Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wierd history watch: Who was the man who never was?

The Man Who Never Was" was a memorable British book and film from the 1950s, part of that ongoing thread that implies the Second World War was won by the clever stunts of intelligence boffins rather than by the application of large quantities of lethal weaponry. Story was that British intelligence floated a dead body onto an enemy held beach. Enemy found body, body carried (phony) plans of a massive Allied landing, enemy shifted its defences, genuine landing succeeded, Allies won war.

This summer University of Toronto historian Denis Smyth will launch a book exploring who the body was, that is, who was the poor dead guy whose corpse got the phony plans planted on it. Already he has been injected into what is apparently an ongoing minor controversy in Britain, with various dead guys vying for the credit of being the poor stiff. Smyth's Operation Mincemeat/Deathly Deception is offered as the final word.

[Just to keep things straight, Denis Smyth, intelligence historian noted here, is not Denis Smith, political scientist quoted a couple of posts below.]
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