World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Operation Postage Able

Article Id: WHEBN0002900172
Reproduction Date:

Title: Operation Postage Able  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Operation Gambit, Operation Overlord, Exercise Tiger, Operation Samwest, Operation Epsom
Collection: Operation Overlord
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Operation Postage Able

Operation Postage Able was an X class submarine-based Royal Navy operation in preparation for Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.


  • Intelligence gathering 1
  • Pilot operation 2
  • Outcomes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Intelligence gathering

The success of Overlord was in part dependent on detailed topographical map information about the beaches and coastal towns along the French coast. British experience of Galipolli in World War I, with the loss of 100,000 dead or wounded troops, meant that detail was necessary to ensure the invading army did not get stuck on the beach.

Aerial photographs helped identify likely locations but, to obtain more detailed views, the Government asked the BBC to appeal for holiday photographs and picture postcards of unspecified coastal areas of France.

However, as it was known that the beaches were in parts underpinned by ancient forests which had now turned into peat bogs, much more detailed information on the target beaches and their approaches was required. Local conditions such as the composition of the beaches, hidden underwater banks, German defensive obstacles, depth of water, tidal conditions etc. would all be taken into account in the planning of the project.

Pilot operation

On New Year's Eve 1943/4, under the leadership of Major Logan Scott-Bowden of the Royal Engineers, a unit set out in motor torpedo boats to survey Luc-sur-Mer. Transferring to a hydrographical survey craft, they moved closer to shore where Major Logan Scott-Bowden and Sgt Bruce Ogden-Smith swam to the beaches. Collecting samples at designated points, they were careful not to leave behind evidence of their visit, and returned to England the next morning.[1]

On January 16, 1944, HMS X20 planned to spend four days off the French coast. Commanded by Lt KR Hudspeth DSC* RANVR and Sub. Lt. B. Enzer RNVR, with the COPP (Combined Ops Pilotage Party) comprising Lt. Cdr. Nigel Willmott DSO DSC RN, and two divers, Major Logan and Sergeant Ogden-Smith.

During the daytime, periscope-level reconnaissance of the shoreline and echo-soundings were performed. Each night, X20 would approach the beach, and the divers would swim ashore to take soil samples, collected this time in condoms.

The divers went ashore on two nights to survey the beaches at Vierville-sur-Mer, Moulins St Laurent and Colleville-sur-Mer in what became the American Omaha Beach. On the third night, they were due to go ashore off the Orne Estuary (Sword Beach), but by this stage fatigue (the crew and divers had been living on little more than benzedrine tablets) and the worsening weather caused Hudspeth to shorten the operation, returning to HMS Dolphin on January 21, 1944.

As a result of the operation, Hudspeth received a bar to his Distinguished Service Cross.


The allies built two scale models of the landing beaches, one held by the War Department in room 474 of the Metropole Hotel, London, and a duplicate in the Prime Minister's room in the Cabinet War Rooms.

At Cairnryan, just north of Stranraer, south west Scotland, a "life size" reproduction of the beaches was constructed. This allowed the planners to assess the effectiveness of the current landing techniques and the movement of men and machinery over the terrain.


  1. ^ "COPP Heroes of Hayling Island". 

External links

  • at British Submarines of WW2Operation Postage Able
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.