34. Selling Mincemeat
On April 19th, 1943, a sealed canister containing the corpse of “Major Williams Martin” was loaded into a British submarine, that sailed for Spain. After surviving two bombings en route, the submarine made it to the Spanish coast. Early on the morning of April 30th, the body, with an attached briefcase, was dumped overboard, where the tide and current would carry it to shore. The briefcase contained fake letters from British generals, identifying the Balkans as the Allies’ next invasion target, with hints of subsidiary operations targeting the island of Sardinia.
The Germans swallowed Operation Mincemeat’s deception, hook, line, and sinker. It helped that Hitler was already obsessed with the Balkans, and suspected that it was the Allies’ next target. The briefcase’s contents reinforced that belief. The Fuhrer wrote Mussolini, informing him that Greece and Sardinia were to be reinforced “at all costs“. Accordingly, instead of reinforcing Sicily’s defenders, Hitler ordered reinforcements sent to the Balkans and Sardinia.