Operation Barclay

Operation Barclay

Operation Barclay was an Allied deception plan in support of the invasion of Sicily, in 1943, during World War II.

This operation was intended to deceive the Axis military commands as to the location of the expected Allied assault across the Mediterranean and divert attention and resources from Sicily. It specifically indicated an invasion through the Balkans, by use of bogus troop movements, radio traffic, recruitment of Greek interpreters, acquisition of Greek maps and Operation Mincemeat, the planting of false Allied plans.

The Allies created a sham army, the "Twelfth Army", in the eastern Mediterranean, which consisted of 12 fictitious divisions. Hitler had suspected that the Allies would invade Europe through the Balkans and Barclay served to reinforce this opinion.

The deception was successful. The German High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - OKW), assumed a much greater concentration of Allied forces in the eastern Mediterranean than was the case and held to this assessment, making subsequent deceptions more credible. German forces in the Balkans were reinforced from eight to eighteen divisions. In addition, the Balkan threat diverted the Italian fleet into the Adriatic, away from Sicily. Operation Husky thus achieved surprise.

Further reading

  • Jon Latimer, Deception in War, London: John Murray, 2001


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