An inflatable dummy tank modelled after the M4 Sherman during Operation Fortitude, Southern England, United Kingdom, 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
June 6, 1944, the 75th Anniversary of the famous D-Day Invasion of Normandy is today…the day (literally) the tide was turned …and from that point on …the Allies began gaining territories back from Germany, the Axis Powers…sealing the outcome of WWII by the United States and her courageous Allies… the victors.
As an American History teacher…I always saved the last week of school to show the movie The Longest Day (it was also the longest movie made to date at that time) and it literally took a week of classes to complete it. The students were spellbound…even in black and white while reading the German conversations with written sub-titles.
The students knew Teddy Roosevelt, Jr’s ships would mistakenly land on Utah Beach (due to the currents) and not Omaha as scheduled…with Roosevelt’s famous words…“Well..we will just start the war from here!” (Henry Fonda played the part of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. in The Longest Day)
Roosevelt was assigned as assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division. In this role, he led the first wave of troops ashore at Utah Beach during the Normandy Landings in June 1944. He was the only general and the oldest (56) ….(also known as the toughest officer) to lead his men into battle on D-Day. He remained calm and directed his men into battle.
He died in France of a heart attack the following month; at the time of his death, he had been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross to recognize his heroism at Normandy. The recommendation was subsequently upgraded, and Roosevelt was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.
We had also studied a lot about all the tricks that went into deceiving the Germans as to the actual site of the invasion…”The key objective of Operation Bodyguard was to convince the Germans that the invasion of northwest Europe would come later than planned but also convince the German high command to expect attacks in Norway, the Balkans, the Mediterranean coast off France or, most notably, the Pas de Calais region…the narrowest stretch of land between the bodies of water.”
In order to pull off this most critical deception of the real invasion location… several prevarications were devised…one being Operation Fortitude.
“Fortitude was to suggest that a larger invasion would occur in Norway or Calais and that Normandy was really a decoy. The overall operation was broken down into two parts: Fortitude South and Fortitude North. South was intended to mislead the Germans that the Allies were building up for an invasion at Pas de Calais, the narrowest part of the English Channel; while North was designed to convince the Germans that the Allies would launch an invasion of Norway.”
“Because the Germans didn’t know where the real invasion was coming there weren’t a lot of soldiers actually at the beach, but they had a lot of troops inland.” “Fortitude and its smaller operations helped convince the Germans not to move to Normandy immediately.”
A phantom army had to be built using fake tanks, fake landing crafter (“BigBobs”) and dummy paratroopers (“Ruperts.”)
(British Fake Tanks)
“Big Bobs”- display of dummy landing craft, which were made of wood and canvas and nicknamed “Bigbobs” as well as inflatable tanks.
I remember one scene in the movie “The Longest Day” showing the Germans’ surprised expressions when they went after “Allied”paratroopers falling from the sky… only to discover they were dummy paratroopers…nicknamed “Ruperts.”
As each decoy Rupert was dropped from the planes…they were told to “Go get’em for God and country.”
Shoulder patch of the 135th Airborne Division, a non-existent “ghost” unit that was part of the First United States Army Group. (Collection of Peter Suciu)
So until tomorrow…We have talked so many times on the blog posts about how important creativity is …schools need to produce students who can think outside the box…the Invasion of Normandy is a prime example of the importance of creativity in critical situations and how it can literally change history.
Today we should remember the thousands of American and Allied soldiers who sacrificed their lives during this famous invasion so that we can live in freedom….let’s make sure that as “WE, the People” we are vigilant of this tremendous responsibility…let freedom continue to ring for all its citizens.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
It is amazing what a little natural rainfall can do that a hose can’t…after two afternoons of some scattered showers the plants and flowers are already starting to look better and healthier than I have seen them in weeks.