Real Spies

Just in time for the Mossad/Dubai/Fatah assassination plot, the WSJ has an article up on five books detailing British trickery during WWII. They all sound interesting, but here are two:

2. The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939 to 1945

By J.C. Masterman
Yale, 1972

J.C. Masterman was an Oxford don who, during World War II, chaired the secret Twenty Committee—20 is XX in Roman numerals, but XX is also a “double cross.” The group coordinated false information fed to German intelligence through Nazi spies who had been “turned.” Masterman waited nearly three decades after the war’s end to publish his account of how the committee and more generally the British Security Service (also known as MI5) actively ran and controlled agents of the German espionage service, but his book caused a sensation nonetheless. It was the first great, unsanctioned breach in the wall of British wartime secrecy. As an operating handbook of astonishingly successful deception, “The Double-Cross System” is without peer. But some of Masterman’s colleagues never spoke to him again for having exposed their work.

3. The Man Who Never Was

By Ewen Montagu
Lippincott, 1953

Operation Mincemeat, designed to divert German attention away from the Allies’ impending invasion of Sicily in 1943, involved planting false papers on a genuine corpse outfitted to be a British Royal Marine, “Maj. William Martin.” The body was dropped in the ocean off the coast of Spain; when it washed ashore, the Germans soon discovered what seemed to be plans for an invasion of Greece and Sardinia. Mincemeat worked perfectly—the Nazis took the poisoned bait and rushed to bolster their Greek defenses. A novel published soon after World War II told the tale of the operation, but readers had no idea how close to the truth the improbable story was until the appearance a few years later of “The Man Who Never Was.” Lawyer Ewen Montagu, who had been the naval-intelligence representative on the Twenty Committee during the war, was given official permission to write the book after a reporter began digging for the half-buried facts in the fictional version. Montagu produced a genuine wartime thriller.

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One response to “Real Spies

  1. pulled up in OG

    Here’s a good read on “Mad Jack” Churchill.
    WWII – nailed a Jerry w/a bow and arrow, carried a claymore and piped his way into battle.