The Man who Never Was is the thrilling (true) story of a deception carried on by the Allies during World War II, codenamed Operation Mincemeat. It involved the creation of a false identity for a soldier who never existed, carrying false high-level documents that would fool the Germans into defending a spot other than that which the Allies were planning on attacking. Throughout the book, the author tells how they accomplished that aim.
The story begins with a crazy idea, that is later considered as a possibility. One officer has the idea of fooling the Germans with a fake body carrying important papers. When a cover operation is needed for the invasion of Sicily, this idea is reconsidered and ultimately ends up being what they do.
The small committee works through every aspect of creating a fake Navy officer named Major Martin. Everything from parents, to a fiancée, to army rank, to ID, to personal debt is considered and used to make Major Martin a realistic person. The book details the creation of fake love letters from Major Martin’s fiancée, Pam (who also never existed) and several documents about the soldier’s debts at stores and banks. Everything is thought of to make it seem as if this soldier had really existed.
Once everything is prepared, they launch the body off the coast of Spain from a submarine, hoping that the Spaniards will forward any important documents on to the German officials in the area. After the war is over, they find that the Germans diverted several large units of men to protect what was thought to be the attack spot, leaving Sicily lightly defended. The plan worked perfectly.
The Man Who Never Was is a great read, only being about one hundred pages long. Written in a light and almost humorous style, the book is entertaining and is a nice glimpse at some of the finer arts of deception in war-time. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about historical events.
Published on 18 September, 2010. Last updated on