The Man Who Never Was - Aberbargoed, Wales, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
Assisted by: Groundspeak Premium Member veritas vita
N 51° 41.599 W 003° 13.406
30U E 484556 N 5726952
Quick Description: "Major William Martin," better known in his hometown as Glyndwr Michael, a homeless scavenger, now part of British Intelligence history as "the man who never was"
Location: South Wales, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/10/2017 7:11:45 AM
Waymark Code: WMWJ52
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member ištván
Views: 5
Created From:
 The Man Who Never Was - Aberbargoed - Wales. - posted by veritas vita

Long Description:
The plaque to Glynwr Michael, "the man who never was," is mounted on a side gate to a tiny memorial park. The main gates are decorative iron gates which commemorate the First World war.

The plaque reads in English as follows:


In recognition to his service to the Allied War effort by

of Aberbargoed

4 February 1909 - 24 April 1943"

Glyndwr Michael, a local man who was homeless in London when he died after eating rat poison, was destined in death to be part of an elaborate deception hatched at the highest levels of British Intelligence, and aimed right at Hitler's war machine and the Fuhrer himself.

From Wikipedia: (visit link)

"Part of the wider Operation Barclay, Mincemeat was based on the 1939 Trout memo, written by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, and his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming. With the approval of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and the overall military commander in the Mediterranean, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the plan began with transporting the body to the southern coast of Spain by submarine, and releasing it close to shore. It was picked up the following morning by a Spanish fisherman. The nominally neutral Spanish government shared copies of the documents with the Abwehr, the German military intelligence organisation, before returning the originals to the British. Forensic examination showed they had been read, and decrypts of German messages showed the Germans fell for the ruse. Reinforcements were shifted to Greece and Sardinia both before and during the invasion of Sicily; Sicily received none."

From Wikipedia: (visit link)

"Glyndwr Michael (4 January 1909 – 24 January 1943) was a homeless Welsh man whose body was used in Operation Mincemeat, the successful Second World War deception plan that lured German forces to Greece prior to the Allied invasion of Sicily. The invasion was a success, with Allied losses numbering several thousand fewer than would have been expected had the deception failed.

Life and death

Michael was born in Aberbargoed in Wales and previously held part-time jobs as a gardener and labourer. His father Thomas, a coal miner, committed suicide when Michael was fifteen years old; his mother later died when he was thirty-one. Michael, homeless, friendless, depressed and with no money, drifted to London where he lived on the streets.

He was found in an abandoned warehouse close to King's Cross, seriously ill from ingesting rat poison that contained phosphorus. Two days later, he died at age 34 in St. Pancras Hospital. His death may have been suicide, although an alternative theory suggested he may have simply been desperately looking for something to eat, as the particular poison he ingested was a paste smeared on bread crusts to attract rats.

Operation Mincemeat

After being ingested, phosphide reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach, generating phosphine, a highly toxic gas. Bentley Purchase, coroner of St. Pancras District, explained, "This dose was not sufficient to kill him outright, and its only effect was so to impair the functioning of the liver that he died a little time afterwards". When Purchase obtained Glyndwr's body, it was identified as being in suitable condition for a man who would appear to have floated ashore several days after having died at sea by hypothermia and drowning.

Before Michael, finding a usable cadaver had been difficult, as indiscreet inquiries would cause talk, and it was impossible to tell a dead man's next of kin what the body was wanted for. The dead man's parents had died and no known relatives were found. The body was released on the condition that the man's real identity would never be revealed. Ewen Montagu later claimed the man died from pneumonia, and that the family had been contacted and permission obtained, but none of that was true.

Operation Mincemeat was a successful British disinformation strategy used during the Second World War. As a deception intended to cover the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily, two members of British intelligence obtained the body of Glyndwr Michael, a tramp who died from eating rat poison, dressed him as an officer of the Royal Marines and placed personal items on him identifying him as Captain (Acting Major) William Martin. Correspondence between two British generals which suggested that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, with Sicily as merely the target of a feint, was also placed on the body."On 30 April, Lt. Norman Jewell, captain of the submarine Seraph, read the 39th Psalm, and Michael's body was gently pushed into the sea where the tide would bring it ashore off Huelva on the Spanish Atlantic coast.

Attached to Michael's body was a briefcase containing secret documents that had been fabricated by the British intelligence service. The purpose was to make German intelligence (which was known to have operatives in Huelva) think Michael had been a courier delivering documents to a British general. The documents were crafted to deceive the Germans into thinking that the British were preparing to invade Greece and Sardinia, rather than Sicily, and they succeeded in doing so.

Michael's body was picked up by a fisherman and he was buried as Major William Martin with full military honours. His grave lies in Huelva's cemetery of Nuestra Señora, in the San Marco section. The headstone reads:

William Martin, born 29 March 1907, died 24 April 1943, beloved son of John Glyndwyr Martin and the late Antonia Martin of Cardiff, Wales, Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori, R.I.P.

The Latin phrase translates as "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country." In 1998, however, the British Government revealed the body's true identity. To the gravestone was added:

Glyndwr Michael; Served as Major William Martin, RM

A plaque commemorating Glyndwr Michael is now also on the war memorial in Aberbargoed. It is headed "Y Dyn Na Fu Erioed" (translation – "The Man Who Never Was")"

See also: (visit link)
Property Permission: Public

Website for Waymark: [Web Link]

Location of waymark:
Commercial Street
Aberbargoed,, County Borough of Caerphilly Wales, UK

Commemoration: Glyndwr Michael, "Y Dyn Na Fu Erioed"

Date of Dedication: Not listed

Access instructions: Not listed

Access times: Not listed

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