(literally “mincemeat”) was a British plan during intending to convince the German General Headquarters (OKW) that the Allies would invade the Balkans and Sardinia instead of Sicily, which was their real objective.
The operation was designed to convince the High Command that the Germans had managed to intercept highly confidential documents that detailed precisely the future plans for the invasion of the Balkans and Sardinia, to depart from Sicily- true the Allies –. This operation was a success, as the moved its other divisions of the island and allowed the Allies to successfully smooth their landing. This story was later reported in a book then a movie known as The Man Who Never Was: The Man who never existed.
Planning for misinformation
As the campaign in North Africadrew to a close, members of the Allied High Command turned their attention on the European continent. The location of Sicily made her an overarching strategic objective and that both provided an ideal springboard for the invasion of the continent and to continue to maintain a strong presence of the Allies in the Mediterranean. However, the strategic importance was also recognized by the Germans who had installed a powerful air base from which came theaircraft particularly towards Malta. As the powerful armada and the concentration of for the invasion (see ) would be easily identified by the Axis Powers, the Allies were to deceive the Germans so that they do not concentrate their forces in Sicilyand they could not repel the invading forces at sea.
Some months before, FlightCharles Cholmondeley of Section B1 (a) of MI5, had an interesting idea: parachuting (with a parachute that would seemingly open badly) in Francea man who died before him on a radio that combined the Germans would then provide a way to listen to the messages which are enemies of misinformation. This idea was discarded because considered impossible, but a few months later, Commander Ewen Montagu, a naval intelligence officer member of the Twenty Committee, had found the proposal interesting. The team that worked on this campaign of disinformation thought, initially, that the documents should be “found” about a man who was killed during his escape by parachute, it would not open, as had Cholmondeley proposed. However, since the Germans knew that it was not Allied policy to send sensitive documents over enemy territory, the British opted instead for a man who died in an accident at sea. This would explain the fact that man had been dead for several days if it was found drifting on the sea and this solved the problem of secret documents. Now they had a plan, the operation needed a code name and Montagu gave him the code name: .
The idea of using a cadaver with documents was not new and several similar trials illustrated this.
In the sixteenth century in Japan, we say that the daimyo Mori Motonari employed the same idea, but in order to pass the generals of his enemy Amako Tsunehisa as traitors.
But also during this war:
The first occurred in August 1942 when a similar plan of deception was undertaken just before theof Alam Halfa using a corpse who was carrying a map. The body was placed in a car that had jumped into the minefield that was facing the 80th Light Division south of Abd el Quaret. The map showed minefields ghosts allies and the Germans fell into the trap. The panzers of were sent to an area where the sand was not compacted.
The second attempt was also one of the misinformation but on a smaller scale. In September of that year, a PBY Catalina crashed off Cadizstowed on board the Paymaster-Lieutnant Hadden James Turner of the. When his body was deposited by the current on a beach near Tarifa and recovered by the Spanish authorities, he brought with him a letter from General intended for the Governor of Gibraltar, which mentioned the name of French agents in North Africa and gave the date of landing for on November 8 (which was actually scheduled for November 4). When the body was returned to the British authorities, the letter was still in his possession, and it was proved by experts it was never open. Naturally, the Germans could afford to read it without opening the envelope, but if they did, they regarded the information as false, so they did not believe in a landing but acted on 4 still was too late.
Major William Martin, Royal Marines
With the help of renowned pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury, Montagu and his team had the means to finding the ideal body to reach their goals with maximum realism. Through survey on the quietest, they could find a 34 year old man died shortly before pneumonia caused by ingestion of rat poison. They informed his family needs the army of this body and asked them, of course, to keep secret. The family of the man accepted, but only the true identity of the latter is never revealed. This corpse was perfect for this because as a result of his pneumonia a significant amount of liquid was found in his lungs, which was approaching from the effects of drowning and a prolonged stay in water.
The next step was to create a false identity and a life to this man, Major William Martin Royal Marines, a captain named Major provisionally, born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1907, and assigned to Headquarters combined operations. This grade was attributed to him because he was too young to have a higher rank. This degree allowed her to be credible and justified the possession of these documents.
For the sake of realism, he gave them a bride called Pam (actually an employee of MI5, Nancy Jean Leslie (1923-2012), who married after the war of the Life GuardsWilliam Gerard Leigh H.), which was slipped photography and love letters in his wallet. He also provides a set of keys, a ticket stub entry for a play recently shown, proof of accommodation for his London club, and so on. To make it even more real, Montagu and his team decided to create a nature distracted, using various elements as reminders of bills, a replacement ID card to replace one he had lost, an expired password HQ he forgot to replace, and the incendiary letter from a branch manager of Lloyds Bank Group for an overdraft of £17.19s 11d. These additions, though ingenious, contained an element of risk because it was possible that the Abwehr remains suspicious about the vesting in so careless a man so sensitive documents. However, although Montagu was aware of what had happened with the man of the PBY, he also relied on the fact that the Germans would be very interested to have such information.
But it was also necessary to employ his in attention because they still had to find a way to ensure that the body would be recovered and documents together. The solution was that Martin be connected by a chain to these documents so that there could keep an eye for the duration of the flight.
While coverage was created by Montagu and his team, important documents were written. They had to deceive the Germans into their meaning explicitly that the invasion would take place elsewhere in Sicily. Thus, the attack scenario on Sardinia highlighting the fact that it would serve as an outpost to a landing in Provence and then be followed by a second invasion of Greece from the Balkans. Rather than clear plans of attack, they were suggested in a personal letter from Lieutnant General Sir Archibald Nye, Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff intended to General Sir, the British commander in North Africa. It indicated that there would be two operations: Alexander attack Sardinia and Corsica, while General Sir assumed command of the front of Greece(which they gave the name , the real name of the attack on Sicily). Furthermore, in order to keep the Germans in doubt, the letter indicated that the allies must at all costs make the Germans believe they would simulate an attack on Sicily. This would give the Germans really feel they would be confronted with a force so important that Allied was able to attack on two fronts separated without any problems, forcing them to disperse their defenses to counter the enemy threat.
To highlight the sensitive nature of this letter and also to determine the qualifications to Major Martin to explain his trip to North Africa, Montagu are also included another letter from Lord, Chief of Combined Operations at destination, Admiral , Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean. In this letter, Mountbatten ordered Martin to achieve expertise in amphibious operations, but also indicated that the letter to Cunningham was far too important to travel through the usual channels, and therefore the need for Martin to travel by plane. The letter included among other information that Sardinia was to be the main target of the invasion.
Implementation plan execution
Major Martin, preserved in dry ice and dressed in his uniform of the Royal Marines, was placed in a sealed steel box and Cholmondeley and Montagu hired a car to bring to the Holy Loch, Scotland and place them on board the British submarine. Montagu had contacted Admiral Barry, the liaison officer responsible for submarine and advised him to board the as it was then available and practical for this type of mission. It was something entirely fortuitous, but his commanding officer, Lt. Norman LA “Bill” Jewell and his crew had already done this type of mission.
April 19, 1943 Seraph sailed and sailed to lie about a mile off Huelvaon the Spanish coast. This place had been chosen because they knew that Spain, despite its official neutrality, was in sympathy with theand thus often collaborated with members of the Abwehr. Moreover, the allies knew that a German agent was very active in Huelva and he maintained excellent contacts with Spanish officials.
At 4: 30 pm April 30,Jewell ordered to place the canister on the bridge claiming his men that this was experience weather classified top secret and they had to keep secret and what they had done during their mission. They then opened the box, began to Major Martin his life jacket, tied his briefcase with his papers, then the body was gently thrown into the sea where the tide would take over the place on the beach. This fact, Jewell sent the following message to the committee: “Mincemeat completed” (“Shepherd’s finished”).
The body was discovered at about 7: 30 pm by a local fisherman, Jose Antonio Rey Maria, who brought it to port, and this discovery was sent to the Abwehr, who was represented in the city by Adolf Clauss, an agricultural technician.
“Mincemeat Swallowed whole”
Three days later, the Committee received a cable from the naval attache who mentioned the discovery of the body of Martin. After delivering the body to the British vice-consul F. K. Hazeldene, Major Martin was buried with military honors on May4 in Huelva.
The Vice-Consul asked the pathologist, Eduardo Del Torno, to conduct an autopsy in the morgue ofHuelvanear the cemetery. He stated in his report that the man had fallen in the sea while still alive and he had no bruising, death is probably attributed to drowning, and had stayed at sea between 3 and 5 days. Further examination was not performed because the medical examiner had taken him for a Catholic because of the presence of a silver crucifix around his neck, which was an addition of Montagu.
Meanwhile, Montagu decided to write the name of Major Martin in the next review of British casualties and a month later it was published in The Times, knowing that the Germans would be attentive to the publication of his obituary and coincidentally, the names of two other officers who died when their plane was lost at sea en route to Gibraltar were also published that same day, giving you more veracity to the story of Martin. To increase the effect of this ruse, a series of urgent messages was made by the Admiralty to the Naval Attache destination demanding the return of the documents found on the body due to their sensitive natures, and to alert authorities Spanish on their importance. The papers were reported on May 13, with the assurance that “everything was there.”
But this should not take place before the Germans had got wind of this discovery, and that the local agent of the Abwehr was unable to retrieve this information, albeit with some difficulties. The briefcase was carefully opened by the Germans and then photographed, and the papers returned to the Spanish authorities who returned them to the British. The photographs were sent to Berlin where they were examined by the German intelligence service.
When the body of Major Martin was returned, the papers were examined and the British were able to determine that they had been read, and then carefully returned to their place, and resealed. Other information received through the ULTRA confirmed this idea so well that he was sent toand to the phrase “Mincemeat Swallowed Whole.” (Minced swallowed whole).
The documents had in fact been completely raw. Montagu and the care lavished his team had to establish the false identity of Martin finally paid. They would learn much later that the Germans had even noticed and checked the date on the coupons of the input stage play (on April 22, 1943) and confirmed their authenticity. Thereforewas so convinced of the veracity of these false documents and fell into disagreement with , who saw Sicily as the most likely point of invasion, insisting that any incursion against the island should be considered a diversion and that the real attack would take place elsewhere. ordered the reinforcement of Sardinia and Corsica and sent Feld Marshal Erwin to Athens to form a new army group. Even boats as minesweepers and mine-layers assigned to the defense of Sicily were diverted from their mission of protecting the island. But perhaps among all these movements, the most critical inGreecewas sending two panzer divisions of the Russian front at a time when they were much needed in the German preparations for the battle of Kursk.
Operation Husky began on July 9, by the Allied attack in the south of Sicily. The effect of Mincemeat was still being felt as the Germans remained convinced two weeks longer than the actual assault would take place in Greece and Sardinia. Accordingly, the allies met relatively little resistance and the conquest of Sicilywas complete on 9 August. Moreover, the fall of Palermo in mid-July was the trigger for a coup againstthat he lost power on July 27.
Which was actually the Major Martin?
The man known as Major Martin is still buried in the cemetery of Solitude in Huelva. Mincemeat became a legend but the question of who was actually Martin began to debate.
It was only in 1996 that an amateur historian named Roger Morgan was able to find proof that “Martin” was a vagabond Wales, alcoholic named Glyndwr Michael who actually died by ingesting rat poison.
The tombstone bears his real name: Glyndwr Michael, but he will forever be known as Major William Martin, which through his death, have saved thousands of lives.
As to Ewen Montagu, he was awarded thefor his active participation in the success of . He later became Judge Advocate of the Fleet (Fleet Judge Advocate). Montagu has written a book shortly after telling this story to as The Man Who Never Was published in 1953.
Other publications on this topic
Writers John and Noreen Steele have reported in their book The Secrets of HMS Dasher (the secrets of HMS Dasher) that the body was not that of Glyndwr, but a victim of the door -HMS Dasher. According to their reasoning, this body officially acquired in January 1943 should have suffered decomposition although it would have been perfectly preserved in ice. But also point to other inconsistencies: Why the submarine HMS Seraph would have traveled up the east coast of Scotland to the north then back south to the Firth of Clyde? It would seem more logical that Montagu go directly to Blyth, Northumberland, where the Seraph was berthed. The authors have asserted that a new body was needed for the operation to succeed because of the advanced decomposition of the first as to be unusable, and therefore the case that Montagu took at Holy Loch, was empty and that he “met” on the way.
Thus, the mystery of this man who never existed continuously.