ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: “The D-Day Deception” – with National WWII Museum Curator Corey Graff
Erin Dietrick: Welcome to SpyCast, the official podcast of the International Spy Museum. I'm Erin Dietrick, your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond's content partner. Coming up next on SpyCast.
Cory Graff: The UK, their forte is intelligence and of course they've been fighting the Germans a long time and so they sort of take the lead in Bodyguard and Fortitude and some of these other operations that you're going to see discussed when it comes to trickery, when it comes to D-Day.
Erin Dietrick: Seventy-nine years ago on this day, June 6, thousands of allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in Southern France. This invasion, known as the D-Day landings, was planned and executed by the allies through the masterful use of deception techniques. And who better to help us tell this story than Cory Graff, curator at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this episode, Cory and Andrew discuss how the allies tricked Hitler and the German military into convincing them that the landings would actually happen in Pas de Calais across the country, and how the success of a number of smaller operations and the work of double agents built up a network of deception around the D-Day landings the ultimately led to the Nazi's demise. If you enjoy this show, please tell your friends and loved ones and consider leaving us a five star review on Apple Podcasts, the official podcast on intelligence since 2006, we are SpyCast. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Andrew Hammond: Okay, well really happy to speak to you, Cory. Coming up [inaudible] D-Day what a lot of people don't know, although I'm assuming that many people who listen to our podcast may know is the whole of D-Day was shrouded by what Churchill called a "bodyguard of lies." Operation Bodyguard. Can you just tell our listeners a little bit more about that? What was Operation Bodyguard?
Cory Graff: Yeah, so this was a-- Churchill had met Stalin at one of the conferences and he had that famous quote that "in warfare, the truth is so rare that it has to be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." And that gets us to an operation, code name "Bodyguard", and this D-Day preparations are filled with various code names. Now there were different components to this. This was put together by the London Controlling Section and there are various aspects that we're going to talk about today about what they needed to do to sometimes move the Germans around, sometimes keep them in place, in order to pull off this massive amphibious assault.
Andrew Hammond: And just tell us briefly what was the London Controlling Section, Cory?
Cory Graff: It's a group that was working on deception plans for D-Day. In essence, D-Day was sort of a known thing, it was sort of known exactly well, roughly, when it was going to be and where it was going to be in a vague sense. And so, their job was to keep that German military strength spread out along the Atlantic wall all the way from Norway down to the border with Spain.
Andrew Hammond: So we're talking about a very large geographical area here. Help us understand that. The one that's most commonly known by people as the deception about the Pas de Calais, so this is the shortest point across the English Channel from Dover to Calais. So this seems the most obvious place to attack because it's the shortest. We know that they actually land at Normandy, so this is just one part of it but actually there's deceptions and faints and subterfuge that go all the way from Norway around France and then all the way around to the Balkans, the Mediterranean and so forth. So, what is going on there? How do you even begin to control and organize that kind of thing?
Cory Graff: Well it is, that's a huge question to answer. Yes, there is lots of ground that needs to be covered and some of the more famous ones of course, Hitler was very in tuned to the idea that the allies were going to attack in Norway, therefore he kept many, many divisions up in Norway and as you said, we can sort of go around the Horn, there's all sorts of places that this is, where the invasion can happen. Of course, many, many military activities had taken place in Northern Africa, Sicily, Italy, so there was sort of some logic to the idea that perhaps a Southern France invasion was on the agenda. This is something that actually happens later, is Operation Dragoon, that's after D-Day. As you mentioned, Calais, yes, this is like 24 miles between the UK and France at that point, that's up near the Balkan border. This was a place that was on the minds of a lot of German military leaders because for one reason, Operation Sea Lion, their invasion of the UK, was supposed to jump off of that point. It's sort of a logical place. And as we know, Normandy was eventually chosen, and Normandy has wonderful beaches for this sort of thing, but one of the big knocks on it was there was no port immediately available. There was going to have to be some fighting for a port to be gained by the allies after they get their foothold and sort of creatively the allies made Mulberry Harbors, which are portable harbors that could move into place to continue to pour men and machines into that foothold once they got ashore at Normandy.
Andrew Hammond: And what are these Mulberry Harbors?
Cory Graff: They're the, they're like, they're cement and they're floatable, but they allow you to build, in essence, a breakwater at any point, even a big, broad beach like Omaha Beach, and you're able to bring ships and materials in and you're not doing that sort of, the thing you see in "Saving Private Ryan", where you're dropping the ramp and loading stuff right out on the beach. It's more of a dedicated harbor that allows you to bring in all the things that are needed to support an army; food, fuel, ammunition, and so on.
Andrew Hammond: Just before we start digging into the operation a little bit more, Cory, tell us a little bit more about how you [inaudible] at the World War II Museum. One of the reasons why it's so perfect to speak to you is originally, the World War II Museum started out as the D-Day Museum, so just tell us how you approach this topic in your museum.
Cory Graff: That's right, we were originally, in 2000 when we opened, the National D-Day Museum. This had come about for a couple of reasons; one was Stephen Ambrose was a local university professor down here and had written many, many books on World War II. You've probably heard of him if you've gone to the bookstore or you've seen Stephen Ambrose books. Of course, D-Day, Band of Brothers, Citizen Soldiers, a lot of these have to do with World War II. Now when he would do these interviews, veterans would turn over material to them, so he would end up with helmets and backpacks, and rifles, and other things from D-Day in essence, and so he didn't quite know what to do with this material. As well, Andrew Higgins established the Higgins Industries down here, which are those, among other things that they made, most famously those landing craft, those big ramp-doored front landing craft that you see in "Saving Private Ryan" and "Longest Day" and things like that. So the World War II Museum started out as the D-Day Museum in 2000, and we've been grow ever since. It takes more than a city block at this point and it's seven different galleries and we still have that old original D-Day exhibit, it's in one of our first buildings, but we also talk about the Road to Berlin, the Road to Tokyo, the Homefront, we've got a big, huge, impressive gallery with airplanes. People come and they want to spend a couple of hours and they end up spending a day or sometimes two days in order to go through everything here at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Andrew Hammond: And just of interest, what does it take to be called a national museum? I used to work at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, we have the National World War I Museum, how do you become a national museum for a given topic?
Cory Graff: Usually you're an accredited museum, you're usually a Smithsonian affiliate. This is, I say usually. You are making a big scholarly and museum wide impact in the field of study, and you guys should know, you're the International Spy Museum so you have, you're beyond us, you're into the international realm.
Andrew Hammond: Yeah, we had to go to the United Nations General Assembly and secure [inaudible]
Cory Graff: I'm glad it all worked out for you, yeah.
Andrew Hammond: Yeah, it worked for us. Okay, and just briefly, before we move on, so where are you picking up the story? When does World War II begin for you? There's obviously been no, the day America enters the war, et cetera, the day America is attacked. But where do you pick up the story and where do you kind of leave off?
Cory Graff: Yeah, so that's the mandate of the museum is America's experience in World War II, so as we know, the historians will tell you that World War II starts, and they argue about this all the time, it starts in 1937 in Manchuria or it starts in Poland in 1939. We pretty firmly start in the Pearl Harbor range, December 7, 1941, when America is brought into this conflict and it becomes a global conflict. Now, you might think okay, well we get to the very end, the atomic bombs are dropped and they sign the Peace Treaty on the USS Missouri. That actually, the Liberation Pavilion, the one that we're working on now that's going to open in several months, deals with the fact that World War II impacts us and is going to impact us forever, so it's kind of funny that you mention the United Nations, it's all about the Nuremberg trials and the establishment of the United Nations, and sort of the impact of the Holocaust and also the heavy impact on the American people, many, many deaths and sort of that legacy, to continue to discuss World War II, the thing that happens from 1941 to 1945, for the Americans, how that sort of just continues to shape our well-read today.
Andrew Hammond: Just to clarify, for anybody that wants to visit, it's in downtown New Orleans, right?
Cory Graff: That's right. It is, it's very near downtown, you can walk over from Bourbon Street if you want, and you know, you can only hang out on the street for so long and you want to do something a little bit more heady and go to a museum, so we'd love to have you.
Andrew Hammond: And quick question before we dig back into the D-Day deception, there's a gun to your head and you have to choose; muffuletta sandwich, po-boy, or gumbo, which one do you go for?
Cory Graff: You know, I'm a big fan of jambalaya. I'll tell you the truth, but--
Andrew Hammond: Jambalaya, yeah, yeah.
Cory Graff: --but a shrimp po-boy, you really can't go wrong. That's the other thing is always wonderful eats down here in New Orleans.
Andrew Hammond: It's a good eating town. So, let's go back to D-Day, let's go back to Western Europe, so we've got 1944, walk us up to D-Day. So we know that Stalin is constantly pressuring the United Kingdom and then when America enters the war in December '41, the allies, the United States and the UK, and he keeps kind of pressuring them and you know, they say we've got SOE and OSS, we've got, you know, bombing campaigns in Germany, but what he actually wants is allied boots on the ground, fighting the Germans on a second front. Just walk us up to that period where D-Day actually happens.
Cory Graff: Yeah, 1944, many historians will tell you that Germany is kind of on the ropes, they're losing ground to the Soviet Union quite dramatically, things are not going so well. But they're still quite, quite powerful. So you alluded to Operation Barbarossa, so we're going to try to get into as many operation code names as we can here. The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1941, and that went poorly for the Soviets for quite a while, however, we've seen sort of the turnaround at Stalingrad and Kursk in the 1943 era, and the Soviets are being able to push Germany back. Now, simultaneously down south in North Africa, the allies have landed, they've secured North Africa for the most part, moved on to Sicily. Of course there's the famous Operation Mincemeat, which is sort of a highlight of spy craft I think, where the body of a British prisoner was dressed up like a British naval officer and floated ashore in Spain with intentions to actually land elsewhere. So anyway, back, we're doing Sicily and then into Italy, now one of the things about Italy is it's quite difficult, especially when you get up to the Alps, to sort of break that, those, that fortress, that wall along Italy's boot. So yes, for years Stalin has been clamoring for the allies, meaning the UK and U.S., to open a Western Front, a western push through France most likely, in order to relieve pressure. You know, Germany has say 300 divisions and it's a little bit like a Risk board, you have to put them all over the place to protect this and that. And if they can concentrate more divisions against the Soviet Union, that's bad for the Soviet Union. The threat of an invasion in the west brings many, many divisions to France, Norway, down the line, it was this Atlantic wall we're talking about and relieves a lot of pressure on the Soviets. So, what we see is, I think that probably Stalin would have preferred action in the summer of 1943, but when the summer of 1944 is on the horizon, it's almost a demand. Most of the western activities that have been happening are air power, now there's a little bit of a side light to this, is starting before D-Day in say February, you have the Army Air Force is doing what is called the "Big Week" where they're going after Luftwaffe assets, both in the air and on the ground, quite viciously, and what you're doing is you're eliminating the Luftwaffe's air cover so that when soldiers are actually on the beach, you control the skies. And this is one of the things that early on, the allies needed, they knew they needed to do for D-Day is control the skies.
Andrew Hammond: How much of this do you think is the allies saying the Soviets are advancing quite significantly, although they're ostensibly allies, nobody's under any illusions that it's a very different type of system. I mean early the Russian Revolution [inaudible] said that we should strangle the Bolshevik baby in its cradle. So how much of it do you think was allied leaders saying, we don't really want this communist army coming all the way up to Germany or we only want their western advance to go so far. We really need to get boots on the grand and start claiming territory. Was that part of it at all?
Cory Graff: I think that is an aspect of this. Of course the primary thing was to beat fascist Germany, but there is sort of secondary considerations that you have to think of. The Soviet Union, though allies were sort of the peculiar allies, compared to the UK, and the U.S., and there is some merit not only in Europe but in the Middle East and in Asia, where there's some sort of contention, particularly to be frank, after the war appears to be going the allies direction, and Hitler is not the threat that he used to be, you sort of see some tussling among the allies as to what kind of control they're going to have over the world after the fighting stops.
Andrew Hammond: And [inaudible] run up to D-Day, one of the things that's quite interest is this was all planned at the very highest level, right? They don't just say to some subcommittee, oh, go and figure this out, blah blah blah. This is Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, it gets discussed at Tehran, they go through all of the stuff that gets signed off on, et cetera, so just help us understand the decision making surrounding this.
Cory Graff: Yeah, I mean I think one of the sort of the real key factors in Operation Bodyguard is Churchill, and he's the one that appoints the London Controlling Section in some fashion or other. You know, traditionally we have a situation, this is always kind of a joke among the allies, I don't know if you want to call it a joke, but like a saying that the Americans are giving money and material, the Soviets are giving man power or blood, some people will actually say, sort of crassly, and the UK, their forte is intelligence. And of course they've been fighting the Germans a long time, and so they sort of take the lead in Bodyguard and Fortitude and some of these other operations that you're going to see discussed when it comes to trickery, when it comes to D-Day.
Andrew Hammond: And for this relationship between the allies as well, it starts off with the British taking the lead but then eventually the pendulum swings and the Americans take the lead on a more general level, but it seems like what you're saying as the, you know, the British know the neighborhood, they know the surveying the typography and so forth, it just makes sense if they are, you know, they've been at it for longer, they've got the system set up, and it's their kind of neighborhood, so this has been left to them. But a more general level, I mean and this comes through in just Eisenhower being the Supreme Commander, the Americans are in the driving seat by this point, right?
Cory Graff: Yeah, you see that, you see sort of a transition in who the senior partner in the West is. Early on, you know, the English probably quite wisely prefer to sort of pick at the edges, maybe they're using some of their intelligence and espionage and subterfuge when it comes to these amphibious landings. They usually take place at night, they're kind of small, usually they take the lead. Now, almost cartoonishly, you have the Americans who have very little experience in modern 1940s combat, who are kind of the angry little brother who's like, let me at them, you know, we've got to have this knock-out blow. They're much more gung-ho and the experience of Kasserine Pass and things like that sort of maybe sober the Americans on sort of what combat is about, especially against sort of a highly mobile, highly modern army like the Germans. So, yes, by the time D-Day comes around, we're seeing a little bit of that, let me at them coming out. So, they're slowly becoming the senior partner, they have more military power, and the Americans are sort of the orchestrators of this thousands of ships and hundreds, you know, more than a hundred thousand men. It's a morning invasion and it's sort of this along this huge, 50 mile front. It is sort of that, at least the beginning of a knock-out blow. Of course we know that the war continues on through the winter of '44-'45 and into the spring.
Andrew Hammond: The 20 Community, or more famously, the Double-Cross Community, [inaudible] designation, was a counter-espionage and deception operation run against German agents in Britain by MI5 during World War II. It was a major intelligence success. Out of over 300 agents it is estimated that the amount who escaped detection can be counted on one hand. What is more, there were double, i.e. they were double-agents, as agents who are originally sent to work for the Germans but who were turned to now secretly work for the British. Now the British could feed the Germans false intelligence and engage in strategic deceptions such as D-Day. For example, Agent [inaudible] for the Germans was actually Agent Brutus for the British. A Polish Air Force officer who helped spread disinformation to the Germans, the allied attack was going to be at the Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. Agent Alaric for the Germans was actually agent Garbo for the British. A Spaniard who kept up the subterfuge that the real attack would come to the north and messages he sent days after they did their landings in Normandy, and Agent Bronx for the British. A Peruvian raised in France was part of Operation Eye on Sight misled the Germans into thinking landings would take place in the Bay of Biscay, thereby keeping the 11th Panzer Division in Bordeaux and away from the beaches at Normandy. Fun fact, she was named after the cocktail, the Bronx, featuring gin, orange juice, and both sweet and dry vermouth, not the New York City borough. Let's focus in on D-Day now. One of the things that I was wondering if you could educate our listeners about; I know that you're an expert on the aerial component of World War II so you're the allies, you're in England, you're getting ready to invade, what is the, what's the aerial situation like? You alluded to a little bit earlier, but just help us understand, is the Luftwaffe just an irritant by this point? Like mosquitoes when you're sitting outside having a barbecue? Give us, give us some sense of what the aerial saturation is like across Western Europe at this period for the allies.
Cory Graff: Sure, you, bombing efforts in based from England start out quite small and the Luftwaffe at the time, the German Air Force, is quite powerful. They have many aircraft and aviators in say France and Germany and the like, able to go up and meet any bombers that come through, day or night. And this slowly changes over time, although the allies have certain setbacks, I mean they have disastrous bombing raids like Schweinfurt and similar ones where there's actually pauses in the bombing, et cetera. But, starting just about as 1944 becomes 1945, the power of the allied air forces is growing over time and they have supportive fighter planes that can take these heavy bombers to and from most targets and they have lots of these fighters. So, one of the things that sort of takes over, because they're anticipating D-Day landing in France is just eliminating that Luftwaffe threat. So, they have the quote is that, you know, the big week that happens in February where the stick to the bombers order that the fighters usually had was lifted to just go hunting. And that meant Luftwaffe airplanes in the air and it meant Luftwaffe airplanes on the ground at air bases in France, et cetera. So, because they wanted to eliminate, they wanted to have a dominant air presence over this landing. They were to just make the Luftwaffe a feeble skeleton of what it used to be. And it's quite successful as we know, with a couple of small exceptions, no German aircraft were able to make it to the beaches.
Andrew Hammond: So [inaudible] a sense of read one of these like sweeping histories of the second World War, but I remember one of them, it's like the Americans are producing, I can't remember the specifics that's at stake, but basically this idea of America's the arsenal of democracy is this big behemoth, just pumping out things that are needed for mechanized warfare or modern warfare and the second World War. How many planes are the Americans you know, producing per month or just, give us some sense of the, not just the replenishment but the waterfall of aircraft that are coming the allies ways compared to the Germans who are really struggling to replenish what they're losing.
Cory Graff: That's true, you know, very many aviation factories within the United States were making airplanes, and you can crunch the numbers, America's entry into World War II, they had made about 300 thousand combat aircraft and you can sit there and do the math and basically you're talking about the birth of an airplane every 40 minutes throughout the three or four years, three and a half years. So, yes, you're getting airplanes by the dozen or more, and then ships, you know, Kaiser of course was famous for making ships and just a couple of weeks. Liberty ships, supply ships that were able to come across the North Atlantic and they're full of supplies and they're full of supplies not only for the Americans, but they're supplying the UK and supplying the Soviet Union at the same time so the United States which was sort of unfettered by a lot of the combat that was taking place through the rest of the world is a bread basket of supplies for the allies during the war.
Andrew Hammond: Okay, so we're up to June 1944, we've had a whole series of historical processes that have led to World War II, then we have the German's invading Poland, Britain's in the war, we have the Germans invading Russia, the Soviet Union's in the war, we have the Japanese, Pearl Harbor, America's in the war, so all of these planes are coming, the ships, the goods, we'll want to land in Western Europe, we want to get boots on the ground and take the fight to the Germans. But it's still going to be very difficult because they've been at war for quite a long time. They've been in it continuously. They're very tough, they're very seasoned, so we really don't want to land and have say the first SS Panzer Division breathing down our necks when we our feet first touch French soil. We need to create a series of deceptions so just walk us through this process so Fortitude is the main part, we've got Fortitude North and Fortitude South. Help us understand what's going on there, Cory. How do they use these operations to deceive the Germans and successfully land on D-Day.
Cory Graff: Right, you know, we were talking about sort of that Risk board, you know, the board game, you have to spread out your armies in order to protect what comes and the Germans were in a situation where they were protecting a lot of coastline. This is the famous Atlantic wall, and the Atlantic wall, after 1943, comes and goes and there's no invasion. It's pretty certain that spring of 1944 is going to be, bring that invasion somewhere along that quote, "Atlantic wall" and we're talking about Norway to the border of Spain, Belgium, France, et cetera, so Hitler bolsters his units in the area and he also takes Erwin Rommel on one of his famous generals and puts him in charge. And there's a little bit of discussion and debate as to how to deploy units. Rommel is really interested in having these units that are in essence right on the beach, toes in the sand, awaiting the arrival of the allies but you have to have more units to do that. If you back them off a little bit, and make them able to respond to this area or that area, once the invasion starts, which Rommel didn't like because you get that foothold. So, there's a lot of coverage. So, the allies are using that to their advantage, they're creating plans that are fictional for a couple of different attacks, so you talked about Fortitude North and Fortitude South. Fortitude South was usually for the most part, an American endeavor and it was centered around the first army group, which was almost completely hypothetical, military organization that was being talked up and discussed as if it was real. Now, they assigned a much feared and allied general, probably one of the more feared allied generals, when it comes to the Germans, in George S. Patton, was in charge of this first army group. Now, the First Army group, the plan was to come across at Pas de Calais, sort of the standard thing that the Germans were expecting. And in [inaudible] or in England, you have a situation where this massive army group is supposed to be existing, and one of the things that Fortitude South did was be a sight, sound, radio chatter, create out of whole cloth sort of this artificial military that was going to come ashore. Now, in the North, there's, this is sort of playing to Hitler's plan that the invasion is going to happen in Norway. The Fourth Army, British Fourth Army, was based in Edinburgh, Scotland and their plan again, a hypothetical plan, a fictitious plan, was an attack in Norway that turned out to be a faint for another attic further up the coastline in Norway. Now, this unit is a little bit less nuts and bolts, North is a little bit less nuts and bolts, because German aircraft couldn't reach the Scotland area without a whole lot of trouble, so it's sort of more on paper, in radio traffic, whereas the Fortitude South, which was in range of reconnaissance airplanes, creates this whole artificial army, not only in paper form, but in tangible form. This is a situation where we have the 23rd headquarters special troops, which was 1,100 men masquerading as a couple divisions. And they did that through inflatable tanks, inflatable landing craft, artificial airplanes, basically taking the same vehicles and running them around and around and around so they look like the wear and tear of hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles. We have sound recordings being played from these bases in order to sort of give the ambience of many men and machines. This is something that actually happened during the battle of the bulge a little bit later, is the allies on the lines, the Americans on the lines knew something was happening just because of the sound, the hum, the roar, from German military units on the other side of the line. Of course we have artificial radio chatter, all the chatter that you would expect for a couple of divisions which I'm sure kept many, many people employed talking back and forth. You're just making an atmosphere in order to make these divisions seem like they exist. And we get into a situation where instead of the 35 or 40 divisions that are in the UK at the time, Germany, for various reasons, including double agents, thinks that there are 75-90 divisions awaiting a jump off in the UK. And that sort of freezes the Germans when Normandy becomes a thing, June 6th happens, and there are people coming ashore, because they think that it may be a faint for something bigger and bolder elsewhere and so that keeps the German military units in place while the foothold is gained in Normandy.
Andrew Hammond: And that unit that you refer to, is this the unit, the [inaudible] what we would call in modern terms, creatives, people that were, worked in the theatre and cinema in so forth and we're looking for all of these kind of [inaudible] people or is that a different unit I'm thinking of?
Cory Graff: No, that is the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops was the "Ghost Army", which is always discussed as a group of artists, engineers, along with professional soldiers and draftees. We're talking some of the people that were in this unit were fashion designer, Bill Blass, painter, Ellsworth Kelly, and photographer, Art Kane. So these are people that are part of this unit and there's great stories of soldiers in the unit, their whole job was to wander into a pub in England with either a hypothetical or real unit division crest on their shoulder, spend about 15 minutes, walk out, change insignia to something else and go into a different pub. Just to give the appearance of the place being overrun with soldiers when it was just one person doing their 15 or 20 visits in one night with different uniforms.
Andrew Hammond: And help us understand just a little bit more how the [inaudible] this deception. So you've [inaudible] so there was radio traffic, signals intelligence, there was physical things [inaudible], people going into pubs with you know, fake are insignia and so forth. So, there was a physical component to it and then there was the agents that were on the ground as well, who are like picking up information. So there's so much effort that goes into creating this deception. Just help our listener understand, if you want to go ahead and do this like what is it like you're, what is it you need to set up? So you've got the agents, you've got the physical, and then you've got the radio. How do you coordinate that orchestra? It seems quite a difficult thing to do.
Cory Graff: It is a very difficult thing to do, and I think it's worth mentioning that there's sort of, you know, the human aspect maybe gives it a believability and what I mean by that is Fortitude North is concentrating on this Norway situation, Fortitude South is concentrating on the South, and there's a lot of overlap, a lot of hum, there's a lot of disinformation, there's a lot of various plans that are all sort of going at once. Now, I think that the London Controlling Section was controlling this quite a bit, but there are many, many overlaps, mistakes, but this is coming from humans. And there's going to be mistakes and there's going to be faints and there's going to be illusions to this or that plan that don't work out. So, what we get is a situation when it sort of all taken from the German side is it seems like believable noise, but noise nonetheless.
Andrew Hammond: In some sense, you could probably argue that the disjointed nature of it all taking place actually contributes towards deception, it's not actually a negative thing if there's overlap and complications and disjointedness and so forth.
Cory Graff: I think that's exactly right, I think that that's what you would expect and it's probably what the Germans witnessed when it came to Sicily, and it's what they witnessed when it came to North Africa, so they wouldn't expect anything different when it comes to this invasion in France.
Andrew Hammond: And just to go back to the First U.S. Army groups so Patton, he's got a very different style from say Bradley and Montgomery, it seems to me, and tell me if you think I'm wrong, but it seems to me that maybe the reason the Germans thought this of him was that he was the Allied field commander that most closely resembled German way of war at that time, which was very aggressive and hard driving and actually, sometimes when I think of Patton, it reminds me of this quote from [inaudible] Grant, he said, "The art of war is simple enough, find out where your enemy is, get him as soon as you can, strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on." Which, in some sense he's very kind of Patton-esque. Do you agree with that or help us understand why Patton was feared by the Germans as the field commander for D-Day.
Cory Graff: Yeah, I agree with that completely. Of course the Germans had witnessed World War I as the Allies had and we're sort of averse to this idea of a static warfare, this bloodbath that takes place in these trenches. And they had developed a system leveraging aircraft, which are coming into their own, and vehicles including armored vehicles, which are coming into their own throughout the '20s, '30s, and into the '40s, in order to make these sort of armored spearheads that just keep moving. You don't have to fight everybody if you're punching through, going around the back, flowing in, nullifying that army, bypassing that army, that sort of thing. And you're probably exactly right, Patton sort of had that armored spearhead in mind when he operated his units during the early part of the war, and so in a lot of ways, Patton was a lot like the Germans in how they operated and to be frank, I think you'd find historians and military people that would say that Patton was a little bit reckless, maybe not as considerate or heady as some of the other Allied generals but that fears action and that constant action, was something that the Germans feared once the break-out happened at D-Day.
Andrew Hammond: So, we've got the fourth [inaudible] headquartered in Edinburgh, which is less physical manifestations, then we've got the first U.S. Army Group, which is you know, a whole variety of things, including physical manifestations like dummy tanks and so forth, then help us understand how did they try to mask the other things, like what day it's going to happen, what time of day it's going to happen, because these are other questions that the Germans are asking, it's and to just where but it's when and on what--
Cory Graff: A lot of the when was fairly well established or at least could be sort of speculated by the Germans as well as the Allies. You need certain things, if you're going to have all of these airborne actions, paratroopers and the thing, and the like, you need moonlight, most likely, as well as if you're going to start this amphibious landing in a morning type situation, you need a low tide in order to avoid a lot of these Atlantic wall type obstacles that the Germans had set up. So, the original D-Day landing date was June 5th, believe it or not, and it was moved back because of poor weather and the weather wasn't a whole lot better on the 6th but it was, it was good enough to take the gamble and make the move because otherwise you may have to wait through a week or two week cycle in order to get the environment the way that you want it when you attack. So, I think that if you asked the average German general or intelligence person, they would be saying, we're talking spring in '44 and it wouldn't be a complete surprise, a lot of that, a lot of that is sort of well-established when it comes to making that move.
Andrew Hammond: Omaha Beach and the U.S. Army Rangers have been made famous by the Stephen Spielberg movie, "Saving Private Ryan." Further east at Sword Beach, the British First Commander Brigade made its way ashore commanded by Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat; an eccentric Scottish aristocrat with [inaudible] idol good looks and a personal bagpiper. I can't decide which one of them I would want if I had a wish. He commanded his piper, Bill Millin, to play tunes such as "Highland Laddie" and "Road To The Isles" as they made their way ashore under fire. Millin remained [inaudible] this went against regulations laid down since World War I, since the pipes, obviously, drew enemy fire. Lovat responded, "Ah, but that's the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn't apply". The unarmed Millin marched up and down playing the tunes as machine gun and artillery fire rained down on the beach. He met German soldiers after the war who had manned the guns above the beach and they said that they didn't shoot him because, "They thought I was crazy." Millin was mentioned by President Reagan in one of his most memorable speeches on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day and was immortalized in another film, "The Longest Day." So we're getting up to the day of D-Day, we have Operations Taxable and Glimmer, which are all these metal strips that create the appearance of movement where there's none. Then we have Operation Titanic, where dummy parachuters are dropped and, you know, these parachuters called Ripper in the UK, so we have Operation Titanic, and then we have Copperhead, where Montgomery, or an actor who looks like Montgomery, appears at a talk in Gibraltar, so there's all of these things that are masking what's going on. Help us understand just this, these final hours as we come up to men getting on board ships and landing craft and so forth.
Cory Graff: Yeah, it's kind of interesting, the deception goes right up until the end. You had alluded to chaff, in essence aluminum foil strips that could be dropped that sort of appear on German radar and other surveillance equipment as if that huge fleet is going to Calais. And then Operation Titanic, which is dropping say, 500 or more of these dummy parachutists, they're like a third the size of a human and they're usually made of canvas filled with sand. They're made to actually explode or population when they hit the ground in order to sort of get rid of the evidence. And they were usually deployed with actual live SAS agents who were able to play recordings of gunfire, yelling, marching, that sort of thing. And these, the British called them "Ruperts" and the Americans called them "Oscars", they were dropped near inland of Le Havre, which is sort of the, just to the east of the landing beaches, as well as at Calais, because you wanted to continue that ruse that Calais was going to be the number one target. So, yes, we have deception right up until the moment that boots are on the sand.
Andrew Hammond: And help us understand the role that individual agents are playing, or the role that human intelligence is playing at this point. So how are agents on the ground, how is human intelligence being used to mask this landing?
Cory Graff: Yeah, there's a lot of agents that the Germans think that they have in their pockets. And they maybe didn't do their homework all that well to figure out that a lot of these people had sort of anti-fascist leanings and were actually under the control of the UK, so they were double agents and you know, the code names and sort of the backgrounds of some of these people are just amazing. Eddie Chapman, a professional criminal and safe cracker, his code name was Zigzag. Of course there all sorts of great personalities involved in this. There was a lady by the last name of Serguiew, who was French but here origins were white Russian, her code name was "Treasure" and she would go back and forth from England to Portugal, feeding the Germans information about these hypothetical units and activities that were happening that weren't really happening. Then there's Dusko Popov, who's kind of one of the more fascinating and interesting. He was a Serbian from a wealthy family, who established himself as a lawyer and businessman, famously he sort of, he's in the quote "import and export" business. This man became sort of one of the models for James Bond, our famous fictional spy. Ian Fleming had met Popov at a casino in Portugal, and watched him bluff a rival at baccarat for the tune of about 40 thousand dollars, which I deny doing the quick math, I'm saying that's like 700 thousand dollars as of today. So, the idea that this gambling person who liked fast cars and was sort of a womanizer, who by the way his code name was "Tricycle" and the guys used to joke that that was because it was he and usually he had two woman on the side, going at one time. So, the fact that "Casino Royale" and James Bond has a lot of these elements is I think no coincidence. So it's quite a group of characters who are feeding false information to the Germans.
Andrew Hammond: And so the, we have the run up to D-Day, so as I understand it, Bodyguard [inaudible]; one, convince the Germans that Pas de Calais was the target, two, mask the date and time, and then three, stop reinforcements in the Pas de Calais for fourteen days so the deception doesn't end when D-Day begins, right? It continues afterwards and I belief they manage to deceive the Germans for seven weeks before the reinforcements comes from the Pas de Calais. So just talk about your after supposed D-Day, help us understand the deception and how it plays out then.
Cory Graff: That's exactly right, a lot of the groundwork that had taken place sort of froze the Germans, and what I mean by that is so one of their very strong areas was Calais. They had lots of men and machines there, ready to stop an attack. And the illusion that there were more divisions in the UK than there were helped freeze the Germans in their tracks. So, if you get in a car and you want to go from Calais to Normandy, it'll probably take you on the interstate roughly four hours. Now to move a Panzer division that far, it's going to take several days probably. But if you think that there are more divisions coming across and they're going to come across at Calais, you don't want to move them. So we have a situation where it was becoming very apparent that Normandy was the place or one of the places, and orders were given to move the Calais divisions, the German divisions, down into position to help counter attack, and they started to move and then were called back and so yes, the hypothetical divisions, the additional strength that was sort of alluded to by double agents and all these other things, helps keep the Germans in place, they don't respond for several weeks and we also have a situation is when you do respond, you have to deal with air power during the day, prowling every train line and every roadway, and during the evenings, French resistance is taking over and blowing up train tracks and sort of funneling people this way and that. 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 fifth and sixth, we witness something like a thousand points of sabotage within the area directed that the Germans. And it's often directed at rail lines. Gas is hard to come by, and so materials are being moved by rail and that's something that's obviously very, very difficult to guard miles and miles of track, which allows French resistance troops to go out and blow up rail lines. Now, in addition, the French resistance contributes after the landing as well. They're the locals, they know the location, they know the people, they know the layout. The Allies were quite flummoxed by the hedgerow fighting that took place in Normandy. It was very difficult and bizarre terrain and people who know the area are critical to moving forward.
Andrew Hammond: When the Allies hit the shore on D-Day, what are they facing? Who is there? You know, we hear of you know, there's the Germans that are super experienced and grizzled veterans through to there's old men and young boys and ragtag units of people. You know, what are the Allies facing? I'm sure it's some combination of different elements but just help us understand what's facing them on the beaches on D-Day, those five beaches.
Cory Graff: Yeah, it's interesting, there's estimates or schedules of the response time that they expected from the Germans and it was like you have to be willing to contend with six divisions on this day, and then it's going to be nine on this day. And then it's going to be twelve on this day. And so what you really have out of the 55 divisions of the Germans are fielding in France at the time, is most historians say roughly six are in the Normandy area and able to respond almost immediately. Now this is a mixture of units; there are some infantry units that are less than full strength or less than full capacity, that are immediately there and then there's some relatively hardened regular army armored units but you're looking at sort of contending with roughly six divisions on, as the landings are taking place.
Andrew Hammond: So, just by point of comparison, you've mentioned division a couple of times, I believe that for the Allies, that's around 15 thousand people, maybe a little bit above, is that correct? And is that the same for the Germans?
Cory Graff: That's right, that's traditionally the division is about 15 thousand people. And it's similar for the Germans as well. Obviously some divisions, armored divisions, have their complements of tanks as well as the motor vehicles to support those tanks, in addition. So there's lots of variation but that's a good rule of thumb is 15 thousand troops.
Andrew Hammond: Fifteen thousand. And the five beaches are UTAH and OMAHA for the Americans, and then it's JUNO, SWORD, and GOLD for the British and the Canadians, is that right?
Cory Graff: That's right, so we've got the UTAH and OMAHA, a couple of the really large beaches, for the Americans. And JUNO is Canadian, and SWORD and GOLD are the British beaches during the landings. And this is taking place over like a 50 mile stretch of space and these landing beaches are quite wide and quite flat but they usually have some sorts of land masses in between and the beaches are not continuous, they're actually distinct from one another.
Andrew Hammond: And just of interest for our American listeners, UTAH and OMAHA, do you have any idea where those code names came from?
Cory Graff: You know, I've often thought about this, this is a town and a state. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, you'd think they would be the same. You know, there's certain logic to a lot of this thing of you know, when it comes to naming cruisers, they're always after cities and when it comes the naming battle ships, they're usually states. But this is, you know, there's a little bit of random access to this as far as code words and code names. Theories kind of an interesting story about all of the D-Day code words and code names, many of which appeared in crossword puzzles in the Daily Telegraph, in the months and weeks leading up to D-Day. So, when the landing beach codes, code words started to appear in the newspaper in these crosswords, as you might imagine, the authorities came a calling and who they talked to was Leonard Dawe who was the headmaster at the Strand School in Surrey, and it was, he was the compiler, he was the builder of the crossword puzzles and what was found out eventually was he would let his students actually fill in the boxes with legitimate words and then he would go back and write the clues. Now, the school was quite near assembly points and bases for Canadian and American troops who are obviously a little bit more loose lipped than they should have been. So, these kids were hearing code words like JUNO, SWORD, OMAHA, and plugging them into the crossword puzzles they were building. And Dawe, the headmaster, unknown as to where they got the clues, was just writing, or got the words, was writing the clues and sending them along to the Daily Telegraph. So it's quite a bizarre story.
Andrew Hammond: Wow, it's so fascinating and for our listeners, there's so much more parts of the story that you can dig into and the deceptions in the Balkans and deceptions in Southern Europe, or even Mincemeat, which you mentioned earlier. So basically trying to mask the invasion of Sicily and suggest that it's going to be Sardinia or Greece or somewhere else that it's not actually going to take place. So, just to close out, Cory, could you just tell us a little bit more about the role that intelligence plays in your museum? Like because has anybody ever went through and sort of pulled out all of the intelligence artifacts or-- because you've got, what did you say it was, like 250 thousand artifacts?
Cory Graff: That's right. You know, one of the big secrets about the National World War II Museum is only a small percentage at any one time of the 257 thousand and always growing artifacts are out at any one time. So, as you might imagine, we're doing the American Experience in World War II so there are collections from tankers and submariners and on down the line, infantry men of course, home front workers, et cetera. There is a little bit of intelligence information, or a little bit of you know, there are like biscuit case radios, enigma machine, we've got a Rupert dummy of course, you've got to have some of these standard things when you're talking about D-Day. So, the way it works is they're very well might be a day that they decide to do an intelligence or espionage in World War II exhibit and then they're going to draw upon many, many collections. But as you know, from working at the Intentional Spy Museum, there are many, many fewer espionage collections than there are infantrymen collections. So, we have a little of both, but certainly more tankers and sailors than spies.
Andrew Hammond: Well it could be good to do a joint exhibition--
Cory Graff: That's right. That would be really cool.
Andrew Hammond: Yeah.
Erin Dietrick: Thank you for listening to this episode of SpyCast. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have feedback, you can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @intlspycast. Coming up in next week's show.
Andrew Hammond: And it seems to me that one of the least appreciated chapters is how in the post-Cold War years, Russian government continued running former Soviet agents deep inside the Western governments, particularly in the U.S. intelligence community.
Erin Dietrick: If you go to our page, the cyberwire.com/podcasts/spycast, you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes, and full transcripts. I'm Erin Dietrick and your host is Dr. Andrew Hammond. The rest of the team involved in the show is Mike Mincey, Memphis Vaughn III, Emily Coletta, [inaudible], Elliot Peltzman, Tré Hester, and Jen Eiben. This show is brought to you from the home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage related artifacts, the International Spy Museum.