Operation Kinkajou

'Kinkajou' was a British open part of the cover plan, whose secret part was 'Wallaby', designed to protect the proposed 'Anakim' (i) (February 1943).

In December 1942 General Sir Archibald Wavell, the commander-in-chief, India, had authorised the start of 'Cannibal' as a modest offensive to the south in Arakan western coastal region of Burma. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Fleming, head of the 'D' Division deception organisation within Wavell’s area of responsibility, travelled to the front and predicted accurately that the offensive would not progress satisfactorily.

Then in January 1943 the 'Symbol' inter-Allied conference in Casablanca tentatively authori­sed Wavell to plan the 'Anakim' (i) operation, which was to be launched in the autumn for the recapture of Burma. To support this, Fleming created a deception plan which revealed that he still had much to learn about the arcane subject of military deception. The 'story' promulgated by the plan was that 'Anakim' (i), which was to be a land offensive against northern Burma followed by an am­phibious offensive against southern Burma, was to be a deception oper­ation to cover the 'real' offensive, which would be an amphibious assault from India and Australia against Sumatra and Java respectively in the occupied Netherlands East Indies, as stepping stones toward the recapture of Singapore and thence Malaya.

This deception was to be impressed on the Japanese as the 'real' plan by the use of 'special means' even as the British used overt channels, such as manipu­lation of press, radio and tactless remarks by prominent individuals to suggest the 'real plan' as the 'cover plan'. The overt or open aspect was called 'Kinkajou' and the secret aspect 'Wallaby'.

The entire concept was full of problems, as should have been evident to both Wavell and Brigadier General Albert C. Wedemeyer of the Operations Division of the US deaprtment of War’s General Staff, who gave the plan general approval when visit­ing India on his way back to the USA from Casablanca. Quite apart from the danger in­herent in any double-bluff operation, 'Kinkajou-Wallaby' was not only very cumbersome and insecure, but there was no chance at all that the chiefs-of-staff, British or US, or the British and US civilian authorities, would countenance aby such manipulation of a free press. Colonel John Bevan, head of the London Controlling Section, was appalled when he learned of the plan, but the response he and his deputy, Ronald Wingate, was phrased diplomatically rather than bluntly.

By that time 'Cannibal' was drawing to an inconclusive end and 'Anakim' (i) was itself in doubt. London’s response was therefore explicit that no action was to be taken to implement any 'Anakim' (i) deception plan until the Combined Chiefs-of-Staff had decided that that operation would in fact take place: 'Anakim' (i) was, to all practical purposes, abandoned at the 'Trident' conference in Washington during May 1943.

It is worth noting, though, that there was approval of one aspect of Wavell’s message for the transmission of 'Kinkajou-Wallaby'. Recognising that the plan would need co-ordination on a worldwide basis, Wavell had recommended that this be done from Washington, and that a preliminary conference to arrange inter-Allied deception machinery for the Japanese war be held as soon as possible. The British agreed, and in Washington arrangements were made for such a gathering to begin on 20 May at the same time as the 'Trident' conference. Given the later uncer­tainty about the fate of 'Anakim' (i), there were last-minute suggestions that the meeting ben cancelled, but there was a consensus that there would be great utility in any free interchange of ideas on this subject, which was relatively new to the US representatives.