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This Aston Martin racer changed the course of WWIIJock Horsfall was an Aston Martin racer who during the Second World War took part in covert military operations that helped the allied forces take Italy. XCAR explores how a road trip with a very special passenger helped win the war.
[MUSIC] Operation Mincemeat was a World War Two deception. An operation to fool the Germans into think the allies were not going to invade Sicily. To do this, they aimed to plant fake invasion plans in the hands of the Nazis. And a setup of documents was painstakingly created by MI5's Twenty Committee. In Roman numerals 20 is XX, double cross. Sinjin Ratcliffe's [INAUDIBLE] better known as jockey, is a hero of mine. Joe's a pre-war Astin Martin racing driver, engineer, and all around practical joker and he had a key role in Operation Mincemeat. When he was just 23 he bought his first Astin Martin and took it racing, and he was a pretty handy driver. Within the year it actually won a class win at Brooklyn's and the year after he won the RAC tourist trophy race at Downingtown. Jacque wore special goggles as his eyesight was dismal. He often didn't bother with a helmet and raced in shirt and tie. By 1937 the clouds of war were starting to gather over Europe and Jacque Horsewall's racing career was temporarily put on hold. His wartime duties involved delivering captured enemy agents to MI Five for interrogation. Before, in 1943, he was tasked with something rather special code named Operation Mincemeat. This archetypal eccentric Englishman had a rare set of skills, and when war broke out he joined MI Five. He reported here [UNKNOWN] together with officers Montague and Chumly where they collected something rather special. In the [UNKNOWN] office of Scotland in the dead of night in [UNKNOWN] van. We however are going to take the Astin. He's always wanted to say that. [MUSIC] [NOISE] [MUSIC] Okay, kick me out with some stats. Well, we've got a car that is capable of hitting 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds. All thanks to 573 brake horsepower, 620 Newton Newtons of torque. So an absolute beast, isn't it? It really is. I mean, the exhaust note could've been composed by Elgar himself. And when you actually take off from a standing start it pretty much gives you a hernia. It hits you right in the stomach. [MUSIC] Jock's souped up Fordson van of course was the one that he'd normally use for transporting his Aston Martin race car. And he didn't even have to drive it [INAUDIBLE] if he was to get to Scotland to cover the 400 mile north. If he was to arrive there before his special delivery when up. They arrived at dawn and rendezvoused with HMS Seraph, a submarine destined for Spain. And they offloaded their special delivery. The delivery was a steel container. Carrying the body of a Welsh vegran, that had died after eating rat poison. Before they passed the body, over to the crew, of [UNKNOWN] wanted a souvenir. So he climbed on top of the steel container carrying the dead body, poured himself a cup of tea, and insisted that they take his photograph. Well they dressed the body as a Major, Bill Martin, a completely fake persona, invented by [UNKNOWN]. And once again. And the fake invasion plans were put inside a briefcase. Now John was roped in to try and help dress the body in its military uniform but he had the rather unenviable task of trying to thaw out the major's feet so that he could get his boots on. Well the official line after all these years is that Operation Mincemeat was a success. The body was left to float where Spaniards working with the Nazis eventually found it and of course they passed the document to Nazi High Command and it changed the course of the war. Hitler himself fell for Operation Mincemeat hook line and sinker and in the summer of 1943 ordered Nazi High Command to redeploy masses of manpower and resources. Forces. Including three Pander divisions, a fleet of mine laying ships and even General Erwin Rommel himself to bolster defences in Greece and Sardinia. This, of course, opened up Sicily for the real Allied invasion of Italy and within a month Hitler's greatest ally, Benito Mussolini, was toppled from power. [MUSIC] The Russians might not [UNKNOWN]. MI5 had suspected that Montague's own brother, Ivor, was a subversive, due to his socialist tendencies, love of ping-pong, and support of Southampton Football Club. What they didn't realize at the time was that he was actually agent intelligentsia, spying for the KGB. And so as our road trip came to an end, we retreated to the pub. So John continued working for [UNKNOWN] but Warren [UNKNOWN] survived the broken neck when a German bomb landed and blew him through a skylight. As soon as the war was over, he went straight back to racing. At 1946, he was back out in the black car. Picking up trophies left, right and center. By 1948, we'd actually entered the Spar 24 Hour Endurance Race, with a, with a, racing [INAUDIBLE] and they actually won it in the back car, the Ulster-bodied Aston Martin. But what's more impressive, is he went back the next year, and they only came fourth, but actually he was on his own. He raced the entire race solo. And he stories goes that he that he was powered by boiled eggs, brandy, and benzodrine. Bennies, yes. Yeah. To keep him awake. Don't try that at home kids. [LAUGH] So, what do you think? [UNKNOWN] would have made of our vanquish. Like exhausting. It was an out and out racer. And it was, well it would have been the perfect tool for the job. If it was capable of 183 miles per hour it could have got to Scotland in just over two hours. Yeah that's true. It's it's a luxury product though, isn't it? I mean the, the Aston Martin's of [UNKNOWN] era were racing cars. For me though, I do think that. Jacque would have found him a little bit lifestyle. But of course the common father was beautiful. It was absolutely fantastic on the front splitter. It's it's a heavy car, though, isn't it? It does feel quite heavy. I mean- It's a Vylanta. You can forgive it everything. Yes. It's a glorious machine for powering around in. So while not everybody might have heard of Jacque. Of course. But if you're an Aston Martin aficionado you certainly will have, because the biggest race meeting of the year, Silverstone, is named after him, in his honor. The Silverstone Horsfall Memorial Trophy takes place and, the track did some of the most, most famous races from across the world. And, Mr. Bean, Yeah. Rolled and consented actually in the trophy in the pass in his. [UNKNOWN] market? Yes, but for me I think there's an even greater legacy than the racing Jacques name today because working with Montague, [UNKNOWN], and Jacques was a young Naval officer by the name of Ian Fleming, who went on to write a few novels about an even more famous [UNKNOWN] driver. Personally though, I prefer real heroes to fictitious ones. Cheers, Joe. Cheers, Joe. Do you have any crisps?