Book Review: Vanguard: The True Stories of the Reconnaissance and Intelligence Missions behind D-Day


by David Abrutat

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019. Pp. 400. Illus., maps diagr., tables, biblio., index. $46.95. ISBN: 1682474542

Intelligence Preparation for D-Day

Former Royal Marine Commando, author and lecturer Abrutat, author of several works on intelligence and special operations, has written an impressive book which adds greatly to public awareness of the Allied intelligence, deception, espionage, and cover planning for D-Day.

‘Vanguard is not a history of “the bodyguard of lies” that helped protect the secret of D-Day, about which there are several very good books. Rather Abrutat offers looks at the many different ways in which the Allies gathered intelligence in support of the coming landings in France and the many ways in which they tried to dupe the Germans about their timing and location. He opens with a chapter offering a concise look at of the organization the Allies created to collect, manage, collection and use information, and for the dissemination of misinformation.

Abrutat then gives us nearly a score of chapters, each of which is more or less dedicated to a single aspect of Allied information operations. So we get to see code-breakers at work in Bletchley Park, commandos stealing sand from French beaches, propagandists preparing leaflets in comfortable offices and airmen delivering them despite flak or fighters, French resistance workers sabotaging German defensive construction projects, agents, double agents, and even triple agents at work, including lots of word portraits of some of the many people who did the work.

‘Vanguard’ is a good addition to the literature on the information side of the war in Europe, though unfortunately it lacks footnoting.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium



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