How the body of a Welshman helped to fool Adolf Hitler
The secrecy and espionage of the Second World War has been documented in great deal in the years following the conflict.
Perhaps the most famous chapter of this secret war took place at Bletchley Park and the efforts to crack the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code.
As incredible as this feat of mathematics and secrecy was, it is nearly shadowed by the remarkable story of an event two years later.
In 1943, the Allies were anxiously searching for a way to gain a foothold on the war in Europe.
Troops were fighting hard on the African front, but a way into Europe was seen as the next big step towards ending the war.
The objective was to be Sicily, which was touted as the ‘soft underbelly’ of the Third Reich and wider Axis forces.
An amphibious invasion of the island was hoped would weaken Italy, an ally of Nazi Germany, and effectively knock them out of the war.
By moving up through Italy, the Allies could then push towards France and then, ultimately, Germany.
The plan would only be a success if Sicily was taken, but the island was heavily defended in 1943 meaning that an assault would result in potentially thousands of lives being lost.
This is when the espionage side of the Allied forces kicked into action once again, and created a plan which was so utterly ridiculous it wouldn’t look out of place in a fiction novel.
Yet this was true, and it would change the course of the war.
In an effort to deflect German attention away from the intended target for the planned allied invasion, the British planned to drop ‘top secret documents’ right into enemy hands.
This was to be done by planting documents onto a dead body, Welshman Glyndwr Michael who killed himself by eating rat poison, dressed as a British officer to be purposely picked up by the enemy.
These documents suggested an invasion was to take place, but in Greece; not Sicily. To make the plan as realistic as possible, a whole identity was created by British Military Intelligence.
The man, whose identity was only revealed in the 1990s, was given a name, a life, and a family. A love letter was placed on his body to give a semblance of a loved one writing to them from back home.
Meticulous detail was put into the plan to make sure the body of Glyndwr could be made to look as though he had drowned after being involved in a plane crash.
It was decided to drop the body off the coast of Spain in April 1943, with the hopes that the plans would find their way into German hands.
Although Spain was neutral in the war, it still had strong ties to fascism and supporters of the Nazi regime.
The body was dropped off the coast from the British submarine HMS Seraph. Once this took place, Military Intelligence waited anxiously for signs that the ruse had worked.
Once the body was recovered, the British began the frantic attempts to get it back and in doing so, convince the Nazis of the importance of the documents.
When the Germans began to move troops to Greece, it became clear to the allies that the deception had worked.
On 10 July 1943, 160,000 troops stormed the beaches of southern Sicily and were met with little opposition.
The unbelievable hoax had been swallowed by the Nazis, and the vital step into Europe had been made.
A man from Wales helped to fool Adolf Hitler into thinking an invasion was happening in Greece, when in reality an attack was taking place on the other side of the Mediterranean sea.