Nazis thought D-Day landings were a feint: Wartime papers released yesterday show extent of German confusion over Allied invasion. Stephen Ward reports

COMPLEX dummy invasion plans by the Allies continued to fool the Germans into wasting their forces in the wrong areas well after the real D-Day invasion had begun, according to intercepts of German messages released to the public for the first time yesterday.

For months before D-Day on 6 June 1944, elaborate false signals and deployment of decoy forces had tried to lead the Germans to expect an invasion not in Normandy, but across the Channel at the shortest point from Kent, or even in Norway.

The ploy was more successful than the Allies could have dared to hope for, and when invasion came the Germans did not realise they had been fooled, but continued to wait for a wider attack.

The Allies had broken the German 'Enigma' code and were able to decipher enemy messages, giving the invasion force an invaluable advantage. An intercepted communication read: 'According Gruppe West at 1500 hours 6th: Allied landing Deauville-St Vaast now in progress recognisable as a major operation. The proclamation by the Allied leaders and the disposition of allied forces pointed to further major operations, but no details available regarding their targets. All to be prepared for surprise attacks.'

On the evening of D-Day a message timed at 6.55pm gave a strong hint of the German strategic confusion over what to expect next: 'North of Seine quiet so far. No landings from sea. Pas de Calais sector: nothing to report.'

Most tellingly, a document reached the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, on 8 June, showing that the Channel reconnaissance orders to German forces for the night of 7-8 June had been: 'Further enemy landings are to be expected in the entire coastal area.' Churchill noted the paragraph in the margin.

The extent of the Germans' confusion continues in the same message: 'Enemy landings for a thrust toward Belgium to be expected.'

The German uncertainty is shown by an intercepted message on the eve of D-Day, when the forces had already set sail, ordering a full alert to the east of the Normandy invasion beaches.

Early on 6 June, commandants from the Pas de Calais and all around the coast were ordered to rearward positions on the expectation of an invasion in their area.

Signals picked up by the British show a scattered picture building up as the invasion grew, and its significance was realised.

The earliest signal of a German response to D-Day comes in a 3.30am report by a German ground attack unit moving to Laval, between Rennes and Alencon. Three more intercepted documents early on 6 June, report landings on the west coast of Cherbourg peninsula.

The first is recorded at 4am. A message from 709 Infantry Division reports landings from Quineville as far as Marcouf.

A message from a German commandant in Normandy at 6.30am reports: 'Enemy tanks land between Vire and Orne. Coast near Pont du Hoe ascended with scaling ladders.'

By 7.35am, the Germans were claiming to have destroyed 35 Allied tanks and 600 paratroopers landing near Turqueville.

Another message reads: 'West coast of Cherbourg peninsula. 1000 hrs. Further disembarkations between 1km and 10km to eastwards. Tanks and infantry against Asnelles. Arromanches under fire. Longes still under fire.

Further messages between German commanders report: '1030 radar station at Arromanches under fire from ships' guns and surrounded by tanks and infantry.' '1500: large shipping formation, also landing craft, stationary, northeast to east of Barfleur.'

And later: 'Hundreds of gliders reported over the north coast of the Cotentin. First wave landed near St Vaast at 1855; second wave, over 100, landed 1905.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - South West

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

£17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

£18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent