In the run-up to the landing in Sicily on 10 July 1943, code-named Operation ‘Husky’, during the spring of that year the British Intelligence Commands implemented very elaborate measures to confuse the enemy as to the date and destination of the attack. Among other things, in the hope of delaying German reinforcements to Sicily, to reduce the air threat to their invasion convoys and to keep the main naval forces, battleships and cruisers, away from the area of Sicily, false information was artfully provided through agents in neutral nations, such as Portugal and Spain. From the General Staff of the Italian Armed Forces and the German Commands in Italy, the Allied landing operation in Sicily was expected. Benito Mussolini, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, and the Chief of the Supreme Command General Vittorio Ambrosio, despite all the Anglo-American deception manoeuvres to deceive Italians and Germans from the real objective of landing in Sicily, were convinced that the invasion would take place on that large island. Among the deception measures, the most famous and elaborate was Operation ‘Mincemeat’. Glyndwr Michael, a Welshman who died of pulmonary oedema and was found in a morgue was dressed in military uniform under the name of a fictitious ‘Major William Martin of the Royal Marines’. His death was faked as being caused by drowning, which occurred while, with false confidential documents, which indicated Greece and probably Sardinia as targets for a landing, he was in the air on a plane that had crashed into the sea near the Atlantic coast of southern Spain. His corpse, transported by a British submarine, was found by the Spaniards on the Huelva beach. The documents he possessed were passed by the Spanish to German agents, and reached Berlin, who immediately informed Rome. But the plan, which was hailed in Anglo-Saxon countries as an exceptional success that would even have conditioned the outcome of the war in favour of the Allies, diverting the Germans’ attention from reinforcing Sicily, did not go as they believed it would, so much so that they made two fictional and false films about it. The Italian and German commanders in Italy, unlike in Belino who initially believed in that deception, especially Hitler, did not take the bait in that macabre mise-en-scene, as the reader will realise when reading this book.
By Francesco Mattesini, 100 pages
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