BBC Two last night (Sunday 9pm) took a rare break from its seemingly endless run of panel shows for a fascinating look at Operation Mincemeat, a Second World War operation by British Intelligence inspired by Ian Fleming, then a young officer with the UK’s Intelligence services.
Fleming’s plan, to drop a “fresh” corpse laden with supposed British military secrets into enemy territory, was part of an effort to feed disinformation to the Nazis while Allied forces prepared to liberate Europe. The goal of the mission was to convince Hitler that instead of attacking Sicily – the “soft underbelly” of occupied Europe – the allies were planning an assault on Greece.
Though Fleming may have been the originator of the plan, responsibility for putting it into place fell to fellow intelligence officers Charles Cholmondeley and Euan Montagu and last night’s documentary provided a gripping account of how they pulled off one of the biggest cons of all time.
The stories told were both awe inspiring and, in several cases, heart touching, none more so that that of Glyndwr Michael, a penniless, illiterate son of a Welsh miner who committed suicide in Kings Cross and therefore has the dubious distinction of enabling the whole plan to go ahead by providing the essential corpse.
This was an exhilarating story of British ingenuity and it was great to see such an important story not relegated to the backwaters of BBC Four for once.
PS: If you enjoyed the programme as much as I did, you might be interested to know that a book by presenter Ben Macintyre is available from the seenit.co.uk store.
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