Inspirational Story: The Unsung Hero of D-Day
On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy
With the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the day in which the Allied Nations invaded Normandy during World War II, it’s vital that we give heed to the men who helped put an end to a troubling time in world history.
Deserving of praise for his contributions to this deed, but behind the scenes of it all, Joan Pujol Garcia doesn’t get much attention or publicity for his acts on D-Day; that’s probably exactly the way he wanted it.
Garcia was born in Barcelona, Spain, where his younger days were filled with substantial failure. He was a horrendous student, businessman, worker, and eventually even a terrible solider in the Spanish Civil War. His father felt he was a disappointment, and his mother was in despair. Disillusioned with communism and fascism, his increasing awareness of the political environment gave him an idea that forever changed his life, and the lives of every person in the world today.
After being denied multiple times by the British army to serve as a soldier or a spy, Garcia made his own plan to get himself into warfare, for what he believed was for the greater good of the world. He wanted to put an end the Nazi regime and help the British army defend France. He wanted to decrease the amount of land the Germans were occupying. To do this, Garcia decided to turn his intelligence towards espionage.
His first plan was to go to the Germans and establish himself as an operative. Although it took some time, Germany sent him to England to develop a spy network, and Garcia developed an intricate fake web. He sent a mountain of false paperwork to Germany to substantiate his so-called “intelligence.” Then once he had gained enough trust from the Germans, he turned double agent.
Garcia, with British code name “Agent Garbo” for his impeccable acting skills, would make reports to the Germans about things he knew the British were doing. At the beginning, he gave the Nazis bits of military information that, at the time, were true. Over time, with this tactic in place, these truths began to turn into flat out diversions, in order to deter the Germans from the realities of what the British were doing.
This lifestyle was dangerous. Garcia was only one phone call away from execution. After his hard work and dedication in assisting the Allies, the British eventually smuggled him into London. This is when Garcia became a full-time double agent reporting to both sides, though only one side was getting real information.
Young Juan Pujol Garcia as a soldier in the Spanish Civil War (1931)
With the invasion of Normandy approaching, Garcia was given the task of convincing Hitler that the Allies were planning an attack on Calais instead. Few people thought this would work. As a spy with no real ranking or credential in the German army, convincing Hitler of anything was no easy task. However, with his creative and sneaky mind, Garcia devised and implemented strategies of British operatives falsifying Morse coded messages into Germany, and he bolstered stacks of his eyewitness reports. He invented gargantuan fake oil depots, sham tanks, and airfields. One British soldier even imitated the British General Montgomery, to trick the Germans into believing that the sham invasion was real. Garcia had set everything in place to fool the Nazis and to help the British conquer Normandy.
The days leading up to D-Day were nerve-racking for Garcia. He walked around the parks of central London, passing American G.I.s and their British girlfriends, knowing that none of them may ever get to see their loved ones again. The pressure was incomparable. Not just the country, but the entire world was ultimately in the hands of his acting skills.
Garcia’s war-winning line was sent via telegram on June 9 saying, “This is the fake, you have to believe me,” when Hitler sent the troops to march on Normandy. What is remarkable is that those panzer divisions were on the road, and Hitler sent an order turning them around. This was the defining moment in the future of Normandy, the future of that battle. Agent Garbo was the author of that moment.
After the war ended, Garcia feared for his life and was instructed to fake his death from malaria in 1949. He was sent to Venezuela, to live out his days running a bookstore and gift shop in the city of Lagunillas.
At Everlasting Footprint, we look for a hero in every inspirational story. In stories of war, it’s usually the General, President, Ambassador or some public figure being enthroned for his commitment and service to his country. However, in the case of D-Day and the Normandy landing, Joan Pujol Garcia deserves the crown.