This Double Agent Saved D-Day in the Most Extraordinary and Unexpected Way
This Double Agent Saved D-Day in the Most Extraordinary and Unexpected Way

This Double Agent Saved D-Day in the Most Extraordinary and Unexpected Way

Wyatt Redd - February 26, 2018

This Double Agent Saved D-Day in the Most Extraordinary and Unexpected Way
An inflatable tank used to trick German intelligence, Wikimedia Commons

By the beginning of 1944, the Germans expected that an allied invasion of France was coming. So, they asked Garcia to keep his eyes open and let them know if he uncovered any information about the Allies’ plans. Garcia, of course, was happy to help. And over the next few months, he sent hundreds of messages to the Germans informing them about Allied troop movements. And Garcia’s information was so good that they now had an idea of where the Allied landings were going to take place. Based on his reports and reconnaissance, they were convinced the landings would happen at Calais.

Calais was the most logical place for the landings. It’s the closest point in France to England, and on a clear day, you can actually see one country from the other. And over the past few months, the Germans had learned of massive troop movements near Dover, just across the channel from Calais. According to Garcia’s intelligence and reconnaissance missions that showed hundreds of thousands of tanks, trucks, and landing craft gathering near Dover, the Germans were convinced that this force, the United States First Army Group led by legendary General George S. Patton, was planning to spearhead the invasion.

The only problem was that the First Army Group didn’t exist, except in the German’s nightmares. Their radio transmissions were carefully planned fakes created by the Allies. The landing craft and trucks they observed were made of wood and rubber, and the tanks were inflatable. The Germans had fallen for one of the most incredible military deception efforts in history. And all of it was reinforced by constant reports from Garcia telling the Germans that the First Army Group was real and was about to invade Calais.

But here’s the really incredible part: Even after the Allies invaded at Normandy, Garcia was able to convince the Germans that the real invasion was still coming at Calais. None of the units from the First Army Group had invaded at Normandy, after all. So, the Normandy operations were clearly meant to be a diversion from the real invasion. The bluff worked so well that the Nazis held back divisions from Normandy that might have turned the tide. Two months after D-Day, there were more German units in Calais than Normandy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Garcia’s work played a huge role in saving the D-Day operations from total disaster.

This Double Agent Saved D-Day in the Most Extraordinary and Unexpected Way
Ships bringing supplies in following the invasion, Wikimedia Common

Even after the landings, Garcia remained one of the German’s top agents. He spent the rest of the war relaying information for the British. It wasn’t until after the war that anyone in Germany figured out what he’d really been up to. And while he feared that the surviving Nazi agents might want some revenge, Garcia had a plan for that too. He fled to Angola, where he faked his own death from malaria. He spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity, running a bookstore in Venezuela. Garcia finally died in 1988 in Caracas, leaving a legacy as one of the most fascinating and successful spies in history.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Agent Garbo. M15.go.uk. February 2018.

Garbo: The Spy Who Saved D-Day. Tomas Harris, Dundurn Group. April 2004.

Operation Garbo: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Double Agent of World War II. Juan Pujol, Random House. August 2011.

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