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When I was a child I watched the film The ...
27 October 2014
When I was a child I watched the film The Man Who Never Was on a rainy Sunday afternoon in the 1960s and I was hooked. The story of the successful plan to hoodwink the Germans into believing the allies would attack Sardinia rather than the real target, Sicily, by planting fake documents on a dead body, and then allowing the body to be 'discovered' by the Germans, was, and still is irresistible to boys of all ages. Ben Macintyre's 'Operation Mincemeat' is the beneficiary of a lot of recently declassified information regarding the operation, particularly with regard to the true identity of the dead body and its reception by the Spanish and German authorities. The scheme could have fallen apart at any number of points, and Macintyre makes a strong case that its success was largely due to anti Nazi forces within the German high command. These forces knew full well that the situation smelled to high heaven, but they encouraged Hitler to believe it to be true, with the result that the Germans were unprepared for the Sicily campaign. The new information also allows us to pay due respect to the dead body, a poverty stricken suicide victim from Wales. Operation Mincemeat is a tour de force of the non fiction narrative. As the cliche has it, truth really is stranger than fiction.