This book is about 'Operation Mincemeat' or 'The Man Who Never Was', one of the most extraordinary feats of deception in the Second World War. It was Churchill who first gave it currency. As Nick Rankin describes in Churchill's Wizards, 'As Prime Minister ...he spellbound dinner parties ...with the story'. One of those who listened was Duff Cooper who based his novel Operation Heartbreak on the story. That was published in 1950. Ian Colvin's "The Unknown Courier" was published in 1953 and was in fact the first true account to be written though not the first to be published. When Colvin's intentions became known it was thought an officially approved account should be written in great haste and published pre-emptively. The result was two books, Ian Colvin's "The Unknown Courier" and Ewen Montagu's "The Man Who Never Was", were both published in the same year making 'Operation Mincemeat', in Nick Rankin's words 'the best known British deception of the war'. Ian Colvin's book can best be described by his daughter, Clare Colvin.
'Through his own contacts, formed initially in pre-war Germany, and a journalistic hunch, Ian Colvin uncovered British Intelligence's secret plan to mislead the German High Command by planting papers on a corpse washed up off the coast of Spain. Colvin's search in early 1953 led him to Madrid, Gibraltar, Seville and finally to a grave at Huelva, where he discovered the resting place of 'the Man Who Never Was'. "The Unknown Courier" is a lively account of a journey that took the young journalist into an exotic world of German ex-intelligence officers, Spanish Generals, Seville flamenco dancers, and even a frogman pathologist specialising in drowned bodies. The corpse, about which there are still doubts as to its background, was given a false identity of a Royal Marine, 'Major Martin', and planted with top secret letters that outlined fake plans for the 1943 invasion of Italy. These misled Hitler into concentrating his forces on Greece and Sardinia, rather than on the real Allied target of Sicily'.
Publisher: Faber & Faber