11 December 2013

Website Review - Stephen Stratford

There are many websites on the internet that make reference to Josef Jakobs. A plethora of sites feature the trivia question: Who was the last person executed in the Tower of London. In addition to the trivia sites, there are several that contain grossly inaccurate information (reviews in progress). There are also several that present relatively accurate, and in some cases, well researched information. One of these latter sites is that of Stephen Stratford.

Court Martial document of Josef Jakobs, National Archives
National Archives - Photograph of Court Martial folio of Josef Jakobs
(c) Copyright G.K. Jakobs
It is very clear that Stratford has viewed Jakobs' Court Martial file as well as his letter of petition to the King, both held at the National Archives in Kew.

While most of the Jakobs information presented on Stratford's site is accurate, there are some minor factual errors and typographical mistakes in the summaries of the witness statements.

There is one piece of information provided on Stratford's site that has proven difficult to corroborate. Towards the end of the section on Jakobs, it says:

Later that day, a post-mortem was performed by Bernard Spilsbury. One shot had hit Jakobs in the head, the other seven had been around the target area. An inquest held that afternoon decided that Jakobs had died of "Injuries to the heart caused by the passage of bullets", and the inquest verdict was "Execution of judicial sentence of death in accordance with military law".

To date, I have been unable to discover the original source of the statement that "one shot had hit Jakobs in the head". Stratford's pages on Jakobs do not cite references for any of the information. If the statement on Jakobs' execution is accurate, one naturally wonders, did one soldier's shot go wildly awry or was the shot to the head administered by the officer of the firing squad to finish the job.

A macabre thought.

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