D-Day and Dorset
This special exhibition in the Museum commemorates D-Day, 6th June 1944.
The Museum displays comprises interactive videos and photographic displays of Dorset, D-Day and beyond.
The history of the D-Day landings is quite well known but the Museum exhibition concentrates on the little told parts played in Operation Overlord by the Royal Signals and the County of Dorset (where the Museum is located). American and British troops rehearsed their battle drills in various parts of Southern England, 5th US Corps were stationed in many parts of Dorset, from where they launched their invasion. In preparation for the landings there was a comprehensive deception plan in which Royal Signals were deeply involved.
The Deception Plan
Deception was an essential element in the Normandy invasion. Operation Fortitude was intended to deceive the enemy into believing that the massive Allied attack would be launched across the narrow straits of Dover in the Pas de Calais Area. Many dummy military armaments were deployed in South-East England Dummygliders were dispersed on Kentish Airfields and wooden imitation landing craft were moored on the River Thames, these helped to deceive the enemy reconnaissance planes – leading the allied bombers to strike the area repeatedly. A vast volume of fake wireless traffic representing troop movements was transmitted from vans travelling around the Home Counties. Equipment was specially designed to make it appear that there were twice as many wireless sets in the area. This illusion was created to convince Hitler that the US 3rd Army was in the area but in reality they were 150 miles away in Cheshire. Op Fortitude was so successful that it kept valuable German armour and infantry tied up in the Pas de Calais area until several weeks after D-Day. Hitler was convinced that Overlord was the deception plan and the real attack would follow later.
At the museum…
Visit the museum to find out how the Royal Signallers of the highly secret 5 Wireless Group deceived the German Army using Playback Wire Recorders and the Number 19 Set.
Members of the Division at Tarrant Rushton Airfield near Blandford were amongst the first troops to land in France early in the morning of 6th June 1944.
Airborne Signallers played a critical part in the taking of Pegasus Bridge.
Don’t forget to find out how Corporal Waters earned his Military Medal by laying a vital line link across the bridge under enemy fire.
Royal Signals Linemen
Lines and Cables were used extensively throughout the Allied advance into Europe often taking advantage of German and civilian facilities that had been abandoned many of these were laid by Royal Signals linemen.