ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: “The D-Day Deception” – with National WWII Museum Curator Corey Graff
Cory Graff (Website, LinkedIn) joins Andrew (Twitter, LinkedIn) to discuss the D-Day deception operation to mask the landings at Normandy. Cory is a Curator at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
What You’ll Learn
- Deception tactics used by the Allies
- The core deception operations BODYGUARD and FORTITUDE
- The German secret agents who became British “double agents”
- The “Ghost Army” and General Patton’s fictitious First U.S. Army Group
- Intelligence in the World War II Museum
- Appearance and intention
- The essential unknowability of the world
And much, much more …
On June 6th, 1944, thousands of troops from Great Britain, Canada, and the United Stated landed on the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France. At the time, this operation, since known as the D-Day Invasion, was the largest amphibious military operation in history. The success of the D-Day landings, largely due to the usage of clever deception techniques employed by the Allies, catalyzed the beginning of the end for the Second World War.
This week on SpyCast, curator Cory Graff joins Andrew directly from The National World War II Museum in the Big Easy. They discuss how the Allies tricked Hitler and the German military into convincing them the landings would actually happen in Pas-de-Calais, approximately 250 miles or so north-east from where they would actually be. They also discuss the success of a number of smaller operations and the work of double-agents working for the Allies who built up a network of deception around the D-Day Landings that ultimately led to the Nazi’s demise.
The National World War II Museum holds over 250,000 artifacts in its collection. To put this into perspective: That number is about 25,000 items larger than the total population of Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, and about double the number of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Quotes of the Week
“During the evenings, French Resistance is taking over and blowing up train tracks and sort of funneling people this way. And that's another thing to talk about when we talk about D-Day is, intelligence was gained from French citizens beforehand. And the night of the 5th & 6th, we witnessed something like a thousand points of sabotage within the area directed at the Germans.” – Cory Graff on the French Resistance’s contribution to D-Day
- The D-Day episode of the landmark documentary The World at War (“Morning: June-August 1944 (Ep. 17 of 26)”), which features the RAF meteorologist who persuaded Eisenhower to change the date from June 5 to June 6, James Stagg, and the commander of the U.S. Army VII Corps who landed at Utah Beach, General “Lightning Joe” Collins.
- St. Ermin’s Hotel, London – The History of a Legendary Spy Site with Stephen Duffy (2023)
- Hitler’s Trojan Horse – Nazi Intelligence with Nigel West (2023)
- Nazis on the Potomac with former National Park Service Chief Historian Bob Sutton (2022)
- The Nuclear Doomsday Machine – with Sean Maloney on Cold War Emergency Plans (2022)
- Here’s what happened on D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion ever undertaken, CNN (2021) [1 min. video]
- When and How Did World War II End?, R. Wilde, ThoughtCo (2020 [Short article]
- The 10 Things You Need to Know about D-Day, Imperial War Museum (n.d.) [10 quick facts]
- D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, B. Antony (Penguin, 2014)
- Agent Garbo, S. Talty (Mariner Books, 2012)
- The Double-Cross System, J. C. Masterman (The Lyons Press, 2000)
- Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign, R. Hesketh (St. Ermin’s Press, 2000)
- Operation Mincemeat: The incredible plot that tricked Hitler, N. Tripney, BBC (2022)
- 5 Double Agents Who Set the Stage for D-Day, L. Coontz, Coffee or Die Magazine (2021)
- Forgotten Fights: Operation Dragoon and the Decline of the Anglo-American Alliance, C. Zinsou, National World War II Museum (2020)
- Secret Agents, Secret Armies: The D-Day Misfit Spies, W. Wolf, National World War II Museum (2020)
- What’s the Most Accurate D-Day Movie? Here’s What 3 Movies Got Right—and Wrongv, O. B. Waxman, TIME (2020)
- Overlord/Bodyguard: Intelligence Failure through Adversary Deception, T. J. Smith, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (2014)
- Deception at D-Day, D. Graham, Army University Press (2022)
- Concealing D-Day: The Deception That Won The War, Timeline World History Documentaries, YouTube (2021)
- General Eisenhower’s Order of the Day, National Archives (1944)
- In Case of Failure Message from Gen. Eisenhower, Eisenhower Presidential Library (1944)
- Overlord – Anvil Papers, Eisenhower Presidential Library (1944)
- Report of the 82nd Airborne Division, “Operation Neptune”, Eisenhower Presidential Library (1944)
- Neptune Monograph, The D-Day Story Museum (1944)
- Bertram “Bud” Hannam: Canadian Army, Veterans Affairs Canada (Collected 2014)
- Charley Fox: Canadian Air Force, Veterans Affairs Canada (Collected 2014)
- Claud C. Woodring: US Army, Library of Congress (Collected 2003)
- Shields Wilson: US Navy, Library of Congress (Collected 2003)
- Robert H. Powell: US Air Force, Library of Congress (Collected 2003)
- Walter Michael Sanders: British Marines, Imperial War Museum (Collected 1994)
- Geoffrey Sydney Barkway: British NCO with Royal Engineers, Imperial War Museum (Collected 1989)
- The crossword panic of 1944!
- In the run up to D-Day important codenames such as “Omaha,” “Overlord,” “Mulberry,” and “Neptune,” appeared in the Daily Telegraph newspaper crossword puzzle. Was someone signaling the Allies plans to the Germans? We don’t think so...but one possible explanation involves loose-lipped soldiers, a WWI veteran schoolteacher, and some naughty schoolboys!