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Fortitude [Hardcover]

Robert Hesketh
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 27 1999
Behind the astonishing success of D-Day was the most sophisticated deception scheme ever devised. The objective was to persuade the enemy that the long-awaited landings would take place in the Pas-de-Calais, and that any attack in Normandy would be nothing more than a diversionary feint that could be safely ignored.

Hundreds of bogus agent reports were manufactured, an entire US Army Group was invented, false radio signals transmitted, and inflatable tanks, dummy bombers built of balsa wood and canvas landing craft were positioned where they could be photographed by the Luftwaffe. Each itemed an imminent amphibious assault from Dover, across the shortest stretch of the English Channel.

Operation FORTITUDE was an extraordinary success. Now, for the first time, the classified official history of the entire operation, written by Roger Hesketh as head of the team of D-Day deception specialists, has been declassified and released.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Written at war's end as an internal British government counterintelligence report (Hesketh died in 1987), the manuscript of this book was later used as the initially uncredited source for Sefton Delmer's bestselling novel The Counterfeit Spy in the early '70s. Its first full publication in England last year was met with reviews stressing its cultural importance; its release here makes it a rare prize for Stateside historians and buffs. As WWII picked up steam in Europe, military planners on both sides of the conflict recognized that the Allies would inevitably launch an amphibious attack on the coast of France; the only question was when and where. The Normandy landing, called Operation Overlord, is one of the legendary success stories of modern warfare. Less known are the enormous lengths to which Allied planners went to keep the details of the massive operation secret, and to put the Axis off the scent. Now, more than 50 years after the fact, comes Hesketh's firsthand account of the disguise, code-named Fortitude, orchestrated by Hesketh himself. Peopled with secret operatives and stocked with inflatable tanks, phony agent reports and the infamous and brilliantly conceived feint of a U.S. Army group that never existed, Hesketh's account beautifully and systematically illustrates how his force convinced Hitler that the Allied invasion would take place not at Normandy but at the Pas de Calais. Hesketh, who was a lawyer before the war and an MP after, writes with careful grace, but acronyms do crowd many pages. Some generalists will be overwhelmed, but this is a feast for literate strategy buffs of any war or conflict. 7 b&w photos, 15 maps, 12 charts. Military Book Club alternate selection. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Hesketh writes a fascinating, although not exactly cover-to-cover enthralling, history of the allied efforts to deceive the Germans about the location and timing of the D-Day invasion. The project was code named Fortitude. The author actually wrote the account at the end of the war, but its publication was delayed until the principal participants died or came out of hiding. He discusses, in considerable detail, the varied programs of deception, from fake messages meant to be intercepted to dummy equipment (inflatable tanks) to German agents who were discovered and then "turned" to be used by the Allies. Although a full range of activities was necessary to ensure that the campaign succeeded, the key element was the use of double agents. The appendixes include more than 100 pages of documents concerning Fortitude. This is sure to be a popular work with students of military history and with those who served during the Second World War. Eric Robbins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars VERY dry Dec 2 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I'm a big fan of this topic area, yet had to force myself to keep reading this one until I finally gave up. The problem is that the author writes this as really an "after-action report" to his superiors, so the prose is extremely heavy on orginizational details. Just to give you a flavor, here are passages from two pages chosen at random:
(1, p. 91): "It now became necessary to provide FUSAG with armies of its own. This wa done on the one hand by fictitiously detaching the First Canadian Army from 21 Army Group and putting it under the command of FUSAG"
(2, p. 275):"Under the new scheme, Three would be at the head, 7(2) would be called in to act as freelance, taking the place of Seven in that respect. The territory of 7 (4) would be enlarged to include Kent as well as Sussex, thus filling the gap caused by 7 (2)'s departure. 7(7) and 3(3) would continue as before, the former in the Eastern counties and the latter in Scotland".
I hope you get my point - authoritative and detailed, but not exactly a page-turner.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside account and thorough but a little dry Oct. 20 2002
Format:Hardcover
For WWII buffs this book will prove to be invaluable. The level of detail (specifically quotes from actually documents and interviews with captured German generals)will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered how we managed to get a foot hold in Europe in 1944.
The only negatives associated with this book are the lack of writing style (this man was, actually, not a professional writer) and a certain amount of data overload concerning formations, locations, and dates.
My suggestion is to read it slowly and don't mind if you find yourself skipping of a an Armoured Division here or an Infantry Division there. Just keep track of the narrative and you will be surprised at how 'tight' the story ends up being. Also, don't forget to skim the appendicies for some interesting perspective on how experts 'thought' the war in Europe would go.
Overall this is an excellent book for interested parties. If you don't have a strong interest in WWII or spycraft I would consider lighter fare.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Hardcover
This book is very detailed. "The author actually wrote the account at the end of the war, but its publication was delayed until the principal participants died or came out of hiding." (Thats all I should have to say.) I would highly recommend this book (hence the 5/5 stars). They fooled Hitler, Rommel, and the German High Command. How? Well, read this baby and you'll know how. (Project Fortitude) This goes beyond the inflatable tanks, fake radio broadcasts, double agents, spies, and etc. There are several intresting documents, too. I read and purchase several history books and documentaries. I must admit that I’m only 3/4 through. This book is worth the money!!! I could yap on instead check out an excerpt. Have FUN :-)
Chapter One
Early Planning
The decision to invade France in 1944 was taken at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. General Morgan was appointed Chief of Staff to the future Supreme Commander and established his headquarters at Norfolk House, St James's Square, in April of that year. On 26th April he received a directive from the Combined Chiefs of Staff which, besides instructing him to prepare plans for a full-scale assault against the Continent as early as possible in 1944 and for a return to the Continent in the event of German disintegration at any time, also demanded `an elaborate camouflage and deception scheme extending over the whole summer with a view to pinning the enemy in the West and keeping alive the expectation of large-scale cross-Channel operations in 1943. This would include at least one amphibious feint with the object of bringing on an air battle employing the Metropolitan Air Force and the Eighth US Air Force.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars VERY dry Dec 2 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm a big fan of this topic area, yet had to force myself to keep reading this one until I finally gave up. The problem is that the author writes this as really an "after-action report" to his superiors, so the prose is extremely heavy on orginizational details. Just to give you a flavor, here are passages from two pages chosen at random:
(1, p. 91): "It now became necessary to provide FUSAG with armies of its own. This wa done on the one hand by fictitiously detaching the First Canadian Army from 21 Army Group and putting it under the command of FUSAG"
(2, p. 275):"Under the new scheme, Three would be at the head, 7(2) would be called in to act as freelance, taking the place of Seven in that respect. The territory of 7 (4) would be enlarged to include Kent as well as Sussex, thus filling the gap caused by 7 (2)'s departure. 7(7) and 3(3) would continue as before, the former in the Eastern counties and the latter in Scotland".
I hope you get my point - authoritative and detailed, but not exactly a page-turner.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside account and thorough but a little dry Oct. 20 2002
By Pablo Aguirre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For WWII buffs this book will prove to be invaluable. The level of detail (specifically quotes from actually documents and interviews with captured German generals)will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered how we managed to get a foot hold in Europe in 1944.
The only negatives associated with this book are the lack of writing style (this man was, actually, not a professional writer) and a certain amount of data overload concerning formations, locations, and dates.
My suggestion is to read it slowly and don't mind if you find yourself skipping of a an Armoured Division here or an Infantry Division there. Just keep track of the narrative and you will be surprised at how 'tight' the story ends up being. Also, don't forget to skim the appendicies for some interesting perspective on how experts 'thought' the war in Europe would go.
Overall this is an excellent book for interested parties. If you don't have a strong interest in WWII or spycraft I would consider lighter fare.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They fooled Hitler, Rommel, and the German High Command. July 16 2001
By "slicksteve" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is very detailed. "The author actually wrote the account at the end of the war, but its publication was delayed until the principal participants died or came out of hiding." (Thats all I should have to say.) I would highly recommend this book (hence the 5/5 stars). They fooled Hitler, Rommel, and the German High Command. How? Well, read this baby and you'll know how. (Project Fortitude) This goes beyond the inflatable tanks, fake radio broadcasts, double agents, spies, and etc. There are several intresting documents, too. I read and purchase several history books and documentaries. I must admit that I’m only 3/4 through. This book is worth the money!!! I could yap on instead check out an excerpt. Have FUN :-)
Chapter One
Early Planning
The decision to invade France in 1944 was taken at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. General Morgan was appointed Chief of Staff to the future Supreme Commander and established his headquarters at Norfolk House, St James's Square, in April of that year. On 26th April he received a directive from the Combined Chiefs of Staff which, besides instructing him to prepare plans for a full-scale assault against the Continent as early as possible in 1944 and for a return to the Continent in the event of German disintegration at any time, also demanded `an elaborate camouflage and deception scheme extending over the whole summer with a view to pinning the enemy in the West and keeping alive the expectation of large-scale cross-Channel operations in 1943. This would include at least one amphibious feint with the object of bringing on an air battle employing the Metropolitan Air Force and the Eighth US Air Force.' The deception plans which were prepared in compliance with that instruction and which received the name of COCKADE do not strictly lie within the scope of this report. Nevertheless, as they had a bearing upon subsequent events, a short account is included.
COCKADE had two distinct objects: to contain German forces in North-Western Europe, thus preventing them from being used on the active fronts, and to destroy German aircraft. The plan comprised three connected operations: TINDALL, the threat of a landing in Norway; STARKEY, of a landing in the Pas de Calais; and WADHAM, of one in the Bay of Biscay. STARKEY and WADHAM, so the story ran, were to be complementary operations. After the bridgehead in the Pas de Calais had been established by British forces, an American landing was to take place in Western France with the object of opening Brest, which could then be used to land troops sailing direct from the United States. The forces in the United Kingdom being held inadequate to support all three plans, the French and Norwegian assaults were presented as alternative undertakings. STARKEY was the most important part of COCKADE inasmuch as it included an elaborate embarkation exercise by 21 Army Group in which the landing craft actually sailed to within a few miles of the French coast, as well as real air attacks against the Pas de Calais. TINDALL and WADHAM relied mainly on the use of wireless, dummy devices and controlled leakage.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information but dry and oft confusing telling Feb. 27 2009
By Mannie Liscum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Roger Hesketh's Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign is 513 pages (inclusive of Appendices and Index) of important history, if told with little literary flair. Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign is certainly not a book for the faint of heart who are looking for a Second World War `page-turner'. Hesketh provides the reader with considerable information, and having `been there' as one deeply involved he achieves his basic task fully. Where he fails is in the generation of a prose that keeps the reader invested. One would think that the topic at hand - Allied and Axis agents, double agents, real and false deceptions, etc. - would lend itself well to a kind of story telling that would read more like a thriller than dry history, but unfortunately this does not happen. Instead the story is dry and matter-of-fact, full of history but often difficult to trudge through.

Much of what happened during the course of the various phases/components of Fortitude was itself confusing, purposely so to deceive the Germans; however, Hesketh does make much of this any less confusing in his telling of events. He follows a nice timeline for the most part (deviating where important to do so, and justifying such moves) but such consistency alone does not clarify many of the issues that are likely to confuse the reader. This point is especially true when Hesketh discusses the major double-cross (XX) agent players (GARBO and BRUTUS) and their sub-agents. Take GARBO (in reality Spaniard Juan Pujol Garcia; see Mary Kathryn Barbier's D-Day Deception: Operation Fortitude and the Normandy Invasion (Stackpole Military History Series)) as an example; GARBO `recruited and employed' a large network of subagents who provided him with intelligence from various locations within the United Kingdom. In fact, only GARBO himself was a real person, all of his subagents were completely fictional. While Hesketh points this out, this fact must be kept in the forefront of the readers mind since he story evolves in such a way that real and fantasy are blurred into a continuum of grey. If the story of GARBO at the time of the Second World War was half as confusing as it is on paper in Hesketh's book, the Abwehr and German High Command must have been fooled indeed. Again one would think that it should be possible to tell the story of such an important component of Fortitude (Hesketh rightfully gives the majority of credit for the `success' of Fortitude to the XX agents) in way that the reader can see the confusion caused without being confused.

All is not bad with Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign however. Assuming one can deal with the dryness and potential confusion, there is a tremendous history here told by a primary participant. Moreover, to date no superior re-counting/history of Fortitude has made its way to the wider public. Mary Kathryn Barbier's D-Day Deception: Operation Fortitude and the Normandy Invasion (Stackpole Military History Series) is a most recent attempt that suffers in many ways from the same criticisms raised of Hesketh's book, and provide little new information for the serious student. So in the final analysis, Fortitude: The D-Day Deception Campaign is a story packed with information for the serious student of WWII history and military deception in general, but is presented in a way that will likely fail to engage the casual reader. Rating: 4 stars for information/historical content, 1.5 stars for presentation and prose; 3 stars total.
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort May 6 2013
By David - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was heavy going but if your a fan of WW2 history then it is well worth the effort to have a better understanding of the subject.
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