D-Day and the End of the Bloomingdale’s Catalog
* Flail Tanks The Germans planted thousands of mines along the beaches and fields throughout the invasion area. A South African artillery sergeant, A.S. du Toit, came up with the idea of mounting two 6-foot arms in front of a tank with a series of chains on the crossbar that rotated, furiously flailing and slapping the ground as the vehicle moved forward to set off land mines in its path and clear a safe passage for the infantry. These were introduced in the North African campaign and then used to great effect in Normandy, saving countless lives.
* PLUTO (Pipe Line Under the Ocean) Trucks, Jeeps, armored vehicles and weapons require vast quantities of gasoline, oil and lubricating oil. Without these, the invading armies would go nowhere. On D-Day, the little harbor of Port-en-Bessin between Gold and Omaha Beaches was captured by the British after a furious fight. The following day, a small cargo ship filled with engineers docked at the port. Off-loaded and quickly constructed were specially designed pre-fab oil storage tanks. Pipe sections were snapped together and attached to undersea pipes that ran all the way back to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and Dungeness to the west. The mammoth pumping station was disguised as an ice cream factory. The essential fluids that kept the war machine moving were flowing into France within hours.
* FUSAG: The Great Pas-de-Calais Ruse The obvious landing point for the invasion was Pas-de-Calais—the Straight of Dover where England and France are separated by just 20 miles. The Allied planners realized early on that this entry into France would not support the vast influx of men and matériel, and chose instead the five beaches near the city of Caen—Sword, Juno and Gold (British and Canadian forces) and Omaha and Utah (American Army). This was the great secret of the European War. To fool the Germans, Calais was bombed nightly, causing the enemy to believe it was being softened up for an invasion. A vast propaganda machine created a flurry of fake radio messages describing a huge buildup of equipment and masses of troops under the feared Gen. George S. Patton Jr., commander of a totally fictitious First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG) in the Dover area. When the actual invasion finally came, the Germans believed that FUSAG was real and the Normandy action was a mere diversion. They failed to throw everything they had at the Allied invaders.