Why did I love this book?
This is the extraordinary true story of how, in the summer of 1943, British naval intelligence deceived the Germans into believing that an Allied invasion in Southern Europe would occur off the coast of Greece rather than Sicily and Italy. This led to the Germans diverting troops to other regions of the war and diverting vital divisions towards Greece. Operation Mincemeat, as it was codenamed, was overseen by a section of Naval Intelligence, known as Section 17M, and headed by Commander Ewen Montagu. He and his team drew up elaborate and detailed plans to float the dead body of an officer off the coast of Spain. Chained to his wrist was a briefcase of papers, including fake invasion plans for Greece. It was a work of total fiction and one of the most audacious deceptions of the war.
A corpse was acquired from St Pancras mortuary in London and prepared for the highly classified mission. It was the body of 34-year-old Glyndwr Michael, an unemployed labourer of no fixed address who had committed suicide with rat poison. He was given a new identity as ‘Major Martin of the Royal Marines’ and the leading role in Operation Mincemeat. His body was placed in a specially manufactured air-tight container and loaded onto submarine HMS Seraph. The submarine headed for Spain, and at 04:30hrs on 30 April 1943, the body was launched from HMS Seraph near Huelva and later picked up by a Spanish fisherman. The papers that Major Martin was carrying found their way to the Abwehr, the German Secret Service. Bletchley Park later picked up decrypted messages that showed that the Germans believed an invasion was imminent off the coast of Greece. Ben Macintyre's book is a page-turner.