Today’s Illustration: The Deception Before The Deception!

WWII Sicily Greece
The Deception Before The Deception!

While the Normandy Invasion, commonly called D-Day, was a key turning point of the war, another key turning point took place approximately one year earlier.


“In hindsight, the invasion
of the Italian island was a triumph,
a pivotal moment in the war,
and a vital stepping-stone
on the way to victory in Europe.”  


“It was nearly a disaster.”1


In 1943, one year before the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and after the successful North Africa campaign, the plan was to target Sicily.  However, such a possible invasion was fully anticipated by Hitler and German intelligence.

“Sicily was the logical place from which to deliver the gut punch . . . [on] the underbelly of the Axis. . . . Everyone but a bloody fool would know it was Sicily . . . . Sicily’s five-hundred-mile coastline was already defended by seven or eight enemy divisions [and] would be reinforced by thousands of German troops held in reserve in France.”

A ruse had to be designed and successfully executed to convince German intelligence otherwise. Just as the Allies would have to convince Hitler one year later that the June 6, 1944 attack would NOT be at Normandy.

The Allied intelligence chiefs convened to consider “how to convince the enemy that the Allies were not going to do what anyone with an atlas could see they ought to do.”2

The answer was as old as Greek warfare — insert a “Trojan Horse” into the battle plans.  Convince the Germans that they had fortuitously received Allied secret intelligence — a gift — that the Allies would be attacking Greece and that Sicily was only a diversion to hide that intent.


“The Man Who Never Was!”

That is the title of the book by Ewen Montagu, written about one of the most “bold and imaginative plans, contrived with scrupulous care and executed with skill and courage” during WWII. 1

“Operation Mincemeat” was a strategic deception designed and executed by the British military leader, Sir Michael Howard

The Allied invasion had been planned for Sicily, not Greece.   The highest levels of German intelligence had been totally deceived!  The moved whole army divisions to defend Greece and left Sicily virtually unprotected.

As Montague states, the deception . . . . 
was “swallowed whole” by German military intelligence.


The deceptive operation involved using a body of a Welsh laborer who had died from eating rat poison. His body was placed on dry ice until all was in place for the operation.

The British would position false papers on the body of “Glyndwr Michael,” who was now “Major William Martin.”  

“Major William Martin’s” body would be lowered into the waters of the Atlantic off of the shores of Spain.

By design, “Major William Martin” would be wearing a life jacket when found. The hope was that he would be believed to be a dead airman who died at sea — an airman who according to his naval identity card, was a member of the Royal Marines.  A pilot or passenger who had ultimately died by drowning.

His floating body had to be staged to look like it that this was indeed what had happened and that it was not indeed a trick. 

The “Allied Military Intelligence Papers,” which would be found had to sound believable!

The papers had to be able to withstand the effects of possibly several days of ocean water saturation.

The location of the papers on his body had to look normal.

The resistance of the typewriter ink to salt water had to seem as normal as possible — affected but still readable. 

His body had to appear as if he had drowned.

His body had to be found by fishermen, Spaniards, or Germans.

The discovered information had to be turned over to the Germans.

The intelligence which was obtained had to reach the highest levels of German intelligence in Berlin.

Even if initially believed by the Germans, the fact that it was a ruse had to be kept secret by all involved at every level, else the Germans would know that indeed it was Sicily!


Along with his military identification (and accompanying picture — yet another whole story), were various personal items. . . .

a used twopenny bus ticket stub, keys, a silver cross on a chain, St. Christopher medallion (the body was hopefully going to land in Spain – a Catholic country) a wallet, wallet litter, a book of stamps (two already used), fictitious letters from “his father” and “his fiancee,” and unpaid bills

The manufactured semi-cryptic documents of Allied intelligence were written, re-written, and re-written over and over by various individuals.  The key document had to sound like it was not being planted, yet providing enough certainty that it was Greece! 

Oblique references were made in the documents which should have and clearly did give the impression that the Allies intended to invade Greece and Sardinia — not Sicily.3

Martin’s staged body would be placed in the ocean waters off the shores of Spain.

√ But would the body be carried by the tide and currents towards the shores of Spain?  

√ Would someone find the accompanying documents?

√  Would that “someone” turn the documents over to the Germans (Spain was a neutral country with much sympathies for the Allies)?

√ Then, would the documents survive the trip?

√ Would the materials found on Martin’s body be believed by the Germans?

√ It would!
√ They did!
√ They would!
√ They did!
√ They were! 

Hitler & German Intelligence Believe The Ruse.

“You can forget about Sicily. We know it’s Greece,” shouted the German supreme commander, General Jodl. 4

The invasion was being been planned for Sicily, not Greece and the Germans had been totally deceived!

As the Germans observed that troops and equipment were moving towards Sicily, they believed that it was the decoy being set up by the Allied forces.

The Allies monitored the movement of the German troops and indeed Hitler, under the advice of the German secret intelligence service, moved entire army divisions from Sicily to Greece and Sardina. 6

In fact, Hitler was so deceived, that even when Sicily was attacked by the Allies, Hitler kept most of his troops at Greece.   He was convinced that the attack of Greece was imminent, and this was just a small attack to make it look like the target was Sicily.

√  The plan was agreed upon by Churchill and Roosevelt in January 1943.
√  Martin’s body was placed into the water on April 30, 1943
√  The Allied forces stormed the coast of Sicily — July 9-10, 1943!

Approximately 7,000 Allied soldiers were lost in what was the largest amphibious invasion which was ever attempted (before D-Day at Normandy) — 160,000 Allied soldiers were part of the attack on Sicily.  It is well estimated that approximately 153,000 were still alive when the liberation and victory were accomplished. 7


“That so many survived was due, in no small measure, to a man who had died seven months earlier.”
(“Glyndwr Michael” /  “Major Martin”). 7



Approximately One Year Later:

June 6, 1944
The Normandy Invasion

Using Another Ruse

It would only be less than two years later that the Normandy invasion took place using another ruse to convince German Intelligence and Hitler to move their armies north



Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• deception
• Satan
• fake fronts
• temptation
• sin
• sacrifice
• war / death
• God had a strategy.
• Defeating Satan, Hell, Death, and the Grave
• Everything which had to work / click / be on time
• providence
• kings heart in the hand of the Lord
• man’s wisdom
• the best-laid plans of evil men
• holding onto a bad decision
• stubbornness to see what happened
• fooled
• fooled again two years later
• It is not what it looks like.
• a WEB of deception
• lies must be supported by other lies
• sacrifice
• war / death



Other Information & Links:

The original idea for this ruse started with a fictional novel which was read by Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame). At the time, Flemming was an assistant to the head of British Naval Intelligence.

“To mystify and mislead the enemy has always been one of the cardinal principles of war.” 6

 “The success of the Sicilian invasion depended on overwhelming strength, logistics, secrecy, and surprise.  But it also relied on a wide web of deception, and one deceit in particular:  a spectacular trick dreamed up by a team of spies led by an English lawyer.”  — 7


The writing of “Operation Mincemeat”:  At the time, Eddie Chapman was a double agent, and Ewen Montague was a barrister working for Naval intelligence.  They, along with Flemming, a novelist, began putting the ruse together.

Coming Up With The Idea:  “The Trout memo was a masterpiece of corkscrew thinking, with fifty-one suggestions for ‘introducing ideas into the head of the Germans,’  ranging from the possible to the wacky. . . . . The following suggestion is used in a book by Basil Thomson:  a corpse dressed as an airman, with despatches in his pockets, could be dropped on the coast, supposedly from a parachute that had failed.” — pg. 12

Ben Macintyre provides the most detailed account in his book, “Operation Mincemeat.”  His book is based on many of the papers found in an upstairs room, in a large dusty trunk under a bed, in Jeremy Montague’s (his son) house.  Many bundles of papers were found, stamped “Top Secret.” 8


1. Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre — pgs. 35 & 37

2. Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre — pg. 37

3. The Man Who Never Was: World War II’s Boldest Counterintelligence Operation, by Ewen Montague — pg. 5

4. The Man Who Never Was: World War II’s Boldest Counterintelligence Operation, by Ewen Montague — pg 7

5. Dead Man Floating: World War II’s Oddest Operation by NPR

6. The Man Who Never Was: World War II’s Boldest Counterintelligence Operation, by Ewen Montague — pg 3

7. “Operation Mincemeat,” by Ben Macintyre — 2009 —  pg. 3

8. “Operation Mincemeat,” by Ben Macintyre — 2009 — pg. 4


“The Man Who Never Was: World War II’s Boldest Counterintelligence Operation,” by Ewen Montague
(Like many other books, free on “”)

“Operation Mincemeat,” by Ben Macintyre
(Like many other books, free on “”)



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