OP MINCEMEAT – aka ‘Man who never was’ – new identity claim

#1
Per the Torygraph, a Canadian historian claims in his forthcoming book, plug plug :roll: , he has established the body used WAS that of the tramp, Glyndwr Michael, and not a crewman from the HMS Dasher sinking? :omg:

Extract:
”Tellingly, the memo unearthed by Professor Smyth was written after the body had been buried in Spain and addressed fears among senior officers that it would be exhumed for a second post-mortem which would confirm 'Major Martin' was a fake.

In it, Commander Montagu reports a conversation he had with coroner Dr William Bentley Purchase: "Mincemeat [the body] took a minimal dose of a rat poison containing phosphorus. This dose was not sufficient to kill him outright and its only effect was so to impair the functioning of the liver that he died a little time afterwards."

"Apart from the smallness of the dose, the next point is that phosphorus is not one of the poisons readily traceable after long periods, such as arsenic, which invades the roots of the hair."

Professor Smyth said: "What they talk about is whether the traces of the rat poison this person had taken could show up. So the person buried in Spain died from taking rat poison, not drowning, and therefore it is Glyndwr Michael.”


Full text clicky

As I recall in the conclusions of the former policeman who investigated this for many years, one factor was the increasingly poor condition of the body due to decomposition between the time of Michael’s death and the body going into the water, and another was, if it was Michael why did the mission sub, HMS Seraph – not ’Seriph’, f’kin sloppy jounos - sail to Scotland BEFORE sailing for GIB? :omg:

Also, probably my memory, or lack of it, but I thought one supporting factor for Michael was that he died of pneumonia, though he did take rat poison, hence his lung condition was not that dissimilar to drowning under cursory examination? So I’m led to believe. :D

Have to say, my logic remains with the conclusion Michael was the original choice but changed to a Dasher crewman. :?:

No.9

Edited to fix clicky after paper moved it ;)
 
#2
Wasn't the whole Dasher crewman theory just conjecture?

A number of years ago I stumbled across the memo that named Glyndwr Michael as Major Martin, at the Public Record Office. I thought I'd made a great historic discovery until I checked the internet to find the name had been publically revealed a few months previously!
 
#3
Michael was the first revelation and remained the 'answer' for many years. It was more people questioning if someone in the condition of Michael could/would have fooled the Spanish and the Germans into thinking he was a serving officer who had drowned, than a further document release that brought about further reasoning.

The Sherlocking Colin Gibbon did, over 14 years, appears to have produced, IMHO, more and stronger evidence supporting a Dasher victim than this current memo does. Going by the article, Prof. Smyth is pounding the table on the strength of the discovered memo, and does not set about explaining why the interpretation of the Dasher evidence is wrong? viz. Why did Seraph sail to Scotland before going to Gib? :omg:

No.9
 
#4
Recently watched a doco on History Channel about the operation. They claimed that the body used was that of a tramp but I cannot now remember the name.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
TV docos always go the shortest route and so would naturally pick up the superficial 'tramp' solution from the book and use that. The crux of the Dasher argument is that it provided a corpse who had REALLY drowned, and was of plausible age and fitness and otherwise undamaged, and that got rid of any risk that the plan would be bowled out forensically. It's very possible that the change of plan was mostly sorted out by phone calls and visits (after all it had to be implemented rather rapidly) and that the detail was never formally recorded. As a natural sceptic I find that Occam's Razor usually and sensibly eliminates unnecessary frills from these mystery scenarios, but in this case, to me, the Dasher supposiiton makes more sense.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
The film though claimed to use a homeless man who had died of Pneumonia, gives similar symptoms apparently to drowning!
 
#7
seaweed said:
TV docos always go the shortest route and so would naturally pick up the superficial 'tramp' solution from the book and use that. The crux of the Dasher argument is that it provided a corpse who had REALLY drowned, and was of plausible age and fitness and otherwise undamaged, and that got rid of any risk that the plan would be bowled out forensically. It's very possible that the change of plan was mostly sorted out by phone calls and visits (after all it had to be implemented rather rapidly) and that the detail was never formally recorded. As a natural sceptic I find that Occam's Razor usually and sensibly eliminates unnecessary frills from these mystery scenarios, but in this case, to me, the Dasher supposiiton makes more sense.
Using a body that did actually drown does make obvious sense but wonder why that wasn't then chosen as the first option? I guess the key would be getting access to such a body straightaway. Doesn't a body in saltwater bloat and decay rather quickly? That would make it difficult putting on a new uniform for instance.

Genuine question but is there any more evidence for the Dasher theory other than the re-routing of the Seraph?
 
#8
Bodies deteriorate slower in cold water than they do on land, at least if nothing big tries to scoff them...

I think the fact of the Seraph sailing to Scotland is a red herring - I have a feeling that subs and other vessels routinely diverted north to pick up ordnance and specialist stores at Clyde depots, before heading out on patrol.

Maybe there was initial resistance to the idea of using a genuine drowned body - we Brits have a fairly strong instinct to respect and protect our Service dead. It reinforces the idea of the unrecorded use of a Dasher victim, as such use may well have been kept "off the radar" to avoid sensibilities.
 
#9
4(T) said:
Bodies deteriorate slower in cold water than they do on land, at least if nothing big tries to scoff them...

I think the fact of the Seraph sailing to Scotland is a red herring - I have a feeling that subs and other vessels routinely diverted north to pick up ordnance and specialist stores at Clyde depots, before heading out on patrol.

Maybe there was initial resistance to the idea of using a genuine drowned body - we Brits have a fairly strong instinct to respect and protect our Service dead. It reinforces the idea of the unrecorded use of a Dasher victim, as such use may well have been kept "off the radar" to avoid sensibilities.
I also find it difficult that the body of a tramp could be cleaned up enough to pass as a Intelligence Officer.
 
#10
4(T) said:
Bodies deteriorate slower in cold water than they do on land, at least if nothing big tries to scoff them...

I think the fact of the Seraph sailing to Scotland is a red herring - I have a feeling that subs and other vessels routinely diverted north to pick up ordnance and specialist stores at Clyde depots, before heading out on patrol.

Maybe there was initial resistance to the idea of using a genuine drowned body - we Brits have a fairly strong instinct to respect and protect our Service dead. It reinforces the idea of the unrecorded use of a Dasher victim, as such use may well have been kept "off the radar" to avoid sensibilities.
The trip to Scotland I also think is a red-herring.
So what evidence is there for using a Dasher victim then?

The problem I have with the Dasher idea is the lack of preparation. For example Major Martin's uniform would have to fit the victim and what about the photo-ID he was supposed to be carrying?

 
#11
Just realised a made a copy of the Mincemeat report that reveals Glyndwr Michael identity.

The relevant paragraph reads:

TNA CAB 154/112 said:
On 28th January [1943] there had died at St. Stephen's Hospital, Fulham, a labourer of no fixed abobe. His name was Glyndwr Michael and he was 34 years of age. Two days earlier he had taken phosphorous rat-poison, which was unlikely to reveal itself to post-mortem examination, except possibly by faint traces in the liver. Mr. Bentley Purchase dispensed with a post-mortem, notified the registrar that the body was being "removed out of England" for burial, but in fact kept it in St. Pancras Mortuary until 1st April, when it was removed to Hackney and dressed in the underclothes provided. On 3rd April, Montagu and Cholomondeley completed the dressing except for the Mae West, boots and gaiters which the supposed staff-officer was to wear...

There's some more about the preparation of the ID card which is interesting. I'll try to type it up later. Actually the whole report is fascinating, 19 pages long.

Editted to add the following from the report regarding arm of service, uniform, and ID card:

“IDENTITY OF THE BODY”
The original intention in Operation MINCEMEAT was that the body should be that of an army officer. The reasons for this were:-

(i) An Army Officer could wear battle dress and the extreme difficulty of getting a uniform which really fitted the body would be avoided.
(ii) Army Officers have their identity cards removed when going abroad and other Services do not; this would obviate the difficulty of obtaining a photograph (none which looked alive could be taken of the corpse).
(iii) It was suitable that an Army Officer should be taking a document of the kind required.

After consultation with the Director of Military Intelligence it was discovered that there would be considerable difficulties if the body were to be that of an Army Officer. For instance the Military Attaché, Madrid, would have to be added to those in the picture and it would be difficult to stop any signal reporting the finding of the body being distributed in the War Office.

It was therefore decided that the “officer” should be a Major in the Royal Marines on CCO’s Staff [Chief of Combined Operations]. This involved obtaining a photograph for his identity card but he could still wear battle dress and his carrying the documents could be reasonably explained in a plausible document.

Another disadvantage of the “officer” being a Marine was that, the Royal Marines being small in numbers, any leakage of the fact that an officer named “so and so” had been killed would cause much more comment and enquiries than would a similar report about the loss of a non-existent Army Officer. This had to be accepted and arrangements were made to tighten up security on this point wherever possible, although difficulties remained such as those that would be caused if the body were to be sent by the Spaniards to Gibraltar for burial; all possible precautions were taken on this type of point as well.

A battle-dress uniform and gaiters were obtained from Lt. Col. Mountain of Home Forces and Flight Lieutenant Cholmondeley also obtained the necessary boots, underwear, etc. from various sources. As Flight Lieut. Cholmondeley was almost the same build as the body a chit was obtained from Col. Neville, R.M. of C.C.O. addressed to Messrs. Gieves, asking them to fit the battle-dress to him (and to sew on “Royal Marine” flashes and the Combined Operations badge flashes) as he would require it for special duty. This was duly done and the badges of rank etc. were also put on. A trench coat was obtained and fitted with badges of rank, etc.
Editted to add... I've typed up some more of the Operation Mincemeat report here for those that are interested:
http://www.psywar.org/forum/index.php/topic,477.msg1014.html#msg1014
It includes the text of the important letter Major Martin was carrying.
 
#12
CQMS said:
I also find it difficult that the body of a tramp could be cleaned up enough to pass as a Intelligence Officer.
Being a civvy, it would be impertinent for me to suggest that it is not too far out of the realm of possibility that a tramp could be passed off as a Booty, so I won’t ;-)
 
#13
Montague, as known so far, took the secret with him when he died. When questioned he seems to have repeated a mantra that he promised the deceased's family?

Montague published the best seller 'The Man Who Never Was' in 1951, after a similar story was published in which names and other details had been changed, but nevertheless caused concern by those who knew of this secret WWII OP. Montague therefore came out with a polished, comfortable 'definitive' account which was supposed to satisfy everyone. Indeed it did for a number of years, and when the first papers were released, an identity, Glyndwr Michael, was proclaimed.

But, the more that became ‘known’, the more (what I term) Rule 96 was destabilised – essentially things began not to add up. There is little doubt that the original intended was Michael, the doubt is that this was the body ultimately used?

Two of the strongest factors, IMHO, is #1 Michael died on 28 Jan and was not put into the water until 30 April. We are therefore asked to accept that a body could be kept packed in dry ice for that period, in 1943, so as to look comparatively ‘fresh’ without uncharacteristic deterioration to a mediocre pathologist. #2 When Churchill gave the Green Light, why did Montague drive the ice casket over 400 miles from London to Greenock (West of Glasgow), to place it aboard HMS Seraph which herself was ordered to Greenock from her position in Blyth (NE of Newcastle), four days after the Dasher disaster? Seraph logged only a two hour stop at Greenock before sailing for Spain, and, Greenock is around 30 miles from Ardrossan where the bodies from Dasher were being gathered.

Would Montague risk the Spanish autopsy failing when there were suddenly genuinely and recently drowned seamen available? IMHO I think not.

No.9
 
#14
Hopefully not a stupid question, but would Der Tchermanz have been able, technologically speaking, to differentiate between seawater and pneumonia-fluid, assuming that they had thought to analyse a sample?
 
#15
There is of course a now and then aspect to this story...now we question infinitesimally small probabilities. Then, a man found in the sea, dressed in a uniform of a party to a conflict, in an area where the war-dead might be expected to pitch up would of course be firstly considered as such. Conspiracy theory and revisionist history thrives on this, because we misuse Occams Razor by benefit of hindsight. "What if" is a real clouding agent, for let's face it, if my uncle had a fanny, he'd be my auntie!

Nice to have a thread on here discussing tramps by the way which doesn't refer to sucking them...although perhaps the Abwehr may have indulged as a rudimentary pathological technique? 8)
 
#16
auscam said:
Hopefully not a stupid question, but would Der Tchermanz have been able, technologically speaking, to differentiate between seawater and pneumonia-fluid, assuming that they had thought to analyse a sample?
In one of the many media regurgitations of this story over the years, a (claimed) pathologist did write in stating that pneumonia can easily be discerned from drowning with only the most cursory examination. I may be misquoting out of my arrse, but I think it basically hinged on (a) pneumonic fluid is mucus, pus, blood and serum, whereas drowning fluid is salt water full of - well - small marine life, etc; (b) in pneumonia, there are usually other signs of infection battle in the body - eg ill-looking liver and major organs.

Looking at the incredible attention to detail that was used on other (usually highly successful) deception operations against the Germans, I'd easily accept that someone, on hearing that fresh drowned (and as yet unidentified) bodies had become available, would take the decision "get up there and see if there is a reasonable match. If so, dump this body (Michael) and use one of those."

We may never know what happened in Mincemeat, unless new evidence or witness turns up.
 
#17
In the ‘official/popular’ version, there appears to be a bit of blurring re cause of death of Michael. Re-reading various it appears that when Montague was considering possibilities, he was advised he need not have to find a drowned man as a pneumonia victim ‘could’ pass, especially as our ‘experts’ did not consider their Spanish counterparts on a par. However, it does appear that Michael did not die as a result of pneumonia so any bronchial condition found would only have been slight if at all a consideration in this respect. Montague had considered injecting the lunges with sea water but I can find no mention of this being done? Yet, the autopsy was clear the person had drowned.

The clicky below relates to an article of a year ago in the American ‘Military Medicine’ journal. It’s weird as there are a number of surprising claims including a second autopsy by the Germans who spirited the body away from the cemetery? :omg: I find it impossible to take the whole thing too seriously as for one it’s clearly not written by a historian, and for another there are wrong references. Ergo, if the writer is wrong or surmised about A, B and C, what else? Nevertheless, ithe ‘postmortem’ paragraph is work reading and to appear in the MM one has to accept there is a quality to it.

No.9

Postmortem
 
#18
Cuddles - "Nice to have a thread on here discussing tramps by the way which doesn't refer to sucking them...although perhaps the Abwehr may have indulged as a rudimentary pathological technique?"

Starting early today :omg: You totally lost me, I've never considered 'sucking a tramp', event if a few have sucked.....we'll move on :roll:

No.9
 
#19
Looking back, the substitution of a dead serviceman for a tramp would perhaps have been seen as desecration - especially if there was a family/wife in the equation. So the myth that a tramp was still "deployed" has a cultural resonance, even if a drowned seaman was actually substituted.
 
#20
Looking back, the substitution of a dead serviceman for a tramp would perhaps have been seen as desecration - especially if there was a family/wife in the equation. So the myth that a tramp was still "deployed" has a cultural resonance, even if a drowned seaman was actually substituted.

Edited to add: Oh and if permission had been sought to use a drowned seaman from NOK, then obviously OPSEC was immediately brought potentially nearer to compromise. So it is highly likely that a quick two-card trick was done at the time and no records were created.
 
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