October 13, 2004

MWNW, SORT OF AN EARLY VERSION OF WMD

Tribute to man who never was (MIKE THEODOULOU, 10/13/04, The Scotsman)

FOR 60 years, she mourned at a grave in Scotland, not knowing that her father’s body was probably buried hundreds of miles away or that he had helped change the course of the Second World War.

Historians now believe that Isobel Mackay’s father John "Jack" Melville was the man whose body was used in Operation Mincemeat, an elaborate hoax to fool the Germans into believing Allied forces would invade southern Europe through Greece and Sardinia rather than Sicily.

Last week, 61 years after he died, Mrs Mackay, from Galashiels, was able to give her father the memorial service he deserved, with the help of the Royal Navy in Cyprus.

It is believed to be the first time Britain’s armed services have recognised his role.

For years, the identity of the body carrying the fake Allied invasion plans was a celebrated mystery which became the subject of a book and a 1956 Hollywood film called The Man Who Never Was.

It was commonly believed the corpse was that of a homeless Welsh alcoholic, Glyndwr Michael, who had either committed suicide by drinking rat poison or had been accidentally poisoned while sleeping in a barn.

But doubt has been cast on the "tramp" theory lately, with some arguing intelligence officers would not have used the body of someone so unfit for fear of raising German suspicions. A corpse infected with poison would also have been risky if the enemy carried out a post mortem examination.

However, a book, The Secrets of HMS Dasher which was published in August, revealed that the body was in fact Mr Melville’s.

Mr Melville had perished, aged 37, when the converted aircraft carrier HMS Dasher blew up in the Clyde Estuary in 1943.

At the time, it was believed his body had been brought ashore at Ardrossan and buried with full naval honours in the local cemetery.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 13, 2004 8:41 AM
Comments

The "tramp theory" is disproved in the book on which the movie is based. The author was the actual head of Mincemeat (Ewen Montagu). One of the biggest problems was finding a body that would be consistent with a victim of a plane ditching at sea which could stand up to an autopsy. The body used for Major Martin expired from pneumonia. The Spanish did perform a post mortem autopsy and would have detected poison. Don't the people who come up with these theories even read the source material?

Posted by: David Rothman at October 13, 2004 11:58 AM
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