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The Crucial Deception

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The most successful of these was Juan Pujol, a Spaniard whom the British codenamed Garbo because they considered him the world's greatest actor. Masterman described him as "a genius, a man of great industry and ingenuity coupled with a passionate and quixotic zeal for the task [who] worked an average of six to eight hours a day drafting secret letters, enciphering, and planning for the future." After arriving in England on April 24, 1942, he communicated with the Germans in Lisbon by mail for the first year, writing 315 letters that averaged 2,000 words each. For the last two years of the war he also sent more than 1,200 messages by radio. The Garbo collection in British archives runs to more than fifty volumes.

Until the Allies had an actual plan of attack, though, there could be no deception plan. Consequently, Garbo transmitted as much "confusing bulk" as possible and began creating a network of fictitious agents. His "confusing bulk" included material from Blue Guide tour books, maps, and outdated railway schedules. He was so convincing that the Madrid office of the Abwehr ceased infiltrating agents into Britain. By 1944, Garbo had fabricated a nonexistent network of sub-agents stationed in Scotland, Wales, and England whose existence was accepted as real by the Abwehr. The accompanying chart depicts his imaginary world of espionage agents. Garbo was the only real person in the network.

Ultra divulged that Garbo's messages to the Abwehr in Madrid were promptly sent to Berlin where they made an excellent impression. He received this message from the Abwehr on September 18, 1943: "Your activity and that of your informants gives us a perfect idea of what is taking place over there; these reports, as you can imagine, have an incalculable value and for this reason I beg of you to proceed with the greatest care so as not to endanger in these momentous times either yourself or your organization."

Ultra revealed that the double agent Brutus was also very credible to the Germans. As a result, the major burden of foisting the agents' part of the Fortitude deception on the Germans fell to Brutus and Garbo. Brutus was a Polish army officer whom the Germans had captured. Believing that he had been "converted" to collaborate with them, they allowed him to "escape." In October 1942, Brutus reached England and told the truth to M.I.5, urging that he should be used in what he called the "great game" to double-cross the Germans. As a Polish officer, Brutus could be fictitiously assigned for liaison with Allied armies where he could collect military information valued by the Germans.

From early 1944, the double-cross system directed its full attention toward the grand deception of misleading the Germans about the coming invasion. The cultivation of fictitious Allied military units in Britain became the major activity of the deceptionists. From the other side of the hill, the Germans intensified their efforts to learn about preparations in Britain and turned for assistance to Garbo. He was ready. On January 5, 1944, the Abwehr asked Garbo to learn everything he could about Allied military intentions: the dates and locations of forthcoming operations; and strengths of all land, sea, air, and amphibious forces that might be used in those operations. He was told to include possible operations against Norway and Denmark as well actions against the Channel coast.

Fortitude had two geographic parts, and Garbo deployed his imaginary agents to cover both of them. Fortitude North threatened an attack on Scandinavia by a nonexistent British Fourth Army in Scotland. Fortitude South aimed to convince the Germans of two untruths. One was that the main attack would occur in the Pas de Calais. The foundation for this contention was FUSAG, the fictitious army positioned in southeast England near Dover. The second was that the attack on Normandy was merely a diversionary operation to be followed about forty-five days later by the main assault on the Pas de Calais. In fact, the real invasion force destined for Normandy, 21st Army Group, assembled west of Dover in the south and west of England.

For the Germans to take both threats seriously, they had to be convinced that the Allies possessed sufficient resources to implement a second attack after Normandy. To be successful, Fortitude had to persuade them that the Allies had about 50 percent more troops available in Britain than were actually there. Part of the inflated troop strength was in Scotland where the bogus British Fourth Army existed mostly on the airwaves and in the reports of the double agents. In actuality, it was about 400 men sending radio messages to each other that simulated the presence of an entire army. The Germans heard, for example, the schedule for a mountain training exercise by the nonexistent British 58th Division. Garbo covered Fortitude North with two fictitious sub-agents: Carlos, a Venezuelan student based in Glasgow, and agent 3(3), a Greek sailor on Scotland's east coast. When Carlos reported seeing the insignia of the 58th Division on the streets of Edinburgh, the Germans concluded the radio signals they had picked up were valid. If the fictitious 58th Division trained with the 55th Division that did exist and the 80th Division that did not exist, the radio transmissions had to simulate the activities of all three divisions.

Garbo, fictitiously employed in the Ministry of Information in London, feigned the receipt of reports from his nonexistent sub-agents and radioed alleged summaries to the Abwehr in Madrid, sending five or six messages each day. After Brutus pretended an inspection of Polish forces in Scotland in April 1944, his report to the Abwehr conveyed the composition of the entire British Fourth Army as the Fortitude planners wanted it represented. In German eyes, the credibility of the bogus British Fourth Army was enhanced by the reputation of its commander, Andrew Thorne. Thorne had become acquainted with Hitler while serving as a military attaché in Berlin in the early 1930s and it was hoped his name might draw added German attention to the threat from Scotland.

To help project the fiction of Fortitude South and FUSAG, Garbo deployed three nonexistent sub-agents-7(2) Donny, 7(4) Dick, and 7(7) Dorick. They reported an operating oil dock at Dover which actually was a prop built by Hollywood stagehands and dummy landing craft in channel ports as well as fields speckled with planes, tanks, and trucks made of rubber or planks and fabric. More importantly, they reported the presence of fictitious military units whose existence was simulated by radio signals generated for German ears listening on the other side of the English Channel. A few hundred men driving around the countryside in jeeps and trucks simulated the radio traffic of an army group on the move.

To command FUSAG, Eisenhower chose General George S. Patton. He was a convenient choice because the Germans considered him a formidable offensive commander, and he was temporarily unemployed, his punishment for slapping a battle fatigued soldier in Sicily. Flamboyant and controversial, Patton was the linchpin of FUSAG, attracting the attention that the deceptionists wanted. Montgomery made a visit to the FUSAG area that was conspicuously covered in the press, "for our friends to see me," he wrote to a colleague. Brutus got a fictitious assignment in FUSAG headquarters whence he reported on Patton's movements as well as the presence of both real and nonexistent units, their locations, and status of training. After the invasion, when a real division went to Normandy, it was usually replaced by a fictitious division. The Canadian 2nd and the U.S. 35th Divisions were real FUSAG units that went to Normandy. When the Germans saw them on the battlefield, they concluded logically that FUSAG divisions still in England were also real-and, progressively they were not, but the Germans did not know the difference. After D-Day, it did not seem plausible for the Germans to believe the Allies still had the forces necessary to invade both Norway and the Pas de Calais as well as Normandy. The deceptionists solved this problem by moving the nonexistent British Fourth Army in Scotland to southeast England to become part of the continuing FUSAG charade.

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