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D-Day Secrets And Deception Games

Learn more about the critical, lesser-known operations that helped with the success of D-Day.

Bletchley Park

Critical to D-Day’s success was Bletchley Park.

Code-breakers cracked the Enigma and Lorenz codes used by Nazi commanders, meaning disinformation to keep D-Day secret could be passed to the enemy lines and monitored.

	Hut 8, Turing Office - Image by Bureau for Visual Affairs, courtesy of Bletchley Park Trust
Hut 8, Turing's Office (Picture: Bureau for Visual Affairs, courtesy of Bletchley Park Trust).

Operation Fortitude

Operation Fortitude created “ghost armies” in the north and in the south.

Military artists created fake aircraft and vehicles to divert attention from Normandy and trick Hitler’s forces into expecting invasions in Norway and at Calais.

The tactic paid off, as code-breakers at Bletchley Park decoded an intercept from Japan suggesting that Norway and Calais are indeed the two locations where Hitler is expecting an attack.

Operation Fortitude 040419 CREDIT IWM.
A "ghost tank" used during Operation Fortitude (Picture: Imperial War Museums).

Surprise Sea Invasion

The Allies secured the element of surprise. What was left to do was land the Army from the sea.

Thousands of landing craft transported men and equipment to the shores of Normandy.

Thanks to the deception game and the arrival by the sea, the Allied forces were able to land despite extensive Nazi defences.

Royal Marines land at Normandy in June 1944 (Picture: PA).
Royal Marines arrive in Normandy on 6 June 1944 (Picture: PA).

Silent Aircraft

Far from the sea and up in the skies, gliders have a critical tactical role.

Horsa gliders flew Allied forces deep behind enemy lines as silently as possible.

Handley Page Halifaxes of No 38 Group RAF towing Hamilcar gliders carrying part of 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, towards the Normandy coast on the evening of 6 June 1944 070419 CREDIT IWM
Handley Page Halifaxes of No 38 Group RAF towing Hamilcar gliders carrying part of 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, towards the Normandy coast (Picture: Imperial War Museums).

Amphibious Tanks

In preparation for D-Day, tests were carried out to ensure that tanks could be amphibious.

DD tanks - nicknames 'Donald Duck tanks' - were used by America, British and Canadian forces on 6 June 1944.

Shermans were fitted with propellers and flotation screens.

Six floating tanks never made it to D-Day, sinking and killing six crew in preparation for the Normandy landings.

A Sherman DD amphibious tank with waterproof float screen
A Sherman DD amphibious tank with waterproof float screens.

Mulberries

In order to be able to resupply the frontline from the sea, artificial harbours known as Mulberries were created from old ships and large concrete structures were created.

Adding floating roadways and piers allowed to access the beachhead.