Day 3a – Lessons in Deception and WWII Memorial and Monuments Walk
Josh Slayton, Cambridge Springs High School, Pennsylvania
On June 22, 2015, we attended two intellectual lectures and discussions. The first of the two was titled Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Deception in Operation Overlord. It was presented by soon-to-be Dr. Corbin Williamson of The Ohio State University. I found this lecture to be truly fascinating. It was shocking to see just how important deception was to the Allied success in the Normandy campaign and in World War II. Operation Fortitude South was a deception plan that was used by the Allies to convince Germany that an invasion of France would take place in the Pas de Calais rather than along the Normandy beach, where it actually did take place.
This deception operation was quite successful, as it even had Adolf Hitler fooled after the invasion had already begun. Hitler had sent most of his forces to the Pas de Calais as he was nearly certain that the invasion would happen there. Even after D-Day, when it was obvious that the Allied forces had invaded the Normandy beaches, Hitler believed that a larger amphibious invasion would occur at the Pas de Calais. For that reason, he initially refused to send German reinforcements to Normandy. Though the Allies still faced strong opposition on June 6 and thousands of lives were lost in the battle, it may have been a total disaster had Operation Fortitude South not been a success.
The second lecture was given by Mr. Josh Fennell, Historian for the U.S. Department of Defense. It was about locating and recovering the remains of World War II veterans who sacrificed their lives during the war. It was a very interesting topic because, as we learned, it is extremely important that those remains be located as quickly as possible to ensure that the memory of these individuals is not lost. Both of these lectures were captivating and taught us so much about two very different aspects of war, both during, and also decades after, the Second World War.