Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions

Khalid Elhassan - January 29, 2020

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
Juan Pujol Garcia as a Spanish Army conscript in 1931. Wikimedia

5. Bodyguard’s Greatest Double Agent

Perhaps no single person made a greater contribution to the success of Operation Bodyguard than Juan Pujol Garcia (1912 – 1988). An eccentric Spaniard, Pujol’s desire for adventure and excitement led him to hoax the Nazis with fictional spying during WWII. The hoax grew into the greatest deception operation of the conflict and played a significant role in ensuring Allied victory on D-Day and in the subsequent Normandy Campaign.

Pujol hated fascists, and when WWII began, he decided to help the Allies “for the good of humanity”. However, when he offered his services to British intelligence, he was rejected. Undeterred, he posed as a Nazi-sympathizing Spanish government officer and offered his services to the Germans. Their military intelligence, the Abwehr, accepted and ordered him to Britain, where he was to recruit a spy network.

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
An Abwehr radio operator. Wikimedia

4. An Adventurer’s Fake Spy Network Fools the Nazis

Juan Pujol Garcia had neither the means nor the intent to head to Britain and set up a spy network there, as instructed by the Germans. Instead, he went to Lisbon, and from there, made up reports about Britain with content culled from public sources, embellished and seasoned with his own active imagination. He then sent them to his Abwehr handlers as if he was writing from Britain. The Germans swallowed it and begged for more, so Pujol invented fictional sub-agents and used them as sources for additional fictional reports.

Intercepting and decoding secret German messages, the British realized that somebody was hoaxing the Germans. Upon discovering it was Pujol acting on his own, they belatedly accepted his offer of services. Giving him the codename GARBO, they whisked him to Britain, where they built upon his imaginary network, transforming it into an elaborate double-cross operation that carefully fed the Germans a massive amount of often true but useless information, mixed in with half-truths and falsities.

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
D-Day landings. Pintrest

3. GARBO Helps Secure Allied Victory on D-Day

The flood of reports from Juan Pujol Garcia, and from his steadily growing network of fictional sub-agents, transformed him in German eyes into their most successful spy in Britain. The moment for cashing in on that trust came during the buildup to D-Day and the subsequent Normandy Campaign. The ultimate aim was to convince the Germans that the Normandy landings were but the first in a series of planned invasions, with an even bigger one planned against the Pas de Calais.

To cement Pujol’s credibility with the Germans, British intelligence had him send a message alerting the Germans to the invasion a few hours before its commencement. They figured that by the time it worked its way from German intelligence to commanders in the field, the invasion would have already taken place. Thus, the warning would do the Germans no good, but still serve to enhance Pujol’s reputation.

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
An inflatable dummy tank used in the D-Day deceptions. Pintrest

2. Keeping the Nazis From Reinforcing Normandy

Having spent years building up Pujol’s credibility with the German Abwehr, the time finally came to cash in on the Nazis’ misplaced faith in the Spanish adventurer. Going in for the kill, Pujol informed the Germans that the Normandy landings were just a diversion, intended to juke the Germans by getting them to send reinforcements from, and thus weaken, the real Allied target: the Pas de Calais. That “real target” was to be invaded a few weeks after Normandy.

That, coupled with other measures, such as the fictitious First US Army Group, under the command of George Patton, was massed across the English Channel opposite the Pas de Calais, convinced the Germans. During the crucial weeks of June, 1944, they kept powerful formations in that region, rather than rush them to Normandy to help destroy the vulnerable Allied beachhead. By the time the Pas de Calais formations were finally released, the Allies had amassed sufficient forces in Normandy to not only defeat German counterattacks, but to then go on the offensive, and breaking out of the beachhead, sweep across and liberate France within a few months.

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
Juan Pujol Garcia, and his German and British medals. Whale Oil

1. Getting Medals From Both the Nazis and Allies

As to Juan Pujol Garcia, he gained the distinction of attaining an Iron Cross from Germany, plus a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) from Britain. After the war, fearing reprisals from the Nazis, he faked his death in Angola in 1949, then moved to Venezuela. There, he ran a gift shop and book store.

Fake Vampires, Wailing Ghosts, and Other Fascinating Psy-Ops and Military Deceptions
Juan Pujol Garcia in later years. Half Arsed History

Pujol led an anonymous life until 1984, when he agreed to be interviewed for a book about agent GARBO. As a result of the ensuing publicity, he was received at Buckingham Palace, was lionized in Britain, and on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, traveled to Normandy to pay his respects to the dead. He died in Caracas four years later.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ancient History Encyclopedia – Thutmose III at the Battle of Megiddo

British Battles – Siege of Mafeking

British Museum – Furst Karl Joseph Franz von Auesberg

Cracked – 5 Insane Psy-Op Strategies Governments Almost Tried

Encyclopedia Britannica – Zhuge Liang

Fisher, David – The War Magician: The Man Who Conjured Victory in the Desert (2005)

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe II (1994)

Hesketh, Roger Fleetwood – Fortitude: the D-Day Deception Campaign (2002)

Historic UK – Britain’s WWI’s Mystery Q-Ships

History Today – The Relief of Mafeking

Info Barrel History – The Silver Tongued Frenchman: Marshall Lannes’ Stunning Capture of Tabor Bridge

Kickass Facts – 10 Greatest Bluffs in History That Actually Worked

Latimer, Jon – Alamein (2002)

Macintyre, Ben – Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (2012)

Military History Now – Operation Wandering Soul: Ghost Tape Number 10 and the Haunted Jungles of Vietnam

Naval History and Heritage – Q-Ships During

Quartz – World History Would be Very Different Without the Blood Moon Eclipse of 1504

Ripley’s Believe it Or Not – Operation Popeye: America’s Secret Weather Warfare Project

Tomás Harris – Garbo: The Spy Who Saved D-Day (2001)

Space – How a Total Lunar Eclipse Saved Christopher Columbus

Washington Post, February 24th, 1987 – Edward Lansdale, Prototype For Ugly American, Dies

Wikipedia – Edward Lansdale

Wikipedia – Operation Popeye

Wikipedia – USS Indianola

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