WWII surveillance images of Gold beach sold for over £3,000 at auction

WWII surveillance images of Gold beach sold for over £3,000 at auction

Photo story (Clockwise from top left): (1) Sophisticated technology was used by spitfire pilots to plot images of Gold beach; Mont Fleury was one of the huge gun batteries of the Germans and was one of the key targets (2) Supermarine Spitfires of 41 Squadron in flight in April 1944 (3) The images of Gold beach belonged to son of Captain Alexander Rodger. Captain Rodger was the commander of HMS Empire Crossbow that landed infantry onto Gold beach on D Day.

During the buildup to the 1944 Normandy landings, Allied forces deployed a military deception program codenamed Operation Fortitude. Aim of the strategy was to mislead the German decision makers about the location of the impending Allied invasion. Fake army fields consisting of non existing units and fake infrastructure were created in Edinburgh and southern England as part of the deception plot. Among the tactics were: false information were leaked through different diplomatic channels, using double agents controlled by Allies to feed false information to German intelligence, false wireless traffic creation and carrying out spy missions into enemy territories. UK’s acclaimed news paper The Daily Mail’s web edition, Mail Online, reported that a 20 feet long patched photo of Gold beach taken during such daring spy missions just two months before D Day landing had emerged for sale and fetched over £3,000 at Charles Miller auctions in London on 30th October 2013.

The hand annotated photos were snapped by skilled Supermarine Spitfire pilots in broad daylight. Five miles long section of the Gold beach were photographed by the brave Royal Air Force pilots who were flying just 10 feet above the surface of the ocean. Gold beach was one of the three beaches where the British forces landed as part of Normandy invasion. Out of the 25,000 British 50th Division soldiers landed on 6th June 1944, 400 soldiers became casualties.

The archive is consisted of 21 plates, each 8 inches by 11 inches. Pieced together they make the 20 feet long panorama. The Germans were unaware of the landscape plotting by the Allies. Allied officials studied them thoroughly before the invasion. The images of Gold Beach were sold by the son of Captain Roger. The infantry landing ship HMS Empire Crossbow was being commandeered by Alexander Rodger on Normandy D-Day, 6th June, 1944. Two companies from Royal Hampshire Regiment were carried by the ship onto Gold Beach. These companies pressed on to capture their targets of La Hamel and Arromanches.

Video story: Recent and WWII D Day Normandy Gold beach scenes.

Curator of photograph archive at Imperial War Museum, Ian Carter, said that the images of Gold Beach were taken in March 1944 by the joint intelligence organization, Inter Services Topographic Department. He added that Spitfires, F5 Lightnings and Mosquitos were flown at very low levels by skilled pilots to get the images. ‘Coastline photos were taken from Normandy up to Holland and Belgium’ he further said. This was done to confuse the Germans about the point of invasion.

Mr. Miller, Director of Charles Miller auctioneers, said that what the photos represented was astonishing. The panoramic images of Gold Beach fetched eight times its pre sale estimate.

Mohammad Rafi Saad

Mohammad Rafi Saad is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE