Experience told us how devastating enemy sniper fire could be, but our snipers did not like their task and were frequently rested to allow them to recover from what they thought was a cowardly and demoralising aspect of warfare.
It was my responsibility to make sure we had all the necessary maps and available aerial photographs; sometimes to arrange sand models to prepare and brief the officers and others about the terrain and location of enemy positions. My operational role was tactical staff officer to the Commanding Officer (C.O.). I attended Brigade HQ when he was receiving orders from the Brigade Commander and be separately briefed by the Brigade I.O. about the enemy. During the attack I would be at the C.O.'s side.
It was a matter of deep disappointment to everyone in the Division that we were not earmarked for the assault on Europe but nevertheless we were the first British Division to establish its headquarters on German soil on 18 January 1945. The Division had previously been to France, landing at Cherbourg, but was almost immediately ordered back at the time of Dunkirk 'for the final defence of the Realm'. Later we were known to the Germans as the infantry division being intensively trained for arctic and mountain warfare, and concluded that we would be the spearhead of a left-hook landing in Norway. It was revealed from captured documents that one of Hitler's 'intuitions' was that Norway was going to be a 'sphere of destiny'.

As D-day approached we intensified our activities to feed the German radio-intercept and detection monitors with data that could lead them to interprete the Division was on the move and concentrating near ports preparatory to embarkation. We were not told at the time but it transpired much later that this was a part of Operation Fortitude, which was intended to mislead the Germans about the Allied invasion intentions and create confusion about where the main and/or subsidiary assaults would be made. Unwittingly we contributed to this strategic deception through our normal activities as it was known that the enemy in Norway were intercepting our wireless signals as we carried out training in the Cairngorms. We exploited this by taking part in a major exercise directed by Division HQ which involved manoevring officers in vehicles towards Scottish ports. I was one of the officers involved from the battalion along with a company commander. 'Operation Fortitude North' was directed to strengthen the German assumption that we were to land in Norway; 'Operation Fortitude South' was to encourage the idea that a major Allied force was already assembled ready to land in the Pas de Calais.

 


 


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