The Story Behind Netflix’s Operation Mincemeat Is Based On Ewen Montague’s Life

Operation Mincemeat, directed by John Madden, tells the remarkable story of two British intelligence operatives, Ewen Montague and Charles Cholmondeley, who devised a cunning deception plan for a huge covert operation that rescued Sicily during WWII. The Netflix original, adapted for the screen by Michelle Ashford, is based on Ben MacIntyre’s book British Operation Mincemeat. The film, which stars Colin Forth as Montagu and Matthew Macfadyen as Cholmondeley, will be published exclusively on the platform on May 11, 2022.

Everything about Ewen Montague’s life and his devious strategy.

Ewen Edward Samuel Montagu was an English attorney born in the English aristocracy on March 19, 1901, and educated at Cambridge and Harvard. After finishing college, he enrolled in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. He quickly rose through the ranks to serve in Naval Intelligence at the Admiralty, where he was the architect of an unusual conspiracy scheme.

Ewen Montague


From his years as a criminal attorney, Ewen was a natural for counterintelligence work, inventive and gifted in strategy and psychological brinkmanship. Operation Mincemeat, which he co-created with Charles Cholmondeley in 1943, was inspired by a concept offered by another inventive spy, Ian Fleming. The plan called for Operation Husky, which would convince the Germans that an impending Allied invasion of southern Europe would begin with an assault on Sardinia and Greece rather than Sicily, the most apparent target. The British embassy was deceived by dropping a corpse at sea with top-secret combat plans. Major William Martin’s corpse was clad in a British airman’s uniform and held different documents identifying him.

Ewen and his colleagues developed a virtual existence for the persona, which included having Jean Leslie as his MI5 secretary and having images of his lover Pam in a bathing towel. Martin’s corpse was placed in such a way that it washed up on the coasts of Spain, a neutral country, in April 1943, when the British embassy in Madrid sought to recover the papers before German agents arrived. Those attempts, of course, were futile since the Germans first refused to accept the bait. Despite his initial doubts, Adolf Hitler was finally persuaded that the Allies intended to invade the Italian island of Sardinia based on information gained from the documents. On July 9, the Allies surprised the Germans by invading Sicily.

Ewen Montague

Ewen Wrote about the incident

In his book devoted to the mission, Ewen subsequently wrote about the incident:

“The thrill of knowing that they had directly and explicitly duped that monster is a delight of joys to anybody, especially a Jew.”

He released The Man Who Never Was in 1953, a classic story of Operation Mincemeat, which saved the lives of thousands of innocent troops. Montagu had a short cameo appearance in the 1956 film adaption with Clifton Webb and Gloria Grahame. Ewen Montagu was a loyal, good-natured guy whose forthright statements, especially as a judge, sometimes harmed people but for which he quickly apologized. On July 19, 1985, he died.

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