Operation Mincemeat: The Man Who Never Was

On April 30, 1943, at 4:30 a.m., the dead body of a man in his early thirties was slipped overboard from the British submarine Seraph, 1,600 yards off the southwest coast of Spain. Picked up a few hours later by a fisherman, the body was turned over to officials. What they found was a briefcase attached to the man’s body and inside the briefcase was a letter outlining how Britain and her allies were planning to attack Greece in the summer of 1943. In reality, it was a set-up to hide their real intention of attacking Sicily, Italy, as the first step to the invasion. Code named Operation Mincemeat, the plan was to make the Germans and their Italian partners believe the Allies were going to attack Greece, some 500 miles to the east, and Sardinia. The hope was that the Germans might divert some significant part of their forces, which would help the invasion succeed. The corpse belonged to a homeless man who had committed suicide by swallowing poison, which caused fluid to build up in his lungs — consistent with death at sea. The body was turned over to the British forces and the plan forged ahead. In the end, the plan worked and saved the lives of some 40,000 British servicemen and women.