A homeless, alcoholic Welshman was instrumental in defeating Hitler. This story is crazy…

A homeless, alcoholic Welshman was instrumental in defeating Hitler. This story is crazy…

On April 30, 1943, a fisherman working off the coast of Spain came upon a gruesome discovery: a badly decomposed dead body. But this wasn't just any corpse; the man was in full military uniform, a trench coat, and boots. Most interesting was that a briefcase was chained to his wrist. The contents of the briefcase labeled the man as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines, a man who had a fiance and a sealed letter labeled "PERSONAL AND MOST SECRET."

Franco's government in Spain supported the Axis powers, and German agents were able to get a peak of this document even while Britain clamored for the effects of Major Martin to be returned. The truth, however, was that Major Martin did not actually exist, and Spain had played right into Britain's plans. "Major William Martin" was a fictitious invention of Intelligence Officers Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu, who were part of Winston Churchill's team of "corkscrew thinkers." The two men hatched the idea to plant a false military man with false military plans where he would be discovered by enemy sympathizers. They labeled it "Operation Mincemeat" and had been inspired by a memo written by Ian Fleming, who had read something similar in a pre-war detective story called 'The Milliner's Hat Mystery.'

The idea worked swimminingly. A copy of the "top secret" letter was sent to Hitler and top German officials who "discovered" that the Allies' next big move was going to involve British and American forces in North Africa to cross the Mediterranean and capture Greece and Sardinia. The falsified documents sufficiently fooled Hitler. He sent 90,000 soldiers to defend Greece. Montagu fired off a telegram to Churchill, stating simply, "Mincemeat swallowed rod, line, and sinker."

Meanwhile the true target, a now under-defended Sicily, easily fell with a fraction of the losses anticipated by the British military. So who was this corpse really, who helped turn the tide of the war? Many historians believe it was Glyndwr Michael, a London man who was homeless, jobless, and found dead in an abandoned warehouse in King's Cross, having eaten rat poison to end his life one January night in 1943. No next of kin had come forward to claim his remains, and so began his great adventure into history.



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