Operation Fairlands

'Fairlands' was a British deception plan designed, in combination with a continued Allied threat to the western coast of Italy in the area of Livorno, to prevent the redeployment of German forces from the Balkans and northern Italy to the 'Gustav-Linie' main defences in the area to the south of Rome (September/November 1943).

Schemed under the leadership of Brigadier Dudley W. Clarke’s 'A' Force deception organisation and planned at the strategic level as successor to 'Boardman' at a time late in September, 'Fairlands' thus had the objectives of discouraging the Germans from reinforcing their 'Gustav-Linie' defences, persuading them to evacuate their forces from Crete and Rhodes, and con­taining as many German formations as possible in the Balkans. 'Fairlands' continued the notional threat of an amphibious assault behind the German right flank in the area of Livorno and Pisa area, this time by Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s US 7th Army (unknown to the Germans now little more than headquarters) operating from Corsica, which had recently been evacuated by the Germans.

Verisimilitude was offered to 'Fairlands' by a number of factors including a highly publicised visit by Patton and his staff to Corsica, and wide distribu­tion of a pamphlet about the ancient buildings and works of art in the area of Livorno and Pisa.

However, an ill-fated British expedition seriously affected the second object of 'Fairlands' when in the middle of September, the British seized Kos, Samos, and Léros as a first step in their planned advance to Rhodes in the Dodecanese islands campaign, 'Fairlands' was accordingly modified to replace threats to Crete and Rhodes with threats to Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. But the Germans counterattacked and by the end of November had retaken the islands the British had seized, and had also taken the opportunity to occupy the Cyclades islands group, and thus controlled the whose of the Aegean Sea basin, in the process acutely reducing any chance that Turkey might join the Allies. This stripped away the entire rationale of British threats in the eastern Mediterranean.

In November, 'Fairlands' was therefore sensibly merged into 'Oakfield'.