User:ErrantX/Sandbox/Allied military deception in World War II

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Allied military deception during World War II developed dramatically over the course of the war, pioneered by several individuals and their organisations. In early 1941, Dudley Clarke set up 'A' Force, the first major deception department, in Cairo. Later that year Allied high command took note of his work and established the London Controlling Section; after a slow start John Bevan took control of the section in June 1942. Between them, Clarke and Bevan pulled off a number of important strategic deceptions that helped the Allies win the war.

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Evolution of deception[edit]

Prior to the Second World War, military deception had largely consisted of tactical and battlefield deceptions. The little strategic planning that did occur tended to happen in isolation or on an ad hoc basis. Few armies had units formally charged with deception activities and most deceptions were the work of inspired officers on the field of battle. From the outset of the war several individuals, notable Archibald Wavell and Winston Churchill, felt that deception had a place in Allied strategy. Wavell made a successful attempt at tactical deception during the start of the North African campaign in 1940.

Soon after he called Dudley Clarke, a British Army intelligence officer he knew from an earlier posting to Palestine, to Cairo. Clarke had been in the army since World War I; he'd first signed up to the Royal Artillery but, due to an age limit, was not able to fight in France. He transferred to the newly formed Royal Flying Corps and spent the rest of the war learning to fly; first in Reading and then Egypt. Following the war Clarke moved back to the Artillery and led a varied career in the Middle East, largely doing intelligence work. It was during this time he met Wavell, as well as Tony Simonds and John Dill (all of whom would play later parts in Allied deception).

A theatrical and charismatic individual, Clarke could "charm senior officers brilliantly, but he also got things done". His ideas for combining fictional orders of battle, visual deception and double agents helped define Allied deception strategy during the war.

At the outset of World War II Clarke spent some time doing intelligence work before ending up on Dill's staff in England. Eventually Wavell's request arrived and he was posted to the Middle East, where he was tasked with establishing strategic deception in the region. Officially he was setting up MI9's present in the area - a secret role in itself.

'A' Force[edit]

In 1941, Clarke created 'A' Force, the eponymous department which would define his legacy. Once Clarke had established the department he began to pursue contacts outside of Cairo – in Turkey and Lisbon.

London Control[edit]

In late 1941, his ideas for military deception came to the attention of Allied high command, who suggested he set up a department in London. Clarke declined - John Bevan eventually ended up in the role - and returned to Lisbon. Shortly afterwards, whilst in Madrid, he was arrested under odd circumstances whilst wearing women's clothing. This was the end of his field work and Clarke returned to Cairo to manage deception, which he continued to do with much success until the end of the war.



Over the course of the war the Allies utilised a broad range of deception tactics; from physiological to physical. In particularly, the use of fictional army units was common.

Fictional units[edit]

Dummy tanks[edit]

Double agents[edit]

Radio intercepts[edit]

See also[edit]