‘Operation Mincemeat’ is a gripping war drama movie directed by John Madden and based on Ben Macintyre’s eponymous novel. Set against the backdrop of World War II, it follows British intelligence officers Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley, who team up to execute a thrilling deception operation to divert the Germans from the Allies’ secret plan to invade Sicily.
However, the duo’s brilliant efforts are met with a lot of challenges and interpersonal conflicts that threaten to jeopardize the fate of the nation. Now, if you’re curious to find out what happens to Charles and Ewen, and whether their plan succeeds, here is everything you need to understand about the ending of ‘Operation Mincemeat.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Operation Mincemeat Plot Synopsis
In 1943, Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu decides to take a break from practicing law and joins the Twenty Committee with his trusted secretary Hester Leggett. Given the tense atmosphere in London as well as their strained marriage, Ewen’s wife Iris leaves for America with their kids. On the other hand, Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley lives with his mother and struggles with the authorities to retrieve the remains of his brother Robert, who has died on the war front in Chittagong. He too is a part of the Twenty Committee.
In the meanwhile, the British armed forces plan to invade Sicily and eventually gain control of Italy, as it is a crucial supporter of the Germans. However, since the island is fiercely guarded by the Wehrmacht (German troops) for being an obvious target, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill orders Admiral Godfrey to devise a method with the Twenty Committee to deceive the enemies into believing that Greece is their primary destination.
Taking inspiration from a point in Admiral Godfrey’s Trout Memo, Charles suggests a bizarre plan called Operation Trojan Horse to plant false documents on a corpse and place it in enemy territory to dupe the Germans. While Admiral Godfrey regards the plan as absurd, Ewen supports Charles and convinces everyone that it might serve their purpose of diverting the Germans away from Sicily. The admiral hesitantly approves their proposal and appoints his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming, to assist them, as he was the one who added that suggestion in the memo.
Due to the usage of a corpse, the plan is renamed Operation Mincemeat; Ewen, Charles, Ian, and Hester assemble a small team and begin fleshing out the details of the operation. First, they start looking for a suitable corpse in London hospitals and eventually settle upon Glyndwr Michael, a homeless man who died from consuming rat poison. Ewen and Charles then start building a fake identity for the corpse to make it look authentic to the enemy. They use the name Major William Martin, as it is a rather common name and rank in the navy.
Moreover, the team decides to create a backstory about Major Martin having a family as well as a fiancée named Pam. To authenticate her existence, Charles asks Jean Leslie, an MI5 clerk, for her photograph in return for adding her to the team. Gradually, Ewen and Charles continue adding documents like letters written with waterproof ink and other pocket litter to Major Martin’s pockets. In addition, they procure naval uniforms for him and photograph a similar-looking American army officer, Sergeant Roger Dearborn, for the ID card.
Ewen then procures a handwritten letter from Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Nye addressed to General Sir Harold Alexander that outlines Britain’s fake plans to invade Greece. Regardless of Charles and Ewen’s efforts, Admiral Godfrey is highly critical of each step. He even forces Charles to spy on Ewen, whose brother Ivor is suspected to be a Russian spy. In return, he offers to help trace and return Robert’s remains and Charles gets emotionally manipulated.
Elsewhere, the team places the false documents in a briefcase and attaches it with a chain to Major Martin’s uniform belt. Later, when Prime Minister Churchill approves the final plan, Ewen and Charles transport the corpse to Holy Loch, Scotland. From there, Charles carries it aboard the submarine HSS Seraph in a preserving container, and it is dropped near the coast of Huelva, Spain. The team chooses Huelva due to the presence of German intelligence officers Adolf Clauss and Karl Kuhlenthal in the territory and hopes that they pass the fabricated documents to Hitler’s trusted officer Alexis von Roenne.
Not just that, Ewen encloses Jean’s eyelash in Sir Archibald Nye’s letter to determine later if the letter got opened. With a lot of anticipation, Charles returns to London, and everyone fervently prays for good news. However, the tensions between him and Ewen mount and he confesses what Admiral Godfrey asked him to do. This shocks Ewen, but when he finds out about Robert’s remains being returned to Charles, he forgives him.
Operation Mincemeat Ending: Is Operation Mincemeat Successful?
After HSS Seraph drops Major Martin’s corpse into the waters and retreats, fishermen in Huelva discover it floating near the coast and bring it to the local police. There, the coroner insists on conducting an autopsy, but British Assistant Naval Attaché Salvador Gomez-Beare, who has already been briefed about the deception operation, saves the day. He distracts the coroner and convinces him to give Major Martin’s body an honorable burial.
In the meantime, when Adolf and Karl fail to obtain the documents, David Ainsworth, the British Naval Attaché, helps relay the documents to Alexis Von Roenne with the help of Spanish secret police officer Colonel Cerruti. When Major Martin’s belongings are returned to London in the next few days, Ewen and Charles open the letter and find the eyelash missing. Further examination reveals that the letter has indeed been opened by the Germans, and it is confirmed when a coded message between the German officials is intercepted by the signal intelligence.
The message indicates that Hitler has been convinced that Greece is the main target of the Allies and, hence, has decided to secure the country by sending troops away from Sicily. However, the team faces a major threat of being exposed when Jean is suddenly threatened by an associate named Teddy, who claims to be a part of the anti-Hitler plot. As per Teddy, Alexis Von Roenne is a part of the Nazi High Command but is secretly planning to overthrow Hitler and the Nazi regime. Afraid to die, Jean confesses to Teddy that Major Martin is an alias for the corpse, but the content of the letters are authentic.
This incident worries Ewen and Charles, as they fear that their entire plan is about to blow up. But luckily, when the Allied troops invade Sicily by water on July 10, 1943, they find very little resistance and successfully capture the territory, as the German troops have been moved to Greece. Thus, Operation Mincemeat is declared a victory, and Prime Minister Churchill confirms it by sending the Twenty Committee a telegram that states: “Mincemeat swallowed rod, line, and sinker.”
Do Ewen and Jean End Up Together?
Charles has a soft corner for Jean, a widow who has worked as an MI5 clerk since the beginning. Therefore, he approaches her for help while looking for a woman’s photograph to pass off as Pam’s. When she asks to be a part of the team, he happily agrees with the hope of spending more time with her. But when Ewen and Jean start working together to create Major Martin and Pam’s back story, they start getting attracted to each other. This makes Charles jealous, and he slyly mentions to her that Ewen plans to go back to his wife Iris after the war.
Dejected that Ewen never took her seriously, Jean is discouraged and berates him for playing with her feelings. Afterward, he apologizes to her and confesses that he loves her as well, but they both agree that they cannot be together as he has a family. When Major Martin’s corpse is discovered in Huelva and Teddy attacks Jean, Ewen shifts her to his house for protection, much to Charles’ annoyance. Sadly, Jean refuses to stay for long and takes up a job overseas with Special Operations. Before leaving London, she and Ewen share an emotional goodbye and he praises her courage. A year later, Jean marries a soldier while Ewen returns to Iris and his children in America after the war.