17 October 2018

Robin W.G. Stephens - Some more leads

I had emailed Christopher Andrew (author of the authorized history of MI5 - Defend the Realm/Defence of the Realm) a few weeks back asking if he had any further information on Robin W.G. Stephens, commandant of MI5's secret interrogation centre, Camp 020. Specifically, I was interested in any information on Stephens' death.

Andrew replied back promptly with the following:

  1. Most sources in National Archives KV series
  2. See Defence of Realm
  3. See further sources mentioned in Andrew and Tonia, Interrogation (this is Andrew and Tobia)
  4. Note correspondence a few years ago in TLS by Calder Walton
Some thoughts on the above:
Cover - Interrogation in War and Conflict Edited by Christopher Andrew & Simona Tobia
Cover - Interrogation in War and Conflict
Edited by Christopher Andrew &
Simona Tobia
  1. I haven't actually looked at the original KV folders that were used as the source for the Camp 020 book by Oliver Hoare. Perhaps there is more in there than I had thought?
  2. Defence of the Realm - has some tidbits on Stephens, but nothing on his death
  3. Andrew & Tobia - this is a 2014 publication: Interrogation in War and Conflict: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Analysis - It definitely looks interesting and it's been on my radar for a while. Unfortunately it comes it with a rather exorbitant price tag on Amazon - $157 (even the Kindle edition is $80). There don't appear to be any Canadian libraries that carry it... so it may have to go onto my "next-time-I'm-in-London" list at the British Library.
  4. TLS - this is the Times Literary Supplement - apparently in 2013 Calder Walton wrote a rebuttal to Ian Cobain's book, Cruel Britannia. Calder Walton worked as the lead researcher when Christopher Andrew was writing his authorized history of MI5. There would appear to be a back and forth that took place between Walton and Cobain but, without being a subscriber to TLS, my access is limited.
So there are a few leads here... most of which need a visit to London. On the other hand, I may email Calder Walton, as he was the lead researcher on Defend the Realm/Defence of the Realm and might have some helpful insights.

12 October 2018

Bella in the Wych Elm Website

Bella in the Wych Elm: A New Look at the Mystery (website header)
Bella in the Wych Elm: A New Look at the Mystery
(website header)
Andrew Sparke, from APS Publishing, has set up a website for all things Bella-related. He admits it's a bit "content light" at the moment, but hopes to have more content as things move along. There seem to be some broken links at the moment, but I imagine they'll get fixed soon.

Of interest are the airing dates for the Yesterday TV series on Nazi Murder Mysteries:

1. Hitler's Niece - 15 November 2018
2. Duke of Windsor - 22 November 2018
3. Serial Killer in Berlin (The S-Bahn Murderer) - 29 November 2018
4. Bella in the Wych Elm - 6 December 2018 (8 pm)
5. Hermann Goering - 13 December 2018
6. Rudolf Hess - 20 December 2018

 I was in London in February 2018 for a spot of filming for the Bella episode. Looking forward to seeing the final production!

08 October 2018

Robin W.G. Stephens and the Estrangement wrought by War

A few years ago, I received an email from a cousin of Robin W.G. Stephens (commandant of Camp 020). Robin had an aunt... and this cousin is the grandson of the aunt. I think.

Julia Elizabeth (Howell) Stephens (Jersey 1940 Registration
Julia Elizabeth (Howell) Stephens
(Jersey 1940 Registration
I had applied for Stephens' army records in 2016 but, without a family connection, I received the sanitized version of his file. With his cousin's signature, however, we were able to get the entire file released. One of the most interesting things was a letter written to the War Office in February 1946 by Robin's father, William Henry Stephens.

I knew that Robin's parents had been caught on the Bailiwick of Jersey when the Germans invaded and had remained there during the German occupation. I also knew that Robin's mother, Julia Elizabeth (Howell) Stephens had passed away on 13 September 1949 in Cheltenham. Robin's father passed away in Cheltenham in 1962 and his will listed his sister as beneficiary. This was perplexing. While Robin's brother had been killed during the First World War, Robin was still alive. What had happened between Robin and his father? William's letter to the War Office answers some of those questions.

Sitting in the Sunrays Hotel in Droitwich on 24 February 1949, William wrote to the Under-Secretary of State for War:
William Henry Stephens (Jersey 1940 Registration)
William Henry Stephens
(Jersey 1940 Registration)
Dear Sir,
   I shall be grateful if you can send me any trace of my son, Captain R.W.G. Stephens, I.A. Retired. I have written to the Military Secretary, The India Office, Whitehall, who states that he has no information; so in case my son was engaged in any of the other expeditions of this last War I venture to appeal to you for help in tracing him; and I enclose a note on his career which may suggest possible clues.
   I am now 80 years of age; my Wife is 75, broken in health since her collapse under the German Occupation of Jersey, where we were marooned from 1940 to 1945: she has been unable to walk unaided since. We had lost our only other offspring, 2nd. Lieut. Howell C. Stephens, of the 1st. Worcesters, who was killed at Ypres (Hooge) in 1917, at the age of 19.
   We saw little of our sons, as I was in the Egyptian Civil Service from 1890-1926. Robin married in India, a Mrs. Fletcher, who had divorced her husband; and her extravagance estranged us. We have no news of her; but we long to get into touch with our son. He was known personally to Field Marshall Sir Claude Jacob, who wrote a preface to one of my son's Legal Books.
   We should love to be of help to our son in case he has need of us. Can you help us to find him?
                           Yours faithfully
It is rather a poignant letter and William included a brief career synopsis of his son, along with a reference letter regarding his service in Ethiopia with the Red Cross in 1936.

Someone at the War Office made a note on the letter: Address 1940 - R. Stephens, Box No. 500, Parliament Street. Given that this letter is in Stephens' army file, someone clearly made the connection with him. In 1946, however, Stephens was commandant of the CSDIC interrogation centre at Bad Nenndorf, Germany which would ultimately end with his court-martial and subsequent acquittal.

The real question is... did Robin and his parents reconnect? I guess we'll never really know, although the very fact that William's will made no mention of Robin could lead us to believe that the estrangement continued.

03 October 2018

Gösta Caroli - Double Agent and Fox Farmer

I recently heard about a book by Leonard Mosley entitled "The Druid". Written in 1981, it tells the tale of Welshman Gwyn Evans who, as an undetected spy of the German Abwehr, apparently betrayed the Dieppe Raid in 1942. In his book, Mosley also claims that double-agent Gösta Caroli was condemned to death and executed.

I know that Caroli's MI5 file says that he was repatriated back to Sweden at the end of the war, but... one always wonders with MI5. I had a vague recollection of reading something about Caroli's death in Sweden in the 1970s... so I did a bit of digging...

I came across a 2009 forum discussion on ScanGen (Genealogy in Scandinavia) which mentioned Gösta Caroli and, after heavy use of Google Translate, along with some reference to the Swedish Ancestry site, I've stitched together the following.

Birth of Gösta Caroli
Church (Kyrke) in Norra Vram where Gösta Caroli was born and his father, Claes Alfred Caroli was Vicar from 1901. (Swedish National Heritage Board [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Church (Kyrke) in Norra Vram where Gösta Caroli was born
and his father, Claes Alfred Caroli was Vicar from 1901.
(Swedish National Heritage Board [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons)
In the late 1800s, in Sweden, one Claes Alfred Caroli (born 2 May 1862 in Fellinsbro - died 15 June 1933 in Norra Vram) married Anna Berg (born 11 May, 1865 in Tärby).

Claes was vicar of the church in Norra Vram from 1901 onwards. The couple had several children:
  • Ingrid (born 17 March 1896 in Uppsala - died 25 October 1983 in Farsta, Sweden)
  • Gunnar (born 1898 in Uppsala - became a clergyman - died 6 August 1975)
  • Gerda (born 29 December 1900 in Uppsala - became a Gymnastikdirektör (could be a school principal if it is comparable to "Gymnasium" in German))
  • Gösta (born 6 November 1902 in Norra Vram - this is our guy)
  • Claes Tryggve (born April 7 1905 in Norra Vram - died 6 May 1968 in Ekenäs Varnum Hökenäs Municipality)
The Fox Farmer
In researching this article, I was really only trying to establish what became of Caroli after the war but... his pre-war activity was just too fascinating to pass up! Particularly as it involves trips to Canada... and my own home province of British Columbia.

It would appear that Caroli, between 1924 and 1929, spent a lot of time shuttling back and forth between Sweden, Canada and the United States. He may even have become a Canadian (perhaps landed immigrant), although the evidence is not 100% clear. The following is based primarily on passenger lists and immigration records, which are fragmentary.

On 4 March 1926, Caroli boarded the RMS Ausonia (Cunard Lines) in Southampton, England bound for Halifax, Canada.

Silver Fox Pelts (from wikipedia)
Silver Fox Pelts
(from wikipedia)
A couple of years later, he was again traveling from Europe to Canada. This time he arrived in Halifax on 12 March 1928 aboard the SS Thuringin. In response to the Canadian authorities, he stated that he had been in Canada before, from March 1924-November 1927 at Quilchena, British Columbia. He could speak Swedish, German and English and, while his nationality was Swedish, the form listed him as a "Returned Canadian" and noted that his passport had been issued in Montreal, Quebec. He gave his occupation as farmer and stated that his final destination was Lake View Fox Farm at Quilchena, B.C. He may have taken a circuitous route to Quilchena via the United States. There is a record of him crossing from Canada into the United States in 1928 (but no details). Several months later, on 6 June 1928, he crossed back into Canada, this time from Oroville, WA, bound for Quilchena. He stated that he was visiting his friend, W. Crompton, and that he was enroute back to Sweden.

He must have returned to Sweden quickly. By 28 October 1928, he boarded the SS Albert Ballin in Sweden, bound for Canada (with a stop in Hamburg along the way).

By 27 February, 1929, he was back on the Continent once again bound for the Americas. This time, he boarded the SS Berengaria in Cherbourg, France, bound for New York. In May 1929, he departed New York (having been in Winnipeg, Manitoba) for Sweden (Gothenburg). His ultimate destination was Helsingfors in Sweden.

On 7 December 1929, he boarded the SS Kungsholm in Gothenburg and arrived in Halifax on 14 December 1929. To the Canadian authorities, he stated that he had been in Canada between 1926 and 1927. He was a director and owner of the Fox Farm "Stora Vreta" in Uppsala, Sweden. He gave his occupation as "Fox Buyer". His destination is difficult to read as handwriting has been superimposed on the typewritten information. It is in Winnipeg and looks like "Alisted Ranch, Somerset ^Block
Room^ 846. It's likely meant to be: "Somerset Block, Room 846". Somerset Block was a multi-story building in downtown Winnipeg (294 Portage) that housed offices. Caroli was traveling inland on the CNR (Canadian National Railway).
Extract from Canadian arrival record of Gösta Caroli on 14 December 1929 in Halifax (from Ancestry)
Extract from Canadian arrival record of Gösta Caroli on 14 December 1929 in Halifax
(from Ancestry)

It's pretty clear that Caroli traveled back and forth between Sweden and Canada. Whether he took on Canadian citizenship is unknown. He would appear to have been a dealer in foxes and fox fur pelts. He may have brought breeding pairs from Sweden to Canada, or vice versa.

Within Canada, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and the Nicola Valley (British Columbia) all had a thriving fox fur industry in the 1920s and 1930s. I found numerous online references to fox farms in the Nicola Valley (in which Quilchena was located). I even found a reference to William Crompton, a well-known fur farmer in the area who passed away in 1947. Crompton was likely the "friend" that Caroli was visiting in Quilchena in 1928.

A web page about mink farming history in British Columbia noted that:
W. Crompton of Quilchena had an advertisement in the May 1925 issue of the Fur Trade Journal, offering to buy live wild mink, marten and fisher
 A book about the History of the Church in Merritt (a few miles from Quilchena) noted that:
Another industry that is fast becoming an important factor in the economic life of the valley is that of Fox Farming. Starting on a small scale in 1921 with sixteen pairs of the best variety of silver foxes the "Merit Fox Ranch" operated by J. J. Gillis has now in the neighbourhood of three hundred animals in pens that cover almost two acres of ground. The farm is ideally located in the foothills two miles east of the city at an altitude where the winter temperature is just right ofr the production of the finest fur. Plant and animals together represent about sixty thousand dollars in value. Messrs. Charles and Edgar Collett are in charge of the farm. The other breeders in the district are A.E. Axton, W. Crompton [emphasis added], J. Guichon, Mrs. Marshall, Isaac Millar, Mrs. Eric Gavelin, all of whom are having good success. Merritt is headquarters of the B.C. Fox Breeders Association.
 By 1929, there were apparently 1200 foxes being farmed in the area and the industry was worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (quite an amount back then). In 1928, the Summerland Review noted that:
One fox farmer near Merritt is realizing $20,000 from a twenty-pair shipment to Sweden. Another fox breeder, the mayor of Merritt and M.L.A. for Yale, is shortly to ship thirty pair to France. It is evident that the market is world wide.
Caroli was obviously involved in a profitable industry although, one wonders what happened when the bottom fell out of the stock market ushering in the Great Depression.

The Nebulous 1930s
I had a look in Caroli's MI5 file, a severely redacted file of "selected historical papers". There isn't much in there and Caroli's name is always blanked out.

Gösta Caroli (From Danish website on Wulf Schmidt)
Gösta Caroli
(From Danish website on Wulf Schmidt)
He apparently told one MI5 officer (KV 2/30, no. 45b) that he had had rheumatic fever as a child and been bed-ridden for two years. The officer therefore considered it unlikely that Caroli could have subsequently lead the active life that he claimed: trekked across the "Eukon" (probably the Yukon, one of Canada's northern territories) in the middle of winter during a meteorological survey; participated in an expedition across Greenland and been part of an arduous Himalayan expedition. Caroli also claimed that he had been arrested in Russia and accused of spying, but proved not guilty and released. Quite the story. Whether any of this is true or not is debatable.

In the late 1930s Caroli claimed to have worked as a journalist, even spending time in Birmingham and spying for the Abwehr before the war. He also apparently worked as a seaman and was found with a seaman's book in 1940.

After agreeing to work as a double-agent for MI5 (in exchange for the life of his friend and fellow spy Wulf Schmidt (double agent TATE), Caroli (now double agent SUMMER) sent doctored wireless transmissions to Germany. He did not, however, handle his captivity well and in November 1940 severed both radial arteries in his wrists with a razor. He survived and was continued to be employed as a double agent by MI5. In mid-January 1941, however, he cracked again when he over-powered his guard and escaped on a stolen motorcycle. He didn't get far and was interned for the duration of the war.

I also remember reading (somewhere) that Caroli had ongoing issues with his neck due to the wireless case smashing him on the chin when he landed by parachute in September 1940. Even after the war, he was trying to seek compensation (from the Germans or the Swedes?) for his injury.

A Repatriated Double Agent
According to the MI5 files, Caroli was repatriated to Sweden on 25 August 1945 (KV 2/2593). On 24 November 1946, Gösta Caroli married Greyta (Greta) Bergmann (born 15 March 1914 in Bro, Stockholm) in Landskrona.

Marriage registration of Gösta Caroli and Greta Bergmann - 1946 November 24 (from Ancestry)
Marriage registration of Gösta Caroli and Greta Bergmann - 1946 November 24
(from Ancestry)
A couple of years later, on 21 May 1948, the couple had a son in Landskrona: Claes Caroli (still alive).

Claes married Kerstin Margareta Elisabet Larsson and the couple had two sons: Christian Nils Peter Caroli (born 1981) and Stefan Claes Gösta Caroli (born 1983). Stefan runs Camp Caroli, a lodge in Swedish Lapland which offers wilderness tours.

According to the Swedish Death Book (Sveriges död bok), Gösta died in Asmundtorp, Sweden on 8 May 1975. His wife, Gretya died 22 July 1975 in Asmundtrop, Sweden.

Family Chart of Gösta Caroli and his son (Claes Caroli) and grandsons (Christian Nils Peter Caroli & Stefan Claes Gösta Caroli) (from Ancestry tree of hschneidau1)
Family Chart of Gösta Caroli, his son (Claes Caroli) and grandsons (Christian Nils Peter Caroli &
Stefan Claes Gösta Caroli) (from Ancestry tree of hschneidau1)
There would seem to be incontrovertible evidence that Gösta Caroli was indeed sent back to Sweden, where he married, raised a son, and died in 1975. His son, Claes is still alive and apparently provided photographs of his father (Claes Caroli) to Tommy Jonason & Simon Olsson, the authors of Agent TATE: The Wartime Story of Harry Williamson.

Cover of 2015 book by Simon Olsson and Tommy Jonason "Gösta Caroli - Dubbelagent SUMMER"
Cover of 2015 book by Simon Olsson
and Tommy Jonason "Gösta Caroli -
Dubbelagent SUMMER"
In their book on TATE, Jonason and Olsson reference an unpublished manuscript: "Gösta Caroli: Dubbelagent Summer". It would appear that this manuscript was published in 2015 by Vulkan press, unfortunately in Swedish.

Ancestry.se - family tree from hschneidau1
Ancestry.ca - passenger and immigration lists
ScanGen forum
Rootschat - discussion about W. Crompton
Merritt Morning Market - has a brief synopsis from the Nicola Valley Museum
Summerland Review -  news article about fur farming in the Nicola Valley
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church - Souvenir Book - December 1923 - details the history of the churches in Merritt BC and a bit on the area's industry
Denton History - The Spy from the Sky - story of Gösta Caroli's landing and capture
Agent TATE: The Wartime Story of Harry Williamson by Tommy Jonason & Simon Olsson (2011).

P.S. The Nicola Valley Museum used to have a blog which had an article entitled: "Fox Farming: A Once Booming Industry in the Nicola Valley" (2013 02 20). Unfortunately, they have changed the hosting provider of their website and blog and the link no longer works. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine only archived the stub of the article, not the "Read More" part.

28 September 2018

The German Spy and the Russian-Jewish Chessmaster

Café Trumpf in Berlin circa 1936
Café Trumpf in Berlin circa 1936
It always amazes me, the tangential relationships I discover that touch on the Josef Jakobs story.

On 13 June 1941, during an interrogation with Camp 020 officer, Lt. George F. Sampson, Josef mentioned that:
Dr. Paul List, a Russian Jew who immigrated to Germany, can confirm that I am anti-Nazi. List is a professional chess player and owned a club in the Café Berlin in the Kurfürstendamm in 1931 and then later a club in the Café Trumpf. (The National Archives, KV 2/25, no. 94b)
A few months ago, I did a bit more digging on the mystery Dr. Paul List, just to see if the guy existed and if there was any truth to Josef's story. Here's what I found...

Dr. Paul List
Paul List - from CHESS, 24 December 1954.
Paul List - from CHESS, 24 December 1954.
Paul (Pavel) M. (Odes) List was born 6 December 1887 to Jewish parents in Memel (Klaipeda) Lithuania. Paul lived in Lithuania and apparently studied at the Wilna University until 1908, when he moved to Odessa, Ukraine to study at Odessa University.

Paul was already a respected chess player and contributed to the revival of chess in Ukraine. In 1908, he took first place in the Odessa championship, qualifying for the All-Russian Amateurs tournament.

His real family name was Odes but because letters address to Odes in Odessa was confusing, he changed his family name to List.

From 1911 to 1918, List played in several Russian tournaments. By 1920, the Soviet Red Army had invaded Ukraine and taken possession of Odessa. In the face of political unrest, many Ukrainians fled abroad. Given List's birth in Memel, where German was one of the two main languages, List decided to flee to Germany.

Café Wien, Kurfüstendamm, Berlin
(Phot. E. Leitner, Berlin-Charlottenburg [Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons)
By 1926, List had settled in Berlin and with the help of friends, built up a chess centre which soon became famous. He gave lectures, played in chess tournaments and published a weekly chess column.

In 1929, List was working as a  chess room manager in Café Wien at 26 Kurfürstendamm, owned owned by Hungarian-born Jewish businessman Karl Kutschera. Albert Einstein apparently spent time in the chess room at the Café Wien.

By 1932, List had moved a few buildings over and was the director of the chess room in Café Trumpf at 10 Kurfürstendamm. At the opening of the chess room on 14 November 1932, List and another player (Saemisch) played 38 simultaneous games.

The rise of Nazism soon put a damper on List's activities in Germany. In early August 1936, List visited Kaunas (Lithuania) and helped prepare the Lithuanian chess team for the unofficial Olympiad in Munich. From Kaunas, List traveled to England and played in the 1936 Nottingham Chess Congress).

Erstes Romanisches Haus - housed a cinema
and Café Trumpf from 1923-1943 (postcard circa 1940)
In October 1937, List restored his Lithuanian citizenship and received a Lithuanian passport. By the end of the year, he had settled in London, England, although he kept his Lithuanian citizenship.In 1939, List was living in Belsize Square in Hampstead with his wife Stephanie. His family name was noted as: List-Odess.

List became an art dealer in England, but chess remained one of his foremost activities. List played in many chess tournaments over the coming years but didn't place first often, although he was a great defensive player.

On 22-25 May 1953, the 65 year-old List, who was also ill, finished first in the British Lightning Chess Championship (10 seconds per move). He was, however, not awarded the champion title, since he was not a naturalized Briton.

List died on 9 September 1954, at the age of 66 in London.

The German Spy and the Jewish Chessmaster
It would appear that Josef was telling the truth when he told Lt. Sampson about Dr. Paul List and the Café Trumpf. There is some discrepancy as Josef mentions that List ran a chess room at the Café Berlin while chess history sources mention a Café Wien. This could simply be a faulty memory on Josef's part. Or perhaps, there was a Café Berlin at which List also spent time.

There is no evidence in the MI5 files that the interrogation officers visited Paul List and questioned him about Josef Jakobs. They did question Frau Lily Knips, a German-Jewish refugee in London, whom Josef had known in Berlin. They also questioned Frau Clara Gronau, another German-Jewish refugee from Berlin whom Knips suggested might know Josef. It's not clear why they never questioned the Russian-Jewish chessmaster about Josef Jakobs.

Paul List Biography - wonderfully detailed with many references
Photograph of Paul List in 1946
Bio Bits and Photographs of Paul List
British 1939 National Registration
Memorial Plaque site for Cafe Wien - has a pdf that gives a bit of Karl Kutschera's history (German)
Final Sale: The End of Jewish-owned Business in Nazi Berlin - has a couple of pages on Kutschera

24 September 2018

Robin W.G. Stephens and the Wana Column (1920-1921)

I have written a series of blog posts about Robin W. G. Stephens as he played a pivotal role in the Josef Jakobs story as commandant of Camp 020 interrogation centre. A couple of months ago I had a fascinating email exchange with Nick Hinton, a former commander of the 2nd Gurkha Regiment, and now involved with The Royal Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association (RGRRA). Hinton has been researching the story of Robin W.G. Stephens who, before becoming involved with Camp 020 during World War 2, served with the Gurkhas the late 1910s and early 1920s.

From Stephens' biography on the Frontier Medals site, we know that, on 15 April 1919, he was commissioned into the the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles as a Second Lieutenant. That same bio notes that on 12 June 1920 (after being promoted to Lieutenant), Stephens was detached from his regiment and served as General Staff Officer 3 with the Wana Column until 15 October 1921, and again from 3 November 1921 to 27 December 1921. The Wana Column was a reinforced brigade that was sent to reoccupy the town of Wana (Waziristan - now part of Pakistan) in 1921. Stephens was even Mentioned-in-Dispatches "for distinguished service during the operations in Waziristan (April 1921 to December 1921) (London Gazette - 12 June 1923).

In compiling information on Stephens for a regimental magazine article, Hinton researched the Wana Column and discovered that the Peter Harrington Gallery in London had a photograph album of the column for sale (£2250). According to the gallery's website:
Wana Column - album of photographs  (from Peter Harrington Gallery website)
Wana Column - album of photographs
(from Peter Harrington Gallery website)
Superb photograph album documenting the British reoccupation of Wana and the end of the 1919-20 Waziristan campaign in over 80 intimate original snapshots, supplemented by a run of atmospheric professional photographs from Holmes's souvenir series, "With the Wana Column", and several group officer portraits, all meticulously captioned and forming an exceptionally rich portrayal of British operations in the region which from the First World War to Independence "dominated events on the North West Frontier, politically and military" (National Army Museum, online).
The photographs were taken by Randolph Bezzant Holmes (1888-1973), a British photographer who appears to have served as  a semi-official photographer for the British Army in India. The gallery website notes that:
His impressive photographs depict the progression of the Wana Column from Jandola, through the Shahur Tangi gorge to Haidiar Kach and Sarwekai camps, thence to Dargai Oba, Rogha Kot, and finally Wana, with photographs of the fort, environs, Wazir hostages, and three group officer portraits; the captions include informative details regarding the landscape, conditions, British engagements with the Wazirs, and indicate the neighbouring stations in each direction en route.
 Hinton visited the Peter Harrington Gallery in Chelsea and was able to take pictures of some of the well-captioned photographs in the album and discovered that a few included a young Robin Stephens. The lighting in the shop was not great, but Hinton was still able to get some pretty good images. Stephens would have been 21 years old in these photographs.
Photograph of officers from the Wana Column circa - Robin W.G. Stephens is at far left. (photograph courtesy of Nick Hinton)
Photograph of officers from the Wana Column circa - Robin W.G. Stephens is at far left.
(photograph courtesy of Nick Hinton)

Photograph of officers from the Wana Column circa 1921 - Robin W.G. Stephens is standing at right. (photograph courtesy of Nick Hinton)
Photograph of officers from the Wana Column circa 1921 - Robin W.G. Stephens is standing at right.
(photograph courtesy of Nick Hinton)
These are amazing photographs and I am grateful to Hinton for tracking them down and graciously sharing copies of them. On the other hand, both Hinton and I are still stymied by Stephen's ultimate demise. It is still a mystery.

20 September 2018

New Fiction Book - Traitor, Lodger, German Spy by Tony Rowland (2018)

The Book
Traitor, Lodger, German Spy, Tony Rowland. APS Publications, 2018. 

You can't spend years researching one of the WW2 spies (Josef Jakobs) without getting sucked into the stories of the other spies! One of the most fascinating stories is that of Jan Willem ter Braak, the alias of Dutchman Engelbertus Fukken

He landed via parachute in early November 1940, near Bletchley Park. He made his way to Cambridge where he managed to fly under the radar of the authorities for several months. In late March, 1941, likely after running out of funds, Ter Braak shot himself in a Cambridge air raid shelter.

At least that's the official story. There are many unanswered questions about Ter Braak: did he manage to contact the German Abwehr using his wireless transmitter, what was his mission, were other spies dispatched to England to supply him with funds, was it really suicide, how could he have escaped MI5s watchful eyes?

While non-fiction writers are left to piece together very flimsy fragments of fact... fiction writers can develop the story in strange, wonderful and intriguing directions. Such is the case with a new fiction book by Tony Rowland entitled Traitor, Lodger, German Spy. Tony takes the factual framework of the Ter Braak case and then runs with it. I've had the privilege of reading an early draft version of the manuscript and the story has only gotten better since then!

You can check it out on Amazon.co.uk here... ebook is only £1.99!