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M.E. Clifton James, WWII Montgomery Impersonator, Is Dead

May 9, 1963 - M.E. Clifton James (right), an actor whose greatest role was the impersonation of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (left) in World War II, died in London yesterday. He was 65 years old. Mr. James’s impersonation is believed to have hoodwinked the Germans into thinking the D-Day invasion had been postponed. “He performed a very useful purpose at a very dark time of the war,” Montgomery said yesterday. “What he did completely fooled the Germans.” At the time of his famous impersonation, the Australian-born actor was a pay corps lieutenant in the British Army, and Field Marshal Montgomery was commander of the 21st Army. An intelligence major spotted the likeness between the two men. A few days before D-Day, June 6, 1944, Mr. James was seen off in style to the Mediterranean by senior members of the Imperial General Staff. None of his own officers realized he was not the Field Marshal as he flew to North Africa, ostensibly for a tour. In Britain, meanwhile, Field Marshal Montgomery continued preparations for the D-Day landing in Normandy. German intelligence agents are known to have informed their headquarters that Field Marshal Montgomery was in North Africa, and therefore no Normandy invasion could be imminent. To impersonate the Field Marshal, Mr. James studied his voice, speech, gestures, walk, and salute. After the war, he wrote a book, “I Was Monty’s Double.”

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