The man who never was

14th January 2008, 07:44
Just Google search (damned interesting>>mincemeat and the imaginary man), to update on this WW2 ruse played by British espionage on the Germans.

During the 70’s I worked with Londoner, David Rafferty who was a RN Submariner during the immediate post war period and who served on conventional and nuclear vessels.
Dave was on the submarine that was used in the making of the 1956 film “The Man Who Never Was” about this wartime episode and starring Clifton Webb etc. Shortly after this role the sub was decommissioned and scrapped.
Dave managed to souvenir a few bits and pieces such as brass valve hand wheel labels etc from the sub control room, which he passed on to me and which now lie in a NZ museum’s archives. He told me the name of the submarine, a T class I think, but try as I may the name now escapes me.
This is posted in a slim hope that there might be an old submariner out there who remembers this Sub and its film role.

14th January 2008, 08:05
I must apologize for starting this thread without fully searching for an answer myself but my excuse is that the mind sometimes grows dim.
After posting I Googled British WW2 submarines and recognized the name HMS Seraph. She was the sub that carried out the wartime ruse and it was this vessel that the trophies came from.
Hope that some enjoy the story of this wartime espionage.

John King
14th January 2008, 08:32
HI Bob the periscope of the SERAPH is at the entrance to fort sumter in north caralina or it was in 1964 we were told that the yanks wanted to buy the whole sub because it went to france to get DEGAULE out of france but when he saw it was a british sub he refused to go aboard so it went back to dover was commisioned into us navy and went back seeing it was yank he came aboard and was taken to dover. all the best J King.

14th January 2008, 12:48
I'd have left him there, grumpy old sod!

14th January 2008, 14:37
He didn't object to living in England during the occupation Did He.

14th January 2008, 15:26
I came across a book a few years ago about the exploits of the Seraph entitled The ship with two captains and it stated that as Henri H Giraud disliked the British they put an American Captain on board for his rescue from occupied France, the rest of visible crew were given USN navy uniforms to wear. De Gaul isn't mentioned at all. HMS Seraph was broken up in 1965. Ken.

The Seraph Monument is a memorial consisting of relics from H.M.S. Seraph, including the periscope and a forward torpedo loading hatch. Both the U.S. and British flags fly from the structure to symbolize that this English submarine was placed under the command of an American Naval officer for a special mission during World War II. It is the only shore installation in the U.S. permitted to fly the Royal Navy Ensign. The British submarine served as the USS Seraph on serveral missions: the valiant ship rescued French General Henri H. Giraud from his German enemies; she was selected to smuggle General Mark Clark and his spy team into Algeria on a successful covert mission to win French support for the Allied invasion of North Africa; the submarine acted as a beacon vessel for General George S. Patton's troops in the invasion of Sicily; and she took Colonel William A. Darby's Rangers on several hazardous ventures. The HMS Seraph played a major role in Operation Mincemeat, one of the most successful deception operations ever mounted in warfare. The elaborate ruse convinced Hitler's High Command that the Allied invasion would be a Sardinia when the real target was Sicily. Operation Mincemeat is the subject of several books and a movie titled The Man who Never Was. This monument is dedicated to Anglo-American cooperation during WWII.

14th January 2008, 15:29
But was it HMS Seraph that was actually used in the film?. I can say that the scene where the Body was being taken aboard the submarine was shot at Portland RN Dockyard the depot ship featured was the "Maidstone" but what was the submarine. The actual location was Holy Loch and the depot ship was HMS Forth were the body was embarked aboard HMS Seraph.

14th January 2008, 19:23
I'd have left him there, grumpy old sod!

Don't knock the old man - at least he kept Britain out of the EEC for years!1

14th January 2008, 19:30
h.m.s. seraph, built by vickers armstrongs shipbuilders of barrow

14th January 2008, 19:45
I have just watched the movie again. the submarine that was used in the film has indeed got P219(HMS Seraph's actual pennant number) painted on the fin but the paint job appears to have been done a bit hasty.It also shows that the boat had a schnorkel but I guess that could have been fitted years later. So was HMS Seraph used in the film as well as in the actual operation?.
Regards. Tony.

John King
15th January 2008, 09:26
On the way to charleston we had the movie THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS and it was big surprise to be able to look thro the same scope that a lot of brave men had,i was amased at the magnification. Thanks for the extra info ken cheers J King

15th January 2008, 13:10
I have just watched the movie again. the submarine that was used in the film has indeed got P219(HMS Seraph's actual pennant number) painted on the fin but the paint job appears to have been done a bit hasty.It also shows that the boat had a schnorkel but I guess that could have been fitted years later. So was HMS Seraph used in the film as well as in the actual operation?.
Regards. Tony.
Sorry to keep banging on about this subject but I have now decided that HMS Seraph did not appear in the movie as She was completely refitted in 1944 with a totally new fin and casing as did most of the S class. It appears they were converted for training purposes to appear similar to German type XX1 U boats so as to provide a target for anti - Submarine operations. So I am back where I started. Surely some of You Old Ex Submariners would know what Portland based Boat was actually in the movie. The fin did have a hastily painted P219 on it, The boat also had a schnorkel. Come on lads,put my mind at rest.
Cheers. Tony.

Tony D
15th January 2008, 13:37
Just did a quick Google search and found this.

The story in the film lends a lot to the directors and script writers being “lent on” by the British Intelligence Services in the mid 1950s. The reality was the body was taken aboard a submarine in Holy Loch in Scotland under nightfall and in the film there shows a dramatically over populated (masses of non camoflauged Atlantic convoy type ships and escorts) in Marchwood Harbour near where I lived in Hampshire. It shows the body being lowered onto a submarine P419 of a class not built until Spring 1945 (the submarine shown was HMS Auriga an Amphion class submarine built by Vickers Armstrong and launched on the 29th March 1945). There were still a lot of authentic 1943 diesel powered subs around then so why a sub was used of a type that wasn’t in service when the factual activities took place is beyond me.

15th January 2008, 15:25
the film makers of the time didn't pay much attention to continuity as we "film critics" do today.
they didn't realise that there would be so many sad old anoraks (and I include myself in this )picking up on such things 50 years hense.
any of the films about army warfare show so many faults (old austins being used by the bosch, steve Mcqueen riding a triumph tiger 110 which hadn't even been developed by triumph let alone the old wermacht having a few to ride around on in the Great escape are just a few examples of many.
Just relax and enjoy the film, and get a clout over the head from the missus when you sound off to her and get accused of being a b****y clever sod! it's only a film when all said and done, not a matter of life and death!

Tony D
15th January 2008, 16:15
Speaking of movies about Submarines I started watching that U571,tother night, I lasted about twenty minutes before turning over,Hollywood should stick to what it does well,fiction, and leave recent history alone, although to be fair all movie makers seem to have the need to alter facts embelish the plot to make it more interesting, the fifties Brit war movies were the same,apparently the only working class folks who fought in that was were cockneys and their sole function was to bring endless cups of cocoa for the public school boys up on the bridge.

15th January 2008, 17:08
Finally I have the answer. It was HMS Scythian who portrayed HMS seraph in the Movie " The Man Who Never Was". Information supplied with the help of the super moderators"Tonga" and especially "Bruce Carson). Other vessels shown in the movie are HMS Portchester Castle, HMS Maidstone and RFA Wave Laird. Once again many thanks gentlemen.
Regards. Tony.

John Rogers
15th January 2008, 18:00
While on the same subject of fooling the Germans there was another film made with almost the same plot. If you old salts flash your memory there was a Mock-Up invasion on Slapton sands prior to D-Day. E-Boats got into the slow moving LST and sank a couple of them resulting in over 800 American troops and navy men being washed up dead on the beach at Sapton(This is True) But In the movie one of the officers that drowned had the D-Day invasion data on him and the allies were scared the papers would get into German hands, so they also did the same thing as The Man Who Never Was.
Now put on your thinking hats and name the movie.


15th January 2008, 18:23
Major Martin RM - The Man Who Never Was - is buried in the Cemetery of Solitude at Huelva in Spain. We visited the cemetery this year with a local resident, the wonderful Mrs Naylor de Mendez MBE who has tended the grave for 50 years. My father-in-law Captain Harry Pyle of the Ocean Bridge is buried in the adjacent British Cemetery.

15th January 2008, 19:53
Thank you all for arriving at an identification conclusion on this bit of submarine history.
I had got to the stage of trying to find the post war crewman of HMS Seraph, Chief ERA David Rafferty,who was last known to be in the Hawke's Bay region of NZ and I will continue trying as he may wish to put a personal stamp on this saga and perhaps add a bit more 'colour' to the story.

15th January 2008, 21:26
nhp 651, you are right about the lack of attention paid to film continuity in those days when just a little thought would add to the realism of an era. I believe that the biggest cock up ever was in the epic film 'Ben Hur' which showed Charlton Heston wearing his Rolex while driving his chariot!

These days they seem to pay a great deal more attention to the realism of the props, a recent re-run of the TV series "Foyles War" was very good as the dress, cars, food and even people's attitudes and ways of relating to one another allowed me to recognize and remember how it was during that period even though I was still a child

15th January 2008, 22:20
it was the little known rolex "sundial"..........

worth a fortune if you find one........................................:)

15th January 2008, 22:59
didn't Delboy find one in a garage.made him six and a half mill in the last series of OF&H??!!!

28th January 2008, 12:58

Sorry to be a nerd but I think you will find that was the long lost Harrison chronometer watch.


28th January 2008, 13:08
yeh I know stubbsy, just 'avvin a larff"

Gareth Jones
28th January 2008, 15:59
Major Martin RM - The Man Who Never Was - is buried in the Cemetery of Solitude at Huelva in Spain. We visited the cemetery this year with a local resident, the wonderful Mrs Naylor de Mendez MBE who has tended the grave for 50 years. My father-in-law Captain Harry Pyle of the Ocean Bridge is buried in the adjacent British Cemetery.

Local gossip has it that the body originally came from Porth in the Rhondda valley -

11th June 2010, 15:14
FYI - John King has his facts confused. The relics of the HMS Seraph are contained in a memorial on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, SOUTH Carolina where Gen Mark Clark served as President 1954-65. It was not DeGualle that the Seraph picked up in France, it was Gen. Henri Girard; Seraph was not commissioned into the US Navy, it was simply reflagged and temporarily given a US commander.

Manxman 52
11th July 2010, 20:20
For information: I am currently reading Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre, it is a truely fasinating book and well worth buying (Applause)

12th July 2010, 06:54
Re The Man Who never Was, just finished reading the 1000 page book, THE DEFENCE OF THE REALM, History Of MI5, It mentions the wartime story, it says The body used Was That of a Welsh homeless man And also gives his name, given the time They Keep Info Sealed, before they release info, I cannot remember the page In The book.vmr

12th July 2010, 08:02
I have never been able to locate ex RN submariner Chief ERA David Raffetty, the man who gave me the mementos from the Seraph as mentioned in my opening posts.
The bits and pieces were residing in the Hawkes Bay Museum at Napier which has just closed for up to two years for massive extensions and up grading.


12th July 2010, 08:56
There is a theory that the body of Glyndwr Martin is not the body that is buried at Huelva. Did they actually use his body for the deception. Why did HMS Seraph steam all the way round from Blythe to Holy Loch, when the body could have been taken straight to Blythe to be loaded into HMS seraph. Is it likely that the body of Glyndwr Martin was far too putrefied to be used ( As was evident in pictures of the Body) and the fact that he died of Rat Poisoning would have been evident in any Post Mortem in Spain so would cause suspicion in Germany.
During this time an Escort Carrier ( Can't recall the name) arrived on the Clyde after conversion in the States, on it's way up the Clyde it blew up and sank. Many many lives were lost, many by drowning. So giving up many bodies with the right cause of death. Did The Right Honourable Ewen Montague switch bodies at Greenock?. Will the truth ever be told? I doubt it but this must the most intriguing episode in WW2. I am fascinated by the story. I have read the Recent book "Operation Mincemeat" but there is no mention of the body switch. I'll leave You with that thought.

12th July 2010, 14:11
The book The Secrets of HMS Dasher by John and Noreen Steele was first published in 1995 and is now in its fourth edition (2004) with additional information that has subsequently come to light. It is pretty certain that the body used was one of the victims who perished when HMS Dasher blew up in the river Clyde on 27th March 1943. There is also pretty compelling circumstantial evidence which points to the body being that of John Melville.

15th July 2010, 13:31
Funny enough, I brought the book OPERATION MINCEMEAT by Ben Macintyre 3 weeks ago. But I have another 6 books to go through before I will get to read it

I also have the book on HMS SERAPH. She was a busy sub.

I saw a documentary (I think last year) on Clyde shipwrecks and HMS DASHER was mentioned, and the hint that one of her crew was used in the deception

jg grant
16th July 2010, 00:25
Hi From NZ. I saw this film maybe 1960. In the film the body was that of a Scotsman and for some reason, either at the beginning or end of this film was this little piece that I recall to this day:
Spooky eh?
Regards Ronnie

16th July 2010, 03:17
The submarine that was used in the movie was I believe HMS Scythian, I visited her in Shoreham around 1956 as a schoolboy when she paid a courtesy visit and our Sea Cadet Commander relayed this information to us, Regards

Union Jack
17th July 2010, 23:20
Ronnie/J G Grant

The poem in question is The Battle of Otterburne, (see which I leaned off by heart at school in Edinburgh and your quotation from the film is a variation of Verse 19, having been changed as mentioned at

Hope this helps


21st July 2010, 07:38
on page 286, book the defence of the realm, history of MI5, mentions operation mincemeat, and the mans name glyndwr michael, a homeless welshman, died by ingesting rat poison. mincemeat was one of ww2 great operations.vmr.

24th July 2010, 16:54
Judging by a programme on television the other night with Dan Snow" The man who never was" appears to have been the Welshman as indicated in #36. He was apparently a vagrant whose body was found in a London warehouse.

jg grant
25th July 2010, 04:43
cheers Jack for that gen. Ronnie ex Leith pool

25th July 2010, 06:07
Hello all.
There use to be an oil painting of HMS Seraph on the wall in the front bar of the
Golden Lion Tap pub in Barnstaple Devon back in the 70's.
The landlord 'Bill' Jewell was the skipper of Seraph at the time of operation Mincemeat.

Everything will be okay in the end.
If it's not okay , it's not the end.

25th July 2010, 20:04
Watched the film last night on TVO ( that's from Toronto)
I'm sure I saw an A35 parked in the distance in one of the scenes


John Rogers
25th July 2010, 21:21
I thought I have seen it all,now people wanting to claim the man was from Scotland. He was from WALES, he is/was are only HERO.
We dont count all of the following,and these were just the actors.

#Kieth Allen
# Stanley Baker (1927–1976)
# Rob Brydon (born 1965)
# Richard Burton (1925–1984)
# Timothy Dalton (born 1946)
# Josie D'Arby (born 1973) (also presenter)
# Gareth David-Lloyd (born 1981)
# Richard Davies (born 1926)
# Ryan Davies (1937–1977)
# Windsor Davies (born 1930)
# Robert East (born 1943)
# Maudie Edwards (1906–1991)
# Peg Entwistle (1908–1932)
# Clifford Evans (1912–1985)
# Hugh Griffith (1912–1980)
# Kenneth Griffith (1921–2006)
# Ioan Gruffudd (born 1973)
# Edmund Gwenn (1875–1958)
# Lyn Harding (1867–1952)
# Doris Hare (1905–2000)
# Donald Houston (1923–1991)
# Glyn Houston (born 1926)
# Anthony Hopkins (born 1937)
# Aneirin Hughes (born 1958)
# Gareth Hughes (1894–1965)
# Rhys Ifans (born 1968)
# Gary Jones (born 1958)
# Glynis Johns (born 1923)
# Mervyn Johns (1899–1992)
# Margaret John (born 1924)
# Ruth Jones (born 1967)
# Desmond Llewelyn (1914–1999)
# Philip Madoc (born 1934)
# Ruth Madoc (born 1943)
# Steven Meo (born 1977)
# Ray Milland (1907–1986)
# Eve Myles (born 1978)
# Joanna Page (born 1978)
# Siān Phillips (born 1934)
# Jonathan Pryce (born 1947)
# Angharad Rees (born 1949)
# Steffan Rhodri (born 1967)
# John Rhys-Davies (born 1944)
# Matthew Rhys (born 1974)
# Rachel Roberts (1927–1980)
# Michael Sheen (born 1969)
# Sarah Siddons (1755–1831)
# Victor Spinetti (born 1933)
# Talfryn Thomas (1922–1982)
# Tim Vincent (born 1972) (also presenter)
# Melanie Walters
# Naunton Wayne (1901–1970)
# Emlyn Williams (1905–1987) (also dramatist)
# Ieuan Rhys Williams (born 1909)
# Peter Wingfield (born 1962)
# Owain Yeoman (born 1978)
# Catherine Zeta-Jones (born 1969)
# Sophie Dee (born 1984)

Thats another Story
25th July 2010, 21:27
don't forget yourself JR(Jester)(Jester)

jg grant
25th July 2010, 21:30
re 41
Steady on Johnny lad, I didn't claim he was from Scotland, I only related what I saw and heard in the film.
PS, you could add Lesley Thomas to your list of famous Welshman. A great author whose father was lost at sea in the MN. Tenakwe! Ronnie

25th July 2010, 22:23
You have roused the national passions now John, you've got Ronnie talking in Maori!
If you start to list the poets then you can start with Dylan Thomas and dom.
Vocalists? well again you can start with Nick and yourself.


John Rogers
25th July 2010, 22:28
The list of the notables from Wales is endless,however since John loves Snooker I will post this list.

Snooker players

* Dominic Dale (born 1971)
* Ryan Day (born 1980)
* Terry Griffiths (born 1947)
* Darren Morgan (born 1966)
* Doug Mountjoy (born 1942)
* Ray Reardon (born 1932)
* Matthew Stevens (born 1977)
* Mark Williams (1975)
* Cliff Wilson (1934–1994)
For such a small country it has produced many famous people,I was very surprised to see the list of people when I goggled List Of Welsh People and it showed up on Wikipedia,much too large to post.


John Rogers
25th July 2010, 22:32
Also too big to post Bob,but I will add your name to the list.


* Max Boyce (born 1945), entertainer
* Tommy Cooper (1922–1984), comedian and magician
* Ryan Davies (1937–1977), comedian and singer
* Lee Dainton (born 1973), (Dirty Sanchez television series)
* Dawn French (born 1957), actress, writer and comedienne
* Rhod Gilbert (born 1968), comedian and BBC Radio Wales personality
* Griff Rhys Jones (born 1953), comic writer, actor and presenter
* Ruth Jones (born 1967), comic writer (Gavin & Stacey), actress and radio presenter
* Terry Jones (born 1942), comedian (Monty Python series), author, film director
* Gladys Morgan (1898–1983), comedienne
* Tessie O'Shea (1913–1997), stand-up comedienne
* Matthew Pritchard, (Dirty Sanchez television series)
* Harry Secombe (1921–2001), comedian, actor, singer and television presenter
* Paul Whitehouse (born 1958), writer and actor


John Rogers
25th July 2010, 22:34
Check this out Bob.

25th July 2010, 23:00
That is amazing John, makes me proud to be of Welsh descent.
The only category on that Wiki list that I could slot into is as a Champion 'Leek grower', I have had a few good crops in my time.


John Rogers
25th July 2010, 23:06
I love leek soup,or as its called Cocky Leeky Soup.

6 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 3.5lb frying chicken; cut into 8 pieces
1 pounds Beef shanks; cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups Chicken stock
3 slices Thick cut bacon
1 tablespoon Dreid leaf thyme
1 Bay leaf
¾ cup Pearl barley
1½ cup Chopped leek; white only
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Chopped parsley

Put the chicken, beef, stock, bacon, thyme, and bay leaf in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile boil barley in 1 1/2 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Remove chicken for pot. When cool enough to handle, de-bone and set aside. Add leeks and barley to the pot, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove beef shanks and de-bone. Chop meat coarsely, and return to the pot, along with the chicken. Simmer covered, for 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parsley.

25th July 2010, 23:59
" makes me proud to be of Welsh descent."

Me too............

I fell down the gangway of the Port New Plymouth, in Cardiff !!!


John Rogers
26th July 2010, 00:21
Sparkie, you are not supposed to chase the sheep that close to the gangway.


26th July 2010, 01:22
I was trying to make a ewe turn.........

A trick i learned in N.Z.


26th July 2010, 01:59
Which way were ewe trying to make her turn Sparkie?
Was she trying to turn ewe on?


jg grant
21st August 2010, 13:30
Hi I was thinking that maybe in filmland they made the facts fit the little thing about the poem about the isle of Skye? What I mean is did they get hold of this little snippet of poetry and work the story around it? Also in the film it was determined that TMWNW had salt water in his lungs which would be consistant with the theory that he was off a ship sunk in the clyde estuary and not with the theory that this man was a vagrant who died from consuming rat poison in London. I've drank all effin sorts from soup, hooch and still at the whaling had a crack at brasso through a loaf of bread but rat poison is outwith my experience. Did I have a deprived adolescence? Take care and read Lesley Thomas

21st August 2010, 18:40
Local gossip has it that the body originally came from Porth in the Rhondda valley -

Read recently that the body used came from HMS Dasher the Air Craft Carrier which exploded on the Clyde with a big loss of life.