House on the Hill Museum

An “Operation Titanic” D-Day Parachutist Paradummy

British, 1944, D-Day paradummy made of hessian cloth without the sand, straw and sawdust stuffing to head, arms and legs and original ties-strings to top of head and at sleeves and feet. With its original parachute in its pack on the back, and later tie string on the parachute, slightly dusty. Height: 820 mm, width: 400 mm.

A rare survival from Operation Overlord, the Invasion of Europe on June 6th 1944. Part of Overlord (and unknown to many combatants) was Operation Bodyguard, a series of deceptive operations, put into place to divert the enemy from the Normandy landing beaches. Part of Bodyguard was Titanic, a plan executed by the RAF and SAS, involving 4 squadrons and totaling 40 aircraft (Hudsons, Halifaxes and Stirlings). These squadrons were responsible, during the night of June 5th and morning of June 6th, in dropping some c.450 fake paradummies, along with small numbers of SAS men, into 3 fake invasion drop zones (200 dummies into the Cotentin peninsula, 50 into Calvados region near Maltot, west of Caen and 200 at Yvetot in Eure region, south west of Dieppe). In addition, the SAS men were also equipped with 30-minute sound recordings of the sounds of battle and mortar fire, to create the semblance of a larger force and cause confusion.

It appears that most of the dummies were a self-destroying version which had explosive rifle fire simulators called pintails behind the parachute. An explosive charge would ignite and burn as the paradummies landed, destroying all the evidence. The SAS had orders to let some of the enemy escape, so that they would report back that a serious force had been encountered inland, and thus deflect and confuse the enemy from the full-frontal assault on the Normandy beach-head. These paradummies were nicknamed Rupert, and most burned on impact.

The operation was successful, various German divisions and panzer units moved away from their coastal positions, and the RAF suffered 2 lost aircraft and crews, the SAS lost 8 men. An estimate of surviving examples of these paradummies is probably under 30. This original example was purchased from a French collector in Branville, north east of Caen and likely an example of a paradummy that landed but did not explode, and was subsequently tucked away by a local farmer after D-day.

D-Day Parachutist Paradummy