Havant

Events

Dates for your Diary
Meetings
Thu Jan 20th 2:00pm via Zoom. Our speaker at this Monthly Meeting is Richard Swaine, his talk is entitled 'The Man Who Never Was: A Wartime deception that change d the course of WWII.' Richard Swaine is a former Royal Navy officer.

Each year, hundreds of commemorations take place throughout the world to honour all those that had lost their lives in war. However, there is one grave, not cared for by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission that is on its own in a Spanish catholic cemetery. This is almost forgotten but which marks a single death that turned the fortunes of the allies in the last war. Strangely, the person honoured, was not in the service of the King and did not give his life but his death, for his country.

He was quite simply, ‘The man who never was’

Following Operation ‘Torch’ in 1942, the allies had secured all of North Africa and over a hundred thousand allied troops were in camps based between Alexandra and Algeria were awaiting news of their next campaigns. Rumours were rife, the logistics difficult and the atmosphere tense.

The Generals knew that the ideal ‘push’ would be through Italy with Sicily as the bridgehead, but this island was highly reinforced with German divisions and airstrips.

At the same time, MI5 and Naval Intelligence were working to arrive at a plan to reduce the high concentration of enemy troops on Scilly, a fortress in its own right. Early in 1943 a plan was hatched coded named “Operation Mincemeat”. The aim was to deceive the German High Command into believing that the European invasion would be through Sardinia and Greece. There was one significant dependency, they needed a special kind of courier, but not any kind of courier. A dead one.

However, it is not so easy to just obtain a body, relatives have ‘rights’ and records need to be established, even in wartime, the law must be obeyed and questions are asked. So it was that in January 1943, ‘the ideal’ body arrived into a South London mortuary and the person had died in an ‘ideal’ way, no injuries.

It was decided to use this body and to create a new identity for it, in other words, build a life that had never happened, family, friends and relationships. Time was very tight and the pressure was on.

The deception had to be achieved by end of May 1943, Spain, a neutral country was chosen to ‘receive’ the courier and under the Franco regime, that country had strong sympathies towards the Axis powers of Germany and Italy.

How was the deception planned and authorised and how was the courier delivered, why did the German High Command accept the deception?

The courier had with him secret papers, very secret, that we had to get into German hands but appear we wanted them back!

We will reveal how Hampshire based servicemen from Gosport were involved and the role of Combined Operations Pilotage Parties, the bravest of the brave, from Hayling Island.

Please join this meeting over Zoom at 2:00pm on Thursday 20th January. You will not be disappointed.
Mon Jan 31st New Members Meeting at 10:30am, details to be decided
Thu Feb 17th 2:00pm. Our speaker is David Gane, his talk is entitled 'Evolution and Natural Selection: a whistle stop tour through life's evolution on Earth.'
Thu Mar 17th 2:00pm. A talk by Terry Smith entitled Eye Health Care and Sight Loss Prevention

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.