How a dead tramp fooled Hitler as part of 'Operation Mincemeat'

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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London, Dec 5 (ANI): With the aim of fooling Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, British intelligence officers came up with 'Operation Mincemeat', a successful deception plan during World War II that involved passing off a British corpse as an officer carrying secret documents.

And this is how an anonymous Welsh who, after his death, altered the course of the Second World War, reports the BBC.

Glyndwr Michael, a jobless and homeless desperate, killed himself by drinking rat poison in 1943.

Found in an abandoned warehouse in King's Cross, London, on a cold January night, his death certificate noted the cause of death as 'phosphorus poisoning. Took rat poison - bid [to] kill himself while of unsound mind'.

He was neither buried in the capital nor his hometown in south Wales. Instead, the coroner said he was to be 'removed out of England' for burial.

After three months on ice in Hackney Morgue, Michael's body was dumped in the sea off Spain.

British intelligence officers Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu had painstakingly transformed the corpse into a soldier - the fictitious Major William Martin - for whom they had spent months creating a plausible back-story.

Into his pockets went an identity card, ticket stubs and mementos from a fiancee. Chained to his wrist was a briefcase containing letters marked 'PERSONAL AND MOST SECRET', to give the impression that the Allies intended to attack Greece, and not Sicily.

When found floating near the port of Huelva, the Spanish authorities buried Michael with full military honours, and placed his belongings under lock and key.

Michael/Martin was but a prop in 'Operation Mincemeat', the brainchild of Ian Fleming, and put into action by Cholmondeley and Montagu, Churchill's 'corkscrew thinkers' in the War Office.

The true story of the fictional officer was turned into a Hollywood film, 'The Man Who Never Was', in the 1950s, after Montagu wrote a book about the plot.

But why was Michael's body dumped in Spain? While ostensibly neutral, Spain was riddled with Nazi spies. The corpse was to be the bait for a meticulous, well-connected, yet unimaginative Nazi agent active in the area - Adolf Clauss.

The British hope was that the false documents carried by the fake officer would be convincing enough to be passed up the chain of command to Hitler himself.

The British had an ace up their sleeves, said Ben Macintyre, whose book 'Operation Mincemeat' is now a BBC documentary.

"We were, thanks to the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, essentially reading the Germans' mail. We knew what Hitler was thinking on an hour-by-hour basis," he added.

Thanks to the successful decryption of Germany's Enigma cipher, Park could read the top-secret communiques between Hitler and his forces. These intercepts provided Montagu and his team with insights into the key players, and allowed them to track the progress of their plan.

After a tense week, it took the Germans several attempts to get sight of the briefcase's contents - photographs of the falsified documents made it to Hitler's desk. He was fooled, and moved an entire panzer division - 90,000 soldiers - to Greece. (ANI)

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