Military Review

"Minced meat" and "Cosa Nostra"


After the defeat of the Italian and German divisions in Tunisia by US and British troops in January 1943, the leaders of these countries decided to raise the morale of the armed forces and the population of Western countries - allies of the anti-Hitler coalition, to seize the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea strategic importance, Sicily.

Before the upcoming landing of troops, the British Marine Intelligence Directorate managed to carry out one of its most successful and significant operations, codenamed “Mincemeat” (“Minced Meat”).

According to the plan developed, the German command was to receive documents containing information, or more precisely misinformation, that the impending attack on Sicily was just a red herring. To accomplish this goal, it was planned to do everything necessary to ensure that the Germans found a corpse in the sea, supposedly an English staff officer, in appropriate form and a life jacket. According to legend, a high-ranking British military on an airplane was heading from Great Britain to Africa with an important letter, on the way the plane was shot down.

A colossal preliminary preparation of the operation was carried out. Scouts with the help of a pathologist found out the main typical signs of damage that are formed on the body of a man killed in an airplane crash and who fell into the sea. Then, with great difficulty, a suitable corpse was found. It was decided to deliver the corpse to the place of release on a submarine.

"Minced meat" and "Cosa Nostra"

The legend for the found corpse was worked out most thoroughly. According to the lists of real officers of the British Navy, the most common and frequently occurring surname Martin was identified, the name was also given to the rather common William, the rank of major. In hindsight, Major William Martin was enlisted in the headquarters service.

The letter for authenticity was written by General Archibald Hiring by the deputy chief of the general staff, addressed to General Alexander to the army commander in Tunisia.

From the contents of the letter, it was clear that the Western Allies would deliver real strikes in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, with troops landing in Greece and Sardinia, and Sicily is a diversion in the framework of Operation Brimsten (the name of a false operation against the Germans in southern France). In addition to the letter, private letters from his bride, an invitation to a night officer's club, a certificate and various trifles were put into the pockets of the uniform of the Major for greater likelihood. A major briefcase was fastened on a major’s hand, and a life jacket was put on top of his uniform.

19 April 1943, the headquarters Major William Martin, “set about” to perform his top-secret task, from the Seraph submarine he was launched into free navigation.

After the end of the war, the British learned that everything “went like clockwork,” the Germans found the body in a timely manner and it was handed over to German intelligence. Intelligence, in turn, confirmed the authenticity of the documents found, which was reported to Hitler.

As a result of the operation of the “Minced meat” conducted by British naval intelligence officers, the Germans did a great job of strengthening and mining the coast of Greece, launched coastal batteries on it, and brought additional reserves to Sardinia.

Hitler believed that everything, including the documents discovered by Major Martin, indicated that the Allied forces were attacking Sardinia and the coast of Greece. Even after the landing of the Allied forces in Sicily, he was convinced that this was a fraudulent maneuver.

At the same time, the US intelligence services were engaged in ensuring the actions of their troops after the planned landing, already in Sicily itself.

The population of the island did not much complain about the central government and the Mussolini regime. But he especially hated the Duchess regime's top “Cosa Nostra” by the powerful Sicilian mafia, whose life was greatly complicated by the strict orders imposed by the fascists throughout Italy. It was this circumstance that the American special services decided to take advantage of, since it has long been known that the best help to the warring army is to help the local population.

American intelligence agencies made contact with the Sicilian Mafia back in 1942, both in America and in Sicily. The impetus for the establishment of contact with mafia bosses was the unpleasant problem faced by the United States who entered the war, German submarines successfully operated off their east coast, for six months sank three hundred and three vessels and lost only one submarine. In the country itself, the German agents were actively and fairly successfully operating, thanks to which the French Normandy airliner, converted into military transport, managed to sink. This was the loudest success of German agents in the United States.


The Americans urgently needed to introduce their agents to fishing vessels and to the ports of Italy and Sicily, but for accepting new people, permission was needed from trade unions under the control of Cosa Nostra. The trade unions of dockers and fishermen were ruled by two different mafia clans and therefore American counterintelligence agents decided to turn to one of the top leaders of the New York mafia, Salvatore Luciano, nicknamed “Lucky”, who was serving a term at the time but retained significant influence. As a result of the negotiations, the Mafia boss agreed to help for a significant reduction in the fifty-year term he had been appointed, provided that everything remained secret for the police.

Salvatore Luciano

The Italian mafia has provided comprehensive assistance to the Americans. The US Army was given the necessary information about bridges, rivers, communications located on the territory of Sicily, as well as topographic data and information about the Italian and German troops stationed on the island, after the landing of the Allied forces the cooperation became closer.

The activities of the mafia after the landing of American and British troops significantly facilitated the advance of the Allies inland. For example, the Monte Camarat fortress, which was considered impregnable from Roman times, was equipped with German anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns tanks, a strong garrison and fanatically devoted to the ideas of fascism, the commander, Colonel Salemi threatened to delay the advance of American troops for a long time, significantly shattering their forces. But the fortress fell without a fight, not as a result of a siege or assault, but as a result of betrayal.

On July 15, the head of the Sicilian Mafia to Calo (Calogero Vizzini) received a message, a yellow silk scarf with the letter “L” embroidered on it and a letter attached to the scarf. This Luciano handed over a conditional sign from faraway America, the letter contained the following text: “On Tuesday 20 July, Kum Tiri would chase his cattle to the Fair in Cherda. And on the same day I, along with the bull, cows and carts, will also set off. Prepare a place to shelter and feed the cattle ”(“ bull ”is the American commander in chief,“ cows ”are American soldiers,“ carts ”are tanks).

Calogero Vizzini

Having received the mafia’s message, people of the right hand and the future successor, Don Caló, were persuaded and threatened to desert two-thirds of the Monte Camarata garrison. Enraged, Colonel Salemi drove by car to the headquarters in the city of Mussomeli and was on the way to the ambush of the mafia. According to the laws of the genre, the colonel was made an offer he could not refuse, after which he returned to the garrison and ordered the remaining soldiers to lay down weapon and go home. The path to the American troops was free.

The US troops almost in a solemn atmosphere, under the bells and the cheering of local residents, entered Villalba and Mussomeli, where they were met by Don Kahlo and his entourage.

At night, the mafia settled scores with everyone who interfered with her under Mussolini. And then Don Calo escorted American troops to Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

So the leader of organized crime has become an indispensable person for the military administration of the allies. Don Calo was appointed mayor of Villalba, who was also the capital of his criminal empire and received the honorary title of colonel of the US Army. From now on, Don Calo has no competitors in the criminal business, according to his recommendations, appointed mayors of many cities in Sicily, and the American occupation administration worked closely with people from Cosa Nostra.

The landing of allied forces in Sicily brought important results, shortly after the landing of the allied forces on the island (24 July 1943) Mussolini was arrested, and on September 9 Italy capitulated. However, the fighting in the Apennine Peninsula continued until the end of the war in Europe.

The consequences of the close work of Americans with the Italian “Cosa Nostra”, Italy still feels for themselves: having received, almost completely undivided power over one province of the country, the mafia quickly spread its influence, created its parallel government, which for many decades became more powerful than the official government. .

PS Salvatore Luciano was released in the 1945 year, having served only ten years from his due date. In 1946, he was deported to Italy, where he was awaited by his good friend, Colonel of the US Army Calogero Vizzini (Don Calo).
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