The Secret of D-Day

Title:                      The Secrets of D-Day

Author:                  Gilles Perrault

Perrault, Gilles (1965). The Secrets of D-Day. Boston: Little, Brown

LCCN:    65018954

D761 .P393



  • Translated from the French by Len Ortzen

Date Updated:  March 29, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

The author received the Prix de la Resistance for this work, which was first published in French in 1964. Perrault based this on a study of German records, on interviews with German intelligence officers and members of the French resistance, and to a lesser extent on interviews with U.S. and British officers. He claimed that no previous work had dealt with the totality of intelligence operations that preceded and prepared for D-Day, the invasion of France by the Allies in 1944. He produced a work of mixed quality. Perrault was able to identify and discuss certain elements of the overall deception plan, such as the communications and signal intelligence deceptions, the use of camouflage, the Patton ploy and James’s impersonation of General Montgomery, and the air reconnaissance and bombing patterns used by the Allies to disguise their true objective.

The book has the virtue of trying to provide an overview of Allied deception and security efforts and operations connected with the invasion plan. Perrault deserves credit for digging up much information on deception methods employed. However, errors and gaps in the full story abound, since the author had no access to Allied records and relied less on Allied sources than on others. To date, there is no evidence to support his claim that Allied deception plans called for the deliberate sacrifice of French resistance groups, a strategy he called “undoubtedly the ultimate secret of Fortitude” (the overall deception plan). He is groping when he calls the North Pole disasters in Holland (the German penetration of SOE nets) part of the British deception plan. The use of double agents to deceive the Germans is touched on, but Perrault has no real information on the size of that effort and on the identities of the important agents and handling officers involved. Ultra is not included; a number of minor errors intrude. For the punctilious, the lack of documentation for facts and opinions is another mark against the book.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[2]

Quite the best compilation of available accounts of counterespionage and security operations designed to protect the D-Day place and date, and to deceive German intelligence with false information, especially to convince the German command that the invasion would take place not in Normandy but in Pas de Calais. The author, who received the Prix de la Resistance for this work, describes the bottles between German and Allied espionage systems, and highlights the penetration and deception roles of Allied counterintelligence. [Also cited in chapter 17, section B.]

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 363-364

[2] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.


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