Trivia Library - Famous Lasts - The Last Execution in the Tower of London
There are many references to Josef Jakobs on the internet. The Trivia Library entry provides a fairly long article and is often referenced by other websites. The article on Josef is essentially a repeat of an article taken from The People's Almanac, a series of reference books published between 1975 and 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace.
Unfortunately, some of the information in the article is dated and incomplete. There are several glaring errors which have been corrected below. The original Trivia Library statements are italicized. The accurate information has been obtained from the official MI5 files housed at the National Archives in Kew.
Trivia Library - Paragraph 1 - Execution took place on Thursday, Aug. 14, 1941
MI5 files - Execution took place on Friday August 15, 1941
Trivia Library - Paragraph 2 - Parachuted into a wooded area of Stifford in Essex County
MI5 files - Parachuted into a farmer's field near Ramsey, Huntingdonshire
Trivia Library - Paragraph 2 - He was spotted floating to earth by members of the local Home Guard
MI5 files - He was found the morning of February 1 at 8:30 am by two farmers after Jakobs fired his pistol into the air. Members of the Home Guard was summoned by the two farmers.
Trivia Library - Paragraph 3 - He was taken to Brixton Prison in London, where he was interrogated by counterintelligence officers to see if he could be turned into a double agent. Since he was a dedicated Nazi, they decided no military use could be made of him.
MI5 files - He was taken from Ramsey Police Station to New Scotland Yard on February 1, where he gave a voluntary statement to Major T.A. Roberston. On February 2, he was taken to Latchmere House (Camp 020), where he was interrogated by MI5 officers. He agreed to cooperate with the English authorities. Due to his broken ankle, the length of his hospitalization (2.5 months) as well as the public nature of his capture, he was not considered suitable as a double-cross agent.
Trivia Library - Paragraph 3 - He was given a military court-martial and sentenced to death, despite the fact that he had not actually committed espionage.
MI5 files - Jakobs was tried by court martial on August 4 & 5, 1941, under the Treachery Act 1940. According to the Act, the intention to commit an act harmful to His Majesty's forces was sufficient for a guilty verdict.
Trivia Library - Paragraph 4 - Other spies... were hanged in civil prisons, but for unspecified reasons Jakobs was taken to the forbidding Tower of London. There he was confined in a small cell in the Waterloo Barracks, where the crown jewels are now housed.
MI5 files - Jakobs was transferred from Latchmere House to Wandsworth Prison in late July, where he remained until August 15, 1941 when he was transferred to the Tower of London. He was executed at the Tower of London by firing squad because he was a soldier and not a civilian.
Trivia Library - Paragraph 5 - He steadfastly refused to see a priest, even during the last moments.
MI5 files - Jakobs requested a Catholic priest in late July. A military padre was assigned to minister to Jakobs and saw him daily until the morning of his execution.
The website is based on a book published in the late 1970s, before the MI5 files on Josef Jakobs were released to the National Archives. The information on Josef Jakobs is not accurate.
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