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William Martin
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Military Personnel
    (circa 1905-circa March 27, 1943)
    Birth name may have been Jack Melville or Glyndwr Michael
    Central figure in 'Operation Mincemeat' to convince Germany that the Allies would invade somewhere other than Sicily
    Was buried at sea off the Spanish coast chained to a briefcase containing fake plans for invasions of Sardinia and the Balkans (April 30, 1943)
    Was given documents identifying him as Captain (Acting Major) William Martin
    Documents were copied by German agents in Spain
    Buried at the Cemetery of Solitude in Huelva, Spain
    Inspired the book (1953) and movie (1956) 'The Man Who Never Was'
    When intelligence took his photo for an identity card, he looked 'too hopelessly dead.' (Fortunately, they found an acceptable 'double' for the photo.)
    His feet had to be thawed out over an electric heater to get military boots on.
    His documents included a personal letter from Lord Mountbatten to Adminral Sir Andrew Cunningham ending with a bad pun: '[Martin] might bring some sardines back with him -- they are on points here!'
    Historian Roger Morgan concluded that he was really Glyndwr Michael, an alcoholic vagrant who had committed suicide by ingesting rat poison.
    Authors John and Noreen Steele concluded he was really Jack Melville, a sailor drowned in the sinking of HMS Dasher.
    They suggested that either Michael's body had deteriorated too badly to be usable or that the claim Martin was Michael was merely a cover to maintain continued secrecy.
    Churchill's Chief of Staff noted, 'The operation succeeded beyond our wildest desires. To have spread-eagled the German defensive effort right across Europe, even to the extent of sending German vessels away from Sicily itself, was a remarkable achievement.'
    By some estimates, the deception prevented 30,000 Allied casualties in the invasion of Sicily.
    When the Germans discovered an actual list of military targets in Normandy on an abandoned landing craft (June 8, 1944), the documents were dismissed as an Operation Mincemeat-style plant.

Credit: C. Fishel


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