Specialist aircraft spoof radars and eavesdrop on German communications

The complex planning behind Operation Overlord involved not only keeping the proposed landing areas secret, also relied on deceiving the Germans into thinking that the main effort was to fall somewhere else. These operations were grouped under the overall title of Operation Bodyguard and included small boats and Bomber Command aircraft tasked with simulating an invasion fleet.

The shortest route for a prospective invasion was from England’s southeast coast across the Strait of Dover to land on the sandy beaches of the Pas-deCalais. To feed this assumption, on the night before D-Day, aircraft were used to simulate an invasion force. Two similar operations were mounted: Glimmer threatening the Calais area and the betterknown Taxable heading for the Cap d’Antifer, north of Le Havre.

Glimmer was flown by six Stirlings of 218 Squadron led by Squadron Leader J Overton, while flying Taxable were 16 Lancasters of 617 Squadron led by Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire. Timing and positioning for the navigators was critical as each aircraft had to drop window – chaff – in a progressive pattern that slowly moved for ward at the pace of a fleet of ships. Beneath these chaff blooms, small boats simulated radio traffic and towed balloons with radar reflectors. Both operations supported a long-running deception that pointed to likely activity in these areas.

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