In the days leading up to D-Day, Allied forces performed a series of operations to confuse Axis command and divert attention from the eventual landing at Normandy. Operation Bodyguard, consisting of smaller strategic campaigns, goal was to lead the Germans to believe the invasion of Europe would be later in various locations, with the primary locations being Pas de Calais and Norway.
One campaign, Operation Titanic has its roots, right here in Trenton, New Jersey. Operation Titanic was designed to persuade Germans that the invasion was further north and spread across a larger area.
Stemming from a German attack in the Netherlands in 1940 in which they dropped paradummies, Allied troops began considering a similar attack. Colonel David Strangeways wrote Operation Titanic with the idea that paradummies would drop north of Normandy, creating confusion for the Germans on the morning of D-Day.
SWITLIK Parachute Company, at this point in the war, had firmly established itself as one of the primary parachute providers to the U.S. government and was commissioned to assemble the dummies. Under a veil of secrecy, SWITLIK packed the fake paratroopers with a SWITLIK parachute, an inflation bottle, an explosive noisemaker to simulate gunfire, and a block of TNT to explode upon landing, destroying the dummy.
500 dummy paratroopers, nicknamed Rupert, along with SAS officers were dropped in three locations. Rifle fire simulators and recordings of loud battle noise were also dropped with the officers to reinforce the deception.
- ‘Titanic I’ was the simulated drop of an airborne division in the area to the north of the Seine river with drop zones near Yvetot, Yerville and Doudeville in the Seine-Maritime region and Fauville in the Eure region.
- ‘Titanic III’ was the dropping of 50 dummy paratroopers in the Calvados region near Maltot and the woods north of Baron sur Odon to draw German reserves away west of Caen.
- ‘Titanic IV’ was the dropping of 200 dummy paratroopers near Marigny in the Manche region and, as with ‘Titanic I’, was intended to simulate the dropping of an airborne division. http://codenames.info/operation/titanic/
Operation Titanic was probably the best-known operation of its kind, pulling the 352nd Infantry Division away from Omaha Beach, Gold Beach and the 101st airborne drop zones.
No truer words have been spoken of D-Day than Winston Churchill, "And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred." In all of the moving parts, SWITLIK Parachute is proud to have played its part in the pivotal invasion of German-held Europe and the turning point of the war.