Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Tramp That Fooled Hitler: Colin Firth Will Play British Spy Who Plotted With Ian Fleming To Dress Dead Homeless Man As British Officer Then Dump Body Off Spain With Top Secret Papers To Dupe The Nazis

Richard Spillett offers a piece at the Daily Mail on the plans to make a film based on Ben Macintyre’s book about a daring plan to fool Hitler during WWII, "Operation Mincement." 

It is the incredible tale of how the body of a dead tramp found floating in the sea with a bundle of fake documents ended up saving the lives of 40,000 soldiers.

Now, the full story of Operation Mincemeat, one the ingenious espionage schemes which helped the Allies win the Second World War, is to get the full Hollywood treatment.

Colin Firth will play intelligence mastermind Ewan Montagu and the new film will be directed by Oscar-nominated British director John Madden, with a screenplay by Emmy-nominated Michelle Ashford.

Producers say Firth has the perfect 'substance, swagger and sensitivity' to play spymaster Montagu. 

Ewan Montagu (left), the mastermind behind Second World War escapade Operation Mincemeat, is to be played by Colin Firth in a forthcoming film

Madden said of the new film: 'In the context of World War II narratives, the story of Operation Mincemeat is unique – a bizarre and seductive cinematic blend of high-level espionage and ingenious fiction, where the stakes could hardly be higher.' 

Operation Mincemeat was dreamed up by British spymasters, including James Bond writer Ian Fleming, as the Allies prepared to invade southern Italy in 1943, at the height of World War Two.

The operation saw the corpse of a tramp, Glyndwr Michael, dressed as an officer and dropped in the sea to fool Hitler into thinking the Allies would invade Greece

Attacking the Axis on the often steep shorelines of Italy could have quickly become a massacre, so Britain's spies came up with a plan to make Hitler think the Allies would go for Greece instead.

They took the body a Welsh tramp and made him look like a high-ranking Royal Marines Officer, who they gave the fictional identity of Captain William Martin.

They then created a bundle of official-looking fake 'top secret' documents, which suggested the Allies were to invade Greece.

The body and a briefcase filled with the documents were then dropped by submarine in the sea off of Spain, to make it look like he had died in an accident.

When the body and the briefcase were picked up by the Nazis, Hitler fell for it 'hook, line and sinker' and moved 90,000 troops to other posted away from southern Italy, meaning the Allies faced a smaller opposition force when it landed in Sicily.

The operation was later immortalised in the 1956 film 'The Man Who Never Was', as well as many TV documentaries. 

But the full audacity of the plan will now be brought to life for a new generation with the Colin Firth film, which is based on a 2010 book by spy historian Ben Macintyre. 

You can read the rest of the piece and view photos and a video via the below link:

You can also watch a documentary on Operation Mincemeat with Ben Macintyre via the below link:

And you can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Ian Fleming’s WWII naval intelligence role via the below link:


  1. Wow ... interesting ... I’m off to the library to find the book ... thanks for highlighting the tale .... as an old CT, I have a fondness for all sorts of spy tales ....