Camouflage and Display

The original policy for concealment laid down for Eastern Command (along with South Eastern Command and Southern Command) was to conceal preparations for overseas operations to the greatest degree as possible. The extent of concealment works was to be governed by the need to ensure men and vehicles arrived at ports and hards in time and in a fit state to carry out operations i.e. it was paramount to ensure:

  • The need to ensure the freedom of movement from Concentration Areas to the Coast.

  • The need to complete preparations without delay.


If concealment was in conflict with the above requirements, the latter was to take priority.


To ensure adequate concealment, an early reconnaissance of Concentration, Assembly and Transit Areas was carried out.  The objects of camouflage, in order of priority were to be:

  • To deny to the enemy information about preparations

  • Protection of Concentration, Assembly and Transit Areas from air attack.

  • Protection of troops and vehicles from air attack while in these areas.


Eastern Command was instructed to carry out early reconnaissances of Concentration, Assembly and Transit areas per COSSAC Movement UK Committee meeting held on 27th May 1943. Additional Camouflage officers would be made available by GHQ if required.


A basic recce was made by Colonel Napier and Major Noakes in the areas Ipswich, Felixstowe and Yarmouth. The following points were highlighted:




Christchurch Park: Within Ipswich which provided excellent camouflage cover. Water and sewage were available; it was 1 mile form docks and railway station and roads were good. Estimated capacity was 3,000 personnel.


Red House Park:  Woods offered good camouflage cover.  Water and sewage available; it was 1 ¾ miles from the docks and 2 miles from the railway station and roads were good. Estimated capacity was 1,500.


Shrublands Park:  An existing camp with ample camouflage cover. Water and sewage available; it was 6 miles from the docks and 1 mile from Needham Market railway station and roads were good.  Estimated capacity was 5,000 personnel.


Witton:  Good from a camouflage point of view as it entailed housing troops in existing tenements.




Accommodation could be obtained for troops in requisitioned property. Vehicle standings could be found in the streets and avenues of which it was noted were well planted with trees. The maximum capacity was considered to be 1,500 personnel.




Accommodation could be found in existing requisitioned holiday camps and vehicles parked in and against adjacent woods. The maximum capacity was considered to be 500 personnel.


Before any more detailed recce could be undertaken, Eastern Command received notification it was in future to be an area of display, as part of the OVERLORD Cover Plan to deceive the enemy that the main assault and follow up would be in the Pas De Calais area.


As part of this plan, Eastern Command was instructed to become an area of display in order to give the impression of a large build up of forces in the area. Concealment measures were to be careless and uneven (although not excessively bad as this may arouse suspicion in its own right). The expansion of existing camps and large vehicle parks along roads and exposed ground would, it was hoped, give the impression that all available concealed sites had been occupied.


The threat of air attack was considered not to be great enough to require the maximum concealment.  At first, every effort was still to be made to prevent air reconnaissance by the enemy although later on enemy air reconnasissance was unchallenged although not enemy bombers.  The policy did not anticipate heavy bombing by the enemy, allowing a greater degree of concentration than would be acceptable otherwise. The policy of display was to be achieved as follows:

  • Deliberately omitting technical camouflage advice and not using the camouflage surveys and schemes which were designed for concealment.

  • Siting assembly areas away from built up and enclosed areas.

  • Carrying out day movements between concentration, assembly and transit areas and by arranging halts in areas where concealment is difficult.


Some general principles were given to aid this policy:


 - A greater degree of PAD in the provision of slit trenches, sandbagging tents etc. Such measures would in themselves enhance the     policy of display.


 - Distances between the dispersal of tents to be set so to ensure that camps extended into open areas.


 - The occupation of camps to be emphasized by smoke from cookers and incinerators. The use of wood was to be encouraged for fuel as it produced thicker smoke than coal alone.


 - The need for economy would mean that it would be impossible for the wiring around camps to follow the ground pattern.

A higher priority was to be given to the comfort of troops with NAAFI tents, sports grounds etc sited for proximity rather than for cover.        


Reports for display noted that R Area was less suitable for such a policy as country was broken and wooded.  The best option for display in Sub Areas R1 to R4 was the presence of vehicles in the streets of the town, which would be visible on air photos. In the existing and new tented camp sites, the provision of extra tents in the open, slit trenches with spoil and large drainage ditches dug in the open all added to display as well.


In Q Area it was noted the planned bridging operations would add to display. As most of the accommodation was in holiday camps, display was to be achieved by extra tents in the open and vehicle parks.    




Camouflage and Concealment – FORTITUDE, TNA