Presentation on theme: "Operation Mincemeat. Major Martin On April 30, 1943, the body of Glyndwr Michael, disguised as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, was dropped."— Presentation transcript:
On April 30, 1943, the body of Glyndwr Michael, disguised as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, was dropped into the sea off Huelva on the Spanish coast. In his briefcase were letters, meticulously faked by British intelligence officers to give the impression that the Allies intended to attack Greece, and not Sicily. Within hours the body was spotted by a young fisherman and brought to shore. The briefcase was taken into Spanish custody and Michael was buried under his assumed name in Huelva cemetery. Would the Spanish pass the documents to the Germans? And if they did, would the Germans take the bait?
A British submarine planted Martin's body off the coast of Spain, making it appear that he had died in a plane crash. Although the Spanish were a neutral party in the war, they were sympathetic to the Nazis and shared their discover with them. The Spanish could not simply hand over the body to the Germans, however, without fear of provoking the British. To that end, they carefully examined the body and opened the briefcase. They opened the sealed envelopes very carefully and managed to get the "top secret" documents out long enough to photograph them before replacing them. They then passed the photographs on to Berlin and the body, including the suitcase, to the British. Major Martin was buried with full military honors and the documents were carefully studied by German intelligence.
The Germans realized the probability of an attempt at deception, but the British had done such a good job at creating an identity for Major Martin that they were convinced by the evidence they saw. Hitler himself ordered extra Panzer divisions to Greece while neglecting the defense of the real target, Sicily. As with the attack on Normandy later, this ruse made the invasion much easier by insuring that the Nazis were not prepared for it. If the Germans had known it would come in Sicily or had not believed that it would come in Greece, they would have been more prepared when General Montgomery and General Patton landed in Sicily.
The diversion worked.
The identity of Major Martin remains a mystery. It remained classified for over 50 years after the war. It was not until the 1990s that the name Glyndwr Michael was revealed to the public. Apparently, Martin was really a homeless man from Wales who had committed suicide by eating some rat poison. While some scholars have doubts as to whether Michael was really the corpse used in Operation Mincemeat and we will likely never know for sure, it is interesting to think that a homeless Welsh man helped win World War II for the Allies!