Photo -- See Caption Below

Military Patch

119th U.S. Infantry "ghost" Division shoulder patch, one of the fictitious divisions organized under Operation Fortitude (June-August 1944) to deceive the Germans during D-day.

Operation Fortitude
In the months leading up to D-Day the Allies on Eisenhower’s SHAEF staff devised a clever deception plan called Operation Fortitude.  By creating an imaginary invasion force that appeared poised for an invasion at the Pas de Calais instead of the beaches of Normandy, it drew enemy troops and attention away from the actual landing sites. Fortitude fooled the Germans into believing that there were more Allied troops than there really were.  These shoulder patch insignias designated three American units that did not actually exist, the 14th, 108th, and 119th Infantry Divisions.

To affect the ruse, fake radio messages concerning the operations of a non-existent army group, supposed to be led by General Patton, were passed back and forth in hopes that German intelligence operatives would intercept them.  Tents and equipment for the phony invasion force were displayed so that pilots of Nazi reconnaissance planes would be sure to see and photograph them.  Fake rubber inflatable tanks and trucks were used.  At nearby ports imitation landing craft were floated as decoys to convince the enemy that the invasion would be headed across the English Channel for Pas de Calais instead of Normandy.

Fortitude was so elaborate, that to complete the illusion, special “ghost” units roved England wearing shoulder patch insignias of infantry divisions that did not exist.  The plan succeeded in fooling Hitler and most of the German high command.  Even after D-Day, they expected the main attack would come later further to the east at the Pas de Calais.

Cloth. H 7.6, W 6.0 sm
Eisenhower National Historic Site, EISE 11268