Operation Quicksilver (WWII)

In World War II, Operation Quicksilver (Allies, 1944) was a sub-plan of Operation Fortitude, the 1944 deception plan designed to induce the Germans to hold troops away from Normandy in belief that the Normandy landing was only a feint and that the major invasion would come in the Pas-de-Calais. The key element of Quicksilver was the creation in German minds that "First United States Army Group" (FUSAG) commanded by General George Patton supposedly would land in the Pas-de-Calais for the major invasion of Europe, after the landings in Normandy had lured the German defenders to that front. (FUSAG was a genuine army group headquarters which later became Omar Bradley's 12th Army Group, but was given a fictitious role and commander for purposes of deception.)

Quicksilver was subdivided into six subplans numbered I through VI. Quicksilver I was the basic "story" for Fortitude: FUSAG (Ninth Air Force associated), in southeast of England, to land in Pas-de-Calais after German reserves were committed to Normandy. Quicksilver II was the radio deception plan of Quicksilver, involving the apparent movement of units from their true locations to southeastern England. Quicksilver III was the display of dummy landing craft, including associated simulated wireless traffic and signing of roads and special areas. Quicksilver IV was the air plan for Quicksilver, including bombing of the Pas-de-Calais beach area and tactical railway bombing immediately before D-Day. Quicksilver V was increased activity around Dover (giving impression of extra tunneling, additional wireless stations), to suggest embarkation preparations. Quicksilver VI was night lighting to simulate activity at night where dummy landing craft were situated.

Quicksilver, like the rest of Fortitude South, was devised by Colonel David Strangeways, Montgomery's deception officer, and carried out under his supervision. Colonel David Strangeways during WWII became an operative with MI6 as well as maintaining his military position under General Bernard Montgomery. He was very adept at deceiving the Germans. His ideas throughout the war had the Germans duped many times.

The operation was carried out by means of false radio signals purporting to show units massing in southeastern England, together with false reports to German intelligence by double agents. Contrary to a widespread misconception, FUSAG was not primary simulated by dummy tanks, airplanes, or other dummy equipment, since at that stage of the war the Germans were unable to fly reconnaissance planes over England and such effort would have been wasted. There were dummy tanks, landing craft, and other equipment but the double agents were the primary source of information about Operation Quicksilver. The Dummy landing craft at ports in eastern and southeastern England might be observed by the Germans.12 (The Allies did possess extensive dummy equipment, which was used in North Africa and later on the Continent of Europe.)

See also

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