Tuesday, 6 June 2017
How East Kent won D-Day with Fortitude. Garbutt MP for South Thanet 8th June - Stand down Craig
The 6th June is fitting to recall East Kent's role with General Patton in D-Day, the greatest invasion ever.
With 2,700 ships - plus another 1,900 landing craft - with a first wave of 130,000 soldiers and 2,000 tanks and another 12,000 vehicles the stakes were high.
The Russians were urging an invasion, having taken the brunt of the carnage on the Eastern Front. And Allied troops were grinding away in Southern Italy and at the Salerno landings, as at Dieppe earlier, almost thrown back into the sea.
A failed invasion of France would extend the war by at least another year - bad weather in the Summer had already rescheduled the invasion.
Frontline Kent is familiar with the power of Channel storms and Goodwin Sands tides. And a BBC documentary also detailed the isolated Galway Bay weather station detecting Atlantic storms so delaying D-Day 5th June to 6th June.
While just two weeks after D-Day the innovations of Seabee Mulberry harbours and PLUTO (over 1.5M tons of steel and concrete) were destroyed in fierce storms. Fair stands the wind for France not always in the Channel.
Moreell's contribution in Seabee efforts from Trinidad (calypso steel drums music originating in fabrications from Seabee leftover fuel drums) through Tarawa to Tinian, was recognised as - with echoes of John Paul Vann - the only nonserviceman to become a USN Admiral.
A delayed or failed D-Day and Hitler could have developed nuclear weapons for New York or Moscow - and certainly expanded V1 and V2 rocket attacks on Kent and London or any future landing grounds.
Hence Fortitude North and Fortitude South.
Fortitude North was one of Churchill's wackier ideas to invade Norway and Denmark - but commando raids and bombers pinned down 12 divisions of German troops in Norway and 6 in Denmark. Far from Normandy or Kursk.
Fortitude South from Kent was to persuade the German High Command that the D-Day invasion would take place around Calais and not Normandy.
Paul Kennedy's "Engineers of Victory" book on page 257 details:
"American and British theatrical backroom staff ... and set designers joined the war effort. Tens of thousands of inflatable full-sized tanks and trucks were openly arrayed across fields near Kentish ports...and a stupendously effective and total blackout was imposed across the counties of Hampshire, Dorset and Devon where the real invasion armies lay...A not very happy General Patton with a recognisable radio sign was temporarily dispatched to take command of this mythic army."
While the ultra-secret work of the now-famous Bletchley Park codebreakers, and XX DoubleCross German agents in UK, created the sounds and movement of an Army Group Patton. And also safely shepherded the troop convoys across the Atlantic and Channel away from Uboats - a danger evidenced and still present in the SS RIchard Montgomery LendLease explosives ship:
"overestimating the number of German divisions bivouacked in Kent, the Wehrmacht kept no fewer than 19 of its own divisions in the Pas-De-Calais region (4 behind Dunkirk alone)...with only 18 divisions between the Seine and the Loire."
Astonishingly, Fortitude reduced by over half the number of troops around Normandy.
As did Hobart’s Funnies of ingenious flail tanks for destroying mines etc.
The Germans were convinced not only that the invasion would be at Calais but even when D-Day occurred, that the Normandy landings were a diversion. Two German tank divisions were actually recalled back to Calais from Normandy as late as 10th June.
Just one extra SS tank division in Normandy awaiting the landings, would have increased the acres and acres of Commonwealth War Graves sites.
Bloody Omaha as depicted in the opening scenes of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan movie - or Pointe Du Hoc - would have been far bloodier.
And even, as planned, Nelson's Column relocated as war booty -from a renamed Totenkopf Square rather than Trafalgar Square?- to Berlin.
As late as 3rd July(!) General Jodl believed Army Group Patton would invade Calais with 18 infantry divisions and 6 armoured divisions and 5 airborne divisions.
And by then of course the German divisions could not move due to the Allied air forces, and French Resistance, bombing of roads and railways and bridges.
And these days with the good folks of Liberation Route EU - supported by Martin Schulz former President of EU and now German Chancellor candidate this Autumn - Fortitude is ideal for East Kent to fast-forward tourism activity and with the Jorvik-style Landings Attraction.
That all the more apt in the celebrations of the Battle of Medway #BOM350 and no doubt Margate and Opal Coast's role in the Spanish Armada.
Kent's WW2 heritage, whether Dunkirk Little Ships or Baedeker raids or Channel Dash or MTB boats or Hellfire Corner, or with Blitz fears of another Guernica, Ramsgate Cu Chi-style Tunnels or even the more mundane yet rare Anderson Shelters, is a rich seam to mine.
As is its lesser-known WW1 heritage with Ramsgate in particular as the main Canadian military, and Canadian Red Cross base, or Ashford preserved WW1 tank, as the WW1 100 anniversary draws to a close in 2018.
And wider calls to recognise the Chinese Labour Corps and Vietnamese Labour Corps as well as Indian, Sikh and Japan and Thailand contributions to the WW1 Allies.
Perhaps it’s all the more fitting with Chartwell and Chevening just a few miles away, and a few years earlier, Ramsgate as Wellington's headquarters for invading Europe and defeating Napoleon at Waterloo.
But there is no doubt East Kent had helped win D-Day with General Patton and his invisible army, under SACEUR then POTUS Eisenhower.
Time for Change
* I am astonished Craig Mackinlay MP hasn't resigned over the blatant election fraud in South Thanet: the largest election fine ever. And if he were to be elected - by Party rosettes and low turnout - and then convicted there would need to be another election?
Stand down Craig.
I refuse to attend the election night count in protest at this blatant election fraud: the whole election expenses budget spent in just one hotel to bus in supporters. It's beyond innocent until proven guilty and as plain as the nose on your face.
No wonder he's silent on Kent corruption at Pleasurama etc.
Stand down Craig.