The second thrust was a network of secret agents who consistently fed the Germans inaccurate and misleading information. To say the least, they were an eccentric group. Macintyre describes the leading agents as “a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a mercurial Frenchwoman, a Serbian seducer and a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming.” But if the agents were a “mixed, even motley crew,” the men and women of MI5 who ran the agents were “in some ways, even odder.”
But the most amazing part of the story is probably that the Germans thought all the agents were still working for them. In June 1943, the British director of the operation “reached the startling conclusion that every single German agent in Britain was actually under his control. Not some, not most, but all of them.”
Juan Pujol García was one such agent. He approached the British several times and offered to act as a secret agent but was rebuffed. So he approached the Germans in Madrid and offered to spy on the British. The Germans took him on and gave him money to relocate to the British Isles. He got as far as Lisbon and started sending the Germans fantastic – and totally invented – intelligence culled from guidebooks, newsreels, and an old map. His messages were intercepted by MI5, which was understandably puzzled by this German agent who apparently knew very little about what he was reporting on.
When they finally found him, he was whisked to London and put to work as a double agent. Remarkably adept and resourceful, he invented a network of 27 fictional agents and sent nearly 2,000 messages to his German handlers over three years. The Germans never suspected they were being tricked: shortly after D-Day, he was awarded an Iron Cross for “extraordinary services.” He was also awarded an M.B.E. – not surprisingly – in secret.