Operation Mincemeat - Captured Abwehr Documents

The following four captured German Abwehr documents illustrate how Operation Mincemeat was swallowed hook, line and sinker. Each of the original documents beared the initials of Admiral Doenitz.

(Source: CAB 154/100)

11th May, 1943.

Generalstab des Heeres,
Abt. Fremde Heere West.

To: Wehrmacht Fuhrungstab

Discovery of the English Courier.

I. On the corpse of an English courier which was found on the Spanish coast, were three letters from senior British Officers to high Allied Officers in North Africa, namely:-

a) A letter from the Deputy Chief of the British General Staff (General Nye) to the Deputy Commander-in-Chief North Africa (General Alexander).

b) A letter from the Chief of Combined Operations (General Lord Mountbatten) to the Admiral commanding the Fleet in the Mediterranean (Admiral Cunningham).

c) A letter from the above (Lord Mountbatten) to the American Commander-in-Chief in North Africa (General Eisenhower).

II. The circumstances of the discovery, together with the form and contents of the despatches, are absolutely convincing proof of the reliability of the letters. They give information concerning the decisions reached on the 23rd April, 1943, regarding Anglo-American strategy for the conduct of the war in the Mediterranean after the conclusion of the Tunisian campaign.

III. Information from the despatches

i) Admiral Cunningham had asked for an experienced specialist for the above mentioned amphibious operations in the Mediterranean. The dead courier was the man who was being sent to him.

ii) General Alexander, (Deputy Commander-in-Chief, North Africa) and General Wilson, (Commander-in-Chief, Near East) had put forward proposals to the Anglo-American General Staff for the conduct of operations in the Mediterranean. None of these proposals was accepted in full.

iii) The final decisions of the British and American General Staff for the future conduct of the war, were made on the 23rd April, 1943. Details were left blank, but were to be worked out rapidly.

iv) Large scale amphibious operations in both the Western and Eastern Mediterranean are intended. The proposed operation in the Eastern Mediterranean, under the command of General Wilson, is to be made on the coast round Calamata, and the section of the coast south of Cape Araxos, (both places being on the West coast of the Peloponnesus). The 56th Infantry Division is intended to take part in the attack on Calamata, and the 5th Infantry Division on Cape Araxos. It is not known whether it is intended to commit the whole or only parts of these Divisions to these landings. In the first instance a time lag of at least two to three weeks will be necessary before the launching of the attack, because the 56th Infantry Division on the 9th May was still in action with two brigades at Enfidaville, and must first be rested and then embarked. This possibility, which necessitates a certain time lag before the launching of the operation, is, judging by the form of the letters, the most likely.

Should, however, the operation be carried out with only parts of both divisions, then it could be mounted immediately, because one brigade of the 56th Division and one or two brigades of the 5th Infantry Division, are probably available already in the deployment area. (Egypt-Libya).

The code-name for the landing on the Peloponnesus is HUSKY.

The Allied General Staff have already proposed to General Wilson a feint operation against the Dodecanese. On the 23rd April, Wilson’s decision concerning this had not yet been made.

The operation to be conducted in the Western Mediterranean by General Alexander was mentioned, but without naming any objective. A jocular remark in the letter refers to Sardinia. The code-name for this operation is BRIMSTONE. The proposed cover operation for BRIMSTONE is SICILY.

v) Operation BRIMSTONE appears to be of a minor “commando type”. In this connection see the request of the 21st April, 1943, for the return of Major Martin “after the attack”. This indication points to the invasion of an island rather than of a major undertaking, as, for instance, a landing against the South of France. This is another point in favour of Sardinia.

IV Conclusions.

It is known to the British Staff that the courier’s despatches to Major Martin fell into Spanish hands. It is not perhaps known to the British General Staff that these letters came to our notice, since an English Consul was present at the examination of the letters by Spanish officials. It is, therefore, to be hoped that the British General Staff will continue with these projected operations and thereby make possible a resounding Abwehr success through corresponding acceleration of German precautions. It appears necessary to initiate a misleading plan of action which will deceive the enemy by painting a picture of growing Axis concern regarding Sicily, the Dodecanese and Crete. It is important that ABW 3 should receive corresponding instructions. Further, news of this discovery will be treated with the greatest secrecy, and knowledge of it confined to as few as possible.

(Signed) ROEMME





15 May, 1943 Abw Nr. 2282/43 Geh.Kdes.I.H.West/I

Subject: Drowned English Courier picked up at Huelva.

To: (Enemy Armies West (Frhr v Roenne.)

(Abw I.M.

( “ I.L.

On the 10th May, 1943, a further conversation with the case officer, a Spanish Staff Officer with well established connections, clarified the following questions:-

1. The corpse carried, clutched in his hand, an ordinary brief case which contained the following documents:-

a) An ordinary white paper as a cover for the letters addressed to General Alexander and Admiral Cunningham. This white paper carried no address.

The three letters were contained each in its own envelope with the usual superscription and addressed personally to the recipients, and apparently sealed with the private seal of the sender (signet ring). The seals were intact.

The letters themselves which I have already had replaced in their original envelopes, are in good condition. For the purposes of reproduction they were dried by artifical heat by the Spaniards and thereafter were again placed for some twenty-four hours in salt water, without which their condition would undoubtedly have been altered.

b) In the portfolio there were also the proofs of the pamphlet on the functions of Combined Operations Command referred to by Mountbatten in his letter of the 22nd April, 1943, as also the photographs mentioned in the letter. The proofs are in excellent condition, but the photographs are completely ruined.

2. In addition the courier carried in his breast pocket a letter-case containing personal papers, among them his military papers with photographs. (These papers connect up with Mountbatten’s reference to Major Martin in his letter of the 22nd April). There were too, a letter to Major Martin from his fiancés and another from his Father, also a London night-club bill dated 27th April. Therefore Major Martin left London on the forenoon of the 28th April and during the afternoon of the same day the aircraft met with an accident in the neighbourhood of Huelva.

3. The Vitish Consul was present at the discovery and knows all about it. On the pretext that anything found on the corpse, including all documents, must be made available to competent Spanish authorities, we anticipated representations which the British Consul would probably have made for the immediate delivery of the documents. All the documents were, after reproduction, replaced in their original condition in such a way that even I would have been convinced, and definitely give the impression that they have not been opened. In the course of the next few days they will be handed back to the British by the Spanish Foreign Office.

Enquiries regarding the remains of the pilot of the aircraft presumably wounded in the crash, and interrogation of the same concerning other passengers are already being put in hand by the Spanish General Staff.



Telegram SSDMBBZ 725

Dated: 15th May 11.30 hrs.

1. No further doubts remain regarding the reliability of the captured documents. Examination as to whether they were intentionally put into our hands shows that this is most unlikely. Next comes the question whether the enemy is aware of the interception by us of these documents or whether he is only aware of the loss of a plane over the sea. This has yet to be discovered. It is possible that the enemy knows nothing of the capture of these documents but it is certain that he will know that they have not reached their destination. Whether the enemy intend to alter the operations they have planned or accelerate the timing is not known but remains improbable.

Timing of the Operations.

2. The matter is treated as urgent. However, on the 23rd April there is still time for General Wilson’s proposal for the attack in the Eastern Mediterranean (for which Sicily is the cover operation) to reach General Alexander by air courier. In the event of his agreeing with Wilson’s opinion he is asked to reply immediately since “we cannot postpone the matter any longer.” In this case it is the opinion of the German General Staff that sufficient time remains for alteration in the planning of both the Eastern and Western Mediterranean operations.

Sequence of Operations.

3. It is supposed that both operations are to take place at the same time since only in this case would Sicily be unsuitable as cover for both.

4. Port of embarkation for the operation in the Eastern Mediterranean is probably Tobruk. The argument against Alexandria is that in this case the choice of Sicily as a cover objective would be absurd.

5. It is not clear whether the deception is only to be practised up to the time of the beginning of the operation or whether it will be continued after the launching of the actual operation.

6. There is no indication that in the Eastern Mediterranean only 5 Div. and 56 Div. (for Araxos and Calamata) will be landed. However, only these divisions are to be used in the assault. It is possible that they will comprise the whole of the assault forces.

7. It must be especially emphasised that this document indicates extensive preparations in the Eastern Mediterranean. This is especially important because from that area, on account of the geographical situation, there has, up to this time, been considerably less news about preparations than from the area of Algiers.

(Signed) Capt. ULLRICH.




o.v. den 22 Mai 1943

ABW Nr. 2282/43 Geh.Kdos.I.H.West/1

Ref. AMBWNr.2282/43 Geh.Kdos. of 15.5.43.

Subject. Drowned English courier picked up at Huelva.

To. (Enemy Armies West (Frhr v. Roenne.)

(Abw. 1. M.

( “ I. L.

The following is a copy of a further report by K.O., Spain.

“As already reported on the 14th May, on the 10th May questions were asked by the Alto Estado Mayor, concerning the circumstances of the discovery of the English Courier’s documents to which Oberst Lt. Pardo of A.E.M. gave for the most part immediate answers. Oberst Lt. Pardo, on the 10th May, was emphatic that the answers he gave to us were a complete story of the whole affair without reservations, but it seems, however, that this was not so. On the 10th May, therefore, an officer of A.E.M. was sent to the place of the discovery and has returned this morning to Madrid. The result of his investigations was communicated to us this morning in the presence of Oberst Lt. Pardo’s Commanding Officer, as follows, and is at the same time the reply to telephone conversation No. 346 of the 13th May, (I.H. West).

“The corpse of Major Martin, the courier who carried the above mentioned documents, was not picked up at Huelva, but was found on the 30th April at 9.30 in the morning, floating in the sea in the neighbourhood of Punta Umbria, near Huelva. Fishermen took the corpse to the beach and immediately after their return informed the Marine Commandant for Huelva, who took possession of the corpse. In contrast to the first statement of Oberst Lt. Pardo that the corpse carried the brief case clutched in his hand, it appears that the above mentioned brief case was secured to the corpse by a strap round the waist. The attaché case was fastened to this strap by a hook. The strap is at present in the possession of the General Staff. The brief case was locked and the key was found, together with other keys, on a key-ring in one of the corpse’s trouser pockets. According to the statement of Oberst Lt. Pardo, the brief case is of the official British pattern with engraved markings.

“On account of the papers which were found on the corpse, particulars of which agree with those communicated in my g.Kdos. 781 (IHW.Nr.2282/43 g.K.) of the 15th May, the British Consul was informed by the Marine Commandant, who inspected the corpse and found out that he had been carrying despatches, and he was informed at the same time that these despatches had been forwarded unopened to the Admiralty, Madrid.

“The courier’s brief case, together with all papers found in his breast pocket, were then taken to Madrid by an official of the Marine Commandant’s Office and handed over personally to the Minister for Marine. He, (the Minister for Marine) handed over the whole collection untouched to A.E.M., who undertook the opening, reproduction and resealing, and then returned them to him. He then gave the whole collection to the British Naval Attache in Madrid, who undoubtedly as a result of a communication from the English Consul in Huelva had been warned that these papers were being sent to the Minister for Marine, Madrid, and had asked the Minister for Marine for them.


“1. A medical examination of the corpse showed that there were no apparent wounds or marks which could have resulted from a blow or stab. According to medical evidence, death was due to drowning, (lit: the swallowing of sea water). The corpse carried an English pattern life-belt and was in an advanced stage of decomposition. According to medical opinion, it has been in the water for from five to eight days. This contradicts the evidence provided by the discovery of a night club bill on the corpse dated 27th April, and the discovery of the corpse at 9.30 in the morning of the 30th April. It is, however, considered possible that the effect of the sun’s rays on the floating corpse accelerated the rate of decomposition. The doctors also stated that the corpse was identical with the photographs in its military papers with the sole exception that a bald patch on the temples was more pronounced than in the photographs. Either the photograph of Major Martin had been taken some two or three years ago or the baldness on the temples was due to the action of sea-water.

“2. On the 28th April, an aircraft crashed at Huelva and the pilot, who is wounded, is in Spanish hands. Interrogation of the pilot on the instructions of the General Staff revealed that his has nothing to do with the corpse of Major Martin, for he stated that Major Martin had not been in his aircraft. His only companion had been another American pilot who was caught at the same time. He also stated that Major Martin’s life-belt was of an English pattern, whereas he himself had flown an American ‘plane which carried a different type of life-belt. There are, therefore clearly two completely unconnected accidents.

“3. A search for the remains of Major Martin’s aircraft and also for the corpses of any other passengers in this ‘plane, was unsuccessful. The fishermen state that in the area where the corpse was found there are strong currants and other corpses together with parts of the aircraft might later on be found at other places.