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The Histrory files: Operation Mincemeat: The Man Who Never Was

Updated on December 5, 2012

The Man Who Never Was (1956)

Map For Operation Husky, The invasion of Sicily.
Map For Operation Husky, The invasion of Sicily. | Source


In the early months of World War Two. A young British Royal Navy Intelligence Officer was instructed by his commander to come up with some ideas to help the British deceive the German High Command as to British plans for forthcoming operations. The young officer went away and came up with a list of operational ideas. One idea was to crash a plane in France which would be carrying a courier, carrying vital documents to the British commanders in the North African Desert.

The commander dismissed the ideas list as fanciful and ridiculous. The young officer, Ian Flemming, returned to his desk and continued to dream of plots for his most famous character, Special Agent James Bond, 007.

The list of ideas was filed away for months. Until a short-sighted Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Cholmondley was flipping through files on a search for intelligence reports.

The Birth of Major William Martin

Fl. Lt. Chalmondley took the report back to a small office below the Admiralty Building a stones throw from Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament in Central London.

There he introduced the idea to Ewan Montague, an officer in the Royal Navy Reserve and a barrister in the pre-war law courts.

Together with their secretary the two men planned a cover operation for the Operation Husky landings in Sicily.

The plot needed a body of someone who would be unmissed by mourning relatives, a cover story, he was a courier for the high command, sent to North Africa as an expert in landing craft, for a planned invasion of Greece. He would die in a plane crash off the coast of Spain and float ashore on the tide. The plans he carried would be inspected by German spies and the invasion of Sicily would hopefully be made a little easier.

The officer would be named William Martin, Montague and his secretary engaged in creating a life for the ficticious officer, romantic dinners in Blitz torn London, love letters and an engagement destined to end in tradgedy.

The Cast

The cast of characters involved is brilliantly describe by Ben MacIntyre in his book Operation Mincemeat:How a Dead Man, A Bizarre Plan Folled the Nazi's and Assured an Allied Victory.

Among the biographies included are those of a Prussian aristocrat who is moved to support the deception, a submarine commander who had enjoyed the pre-war years exploring Central and South America searching for lost Indian gold. And an admiral who loved nothing more than standing in fast flowing streams and saw espionage as another form of his fly fishing hobby.

Saddest of all is the true biography of "Major William Martin", MacIntyre reveals the life of the real man. A lonely man who travelled from the Valley's of South Wales. Trying to escape a life of poverty in a coal mining village, to die alone in poverty in a London warehouse. A man who after death was to lose his own identity for almost half a century and become Major William Martin, The Man Who Never Was.

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      Pandu 3 years ago

      h skepsh sou gia duetera stis 21 einai polu kalh, ontosd tha kratish enan epeisodiio souleiman etsi sthn arkh alla kai tha kanei megala nouemra h monadikh seira

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      Hazel 3 years ago

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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you - this one of the more imaginative ruses thought up by British Intelligence which saved hundreds of lives.

      Voted up and interesting

      Kind regards Peter

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Thanks ~ I'll check it out :)

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Trish, It is a fascinating story, and I thoroughly recoomend that you do read it. The film the Man who Never Was is also very good, Mr McIntyre covers the story of the making of the movie too. Even that was an official secret at the time (1950')

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands


      What an amazing story!

      I think that I'll have to read this!

      Fascinating hub!

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello RJ, Thank you for your comments. One of the men who dreamed up Operation was a young naval officer named Ian Flemming, more famous for his later James Bond novels.

      The book is fascinating, I hope you do get to read it, and maybe get to see the movie too, though as the book explains the movie script had to divert from the truth on several levels from political and diplomatic to pure fantasy to add tension.

      All the best B

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 6 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      I'm going to read this! It sounds like a unique piece of history and it is possible there may be soemthing there for my novels. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! RJ