Παρασκευή, 8 Απριλίου 2016

FUSAG: Patton’s D-Day Army That Didn’t Exist


2
SHARES
An army can help win a war without even existing. Strange as it might seem, that was exactly what happened with the First United States Army Group (FUSAG), a fictional formation that played a key role in the Second World War.

Preparing for D-Day

Landing craft in Southampton ready for the invasion.
Landing craft in Southampton ready for the invasion.
By the spring of 1944, Nazi Germany was on the retreat. The Red Army was pushing German forces back on the Eastern Front while American and British troops fought their way up Italy. Defeat was clearly coming for the Germans.
But for the western powers, this created a problem. The Germans under Kesselring were slowing their advance up Italy, and would become even harder to fight in the mountain passes of the Alps. By the time the British and Americans reached beyond Italy, the Russians might have taken most of Europe, something the western nations feared. After all, they and Russia were allies of convenience.

A seaborne invasion was therefore needed so that they could retake western Europe and invade Germany before it all fell to the Russians. Hitler had built strong defences against this – the so-called Atlantic Wall, a string of positions all along the western European coast. Facing 12,000 fortifications and 6.5 million mines, the Allies needed to weaken the German defence as best they could.
Their solution was to spread out the German troops.

A Trail of False Information

Dummy_aircraft_-_Oct._1943
A dummy aircraft, modelled after the Douglas A-20 Havoc, October 1943
If the Germans knew where the Allies would invade, then they could concentrate both their construction efforts and their troops there. The British therefore undertook a massive campaign of misinformation called Operation Fortitude. By feeding Hitler false information, they hoped to leave him with the impression that an invasion could arrive anywhere along the coast, and at any time. He would be forced to spread his troops thinly, minimising resistance when the D-Day landings came.
Three elements were central to this scheme – double agents, radio signals and the Enigma code. At the start of the war, the British had turned many of the German spies living in their country. These double agents were given false information to feed back to their Nazi spymasters. Meanwhile, misleading radio traffic was put out for the Germans to intercept, allowing them to believe that they were successfully spying on Allied plans. The cracking of the German Enigma code allowed the Allies to understand coded messages they themselves intercepted, and so to know how effective this campaign of misinformation had been, adjusting their plans accordingly.

FUSAG: Patton’s D-Day Army That Didn’t Exist

2
SHARES
An army can help win a war without even existing. Strange as it might seem, that was exactly what happened with the First United States Army Group (FUSAG), a fictional formation that played a key role in the Second World War.

Preparing for D-Day

Landing craft in Southampton ready for the invasion.
Landing craft in Southampton ready for the invasion.
By the spring of 1944, Nazi Germany was on the retreat. The Red Army was pushing German forces back on the Eastern Front while American and British troops fought their way up Italy. Defeat was clearly coming for the Germans.
But for the western powers, this created a problem. The Germans under Kesselring were slowing their advance up Italy, and would become even harder to fight in the mountain passes of the Alps. By the time the British and Americans reached beyond Italy, the Russians might have taken most of Europe, something the western nations feared. After all, they and Russia were allies of convenience.
A seaborne invasion was therefore needed so that they could retake western Europe and invade Germany before it all fell to the Russians. Hitler had built strong defences against this – the so-called Atlantic Wall, a string of positions all along the western European coast. Facing 12,000 fortifications and 6.5 million mines, the Allies needed to weaken the German defence as best they could.
Their solution was to spread out the German troops.

A Trail of False Information

Dummy_aircraft_-_Oct._1943
A dummy aircraft, modelled after the Douglas A-20 Havoc, October 1943
If the Germans knew where the Allies would invade, then they could concentrate both their construction efforts and their troops there. The British therefore undertook a massive campaign of misinformation called Operation Fortitude. By feeding Hitler false information, they hoped to leave him with the impression that an invasion could arrive anywhere along the coast, and at any time. He would be forced to spread his troops thinly, minimising resistance when the D-Day landings came.
Three elements were central to this scheme – double agents, radio signals and the Enigma code. At the start of the war, the British had turned many of the German spies living in their country. These double agents were given false information to feed back to their Nazi spymasters. Meanwhile, misleading radio traffic was put out for the Germans to intercept, allowing them to believe that they were successfully spying on Allied plans. The cracking of the German Enigma code allowed the Allies to understand coded messages they themselves intercepted, and so to know how effective this campaign of misinformation had been, adjusting their plans accordingly.

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