Ian Fleming likely inspiration behind Operation Mincemeat
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, has emerged as the likely inspiration behind Operation Mincemeat, a wartime deception plan worthy of 007 himself - reports The Times
In 1939, just a few weeks after war was declared, the Naval Intelligence Department issued a top-secret memo to Britainâs intelligence chiefs suggesting that a dead body be used to plant false information with the Germans.
The memo was signed by Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, but it bore all the hallmarks of his personal assistant, Lieutenant-Commander Fleming, who would immortalise Godfrey as âMâ in the Bond novels. The memo, revealed in Ben Macintyreâs book Operation Mincemeat, laid out 51 ideas for âintroducing ideas into the heads of the Germansâ through âdeception, ruses de guerre, passing on false information and so onâ.
Godfrey, by his own admission, lacked the sort of âcorkscrew mindâ needed to dream up such strange plots as dropping footballs painted with luminous paint to attract submarines, packing a fake âtreasure shipâ with commandos, and distributing false information through bogus copies of The Times (âan unimpeachable and immaculate mediumâ).
Fleming, as his subsequent career made clear to the world, did not. Idea No 28 on the list was headed âA suggestion (not a very nice one)â. It read: âThe following suggestion is used in a book by Basil Thomson: a corpse dressed as an airman, with despatches in his pockets, could be dropped on the coast, supposedly from a parachute that had failed. I understand there is no difficulty in obtaining corpses at the Naval Hospital, but, of course, it would have to be a fresh one.â
In 1937, Thomson, a former assistant prime minister of Tonga, spycatcher and writer, published a detective novel (his tenth) entitled The Millinerâs Hat Mystery, in which a dead man is discovered carrying ingeniously forged papers creating an entirely false identity.
Four years later, the plan was put into action by Charles Cholmondeley, working for MI5, and Ewen Montagu, a colleague and friend of Fleming who ran the top secret section 17 M within Naval Intelligence.
Years later, Admiral Godfrey reminded Montagu of the debt, and the origins of Operation Mincemeat.âThe bare idea of the dead airman washed up on a beach was among those dozen or so notions which I gave you when 17M was formed,â he wrote.
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