Friday, June 11

General Montgomery's Double In WW2

General MontgomeryDoubles always interest me and they often go to show why we can't always believe what we see.

Take the famous deception caused in the Second World War by Monty's Double. Monty being General Montgomery (photo top right) the British soldier who was the commander-in-chief of all ground forces for the Normandy landings in 1944.

Security chiefs hatched a plan to delude the German forces that Montgomery was going to lead an invasion from southern France, rather than from Normandy. They decided to do this by using a double.

Lieutenant M.E. Clifton JamesLieutenant Clifton James (photo right), by some strange coincidence, just happened to be the spitting image of Monty. James was seconded into action and his first job was to study the general's voice, gestures and mannerisms including the way he saluted and pinched his cheek while thinking.

By another coincidence James was previously an actor, so he had an advantage in trying to become Montgomery's lookalike. The only thing that bothered him was trying to fully capture the general's personality. He later wrote in his book I was Monty's Double, "He was so unique and overpowering that I despaired ever being him. It was one thing to ape the outside of a man, but quite another to acquire something of his fire and forcefulness."

Lieutenant Clifton James needn't have worried as he perfected everything and flew to Gibraltar as General Montgomery. Here he was greeted by the British Governor and by 'coincidence' also to several of Hitler's known secret agents.

He did a repeat performance in Algiers where he met - and was cheered by - British troops. News of Monty's whereabouts and plans travelled fast and were passed back to the German High Command via their 'secret' agents. The Germans had been taken in by a believable double.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Further Reading:
The Advantage Of Being Mistaken For Someone Else
Abraham Lincoln Describes His Own Doppelganger
A Double Or Doppelganger Coincidence

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  1. I wonder if this qualifies as a doppelganger? Maybe there are levels to doppelgangers. Cool story.

  2. You'll love this one, Mike. I clicked out of your blog to huffington post and look at the headline:
    Just in case they've put up a new lead story, I clicked to "double, double."

  3. 'Double, Double' - it's still their lead story!!

    I suppose the Montgomery story isn't a 'real' doppelganger. Maybe it was simply the right person in the right place.

  4. you have some interesting posts, don't know how you can keep finding them every day. well done, i'll be back again tomorrow.

  5. Thanks for your kind words, Tom. Sometimes new stories just come out of the blue. I usually have 7 or 8 in the pipeline.

    Look forward to 'seeing' you again.


  6. I'd long held to the urban legend that Winston Churchill had a double/political decoy, but that seems not the case!

    Great post, Mike.

    wv: whooffe

  7. I imagine that nowadays Lieutenant Clifton James would have made a lot of money as a celeb double! Good post, liked it.

  8. JamieDedes00:19

    In 1961 Hollywood ran with this idea in a movie, On the Double, staring Danny Kaye as an American GI with a resemblence to a British colonel. When the colonel becomes the target of an assasination plan, the GI is given a bliz course in being a colonel and moves in to double for the real guy. As I remember, the movie is set just pre-D-Day and was actually quite funny.

  9. A very nice tidbit about history which I found enjoyable.

    I love your site which is pure fodder for a writer, although I have had a variety of different things happen to me in my life.

    With respect to coincidences, sometimes they aren't that, but specifically ordained meetings from above. The persons were intended to meet for whatever reason.

    Thanks for your visit and come back anytime you need an armchair virtual hike into relaxation.

  10. Suzie: Reckon you are right there!

    JamieDedes: There seems to have been several flms based on this idea. Hadn't heard of the Danny Kaye one though.

    musingegret: Thanks for the link. Stories about doubles of politicians and leaders always interest me. So the Churchill one is yet another urban legend - pity!

    I saw a photo of Hitler's double, Gustav Weler, recently - he was found with a bullet through his head in 1945 and for a while they thought he was the real Fuhrer. That's the story anyway.

    Thanks for the comments - appreciated.


  11. Barbara Martin: That's the interesting bit about coincidences: are they more than just chance? I like your idea of ordained meetings from above. As I see it everything is linked: past, present, future and sometimes the coincidences do turn out to be meaningful i.e. synchronicity at work. Other times the coincidences seem to have little meaning other than perhaps reminders for us to pay attention to what is happening.

  12. "I Was Monty's Double" was the first ever book re WW2 I read at age 12 (1963). It totally sparked an "obsession" with war tales which lasts still.