The idea for this history-altering, deadly serious caper—originally code named “Trojan Horse”— came from none other than intelligence officer Ian Fleming, who remembered it from a detective novel by Basil Thomson, an ex-policeman and redoubtable spy catcher in World War I. There were multiple ifs ands and buts in the scheme, but, miraculously, it worked. The proof of the pudding? In mid-May of 1943, Winston Churchill received this telegram from his code breakers, who had been monitoring German military transmissions: “mincemeat swallowed rod, line and sinker.”
At the hub of the Mincemeat plot was wealthy Jewish criminal lawyer Ewen Montagu, founder (along with his Soviet-loving brother Ivor) of the Cheese Eaters League. (A 1956 movie starring Clifton Webb, The Man Who Never Was, was based on Ewen's memoir.) Next to him in the above photo is M15 counterespionage agent Charles Cholmondeley, who “gazed at the world through thick round spectacles, from behind a remarkable mustache fully six inches long and waxed into magnificent points…. [He was] a distinctive figure around Whitehall, his arms flapping when animated, hopping along the pavement like a huge, flightless, myopic bird.” The photo was taken April 1943, just before their plan was set into motion. (Above right, the body of the fake British officer, being readied for the mission.) Another participant in the hoax was Charles Fraser-Smith, whom Ian Fleming probably used as the model for the character Q in the James Bond novels.
|Ian Fleming, the future author of the James Bond novels. (About him, Montagu said, “Fleming is charming to be with, but would sell his own grandmother.”)|