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'Operation Mincemeat' mastermind, Sir John Masterman's medals go up for sale

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Operation Mincemeat was a triumph, one of many for this remarkable man.  Full story and photos at link below.

'Operation Mincemeat' mastermind who used a dead drunk's corpse to fool the Germans in WW2 most amazing spy story is remembered as his medals go up for sale
Sir John Masterman spent the Second World War running double agents
He oversaw 'Operation Mincemeat' that helped change course of the War
Using dead body of a tramp they duped Germans into thinking the Allies were planning to attack Greece and Sardinia rather than Sicily in 1943
The body was dropped into the sea from a Royal Navy submarine and then floated towards the coast of Spain, carrying a case full of fake documents

By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline

Published: 10:53 GMT, 6 July 2016  | Updated: 11:17 GMT, 6 July 2016

An Oxford-educated spymaster who duped the Germans using the body of a dead tramp carrying fake documents in World War Two is remembered as his medals go up for sale.

Sir John Masterman ran the Twenty Committee (named after the Roman numerals XX, or double cross system), responsible for the use of double agents during the War.

In that role, he oversaw the cunning and brilliantly executed 'Operation Mincemeat' that helped change the course of the War in the Allies' favour.

As the Allies prepared to invade Sicily in 1943, they wanted to trick the Germans into thinking their attack would take place in Greece and Sardinia.

To carry out the deception, a plan was hatched in which a body of a homeless Welsh tramp was dumped in the sea, carrying a briefcase full of false documents suggesting the invasion would take place 500 miles away from their intended target.

Remarkably, the trick worked. On July 9, 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily but the Germans remained convinced for almost two weeks that the main attacks would come in Greece and Sardinia, keeping reserves there until it was too late.

The plan is credited with playing a crucial part in the success of the Sicily invasion and is believed to have saved the lives of some 40,000 British servicemen and women.

It was later immortalised in the 1956 film 'The Man Who Never Was', as well as many TV documentaries.

Sir John, a talented sportsman who played tennis at Wimbledon and hockey for England, was also instrumental in the planning of 'Operation Fortitude' a year later, the Double Cross system's greatest triumph.

They successfully fooled the Germans into believing the main D-Day landings would take place at Calais, rather than Normandy, when the Allies eventually stormed ashore on June 6, 1944.

As such, Hitler kept thousands of troops in Calais, believing a second, far larger invasion was imminent.

Sir John's decorations now going on sale include the Knight Bachelor's Badge and the OBE.

They are now being sold at auction in London by a private collector who has owned them for many years.

David Erskine-Hill, of auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb, said: 'Surely the most gifted novelist would be hard-pressed to create such an extraordinary character as Masterman and maintain a modicum of reality.

'Indeed the life and times of Masterman - himself a successful novelist - serve as a shining example of fact sometimes being stranger than fiction.

'That unusual combination of outstanding sportsman and scholar - from playing tennis at Wimbledon to representing this country at hockey and high office at Oxford - is rare enough.

'Add to that his wartime career at MI5 and you seemingly enter the realms of unreality.

'Not so, for today it is a career that is known in the public domain and one that proved instrumental in shaping the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.'

Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Sir John was studying in Germany and he was in the country when the conflict broke out. 

As such he became fluent in German and gained an insight into his captors' mentality, two key traits that made him ripe for a career in army intelligence during the Second World War. 

He was commissioned into the Army's Intelligence Corps in 1940 and later joined MI5.

His Twenty Committee's chief task was to control as much of the enemy's intelligence system as possible, capturing fresh spies and turning them into double agents.

When German intelligence records were studied after the end of the war it was found almost all the 115 Axis agents had been identified and caught by the British.

In 1972, following considerable government opposition, he published 'The Double-Cross System' which was one of the most important military intelligence histories ever to appear in print.

He became Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and was later knighted. He died at Oxford in June 1977, aged 86.

The medals are being sold for an estimated £3,000 on July 22.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3676838/Espionage-chief-used-dead-drunk-fake-documents-submarine-fool-Germans-World-War-Two-s-amazing-spy-story-remembered-medals-sale.html#ixzz4DdLrthx7
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