Bill Williams


Editor’s Note: In the months leading up to Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, Allied planners invested heavily in their attempts to learn about German dispositions. Much has been written about the “failure” of the Allies to detect the German 352nd Division which nearly doomed the American landings at Omaha. However, this was only one small piece of the intelligence picture. Ultra decrypts based on German wireless messages provided Allied planners with details of the German Order of Battle in France though the exact location of battalions, regiments and divisions was not always certain. Brigadier Bill Williams, General Montgomery’s senior intelligence officer, was responsible for producing a monthly update on the “Enemy Build-up” in Normandy together with an estimate of the German reaction to the invasion. This report, stamped “BIGOT,” the highest level of secrecy, was sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Wright, the senior intelligence officer (GSOI) at First Canadian Army Headquarters on 6 May 1944 for information and comment. The letter reproduced below is the covering letter to the report, while the report itself follows on the next page. This report represents the best knowledge the Allies had of German troop dispositions and intentions prior to the invasion. In hindsight, it is remarkable just how perceptive, detailed and correct this intelligence assessment turned out to be in regards to German capabilities and reactions to the invasion. Perhaps it is time to concentrate on Allied successes rather than alleged “failures.”