Operation Bodyguard Part of World War II
Stalin, Roosvelt and Churchill at the 1943 Tehran conference, where Operation Bodyguard was proposed
Operational scope Strategic Planned 1943-44 Planned by London Controlling Section Objective Strategic surprise of the Allied landings in Normandy Executed by SHAEF Ops (B) & Others Outcome Success
Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations during the build up to the 1944 invasion of north-western Europe. The aim of the operation was to mislead the German high command as to the exact date and location of the invasion. Bodyguard proved to be a success, giving the Allies tactical surprise during the Normandy landings on June 6, 1994 (also known as D-Day).
Originally called Plan Jael, the premise was agreed amongst Allied high command at the Tehran Conference in November 1943. Responsibility for the plan was given to the London Controlling Section, who devised three major sub-operations and several smaller manoeuvres (although the plans were implemented by other groups).
The major objective of this plan was to lead the Germans to believe that the invasion of northwestern Europe would come later than was actually planned, and to threaten attacks at other locations than the true objective, including the Pas de Calais, the Balkans, southern France, Norway, and Soviet attacks in Bulgaria and northern Norway.
Originally the operation was known as Plan Jael, a reference to the Old Testament heroine who killed an enemy commander by deception. The overall policy for Jael was agreed during a 1943 meeting of Allied leaders in Tehran. Responsibility was then passed to the London Controlling Section (LCS), a department set up to plan and co-ordinate deception strategies. During an early LCS meeting the plan was renamed to Bodyguard, after a comment from Winston Churchill to Joseph Stalin at the Tehran conference; "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
The main part of Operation Bodyguard was the plan to deceive the enemy as to the timing, weight and direction of the Normandy invasion. Roger Hesketh, who helped plan and carry out the operation while working at 'Ops B', the deception sector of SHAEF, recalled in his book the three main goals of this part of Bodyguard. These were laid down in Appendix Y of COSSAC, a previous deception plan, and were:
- To induce the German command to believe that the main assault and follow up will be in or east of the Pas de Calais, thereby encouraging the enemy to maintain or increase the strength of his air and ground forces and his fortifications there at the expense of other areas, particularly of the Caen area.
- To keep the enemy in doubt as to the date and the time of the actual assault.
- During and after the main assault to contain the largest possible German land and air forces in or east of the Pas de Calais for at least fourteen days.
The London Controlling Section divided Bodyguard into three major sub-operations (Operation Fortitude North and South, and Operation Zeppelin). A number of smaller operations were also designed to support the objectives of the three.
The main aims of Fortitude were to convince the Germans of a greater Allied military strength than existed, and that this would be deployed to invade both Norway and Pas de Calais.
A large part of the various Bodyguard operations involved the use of double agents. The British "Double Cross" anti-espionage operation had proven very successful from the outset of the war. The LCS was able to use double agents to send back misleading information about Allied invasion plans.
By contrast, Allied intelligence was very good. Ultra, signals intelligence from decrypted German radio transmission, confirmed to planners that the German high command believed in the Bodyguard deceptions and gave them the enemies order of battle.
Elements of the Bodyguard plan were in operation on June 6, 1944 in support of Operation Neptune (the amphibious assault of Normandy). Elaborate masquerades were undertaken in the English Channel by small ships and aircraft (Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable) to simulate invasion fleets lying off Pas de Calais. At the same time Operation Titanic involved the RAF dropping fake paratroopers to the east and west of the Normandy landings.
Joan Pujol Garcia, a British double agent (code named Garbo) in high standing with the Germans, transmitted information about the Allied invasion plan with a further warning that the Normandy invasion was a diversion.
List of operations
Whilst Bodyguard was the overall deception strategy for the Allied invasion, under Operation Overlord, the implementation took the form of many sub-operations.
- Operation Fortitude (North and South)
- Operation Zeppelin
- Operation Royal Flush
- Operation Vendetta
- Operation Graffham
- Jablonsky, David (1991). Churchill, the great game and total war. Frank Cass.
- Cave Brown, Anthony (1975). Bodyguard of Lies: The Extraordinary True Story Behind D-Day.
- Hesketh, Roger (2000). Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press. ISBN 1585670758.
- Latimer, John (2001). Deception in War. New York: Overlook Press. ISBN 978-1585673810.
- Masterman, John C (1972). The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939 to 1945. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0708104590.
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1981). "Eisenhower, the Intelligence Community, and the D-Day Invasion". The Wisconsin Magazine of History (Wisconsin Historical Society) 64 (4): pp. 261-277. ISSN 00436534.
- Lewin, Ronald (2001) , Ultra goes to War (Penguin Classic Military History ed.), London: Penguin Group, ISBN 978-0141390420 Focuses on the battle-field exploitation of Ultra material.
- Mallmann-Showell, J.P. (2003). German Naval Code Breakers. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2888-5. OCLC 181448256.
- Sexton, Donal J. (1983). "Phantoms of the North: British Deceptions in Scandinavia, 1941-1944". Military Affairs (Society for Military Histor) 47 (3): pp. 109-114. ISSN 00263931.
Allied military deception in World War II General Organizations Units Fictional divisions Operations
- Operation Accumulator
- Operation Barclay
- Operation Bertram
- Operation Boardman
- Operation Bodyguard
- Operation Cascade
- Operation Chettyford
- Operation Cockade
- Operation Copperhead
- Operation Ferdinand
- Operation Fortitude
- Operation Hardboiled
- Operation Ironside
- Operation Mincemeat
- Operation Quicksilver
- Operation Scherhorn
- Operation Skye
- Operation Span
- Operation Zeppelin
Leadership Other people Other
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