Operation Quicksilver (WWII)

In World War II, Operation Quicksilver (Allies, 1944) was a sub-plan of Operation Fortitude, the 1944 deception plan designed to induce the Germans to hold troops away from Normandy in belief that the Normandy landing was only a feint and that the major invasion would come in the Pas-de-Calais. The key element of Quicksilver was the creation in German minds that "First United States Army Group" (FUSAG) commanded by General George Patton supposedly would land in the Pas-de-Calais for the major invasion of Europe, after the landings in Normandy had lured the German defenders to that front. (FUSAG was a genuine army group headquarters which later became Omar Bradley's 12th Army Group, but was given a fictitious role and many non-existent divisions for purposes of deception.)

Joan Pujol Garcia, known by the British code name Garbo and the German code name Arabel, was a double agent loyal to the Allies who played a crucial role in the deception by supplying Germany with detailed information from a network of non-existent sub-agents supporting the idea that the main invasion was to be in the Pas-de-Calais.


Quicksilver was subdivided into six subplans numbered I through VI:

  1. Quicksilver I was the basic "story" for Fortitude: the First United States Army Group, based in the southeast of England, was to land in Pas-de-Calais after German reserves were committed to Normandy.[1]
  2. Quicksilver II was the radio deception plan of Quicksilver, involving the apparent movement of units from their true locations to southeastern England.[2]
  3. Quicksilver III was the display of dummy landing craft, including associated simulated wireless traffic and signing of roads and special areas.[3]
  4. Quicksilver IV was the air plan for Quicksilver, including bombing of the Pas-de-Calais beach area and tactical railway bombing immediately before D-Day.[4]
  5. Quicksilver V was increased activity around Dover (giving impression of extra tunneling, additional wireless stations), to suggest embarkation preparations.[5]
  6. Quicksilver VI was night lighting to simulate activity at night where dummy landing craft were situated.

Quicksilver, like the rest of Fortitude South, was devised by Colonel David Strangeways, Montgomery's deception officer, and carried out under his supervision. Strangeways was very adept at deceiving the Germans. His ideas throughout the war had the Germans duped many times.

The operation was carried out by means of false radio signals purporting to show units massing in southeastern England, together with false reports to German intelligence by double agents provided by the Double Cross System. Allowing one of the double agents to claim to have stolen documents describing the closely guarded invasion plans might have aroused suspicion. Instead, agents were allowed to report minutiae such as insignia on soldiers' uniforms and unit markings on vehicles. The observations in the south-central areas largely gave accurate information about the units located there: the actual invasion forces. Reports from southwest England indicated few troop sightings, when in reality many units were housed there. Reports from the southeast depicted the real and the notional Quicksilver forces. Any military planner would know that to mount a massive invasion of Europe from England, Allied units had to be staged around the country, with those that would land first nearest to the invasion point. German intelligence used the agent reports to construct an order of battle for the Allied forces that placed the center of gravity of the invasion force opposite Pas de Calais, the point on the French coast closest to England and therefore a likely invasion site. The deception was so effective that the Germans kept 15 reserve divisions near Calais even after the invasion had begun at Normandy, lest it prove to be a diversion from the "real" invasion at Calais.[6]

Contrary to a widespread misconception, the FUSAG deception was not primarily implemented with dummy tanks, airplanes, or other dummy equipment, since at that stage of the war the Germans were unable to fly reconnaissance planes over England and such effort would have been wasted. Dummy landing craft were stationed at ports in eastern and southeastern England where they might be observed by the Germans.[7][8] (The Allies did possess extensive dummy equipment, which was used in North Africa and later in continental Europe.)


  1. ^ Deuve, Jean. Histoire secrete des stratagemes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. pp. 231–233. ISBN 978-83-7495-858-5. 
  2. ^ Deuve, Jean. Histoire secrete des stratagemes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. 978-83-7495-858-5. pp. 234–238. ISBN 978-83-7495-858-5. 
  3. ^ Deuve, Jean. Histoire secrete des stratagemes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. 978-83-7495-858-5. pp. 238–239. ISBN 978-83-7495-858-5. 
  4. ^ Deuve, Jean. Histoire secrete des stratagemes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. 978-83-7495-858-5. pp. 239–242. ISBN 978-83-7495-858-5. 
  5. ^ Deuve, Jean. Histoire secrete des stratagemes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. 978-83-7495-858-5. pp. 242. ISBN 978-83-7495-858-5. 
  6. ^ Masterman, John C (1972), The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939 to 1945, Australian National University Press, p. 223ff, ISBN 978-0708104590, http://www.amazon.com/double-cross-system-war-1939-1945/dp/0708104592 
  7. ^ Holt, Thaddeus (2004), The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, New York: Scribner, p. 537, ISBN 0-7432-5042-7 
  8. ^ Howard, Michael (1990), British Intelligence in the Second World War, Vol. 5: Strategic Deception, New York: Cambridge U. Press, p. 120, ISBN 0-11-630954-7 

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