At the moment that the North Africa campaign had successfully ended, the next strategic target of the Allies was Sicily. Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, the island served as an intermediate point between North Africa and the occupied Europe. However, the mountainous terrain favored the defenders of Sicily. The Allies had to keep absolutely secret the points for landing on the island. However, this was not enough, as the defenders of the island could predict these possible points for landing, reinforcing them in order to able to defeat any invading force.
The solution to this problem was found by two British officers, Ewen Montagu and Sir Archibald Cholmondley. Cholmondley was the first to suggest the attachment to a boday of fake documents from the Allies, letting them fall into German hands.
The trick was simple enough, being the difficult part to deceive the Germans. First, it was mandatory to prevent the Germans suspect from huge preparations for the invasion of Sicily in Operation Husky. Then it was necessary that the German secret services did not discover any flaws in the plan, which could lead to the strengthening of the defenses on the Sicily island. Despite all this, Montagu believed it would be harder to convince the Allied responsibles that the plan would work than to fool the Germans.
It was a very complex plan. The first problem was how to how to deliver the body to the Germans. Initially, it was considered that the best way to do that would be to drop the body from a parachute partially destroyed. However, this would not be convincing since it was extremely rare that a crewmember of an airplane would be in possession of secret documents. Apart from this, there was also the problem with the autopsy that would reveal that the body was already dead long before reaching the enemy territory. On the other hand, the Germans would not find it strange that a body floating on the sea had died long before being rescued. Therefore, this solution would eliminate the problem of whether the body carrying top secret documents in enemy territory.
Montagu's team decided that the body would be a Allied mailman killed when the plane crashed into the sea and later going ashore. The secret services used a submarine that could put the body the closest to the coast without being detected. Taking into account both the close relationship between the governments of Spain and Germany as well as the strong presence of German military intelligence (Abwehr) in Spain, the Spanish coast was a good solution.
Then came the problem of finding a body that would serve the purpose, with age, appearance and cause of death to the appropriate outlined plan. The search for a body with the desired characteristics had to be done very careful, to provide minimal information about his future use of to the German secret services could not figure out the plan. Being about to give up, the team responsible for the operation has learned of a man with 34 years old who had died of pneumonia. In addition to the cause of death, this man's lungs were filled with fluid, reinforcing the idea that the man would have been adrift at sea for several days. Montagu consulted forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spillsbury, that said the fluid that was found in the lungs of the dead was not much different from the fluid to be expected in the lungs of someone who remained floating on the sea for a while. Spillsbury also told him: You have nothing to fear from a Spanish post-mortem examination, to detect that this young man did not die after plane crashes at sea would be necessary to a pathologist with my experience, and there are none in Spain.