Operation ELEPHANT (1-4 July 1944) was the initial operation of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops against the enemy. It employed the personnel of the ELEPHANT loading plus various elements of the 23rd which had arrived in France prior to D-18. This only 37% (44-O, 351-EM) of the command participated. (For a detailed report of this operation and all subsequent operations, see "Report of Operations" 23rd Headquarters Special Troops.)
The mission of the 23rd was to cover the movement of the 2nd Armored Division when it left a reserve position to go into the line between the FIRST U.S. and the SECOND BRITISH Armies. (See map: Operation ELEPHANT.) On 1 July the 2nd Armored began moving out of the Forest of Cerisy. As each unit moved, the 23rd attempted to replace dummies for real vehicles – tank for tank. In some cases they were successful. In others they were late or insufficient. Only one deceptive radio was used. Of course, no sonic deception was employed because HEATER (3132nd Sig Sv Co Sp) had not arrived. No attempt was made to duplicate shoulder patches, bumper markings or CP signs. Individual and vehicular play activity was not used to any important degree. In the meantime, the real 2nd Armored had moved only four miles away. Its artillery was firing and some of its infantry was in the line. (Therefore, assumed to have been identified by the enemy.) On 3 July elements of the 3rd Armored Division began to come into the phony 2nd Armd reserve area so the 23rd "faded out" on the following day.