“Glyndwr Michael; Served as Major William Martin, RM”

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One of the saddest war stories I’ve encountered. Major William Martin never existed. He was an elaborate hoax invented by the British to fool the Germans into believing that, instead of attacking Sicily in 1943 as they expected and planned for, the allies would instead attack Greece. The plot worked and saved tens of thousands of allied lives.

The successful invasion of Sicily led on to the downfall of Italy, the abandonment of the Russion Front by the Nazis and a dramatic change in fortunes, which in turn dramatically shortened the war. It has been called the most important and effective deception in military history.

But, to be believable, they needed, amongst other things, a suitable dead body capable of being made to look like a Major in the British Army had died in a plane crash in the Mediterranean.

Glyndwr Michael’s father committed suicide when he was fifteen. He never married and his mother died when he was thirty one. Clearly unable to cope, he drifted from his home town of Aberbargoed to London where he too committed suicide by swallowing rat poison in the abandoned warehouse he lived and died in. This hopeless homeless man had about as meaningless a life as it is possible to imagine. Followed by an importance in death, that he could never have imagined.

The decision was made to keep his identity secret forever. But it was revealed in papers released in 1998 by the MOD. And that led to his name being added to the tombstone over the grave of the man the Spanish believed to be one Major William Martin.

This is what they added: “Glyndwr Michael; Served as Major William Martin, RM” And the word “Served” brings tears to my eyes…

 

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About Harry Stottle
Refugee from the Stumbleupon Blogicide of October 2011 Here you will find my "kneejerk" responses to the world and what I happen to bump into. For my more detailed considerations and proposals, please visit my website or my previous main blogging site.

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