In my recent visit with my grandfather, a few books were suggested for historical reading. One of the books is a WW2’s boldest counter-intelligence operation. I have realized after reading The Man Who Never Was by Ewen Montagu, that truth is stranger than fiction. In this WW2 non-fiction book, the British use a dead body to throw off the German intelligence.
Basically, the British intelligence took a dead body and gave it a fake name, address, story, and allowed the body to wash ashore along the coast of France. The new person, “Major Martin” is stored in a cylinder and taken aboard a submarine under the most top-secret conditions. His body was made to look like he perished in an airplane crash. This book uses factual correspondence between the British intelligence and a follow up on reports from the German side – no detail is overlooked. Even so much so that theatre tickets are placed in the pocket to show that Major Martin was a real person.
The entire plan was named Operation Mincemeat and I am left with the following thoughts:
Page 96 – The sailors who launched the body realized that it was a human being and bowed their heads as a tribute. I am honored by this simple and reverent gesture because even in death that respect is honored among military servicemen.
Second, One idea from the book is to try to think like your enemy. Also, meticulous detail is needed to persuade your opponent into certain actions. When lives were on the line – there is no room for careless error.
Last, I ran into a British citizen in San Francisco who was familiar with this account. While we shared some stories about history, I believe that truth is stranger than fiction.