Operation Rouble

This was an Allied deception operation by tactical air forces’ radio equipment as part of ‘Fortitude’ (26/28 July 1944).

The undertaking was a supposed command post exercise for a fictional tactical air command, which was linked to the supposed XXXIII Corps and XXXVII Corps, as well as their subordinate divisions, of the fictional US 14th Army in southern England.

The 'story' of this wholly fictitious formation, which was created as part of 'Fortitude South II', was that it was part of Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s US 1st Army Group. Under the command of Major General John P. Lucas, the army had two airborne divisions (US 9th and 21st Airborne Divisions), the XXXIII Corps (11th and 48th Divisions and the 25th Armoured Division) and the XXXVII Corps (17th and 59th Divisions). The army was supposed to have landed in Liverpool during May and June 1944 (headquarters at Mobberly in Cheshire) and moved to East Anglia between 11 and 21 July, with its headquarters at Little Waltham in Essex. The army was scheduled to form the centre and left of the Pas de Calais invasion, with its airborne divisions dropping farther inland. The army was detached from the US 1st Army Group and placed in SHAEF strategic reserve in August before being moved to area of Southampton Brighton, with its headquarters at Fareham near Portsmouth, late in August. The army moved to France in September, and was disbanded in the following month.

A double agent reported to the Germans that its ranks were largely filled by convicts released from prisons in the USA for enrolment in a foreign legion of the French or Spanish type, and that it could almost be said that there were brigades composed of gangsters and brutal murderers, specially selected to fight against the Japanese, men not supposed to take prisoners, but instead to administer a cruel justice at their own hands.

The 'story' was still in play as late as March 19445, when the same double agent reported that its disbandment had been ordered to provide replacements for the heavy US losses in the Ardennes' fighting of 'Wacht am Rhein'.