Operation Mincemeat

Captain Bill Jewell, the British submarine commander responsible for carrying out Operation Mincemeat, died last month. Operation Mincemeat was the top-secret WWII military subterfuge that, many argue, helped to ensure the success of D-Day the southern invasion of Europe. A dead soldier's body was launched overboard by Captain Jewell with Allied plans for an invasion of Corsica and Sardinia chained to his wrist. The Nazis found the body (and the plans) when it washed up on the coast of Spain, and believing the plans to be real proceeded to beef up their defenses in the wrong place, thereby diverting attention away from the true site of the invasion (Sicily). The covert operation was turned into a movie in 1955, The Man Who Never Was, which I've never seen. But I'm sure that sooner or later Hollywood will do a remake of it.


Posted on Thu Sep 02, 2004


Actually operation Mincemeat was a diversion for the invasion of the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean on June 10th 1943.

This invasion was a year prior to the Normandy D-Day landings and an unconnected operation. The Normandy invasion was across the English Channel on the Norman coast of France on June 6th 1944.
Posted by David Kumhyr  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  10:35 AM
Thanks, David. My WWII military history obviously isn't all that it should be.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  10:56 AM
I do hope the soldier was not a volunteer?
Posted by Chipo  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  01:15 PM
The Man Who Never Was
( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049471/combined )
It's quite a good movie. I saw it, not so long ago, on the BBC. Not on dvd yet, but available on VHS. And yes, a remarkable story.
Posted by Paul  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  02:28 PM
Chipo, the question of whose body was used in the operation continues to be a bit of a mystery, I believe. One theory was that they used the body of a Welsh vagrant. But more recently a British documentary theorized that it was a soldier called Tom Martin who drowned when the H.M.S. Dasher sunk about a month before Operation Mincemeat occurred.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  02:56 PM
This is a very good movie, sort of the opposite of a conspiricy movie. Apparently the "soldier" was a Scotish guy who died of pneumonia (although that could just be Hollywood).
Posted by PappaDoc  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  04:00 PM

It's a very british movie (from '56 btw) NOT Hollywood.
Posted by Paul  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  04:55 PM
I sure understand your statement about Hollywood re-making it. I'm getting real tired of them screwing up all those good old movies...The Manchurian Candidate never should have been touched...it was very much too good as it was.

Oh, and if they do re-make "The Man That Never Was" it will either take place in space 300 years from now and involve a robot rebellion or will be exactly like the original, except with more explosions, and it will star Ben Afleck, Will Smith and Keannu Reeves putting on their best fakey-British accents as they fight over Sandra Bullock with her fakey-British accent playing the wife of the dead guy who never had anything to do with the first movie but then they have to have Ben, Will or Keanu make out with somebody, don't they!
Posted by Gee...  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  05:41 PM
Neal Stephenson fictionalizes (though not very much) operation Mincemeat in his novel Cryptonomicon.

Just a random FYI...
Posted by John.  on  Thu Sep 02, 2004  at  05:43 PM
Yeah, hollywood is running out of ideas, of course they'll remake it. Some day we may even see sequels to Titanic and Gigli.
Posted by john  on  Fri Sep 03, 2004  at  11:27 AM
Tom Clancy borrowed this idea in "Red Rabbit". He acknowledges "Operation: Mincemeat" in the story.
Posted by Brenda Layland  on  Fri Sep 03, 2004  at  04:03 PM
Bill Jewell and the submarine Seraph carried a number of Special Ops during WW2 - frequently involved in landing and retrieving agents from occupied Europe. Was also involved in the negotiations with Vichy France before the Torch landings, where the Seraph was disguised as a US submarine - see "The ship with two captains".

There have been a number of books and articles on Operation Mincemeat, starting with the book "The man who never was." The B&W British movie "improved" a bit on the facts. But there was recently - 3 or 4 years ago - some further detail on the identity of the body.

Operation Mincemeat was only part of a steadily growing campaign which was very extensive, with very few realising the full extent.
Posted by Andy  on  Sun Sep 05, 2004  at  06:35 PM
The book I read (which I think was written by one of the British Intelligience people involved)indicated that the body used was of a rather unsuccesful young man, not in the miltary forces because of health or other problems, possibly from Wales, who had died of pneumonia; thus any water in the lungs would be similar to him having drowned.
Permission was obtained from the young man's father. When the body was released from the capsule in which it was carried aboard the submarine off the coast of Spain a brief prayer was recited.
He is buried in Spain as, if I remember correctly, Major Martin, the burial being a military one and recognized by British diplomatic authorities as part of the successful hoax.
I believe the hoax was dubbed "Operation Mincemeat".
Yes; Hollywood will probably steal the plot and dramatize it using some then big-name actor, complete with at least several blazing machine guns (they love guns), several females playing fallacious 'love angles' and the hero will be American. And will completely spoil the understated and smart British manner in which it was actually accomplished. It's rattling good story.
It will be called; The series: "How America Won the War, Episode 153". 😊
Posted by T.Sanford.  on  Wed Sep 22, 2004  at  01:21 PM
Regarding the Normandy 'D' day landings in contrast to the timing of 'Mincemeat'.

I knew nothing about Mincemeat of course until the book and movie came out after the war. But as a schoolboy in a large port city in North Western England we all knew the invasion into Europe 'was coming'.

By early/mid 1944, Army miltary forces had all but gone from our area although supplies including aircraft, some towed through the streets on their own wheels to be reassembled at the local airpoirt were coming in regularly. The square looking Landing Craft had moved to south of england as had the barrage balloons that had protected railway bridges near our school.

Two sections of what we afterwards learned was the concrete sections of 'Mulberry Harbour' to be floated across The Channel to France and then sunk as temporary docks, being built in a local graving dock,had gone, as we could see from the overhead railway that ran along the docks area. German bombing of our part of the country had just about ceased although the 'Blackout' and air sirens continued! And we were on such short rations (1200 calories oer adult per day), despite US generosity via Transatalantic convoys that people doing heavy labour such as coal mining or industrial work had to be given extra rations! The basement aresa of many of the downtown bobed out buildings had been turned into EMS (emergency water supplies) designated by large on the temporary fences surrounding them. Everything was decreit, worn out and battered after the five years since oubreak of war in September 1939.

I recall as an age 10 schoolboy deliberately sitting next a military uniformed AT (British Army women were called ATS in the same way that British navy women were in the WRENS or the RAF women were called WAAFS) on a bus and brightly asking "When is the invasion"! It came on June 6th 1944.

Cheers. Terry Sanford.
Posted by T.Sanford.  on  Thu Sep 23, 2004  at  02:12 PM
(off topic)

The epidemic of remakes in Hollywood seems like it's spreading further, with every year seeing more remakes released than the year before. 2005 will see a few dozens. Browsing through Yahoo's Upcoming Movies site, and seeing all the remakes and sequels planned just makes me depressed. What I really don't understand is remakes of foreign films. Do Americans really can't watch a film that isn't part of their culture?
Posted by Isaac  on  Thu Sep 30, 2004  at  09:56 AM
When the operation was sucessful, one of the people uttered these words:

"Mincemeat swallowed whole."
Posted by Yaanu  on  Wed Jan 05, 2005  at  09:03 PM
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