Saw a story on the Military Channel last night, actually I had DVR'd it. I just love that feature on DishNet.
Quite compelling story of a deception one man pulled on Hitler who had a military bent bordering on fanatic (big surprise, that) to protect all the land he had captured in the war.
The Allies were going to come across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and take one of three places, Sicily, Sardinia, or through the Balkans. Which ever route taken, they wanted Hitler to retreat from the area so it would be easier to take the place. It was decided that Sicily would be the best because it would open up the traffic lanes for safer supply lines as well as moving troops about.
The key was to deceive Hitler into thinking the Allies were ready to take Sardinia which would cutoff supplies to Rommel in North Africa altogether. Either Sicily or Sardinia would be tactic coups.
Major William Martin of the Royal Marines fit the ticket. He had died of pneumonia and pathologists knew that this kind of death would make it appear that Maj. Martin had drowned at sea. It was called, "Operation Mincemeat"
He was dressed in his military uniform, his briefcase filled with all kinds of official documents, oh so subtly directing German eyes toward Sardinia -- one statement in a letter talked about "bringing a can of sardines with him." He had a pompous letter from his papa, a few folded and refolded love letters from his sweetheart Pam, and an invitation to a gala event which could have had the house of cards come tumbling down if the Germans had been paying close attention.
Thus he was released off the coast of Spain. He was found and the "top secret" documents were read, copied, and ferried to German headquarters all as planned by one ingenious Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, a Royal Navy intelligence officer. Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, was a rounding success. He deserved medals of honor except...
Major Martin was never in the military. He had been refused for service. He was homeless, and he was an alcoholic. If he had not died from pneumonia, he would have died from liver disease. His family had allowed the use of his corpse as long has his real name was never revealed.
It is the only time in history that a world of freedom was saved over a man's dead body. He was dead, but he saved many lives. Thank you, Glyndwr Michael for lending your body for the pursuit of freedom. Job well done.