United States Army deception formations of World War II

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Patches of the notional 6th, 9th, 18th, 21st & 135th Airborne Divisions

The United States Army created a large number of notional deception formations that were used in a number of World War II deception operations. The most notable fictional US formation was the First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG); this field army was originally intended as the main invasion force for the Invasion of Normandy, however that was renamed to the 12th Army Group. FUSAG remained in existence on paper and was used during Operation Fortitude South to divert Axis attention to the Pas de Calais area.[1][page needed]

The imaginary formations ranged in size from battalion to field army and were faked using documents, photographs, double agents, news reportage and physical subterfuge. Some of the units were either based on existing decommissioned formations (usually World War I formations) or created afresh. Many were used multiple times, Clarke in particular believed that reusing units in the long term would help establish their existence in the mind of the enemy.[2]

Field armies and army groups[edit]

Formation Dates Insignia Subordinates Operations Description
1st US Army Group (FUSAG) 1943 – October 1944 1st Army Group.svg Fortitude South Created for the planning of the invasion of Normandy the FUSAG later became redundant and was used to mislead Axis that the Allies intended a major invasion at Pas de Calais. Later utilised to threaten airborne landings in September 1944.
2nd US Army Group (SUSAG) 1943–1944 Originally intended to take the role of the FUSAG, but when the latter's job was taken over by the 12th Army Group the formation became redundant.
Twelfth Army Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.
Fourteenth Army May 1944 – October 1944 14th Army.svg Fortitude South A subordinate of FUSAG, supposedly landed in Liverpool and stationed in Little Waltham, Essex. Moved from FUSAG to SHAEF later in the year; double agents reported to the Germans that it was largely US convicts.

Corps[edit]

Formation Dates Insignia Subordinates Operations Description
IX Amphibious Corps 1944
  • 108th Infantry Division
  • 119th Infantry Division
  • 130th Infantry Division
  • 141st Infantry Division
  • 157th Infantry Division
Wedlock The notional amphibious component of the Ninth Fleet. Used to convey to the Japanese that the United States planned to attack the Kuriles rather than the Marianas.[1][page needed]
XXX Corps Fortitude South Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.[1][page needed]
XXXI Corps 1944 US XXXI Corps SSI.png Vendetta
Ferdinand
XXXIII Corps 1944 US XXXIII Corps SSI.png Fortitude South
XXXV Airborne Corps 1945 Pastel Two Formed part of Operation Pastel Two, the planned deception for Operation Olympic, but never formally used.[3] The final version of Operation Pastel incorporated notional airborne landings, using dummy parachutists in the interior of Kyūshū.[4][5] XXXV Airborne Corps was designated as carrying out this task.[4] Had Operation Pastel been carried out, the first elements of the Corps, quartering parties of the notional 18th Airborne Division, would have been depicted as reaching Okinawa on August 15, 1945.[6] Following this glider pilots were to have been depicted as reaching Okinawa around August 20, 1945, followed by the troops of the real 11th and 18th Airborne Divisions, starting to arrive in Okinawa on September 1, 1945. On the same day the notional corps headquarters would have been activated.[3][5]
XXXVII Corps 1944 Fortitude South
XXXVIII Corps Fortitude South Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.[1][page needed]
XXXIX Corps Fortitude South Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.[1][page needed]

Divisions[edit]

Formation Dates Insignia Subordinates Operations Description
6th Airborne Division May - July 1944 USA - 6 ABN DIV.svg 'Operation Vendetta', 1944. This notional formation was 'built up' around real units, the 517th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry Regiment & the 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion which were depicted as operating under a single command when in fact they were operating separately.[2] Supposedly arrived in Sicily from the United States in May 1944. It was notionally attached to the Seventh United States Army and was to be dropped on the town of Paulhan in France to support a fictional invasion of the Narbonne region. It was disposed of by announcing in July 1944 that the division had been disbanded.[2]
9th Airborne Division June - November 1944 USA - 9 ABN DIV.svg Fortitude South
11th Infantry Division ? - October 1944 US 11th Infantry Division.svg Fortitude South
14th Infantry Division WWI14DNG.png Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.
17th Infantry Division June - October 1944 WWI17D.png
  • 293rd Infantry Regiment
  • 336th Infantry Regiment
  • 375th Infantry Regiment
Fortitude South
18th Airborne Division 18 ABN DIV SSI.jpg
  • 566th Parachute Infantry Regiment
  • 567th Gilder Infantry Regiment
  • 570th Gilder Infantry Regiment
Dervish
Pastel Two
21st Airborne Division June - November 1944 21st Abn Div SSI.jpg
  • 521st Parachute Infantry Regiment
  • 277th Glider Infantry Regiment
  • 278th Glider Infantry Regiment
Fortitude South The division was initially depicted as being under the direct command of US 14th Army with its headquarters located in Fulbeck, Lincolnshire in June 1944. In the Pas de Calais landings it and the 9th Airborne Division were to be dropped behind the XXXVII Corps beachheads. In August 1944 it was notionally transferred to the direct command of First United States Army Group, where it assisted in the training of the U.S. 48th Infantry Division in air landing techniques. In the aftermath of Fortitude South, the notional U.S. 9th and 21st Airborne Divisions, the notional British 2nd Airborne Division, and the real United States 17th Airborne Division were used to depict an airborne threat to the Kiel-Bremen area, supporting Operation Market Garden.[7] In November 1944 it was announced that the division had been merged with the 9th Airborne Division to form the 13th Airborne Division, a real unit that was about to be deployed to France.
22nd Infantry Division 22nd Inf Div SSI.jpg
48th Infantry Division June - December 1944 48th Infantry Division patch, Ghost Division, WWII Era.JPG
  • 80th Infantry Regiment
  • 95th Infantry Regiment
  • 146th Infantry Regiment
Fortitude South
50th Infantry Division US 50th Infantry Division.svg
55th Infantry Division October 1943 - March 1945 US 55th Infantry Division SVG.svg
  • 78th Infantry Regiment
  • 83rd Infantry Regiment
  • 96th Infantry Regiment
Fortitude North
59th Infantry Division 59 INF DIV SSI.svg
  • 94th Infantry Regiment
  • 139th Infantry Regiment
  • 171st Infantry Regiment
Fortitude South
15th Armoured Division 15th US Armored Division SSI.svg Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.
25th Armored Division 25th US Armored Division SSI.png
  • 72nd Tank Battalion
  • 73rd Tank Battalion
  • 74th Tank Battalion
  • 498th Armored Infantry Battalion
  • 499th Armored Infantry Battalion
  • 500th Armored Infantry Battalion
Fortitude South
39th Armoured Division 39th US Armored Division SSI.svg Activated as part of SHAEF, never used.
119th Infantry Division US 119th Infantry Division.png
  • 488th Infantry Regiment
  • 489th Infantry Regiment
  • 491st Infantry Regiment
  • 639th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 640th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 641st Field Artillery Battalion
  • 649th Field Artillery Battalion
Wedlock
130th Infantry Division 130 INF DIV SSI.jpg
  • 492nd Infantry Regiment
  • 493rd Infantry Regiment
  • 494th Infantry Regiment
  • 642nd Field Artillery Battalion
  • 643rd Field Artillery Battalion
  • 644th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 650th Field Artillery Battalion
Wedlock
135th Airborne Division 135 ABN DIV SSI.jpg
141th Infantry Division 141 INF DIV SSI.jpg
  • 495th Infantry Regiment
  • 496th Infantry Regiment
  • 497th Infantry Regiment
  • 645th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 646th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 647th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 651st Field Artillery Battalion
Wedlock
157th Infantry Division 157 INF DIV SSI.jpg
  • 557th Infantry Regiment
  • 558th Infantry Regiment
  • 565th Infantry Regiment
  • 944th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 946th Field Artillery Battalion
  • 952rd Field Artillery Battalion
  • 956th Field Artillery Battalion
Wedlock

Ghost divisions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Holt 2004
  2. ^ a b c Holt (2004). p. 901.
  3. ^ a b (Holt 2004, p. 900)
  4. ^ a b (Holt 2004, p. 772)
  5. ^ a b (Huber 1988, p. 7 & 8)
  6. ^ (Holt 2004, p. 903)
  7. ^ Hesketh (1999). p. 306.
Bibliography