On April 30, 1943, a fisherman off the coast of Huelva, Spain, recovered the body of Maj. William Martin, a dead British soldier. Spanish authorities quickly buried the body, but his personal effects — including the briefcase handcuffed to the dead man's wrist — were turned over to the Germans.
For the Germans, it was an intelligence coup. Documents in the briefcase revealed that the Allies, who were on the verge of defeating Axis forces in North Africa, would next invade Sardinia and Greece. Hitler moved entire divisions of troops away from Sicily and southern Italy to prepare for the attacks.
But the Germans had been fooled.
Maj. Martin was a homeless man from Wales who had killed himself in London the previous winter. British intelligence agents concocted his identity and created false invasion plans as part of Operation Mincemeat, which was meant to disguise what was coming on July 10, 1943: The Allied invasion of Sicily and a thrust into what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called "the soft underbelly of Europe."
Below, you can see how the invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, played out in July and August 1943.
- Before-and-after photos show the startling scale of the bridge collapse disaster in northern Italy
- Dramatic rescue video shows a victim of the Italy bridge collapse being saved from a crushed vehicle dangling above the ground
- Rescuers worked through the night to find survivors after the Italy bridge collapse that killed 39 — and think they could still find people alive in the rubble