Operation Fortitude: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Great D-Day Deception

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Ramkass Collection – Fake Divsion Shoulder Patches

2. Fake Army

What good is an inflatable army if you don’t have a fake army of men to compliment the tank balloons? Inflatable tanks and artillery units, wooden and rubber ships and a wooden Hollywood fuel depot do not make a dummy war, but fake armies just might. The collection of fake machinery would mean nothing without a fake army reinforcing the deception.

The Allied high command planned on using ten divisions for the fake Calais assault, 6 of these divisions would be purely fictional and the remaining units were the real American 5th Corps and the British 1st Corps. The fake army group was given the name First US Army Group (FUSAG) and was ‘stationed’ in south-east England.

This deception gave the Germans the impression that the invasion force was much larger than it was. The deception worked so well that even after the Allies landed in Normandy, the Germans were still expecting a much larger invasion coming across the strait of Dover, and that the invasion of Normandy was just a diversion.

The American 5th and British 1st Corps, who would later take part in the Normandy landings had no trouble appearing as a lean fighting machine, ready to take on the Germans at the earliest possibility, but the imaginary units were meant to have over a million men in their ranks, and these dummies had to look active as well. Fake tent cities were erected across the countryside, fake mess halls, fake hospitals and even a fake sewage treatment works were erected.

We can imagine the escapades soldiers get up to when they are preparing to go to battle and it was no different for the fake units of fighting men. The local papers were full of letters from local vicars horrified at the behaviour of the foreign troops, of course these stories were as fake as the rubber tanks and all part of the detailed deception plan, as were the fake shoulder patches worn by operatives on leave in London. To ease the enthusiasm of the fake foreign troops the First US Army Group needed a commander, a fake general.


  • Owl96

    When National Geographic magazine wanted to publish all of the pictures of the Army division patches, they were asked to include the ghost divisions of the First Army Group and they agreed. It gave additional credence to the diversion.