And so the Allies dreamed up Operation Mincemeat.
April 30, 1943 say the submarine H.M.S. Seraph surface off the Spanish coast. A body was rowed towards shore and lowered into the water where the tide would cast it up on the beach. The body contained a briefcase chained to the wrist, a briefcase filled with classified documents intended to convince Hitler that the planned invasion of Sicily was a diversion from the "real" invasions "planned" for Greece. British Intelligence knew that Spanish officials were sympathetic to the Germans, and would pass the documents on to them.
But would they be believed? This was a big gamble, because if the Germans smelled a rat, it would reinforce a sense of urgency to reinforce their forces in Sicily after the invasion. And so British Intelligence worked overtime to make The Man Who Never Was believable.
It started with a body, one that would be presented as a Royal Marine intelligence officer who drowned after his plane went down on a flight to Gibraltar. But "Maj. Martin" had to have the bits and pieces of a life that we all carry with us: old bills, a used bus ticket, tickets to a London play, a rather strongly worded letter from his bank about an overdraft, and a photo of his "fiancee", MI5 secretary Nancy Jean Leslie who died at the beginning of this month. This is the photograph that saved thousands of Allied lives:
Athletes know that a head fake has to be convincing, but if done right will immobilize the opponent. Rest in peace, Nancy Jean Leslie.