for Patton, as well as the soldier, the private was not shell-shocked; he was soon after diagnosed with Malaria.

Officially organized as the 1st Headquarters Special Troops (Operation Quicksilver) and known as the Ghost Army, the unit was a 10-15 man unit of actor/soldiers with the mission of impersonating other Allied units in order to deceive the the enemy.

Deceptions included generated fake radio traffic, troop movements and military vehicles that were actually balloons, but looked real from airplanes.

The deception worked, thanks to double agents who infiltrated the ficticious Army Group, and sent back reports to the German high command to still further convince them of that the organization did exist and that its mission was the invasion of Pas de Calais.


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