Mincemeat is a recipe popularized in England that mixes spices, fruits, distilled liquids, beef, and fat together. Originally, it was used to preserve meat. Now, it’s used in various holiday dishes, including mince pie and cookies. As non-appetizing as that sounds, Operation Mincemeat is a fitting name for an operation that might make your stomach turn. World War II continues to amaze us with its odd and extraordinary stories. Beating the Nazis took ghost armies, disabled spies, and a ton of other things, so it makes perfect sense that a poisoned dead man was used to deceive Axis forces.
Is Operation Mincemeat a True Story?
Yes, the Operation Mincemeat movie, released in 2021 by Warner Bros. and Netflix, is based on the true story of an operation executed by Allied Forces. The cast of Operation Mincemeat includes notable thespians including Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, and Jason Isaacs.
The film is 128 minutes long and showcases the events that took place while planning the operation. It concludes after providing the details of what unfolds as a result of their mission, ultimately catching up with the characters in sort of a “where they are now” ending.
Real-Life James Bond Action
Ian Fleming was made a household name thanks to his various literary-turned-cinematic works in the world of fictional spy James Bond. But Lieutenant Commander Fleming was a part of Operation Mincemeat, among other operations, during his time serving in British intelligence.
Under the direction of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and with the permission of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the plan was executed based on a document written by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, and his personal assistant, Fleming.
Known as the Trout memo, which made comparisons to fly fishing and deceiving enemy forces, this document contained various suggestions on tricking one’s enemy. The 28th suggestion in the memo is where the idea for Operation Mincemeat would come from.
The plan was simple, even if it wasn’t easy. British forces were to acquire a dead body, dress him to look as if he were a part of the Royal Marines, plant false plans on his body, and allow the enemy to steal them, leaving their real target open for the taking.
Two British intelligence officers would end up acquiring Glyndwr Michael’s body, a homeless man who had died eating rat poison. Michael then took on the fake identity of Captain (Acting) Major William Martin and was given documentation that indicated the Allied Forces intended to invade Greece and Sardinia.
Did Operation Mincemeat Work?
While the full effects of Operation Mincemeat may never be known, here’s what we do know. The liberation of Sicily worked. Not only did it work, but it went far better than expected, including the fact that there were fewer casualties and that the operation took much less time than anticipated.
We know this in part thanks to the book released by Duff Cooper called Operation Heartbreak in 1950, and again by the accounts given by Ewen Montagu, who assisted in Operation Mincemeat.
At the end of the day, fewer casualties in a notoriously brutal war is an absolute win. If you’re curious to learn more about Operation Mincemeat, you can watch Operation Mincemeat on Netflix, available now for streaming.
Suggested read: Battle of Midway: 80 Years Since We Turned the Tide of WWII