Ewen Edward Samuel Montagu (1901-1985) was the second son of Lord Swaythling and brought up at Townhill Park House. He is known for his role in Operation Mincemeat in the Second World War, about which he wrote a book, The Man Who Never Was (1953).

The aim of this 1943 operation was to mislead the Nazis into thinking the Allies were planning to invade Greece, rather than Sicily. British Intelligence faked papers giving this impression and put them on a dead body, which they put into the water off the coast of Spain so that the Nazis found it. The operation was successful and led to a lack of German resistance when the Allies invaded Sicily.

After the war Ewen Montagu became a judge and the Recorder of Southampton from 1951 to 1960. His book was filmed and he had a cameo role in the film.

As a judge he was sometimes controversial. In 1961 he said in court that "A boy crook should have his trousers taken down, should be spanked with something like a hairbrush by a policewoman, a photograph should be taken - and the magistrates allowed to order its exhibition in every café and coffee bar in a mile radius. It would kill half the juvenile crime straight off."


Newspaper clippings (available online or from the Local Studies Library):

Southampton Recorder Bearded at Beaulieu - (Southern Daily Echo 14/02/1955)
Southampton's kindly - and controversial - Recorder retires - (Southern Evening Echo 01/02/1960)
"Former Recorder of Southampton retires" - (Southern Evening Echo 01/08/1969). Report of Montagu retiring from his position at Middlesex Area Sessions. Recalls his career and his controversial remarks about the Merchant Navy. He discusses changes in the law: "Mr. Montagu thinks that criminals have probably become more vicious and anti-social, and the number of 'honest old-fashioned burglars' has decreased". Briefly describes "The Man Who Never Was".
"A photo in Hampshire Heritage … " - (Southern Daily Echo, no date). Interview with historian Rosaleen Wilkinson about Montagu. Mainly focusses on 'The Man Who Never Was' but also discusses Montagu's subsequent career, including the quote given above about "boy crooks".


Navigation


Browse A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y-Z


Get Involved

If you wish to

  • suggest additional information for this entry
  • suggest amendments to this entry
  • offer your own research
  • make a comment

then fill in the form on the Contact page.