§825 Paris deserted occupied; Narrow success of Operation ‘Overlord’ (1940-1944): VI-43.

VI-43 (§825):

For a long time shall be without being dwelt,
Where the Seine and the Marne are watering around
Even the martial men of the Thames tried,
The guards shall be deceived in thinking to lay at rest.

(Long temps sera sans estre habitee,
Ou Seine & Marne autour vient arrouser
De la Tamise & martiaulx temptee,
Deceuz les gardes en cuidant reposer.)

NOTES: Ou: = Où (where).

Temptee: « tempter. Tenter (To attempt, to try).» (Daele).

Cuider: = « croire (To think, to believe).» (Suzuki).

Shall be without being dwelt, Where the Seine and the Marne are watering around: = « The first two lines are a slight exaggeration, if applicable to Paris in the closing days of the Battle of France. By 10 [sic] June [1940] Paris was declared an open city. The Germans arrived to find it nearly deserted; over four-fifths of the population had fled. Line 3 and 4 move us a few years ahead to the British raids of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.» (Hogue, 1997, p.465-466).

For a long time
: = For several months (May to Autumn, 1940); « MAY 15 [1940] Home Front: FrancePANIC IN PARIS on reports of German breakthrough at Sedan. Many thousands of civilians leave city; Government departments burn secret files; Premier Reynaud telephones Churchill: ‘We are beaten; we have lost the battle!’» (Argyle, 1980, p.28); « JUNE 13 France – Paris declared an ‘open city’; all French forces withdraw S. of the capital. Oil stores in suburbs set on fire. Germans reach N. outskirts in the evening. Germans capture Le Havre. JUNE 14 FranceGERMAN FORCES ENTER PARIS. General von Bock, Commanding Officer Army Group B, reviews victory parades in Place de la Concorde and at Arc de Triomphe. Germans capture intact Renault tank factory at Billancourt and Schneider-Creusot armament works. Only 700,000 people remain in city out of pop. of 5 M. French Govt. leaves Tours for Bordeaux.» (Argyle, id., p.33); « During theses days [10 May – 10 June 1940], 6 millions to 8 millions of civilians refuged south.» (Shibata, 1995, p.291).

« Most of the people who had left Paris in summer returned home by autumn, and they restored their ordinary life ... in the conspicuous atmosphere of German occupation in the streets.» (Shibata, id., p.309-310).

Even the martial men of the Thames tried
: = « Before its launching, the invasion of Normandy looked a most hazardous venture. The Allied troops had to disembark on a coast that the enemy had occupied during four years, with ample time to fortify it, cover it with obstacles and sow it with mines. For the defence, the Germans had fifty-eight divisions in the West, and ten of these were panzer divisions that might swiftly deliver an armoured counterstroke. The Allies’ power to bring into action the large forces now assembled in England was limited by the fact that they had to cross the sea, and by the number of landing craft available. They could disembark only six divisions in the first seaborne lift, together with three airborne, and a week would pass before they could double the number ashore. So there was cause to feel anxious about the chances of storming what Hitler called the ‘Atlantic Wall’ – an awesome name – and about the risks of being thrown back in the sea. Yet, in the event, the first footholds were soon expanded into a large bridgehead, eighty miles wide. The enemy never managed to deliver any dangerous counterstroke before the Allied forces broke out from the bridgehead. The break-out was made in the way and at the place that Field-Marshal Montgomery had originally planned. The whole German position in France then quickly collapsed. Looking back, the course of invasion appears wonderfully easy and sure. But appearances are deceptive. It was an operation that eventually ‘went according to plan’, but not according to timetable. At the outset the margin between success and failure was narrow. The ultimate triumph has obscured the fact that the Allies were in great danger at the outset, and had a very narrow shave...» (Hart, 1971, p.543).

The guards shall be deceived in thinking to lay at rest
: = « On D-Day precious hours were wasted in argument on the German side. The nearest available part of the general reserve was the Ist S.S Panzer Corps, which lay north-west of Paris. But Rundstedt [Commander-in-Chief in the West] could not move it without permission from Hitler’s headquarters... Jodle [Chief of High Command of the German Armed Forces Operations Staff], reluctant to disturb Hitler’s late morning sleep, took it upon himself to resist Rundstdt’s appeal for the release of the reserves. They might have been released earlier if Rommel [in executive charge of the forces on the Channel coast] had not been absent from Normandy. For, unlike Rundstedt, he often telephoned Hitler direct and still had more influence with him than any other general. But Rommel had left his headquarters the day before on a trip to Germany. As the high wind and rough sea seemed to make invasion unlikely for the moment he had decided to combine a visit to Hitler, to urge the need of more panzer divisions in Normandy, with a visit to his home near Ulm for his wife’s birthday [thinking to lay at rest]. Early next morning, before he could drive on to see Hitler, a telephone call told him that the invasion had begun. He did not get back to his headquarters until the evening – by which time the invaders were well established ashore. The commander of the army in that part of Normandy was also away – directing an exercise in Brittany. The commander of the panzer corps that lay in reserve had gone on a visit to Belgium. Another key commander is said to have been away spending the night with a girl [thinking to lay at rest]. Eisenhower’s decision to proceed with the landing despite the rough sea turned out greatly to the Allies’ advantage.» (Hart, id., p.549-550).

N.B. The role of Ultra in WWII:
« Ever since I had joined the Secret Service in 1929 I had realized that amongst those who trod the carpeted corridors of power in Whitehall it was fashionable to smile in tolerant disbelief at anything the Secret Service told them. It was frustrating to see the information on German rearmament being quietly ignored. As my efforts with Hitler and company had had the full backing of Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair (to me the Chief), he complained to the Prime Minister when he saw no use was being made of my knowledge. In 1935 I was finally summoned to appear before a Cabinet Committee to substantiate my reports. They were accepted by the committee. When Baldwin retired, Lord Swinton took over as Air Minister from Lord Londonderry, and I got all the help and backing I wanted… » (Winterbotham, 1975, p.22).

« In 1938 a Polish mechanic had been employed in a factory in Eastern Germany which was making what the young man rightly judged to be some sort of secret signalling machine. As a Pole, he was not very fond of the Germans anyway and, being an intelligent observer, he took careful note of the various parts that he and his fellow were making. He got in touch with our man in Warsaw. In due course the young Pole was persuaded to leave Warsaw and was secretly smuggled out under a false passport with the help of the Polish Secret Service; he was then installed in Paris where, he was given a workshop. With the help of a carpenter to look after him, he began to make a wooden mock-up of the machine he had been working on in Germany. There had been a number of cypher machines invented over the years and our own backroom boys had records and drawings of most of them. It didn’t take them long to identify the mock-up as some sort of improved mechanical cypher machine called Enigma. The name Enigma was given to the machine by the German manufacturers... It was Denniston himself [Commander Alastair Denniston, Chief of the Government Code and Cypher School] who went to Poland and triumphantly, but in the utmost secrecy, brought back the complete, new, electrically operated Enigma cypher machine which we now knew was being produced in its thousands and was destined to carry all the secret signal traffic of the great war machine. It is difficult to explain this cypher machine in a few words so I do not intend to try to describe the working of the complicated system of electrically connected revolving drums around which were placed letters of the alphabet. A typewriter fed the letters of the message into the machine, where they were so proliferated by the drums that it was estimated a team of top mathematicians might take a month or more to work out all the permutations necessary to find the right answer for a single cypher setting; the setting of the drums in relation to each other was the key which both the sender and the receiver would no doubt keep very closely guarded. No wonder the Germans considered that their cypher was completely safe. Despite the fact that we had an actual machine, were we now faced with an impossible problem? By August 1939 Denniston and his Government Code and Cypher School had moved to Bletchley Park, a secluded country house which the Chief had previously acquired as a wartime hideout; with them went the machine.» (Winterbotham, id., p.27-28).

« Early in 1939 I set up the first Scientific Intelligence Unit in my Air Section of the Secret Intelligence Service [S.I.S.].» (Winterbotham, id., p.24); « In September 1939 the SIS were also evacuated to Bletchley Park, some fifty miles north of London near the main road and railway to the north-west. A number of wooden huts had been erected on the wide lawns at Bletchley and it was in Hut No. 3 that I and my small staff set up office. We lived , however, in billets in the surrounding country, and it was in another big house that I found I had a number of backroom boys as fellow boarders. I had known several of them when we all worked in the same building in London. Between them there was little they did not know about cyphers, and now that we had actually got one of Hitler’s latest Enigma cypher machines, it was possible to understand with some accuracy its function and complexity. We could now at least get the machine accurately duplicated. There had come to Bletchley some of the most distinguished mathematicians of the day. Alexander, Babbage, Milner Barry, Gordon Welchman, names to whisper in the world of chess. They had been persuaded by Denniston to leave their comfortable universities and join with our own backroom boys to try to prove or disprove the theory that if a man could design a machine to create a mathematical problem, then man could equally well design a machine to solve it… It is no longer a secret that the backroom boys of Bletchley used the new science of electronics to help them solve the puzzle of Enigma. I am not of the computer age nor do I attempt to understand them, but early in 1940 I was ushered with great solemnity into the shrine where stood a bronze-coloured column surmounted by a larger circular bronze-coloured face, like some Eastern Goddess who was destined to become the oracle of Bletchley. It must have been about the end of February 1940 that the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, had evidently received enough Enigma machines to train their operators sufficiently well for them to start putting some practice messages on the air. The signals were quite short but must have contained the ingredients the bronze goddess had been waiting for. Menzies [Colonel Stewart Menzies, Chief of the British Secret Service succeeding Sinclair when he died at the end of 1939] had given instructions that any successful results were to be sent immediately to him, and it was just as the bitter cold days of that frozen winter were giving way to the first days of April sunshine that the oracle of Bletchley spoke and Menzies handed me four little slips of paper, each with a short Luftwaffe message dealing with personnel postings to units. From the Intelligence point of view they were of little value, except as a small bit of administrative inventory, but to the backroom boys at Bletchley Park and to Menzies, and indeed to me, they were like the magic in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The miracle had arrived.» (Winterbotham, id., p.30-34).

« I felt it was necessary at this point to distinguish our particular Enigma Intelligence completely from other types which came under the headings of Secret or Most Secret (the American category of Top Secret had not yet arrived on the scene), so I had a talk with each of the directors to see if we could decide on a name by which it would be known to all those persons on this list I kept of authorized recipients. The title of Ultra Secret was suggested, but the final agreement was just to call it Ultra. Having been in at the birth, I had now conducted the christening of a source of Intelligence which was so deeply to affect our conduct of the war. As our successes in breaking Ultra increased, it became obvious that these signals carried the very highest command traffic, from Hitler and his Ober Kommando Wehrmacht (OKW) High Command, from the Chiefs of the Army, Air and navy Staffs, and from Army, Airfleet and Armoured Group Commanders. The German Abwehr, which dealt with spies and counter-espionage, used a different cypher of their own which was also broken. To that vast majority of people who were either too young to realize what was going on in World War II and who have been nurtured on the Allied victory over the Nazis, the story which follows may well provoke the question why, if we knew so much about the enemy’s strength and intentions, did we not finish him off more quickly. It is perhaps difficult for those younger generations to realize that in 1940 we were totally defeated in France, and that all that stood between us and total surrender was the disarmed remains of the British Army evacuated from Dunkirk, and the Royal Air Force, pitifully small compared with the vast air fleets of the Luftwaffe. To those of us who knew the score, the total surrender of Britain depended on whether the RAF could prevent the Luftwaffe wiping out or grounding our air squadrons. If they had done so, no Royal Navy ship could have survived in, or under, the waters of the English Channel whilst the Luftwaffe held control of the air. The decisive part that Ultra played in saving us from defeat will become apparent in the chapters that follow. Invasion, however incompetently mounted and carried out, would have been invincible with all the airborne and seaborne troops and armament the Germans could have sent against our thinly held coast. For two long years we were virtually fighting the great German war machine with our wits. It was our wits and brains which produced the Ultra intelligence that provided the key to Air Marshal Dowding’s strategy of keeping the Luftwaffe at bay and saving the RAF from the knockout blows aimed at it by Goering during the Battle of Britain. It was Ultra which told of all the preparations which were going on for Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain. Later on it was the same Intelligence which enabled General Auchinleck in North Africa to fight Rommel and his Afrika Korps like an elusive boxer, bobbing up where Rommel least expected him, delivering a hard punch, then away again to mount a swift attack somewhere else. It was Auchinleck’s skill that brought Rommel to a standstill at the very gateway to Egypt. Had he not done so, the whole of the Mediterranean would have been lost to us, together with our scattered Imperial Forces in the Middle East, our oil, our naval bases and our route to India. Even when, after Alamein, the pendulum at last began to swing our way a little, the advance knowledge of the enemy’s movements, strength and likely behavior gained through Ultra still did not enable us to achieve any quick results: we just did not have the men, machines and resources. Let no one be fooled by the spate of television films and propaganda which has made the war seem like some great triumphant epic. It was, in fact, a very narrow shave, and the reader may like to ponder, whilst reading this book, whether or not we might have won had we not had Ultra.» (Winterbotham, id., p.42-44).

« Many accounts of the Battle of the Atlantic have been written, but up until now none of them have been able to reveal the role of Ultra. One of the most dramatic examples occurred in the Bismarck affair. The sinking of HMS Hood on 24 May 1941 left a sense of shock with everyone. Then came the news that the great German battleship had made her escape on 25 May and we all knew that contact with her had been lost. Early on 25 May Admiral Lutyens, thinking that he was still being shadowed by a British warship, sent a long signal to his Naval Headquarters in Germany. It listed all his difficulties but mainly the loss of fuel from his earlier battle and he asked what he was to do now. It was this signal, picked up by us, which gave way once more his position. I remember the thrill that went through the office as the next signal came over the telephone from Hut 3 that Bismarck had been ordered to Brest where all available air and submarine protection was to be given to her. Later we were to know that the Admiralty had already made plans to cope with either her return northwards to Germany or southwards to France, but now her position was certain. On 26 May at 10.30 a.m. the Bismarck was again sighted. The rest of the story is well known.» (Winterbotham, id., p.108-109); « 1941 May: 24th, H.M.S. Hood sunk by Bismarck off Greenland; 27th, Bismarck is sunk by Royal Navy west of Brest.» (Williams, 1968, p.578).

« Lieutenant General Freddie Morgan had been chosen by the Allied statesmen and chiefs of staff, after the Casablanca Conference, to act as COSSAC, or Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander, for the purpose of setting up a planning organization for invasion of France by the Allies. As early as March 1943 he took up his post in the now empty Norfolk House where Eisenhower had previously set up his headquarters before Operation Torch in North Africa. I had discussed with him the provision of Ultra for his planning operations. The story of the V
1 flying-bomb has been told by a number of well qualified people, but so far the part played by Ultra in the Intelligence investigation into the nature of Hitler’s secret weapon, together with the location of the experimental station where it was being developed, and the actual launching and performance data, has not hitherto been disclosed… It was in April 1944 that Ultra finally came up with the orders from Hitler himself to establish a special headquarters near Amiens in France to control the V1 operation, and everything clicked into place. The new headquarters was to be commanded by Colonel Wachtel and was called the 155th Flak Regiment. Since the signal was also addressed to General Heinemann, commanding the LXVI Corps, it was evident that the new regiment would come under his administrative command. At the end of May 1944 an Ultra signal from Wachtel to Heinemann reported that fifty sites were ready for launching. This finally determined Churchill to press for the start of Overlord in June at all costs. Time was obviously going to be very precious. It was on D-Day, June the sixth, that Wachtel received a signal ordering him to prepare for an immediate all-out offensive to start on June the twelfth. As it turned out, it was not until the thirteenth that the first V1 landed.» (Winterbotham, id., p.147-149).

« There was no noticeable increase in the signals of importance to Overlord during March, but by April we learned from an OKW signal that Rommel had been given command of Army Group B, which was responsible for the defence of the coast from Holland right round Normandy and Brittany, as far south as Nantes. Army Group G area, which comprised most of the southern half of France, looked after the West Coast from Nantes to the Spanish border. As soon as Rommel got his command he started to throw his weight about. Evidently the results of his inspection of the coast defences were unsatisfactory, for in April he started sending impassioned requests for materials and labour to make a proper job of Hitler’s much-vaunted Atlantic Wall. It was evidently considered by Rommel as being largely inadequate, but signal as he might, and did, for cement, steel, timber and guns, nothing much appeared to happen. Eventually, Rommel warned the OKW that what was being done was being accomplished by the troops themselves, which meant that their state of readiness was badly impaired. The signals outlining Rommel’s constant demands were now being backed up by aerial photography and the two together gave us a fairly good time-table of the construction of the beach and coastal defences we should meet later. It became obvious from the aerial photographs that despite his incessant bullying of Berlin for more of everything, he had made a pretty good job with what he had got. During the spring of 1944 the Germans made what was to be probably the most important decision of all those affecting the Allies and the Overlord plans. The decision arose from a clash of views between Hitler, Rundstedt, Rommel, Guderian and Schweppenburg, who commanded a group of four panzer divisions which made up the panzer reserve stationed near Paris. The discussions between those top level commanders were mostly conducted personally with Hitler in Berlin, but fortunately there were times when he was away at his eastern headquarters at Rastenburg, and it was the exchange of just one or two signals on these occasions which gave us the vital clues we needed… Rommel evidently refused to budge an inch from the dispositions he proposed to make and it was at this point that he sent a signal to Hitler at Rastenburg, reinforcing his previous views that the panzer divisions should be deployed behind the Normandy beaches and repudiated Guderian’s idea of keeping the armoured reserve near Paris. He stressed the point that the vast air superiority of the enemy would make the rapid movement of the armour impossible. This was the vital clue we wanted… and in May we at last picked up a signal to Rundstedt from Hitler which confirmed that the four panzer divisions, which constituted the reserve, would be held where they were, as an assault force, under the direct control of the OKW. This, of course, was the plum we had been waiting for; had the final decision gone the other way it would have seriously jeopardized the chances of success of operation Overlord as it then stood. There continued to be no signs of a move by any of the infantry divisions of the Fifteenth Army from the Pas de Calais area… Rommel had lost control of the main armoured force, and he never had control of the coast batteries which belonged to the German Navy along with a few odd destroyers and motor boats which seldom put to sea; his air force – Luftflotte 3 – we knew was down to about fifty operational aircraft. Both General Sperrle, commanding the Luftflotte, and the Fliegerkorps commander whose two fighter squadrons, in fact, made up the whole air fleet, eventually gave up asking for more aeroplanes; none ever arrived in reply to Sterrle’s signals… » (Winterbotham, id., p.153-157).

© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2019. All rights reserved.


Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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