31 January 2014

Clara Bauerle & Josef Jakobs

Photograph of Clara Bauerle
Copy of photograph in MI5
files at National Archives (Kew)
Reverse side of photograph of Clara Bauerle
Copy of photograph in MI5
files at National Archives (Kew)
When Josef Jakobs landed at Dovehouse Farm near Ramsey on the night of 31 January, 1941, he had a picture postcard in his possession. The photograph was of a woman with an inscription on the back which read:
     My dear _  _
     I love you
     For ever
     Landau, July 1940

At first, there was some confusion as to the location of the photograph, which looked a bit like London. Further research by MI5 and consultation with an expert in German affairs determined that the handwriting was German and that the location was Landau (a city in southwestern Germany) and not London.

Josef Jakobs & Clara Bauerle

When questioned about the woman in the photograph, Josef told a story that changed a bit over time. Josef arrived in Hamburg on September 22 and stayed at the Reichshof Hotel. He often visited the Cafe Dreyer and enjoyed the music of the Bernhard Etté Orchestra and one of their lead singers, Clara Bauerle. Josef and Clara became quite friendly and on October 26, at her request, he moved to the Sorgenfrei Hotel, where many of her orchestra friends were staying. Clara was staying in a private apartment in the Hansaplatz but intended to move in with Josef after her upcoming tour. Clara had been the mistress of the Medical Officer of a U-boat flotilla in Kiel and Josef now admitted that she was his mistress.
Bernhard Ette (ca. 1920s)
Bernhard Ette (ca. 1920s)
Clara and the orchestra left Hamburg on a tour which took them to Leipzig, Dresden, Forst, East Prussia and Berlin. On November 7, Josef phoned Clara in Forst and set up a meeting for when she was in Berlin. The orchestra was in Schöneberg, Berlin from November 18-20 and at the Neue Welt in Hasenheide, Berlin from November 23-24. Josef presumably met Clara at one of the Berlin engagements as he traveled to Berlin on the weekends to visit his family and November 23-24 was a weekend. He also introduced Clara to his wife, Margarete, perhaps at one of the performances of the orchestra. Clara returned to Hamburg on November 25 and moved in with Josef at the Sorgenfrei Hotel. Clara and Josef often dined at the "2n den Gaststätten" restaurant and the "Alstereck" restaurant.
Photograph of Bernhard Ette and his Orchestra - possibly taken in  the studios in Berlin-Schöneberg. Photograph from the Grammophon-Platten website  which suggests that the three ladies in the foreground are (left to right):  Claire Bauerle, Gisela Katt, Madeleine Lohse
Photograph of Bernhard Ette and his Orchestra - possibly taken in
the studios in Berlin-Schöneberg. Photograph from the Grammophon-Platten website
which suggests that the three ladies in the foreground are (left to right):
Claire Bauerle, Gisela Katt, Madeleine Lohse

During November and December, Josef began to take English lessons at the Berlitz School in Hamburg. Clara took some lessons as well after she returned to Hamburg at the end of November. When Josef left Hamburg in early January, Clara was still there, but on January 21, he received a letter which said that she was very ill and had been sent to hospital. Josef knew that the orchestra was supposed to be in Hamburg in March 1941 but had had no further word of Clara's condition.

Initially Josef said that he introduced Clara to Dr. Beyer (Boeckel) who got her a gig entertaining the troops, where she earned more money than with the Etté Orchestra. Josef said that Clara knew of his connection with the German Intelligence Service.Later, in July 1941, during a conversation with fellow spy Karel Richter, Josef mentioned that the Major in The Hague had told Josef that Clara would be sent over to join him. In July 1941, officers of MI5 interrogated Josef about Clara and learned that had Josef's mission succeeded, Clara would have been sent over to help him. She was being trained in Hamburg to use the wireless set. However, as Josef had been unable to send news to Hamburg, he doubted that she would be sent to England. 

MI5 searched their files and requested searches of the Home Office files. The only possible match for Clara Bauerle was a certain Klara Sophie Bauerle, a German born on June 29, 1906 in Stuttgart. This woman had arrived in the United Kingdom on 10 or 20 of October, 1930, and left Warwickshire for Germany at some unknown date. The Central Register of Aliens had been notified of her departure on 21 June, 1932. There was no evidence that this Klara had ever visited England again. Whether this particular Klara Sophie Bauerle was the same person as the Clara Bauerle that Josef knew was questionable. Josef said that Clara always spelled her name with a "C" and he was quite certain that she had never been to England before. He was also quite certain that she had been born in Ulm, a city in southwestern Germany near Stuttgart. When asked why the photograph said "Landau, July 1940" when Josef said he had only met her in October, Josef said that Clara was a capricious woman and was always giving him picture postcards of herself with various dates.

Interestingly, Karel Richter, another Abwehr spy, had met Josef and Clara several times in Hamburg. In Karel's opinion, Josef was mainly interested in his affairs with women but Karel thought Clara was a large, not very good-looking woman. Karel never spoke to Clara but recognized her later because of her "tallness".

Whatever became of Clara Bauerle? Did she come over to England as an espionage agent? Did she continue her career as a singer? Clara disappeared from the music scene and her name eventually became associated with an enduring murder mystery from the British Midlands. Did Clara Bauerle end up stuffed in a hollow elm tree in Hagley Wood in 1941? If so, graffiti from the area asked the question... who put Bella in the Wych Elm? (next article)

Postscript (8 December 2014)
D.J. Cockburn has written a nice summary of the various theories around Bella in the Wych Elm - well worth a read.

Updates (18 July 2015)
A couple of blog postings with more recent news of my search for the ever-elusive Clara Bauerle

2015 02 23 - A Follow-up to Clara Bauerle and Bella in the Wych Elm
2015 07 17 - Update on the Elusive Clara Bauerle and Bella in the Wych Elm


National Archives, Security Service files - KV 2/24 (Jakobs), KV2/25 (Jakobs), KV2/26 (Jakobs) and KV2/30 (Richter)

27 January 2014

Governor of Wandsworth Prison - Major Benjamin Dixon Grew

Benjamin Dixon Grew was born on 25 June, 1892, in Shoreditch, London. His parents were card maker Benjamin Grew and Minnie Jane Moore who were married in 1886. Benjamin had several older and younger siblings but, in 1904, the large brood of children lost their mother when Minnie Jane passed away.

Military Service

Benjamin joined the Scots Guards as soon as he was of age and by 1911 (age 18) had risen to the rank of Lance Corporal while stationed at Chelsea Barracks in Pimlico, London. On August 12, 1914, after the start of World War I, Corporal Benjamin Grew disembarked in Europe with the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards.

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers at Battle of St. Eloi
Royal Northumberland Fusiliers at the Battle of St. Eloi
(From britishempire.co.uk)

Benjamin fought in many of the major battles of World War I including Mons, Ypres and the Sommes. He ended up a Lieutenant with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. After he was wounded at the Sommes and recovered, Benjamin was seconded to the Egyptian Army and served in Sudan. After the war, Benjamin stayed in the Middle East serving first as Deputy Military Governor in Palestine and finally as Administrative Inspector in Palestine. Some time during this period, Benjamin married his wife, Eleanor Flora Enid Swift, originally from Wales. Eleanor accompanied Benjamin to Palestine.

Prison Service

Having contracted malaria during his time in the Middle East and Africa, Benjamin was advised to live in a colder climate and reluctantly decided to quit the military, being released from duty on August 24, 1921. He applied to His Majesty's Prison Service and, after being interviewed, was appointed Deputy Governor of Borstal Prison at Rochester, a detention centre for young men aged 16 to 21. He started his prison service on St. George's Day (April 23), 1923.

Entrance to Dartmoor Prison
Entrance to Dartmoor Prison - photograph by Brian Henley.
Benjamin spent three years at the Borstal Prison in Rochester and thoroughly enjoyed his time there. He was keen to support the young men at Borstal in turning their lives around. His next appointment, in 1926 was the polar opposite of Borstal as Benjamin was transferred to Dartmoor Prison as Deputy Governor.

Located on the high moors of County Devon, Dartmoor Prison was a forbidding place. It was originally constructed to house French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic wars, followed by American prisoners of war durign the War of 1812. After the last prisoners were repatriated in 1816, the prison sat empty until 1850 when it was reopened. Benjamin called the prison a "grim and forbidding monstrosity" with a "pervading atmosphere of gloom and abandonment". Dartmoor housed some of the nation's most hardened criminals and was a stark contrast to Borstal Prison where Benjamin had cut his teeth on prison service. Yet even at Dartmoor, Benjamin tried to bring in small prison reforms which were, by and large, successful.

In 1929, Benjamin was appointed Governor of a small provincial prison at Shrewsbury whose prisoners were convicted of minor felonies and misdemeanors. One prison officer remarked that it must have been rather like going from taming lions to dealing with kittens. Benjamin spent about a year in Shrewsbury before being appointed Governor of Maidstone Prison in Kent in July 1930.

Benjamin spent seven years at Maidstone Prison during which his daughter Shelagh was born in June 1933. In the spring of 1937, Benjamin was appointed Governor of Durham Prison where he faced his first hanging. Benjamin knew the procedure to be followed for a hanging but was a bit apprehensive about the possible effects upon himself. His fears were groundless and he found that most condemned men accepted the situation with stoicism and retained that air of calmness until the end.

With the advent of the war, many prisoners who had less than three months remaining on their sentences were released and called into the military. In mid-1940, after Dunkirk, Benjamin was appointed Governor of Wandsworth Prison in London. Some of London's toughest criminals were housed in Wandsworth, but the fact that many of them were native Londoners, and received visits from their families, meant that morale was high in the prison. As younger prison officers were called up into the military, the remaining guards were often older and less fit. Wandsworth Prison received a direct hit from a bomb during the Blitz of late 1940. No one was injured but the Roman Catholic Chapel was destroyed. In spite of the air raids and bombings, executions still took place.

Panoramic view of Wandsworth Prison
Panoramic view of Wandsworth Prison - from Wikimedia Commons.
Benjamin supervised the hangings of several German spies including Karel Richter and Johann Dronkers. He also traveled to Pentonville Prison to witness the hanging of five Nazi soldiers who had murdered a fellow prisoner-of-war (an anti-Nazi). Benjamin even had custody of William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) for several days but was unimpressed by the man. There was one German spy whose conditions were slightly different than the others.

Josef Jakobs

The arrival of German spy Josef Jakobs at Wandsworth Prison on 23 July, 1941, was not without some complications. In order to conform to the military requirements surrounding his impending court martial, Jakobs needed to be kept within military custody, ideally a military prison. As none of the other likely locations were convenient to London or discrete enough, a condemned cell within Wandsworth Prison was temporarily designated as a military prison, complete with a squad of military police.

Jakobs was held at Wandsworth from 23 July until 15 August. Major Grew wrote at some length about an encounter he had with Jakobs on the morning of 15 August.

Of all the spies who faced execution I shall remember one for his soldierly manner, his courtesy and his quiet courage.

Joseph Jacobs was a German Officer dropped from an aeroplane but who injured his ankle on landing and was picked up within in a few hours. As a soldier of the German army he was tried by general court martial and sentenced to death by shooting. He spent his last night at Wandsworth before being taken to the Tower to face the firing squad.

As dawn came I stood at the entrance to my office as he approached, still limping from his injury, with the stalwart British military policemen escorting him. He must have seen me silhouetted against the electric light in my office, for he walked the few paces towards me with his outstretched hand, and said a few words of thanks. As well as he could, he clicked his heels and walked on.

I watched him walk go down the steps, and into a military police car with its outrider escort alongside and escort cars in front and behind.

As the massive doors of Wandsworth Prison swung slowly open the coming dawn was lighting the field in front, and touching the trees and barrage balloons with its cold light.

The procession of cars with its central figure passed quickly through the gateway into the deserted streets on its way to the Tower.

I remember I felt disinclined to return immediately to my office, and walked on for a short way still thinking of that firm handshake and the fast-approaching end of a brave soldier.

Having seen so many criminals in his career, Benjamin was an exceedingly good judge of character. His encounter with Jakobs speaks for itself.

Wormwood Scrubs

In February 1945, Benjamin was transferred to Wormwood Scrubs Prison as Governor. Located just west of London, Wormwood Scrubs gave Benjamin another avenue whereby he could try bolder experiments in prison reform.
Major Benjamin Dixon Grew at Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
Major Benjamin Dixon Grew (at right) at Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
Picture from The Prison Governor by Benjamin D. Grew.
 He spent the next 11 years at Wormwood Scrubs before finally retiring in 1956.

On 1 January 1, 1954, Queen Elizabeth announced the New Years Honours, an annual event in which she appointed various orders and honours to reward and highlight the good works of citizens of the Commonwealth.

Benjamin Dixon Grew was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (civilian division) for his many years of exemplary service in the Prison Service.
Civilian medal of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Civilian medal for Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
(from Bigbury Mint)

Benjamin Grew passed away in Hampshire (New Forest District) in the spring of 1977. His wife Eleanor passed away on 3 January, 1983 in the same area.


Benjamin Grew was a remarkable man. He was a pioneer in implementing prison reforms and seemed to genuinely care for the prisoners in his charge. His encounter with Josef Jakobs, briefly described in his book, is a testament to Benjamin's ability to see into the heart of a man.


Grew, Benjamin Dixon. The Prison Governor. Herbert Jenkins Ltd. 1958.
Ancestry.com - birth, marriage, death indices, census records, WWI Medal Index cards. 

© Copyright 2014 G.K. Jakobs

22 January 2014

National Registration Identity Card carried by Josef Jakobs

On September 3, 1939, England declared war against Germany. On September 5 of that same year the English Parliament, with Royal Assent, passed a National Registration system. With war declared, evacuations looming, and the last census eight years old, the government wanted to know who lived in England and how to keep track of them. On the evening of September 29, 1939, a national registration took place of all people in the United Kingdom. The National Registration system was instituted by Sir Sylvanus Vivian, the Registrar General from 1921 to 1945.

The National Identity Cards that were issued as a result of the registration were also coupled with ration books which were introduced in late 1939 or early 1940. In order to receive rationed goods, everyone needed a ration book and a National Identity Card. People also needed to carry the cards at all times.

The identity card was not a complicated document. Today, we would laugh at that sort of document being used for identification purposes. The identity card listed the person’s name and registration number. Later, after 20 May 1940, people were told to write their addresses on the right part of their identity card and to sign it.
Example of National Registration Identity Card
National Registration Identity Card from Wikimedia Commons.
The registration numbers were fairly basic as well, a four letter code, then a number, followed by another number. The four letter code was a district code, similar to an enumeration district. The next number was a household number. The final number was the person’s position within the household. So, AKAZ/145/3 would mean the district code AKAZ, Household 145 and person #3 in the household.
Example of National Registration Identity Card
National Registration Identity Card from Wikimedia Commons.
Identity cards had to be carried at all times and needed to be presented when using ration books. The cards could be demanded by police, air raid wardens and members of the Home Guard, particularly when traveling on the train.

While the registration cards were quite simple in apperance, that simplicty was crucial for the "checking" system, of which Sir Vivian was particularly proud. When presented with a dubious card, an officer could ask the bearer for their birth date so that it could be checked against the central registry. Since the date of birth was not listed on the card, the bearer would either have to know the information or make a wild guess. The card's simplicity was so effective in this regard that Sir Vivian was able to resist proposals to make the card more complex by adding a photograph.

Josef Jakobs

On the evening of January 31, 1941, as he was boarding an aircraft bound for England, Josef Jakobs was handed a British Identity Card by a Major Merkel. Josef was told to sign the card as James Rymer.
Forged National Registration Identity card of German spy Josef Jakobs.
Josef Jakobs' forged Identity Card - photographed at National Archives by G.K. Jakobs

The identity card given to Josef by the Germans was a forgery, and not even a very good one. Even a cursory glance by a Home Guard volunteer or a police constable would have raised questions about its authenticity.

  1. National Registration Number - The registration number on Josef's Identity Card was 656/301/29. It should have been four letters/number/number.
  2. Address - the address on Josef's card was written in a continental fashion, the city followed by the street address. The address should have been written:
             33 Abbotsford Gardens
             Woodford Green
  3. Name - the name in the two boxes should have been written with the surname first on its own line, followed by the first name on the line below and slightly indented:
  4. Handwriting - On a genuine card, the address was filled in after May 1940 and should have been in a different handwriting, using a different pen.
  5. Folding - Josef's forged card was machine folded - genuine cards were folded by hand.
It turned out that the information on Jakobs' Identity Card had been provided to the Germans by double-agent SNOW on 12 December, 1940.  The Germans had requested the names and addresses of people whose houses had been destroyed by bombs. There was a James Rymer who had lived at 33 Abbotsford Gardens, Woodford Green and who had been bombed out sometime between 29 October, 1940, and 12 December, 1940. SNOW also sent Rymer's genuine registration number to the Germans: ARAJ/301/29.

The number on Josef's card was virtually identical to the code sent by SNOW except that the four letters had been replaced by the numbers 656. Several MI5 officers wondered why the Germans would have altered the genuine registration number.

Another German agent, Karel Richter, was captured near London Colney in Mary 1941 and carried an Identity Card in the name of Fred Snyder. His card contained the same errors as Josef's card in terms of name format, handwriting, address format and folding. While the National Registration number followed the correct format - four letters/number/number - it turned out that VXAQ was an impossible code since none of the letter codes started with the letter "V". In fact, the code had been sent over by SNOW on 10 August, 1940. In addition, Richter's card was signed on 23 February, 1940, which was wrong, as the cards were only to be signed after 20 May, 1940.
Forged National Registration Identity card of German spy Karel Richter.
Karel Richter's forged Identity Card - photographed at National Archives by G.K. Jakobs.

In hindsight, it is clear that the German agents had extremely inadequate identification papers. The German Secret Service, in providing these forged identity papers were relying on information provided by "their" agents in England. They thought the information was genuine, little realizing that all of "their" agents had become double agents and were working for MI5.

National Archives, MI5 files for Josef Jakobs & Karel Richter

Agar, Jon. Identity cards in Britain: past experience and policy implications. History & Policy, accessed 6 January 2014.

Copyright (c) G.K. Jakobs, 2014.

17 January 2014

Website Review - Upwood & The Raveleys History Pages - Josef Jakobs

Since Josef Jakobs landed near the village of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, his story is often mentioned in histories of the area.

Photograph of Josef Jakobs provided by G.K. Jakobs
Josef Jakobs - April 1940
Photograph provided to Find A Grave
by G.K. Jakobs
One such website is Upwood & The Raveleys History Pages which have a small section on Josef. This site also pulled a picture of Josef from his virtual grave on the Find A Grave website.

This particular site has a few of the more common errors concerning the story around Josef, namely that he was spotted landing by the Home Guard and that he was transferred from Ramsey Police Station to the Tower of London. In actual fact, Josef descended on the night of January 31 and was found by some farmers the following morning. From Ramsey Police Station he was transferred to Cannon Row Police Station followed by: Brixton Prixon Hospital Ward, Latchmere House, Dulwich Hospital, Latchmere House, Brixton Prison Hospital Ward, Latchmere House, Wandsworth Prison and finally the Tower of London on 15 August, 1941.

3/5 - some inaccuracies could be corrected

13 January 2014

Incarcerated in Wandsworth Prison - July 23 to August 15, 1941

History of Wandsworth Prison

Wandsworth Prison opened its doors in 1851 as The Surrey House of Correction. It was constructed using a modified "Panopticon" design with a central hub from which four wings radiated. Initially 700 prisoners were housed at Wandsworth each in an individual cell with toilet facilities. Eventually the toilet facilities were removed to make room for more prisoners.
Wandworth Prison
Wandsworth Prison, London - Google Maps Satellite View
In 1878, after the close of Horsemonger Lane Gaol, the gallows were transferred to Wandsworth Prison. Initially executions took place within a purposely built execution shed on the prison grounds. In 1911, a new execution facility was built between E & F wings next to the condemned cell. Finally, in 1937, a new execution suite was constructed in E Wing spanning three floors. The top floor contained the beam from which the chains hung. The middle floor contained the execution room with the trapdoors and the lever. The ground floor cell opened out to the yard for easy removal of the body.

Wandsworth Execution Room
Wandsworth Execution Room - From Capital Punishment UK

In 1965, Britain abolished the death penalty and eventually, in 1994, the gallows at Wandsworth were dismantled and sent to the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. They gallows last been used in 1961 but had been tested every 6 months as they could have been required for someone accused of treason or piracy with violence. In 1998, hanging for even those offences was abolished.

In 2006, E Wing , which contained the former execution room and the condemned cells, was completely gutted and reconstructed. Nothing remains of those former times. Prior to the reconstruction of the wing, a TV crew from the series Off the Beaten Track managed to get a tour of the condemned suites and the former execution room. It is a fascinating video.

Wing of Wandsworth Prison
Wandsworth Prison wing - from Pinterest
Spies During the World Wars

During World War I, Robert Rosenthal was hanged at Wandsworth Prison for spying under the Treachery Act of 1914. The remainder of the spies were executed by firing squad at the Tower of London.

During World War II, 17 spies were condemened under the Treachery Act of 1940. Nine of these men were hanged at Wandsworth Prison, including Karel Richter. Seven were hanged at Pentonville Prison. Josef Jakobs was the lone spy to be executed by firing squad at the Tower of London.

Josef Jakobs-Prisoner
Josef was transferred to Wandsworth Prison from Latchmere House on July 23, 1941. He was housed within one of the condemned cells, separated from the rest of the prison population. A squad of military police guarded him around the clock as he was a military inmate. In fact, his cell was temporarily deemed to be a military prison. On August 4 and 5, Josef was tried by court-martial and found guilty. His sentence was death by firing squad. On August 6, two German spies who had also been found guilty of espionage, Karl Drucke and Werner Walti, were hanged at Wandsworth Prison.

On the morning of August 15, Josef was transferred to the Tower of London, along with his military police guards. Upon his departure, Josef approached the Governor of Wandsworth Prison, Major Grew, shook his hand and thanked him for the consideration given to him in prison. Still in pain from his broken ankle he managed to click his heels and salute before finding a place in history as the last person to be executed at the Tower. (McLaughlin)


Spies, Treason & the Wandsworth Gallows by Stewart McLaughlin
Capital Punishment UK - Wandsworth Prison by Richard Clark

08 January 2014

Willem Hertzog - Doctor to a German Spy


On February 1, 1941, Josef Jakobs was discovered in a field at Dovehouse Farm near Ramsey, Huntingdonshire. Josef had suffered a broken ankle during his descent by parachute from a German aircraft. Unable to move, he summoned help by firing his pistol into the air. Two farmers found Josef that morning and notified the Home Guard.

Josef was transported to the Ramasey Police Station in a horse-drawn cart by members of the Home Guard. Upon arrival at the police station, Josef was examined by Inspector Horace Jaikens who summoned Dr. Willem Hertzog, the local doctor. Dr. Hertzog confirmed that Josef had a broken ankle. Later that day, Hertzog certified that Josef was in a fit condition to be transported to London.

Dr. Willem Hertzog

Willem Hertzog was born on 29 July, 1903, in Jagersfontein, in Orange Free State, South Africa.
Location of Jagersfontein, site of Willem Hertzog's birth.
Location of Jagersfontein, South Africa (from Google Maps)

In 1924, Willem embarked from Durban, South Africa on the mail boat Arundel Castle. On April 21, 1924, Willem arrived at Southampton, England and began his career as a student.
Image of passenger ship Arundel Castle.
Arundel Castle (postcard from Simplon Postcards)
On October 19, 1928, Willem departed Southampton for Cape Town on the Kenilworth Castle, presumably to visit his family. Willem listed England as his country of permanent residence. On January 14, 1929, Willem traveled back to England, arriving in Southampton again on the mail boat Edinburgh Castle.
Willem Hertzog - Passenger List - 1929 - Edinburgh Castle mailship
Willem Hertzog, 1929 Passenger List of Edinburgh Castle - from www.ancestry.co.uk

Willem studied medicine and, in 1932, obtained his LMSSA (Licentiate of Medicine & Surgery of The Society of Apothecaries) at Guy's Hospital Medical School. Willem was registered to practice medicine in England on May 1, 1933.

In 1934, Willem married his wife Elfreda Margaret Curtis in London. By 1935, Willem and Eldreda had moved to Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, where they lived in The Gables, a historic dwelling dating from the 1200s. Willem and Freda had three children, one of whom also went on to become a doctor. Willem served as a general practioner in Ramsey for many years, finally retiring in 1968. Willem and his wife spent a lot of time maintaining and improving their medieval-halled house and gardens.
The Gables, Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, former residence of Dr. Willem Hertzog.
The Gables, 31 High Street, Ramsey, Huntingdonshire - from Google Streetview

Willem passed away on 12 December 1991 in Ramsey. He was 88 years old and survived by his wife and three children. Willem's wife Eldreda passed away in 2003 at the age of 91.

According to an obituary published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1992, Willem Hertzog was proud of his South African roots. He was a compassionate, thoughtful man, courteous at all times.
James Barry Munnik Hertzog, uncle of Dr. Willem Hertzog of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.
James Barry Munnik Hertzog
Prime Minister of South Africa 1924-1939

Willem's uncle was James Barry Munnik Hertzog, a lawyer who served as Prime Minister of South Africa from 1924 to 1939. A biography of James B.M. Hertzog notes that he was a descendant of German immigrants, Johann Barthold Hertzog and Susanna Maria Jacoba Hamman. Johann Barthold Hertzog may have come to South Africa in 1734 from Braunschweig, Germany.

It is interesting to note that Willem Hertzog, a South African descendant of German immigrants, eventually ended up treating an erstwhile German spy in the village of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.


Ancestry Genealogy records
British Medical Journal - May 16, 1992 - Volume 304, p. 1306 - Obituary of Willem Hertzog
South African History Online - James Barry Munnik Hertzog

03 January 2014

Website Review - RAF Upwood

RAF Bases near Ramsey

When Josef landed near the village of Ramsey on the evening of January 31, 1941, he had a map in his possession which caused quite a stir with the local authorities. A penciled circle and a cross marked the locations of two Royal Air Force Bases. The cross marked RAF Upwood and the circle marked RAF Warboys.

Map showing location of RAF Upwood, RAF Warboys and Dovehouse Farm where Josef Jakobs landed.
Area around Ramsey & Warboys. Red star marks RAF Upwood. Blue star marks RAF Warboys.
Purple star marks site of Josef's landing. (base map from www.streetmap.co.uk)

While both air bases have long since been decommissioned,  their association with Josef Jakobs, would-be German spy, is still remembered.

Sean Edwards maintains two websites, one devoted to RAF Upwood and one devoted to RAF Warboys.

RAF Upwood Website

The website devoted to RAF Upwood contains a section on Josef Jakobs. Much of the information comes from Stephen Stratford's website which outlines Josef's court martial and has been reviewed here.

The RAF Upwood site does contain a bit of extra information regarding Josef's arrival and capture at Dovehouse Farm. A map shows the location of Dovehouse Farm in relation to Ramsey. A similar map can be obtained via www.streetmap.co.uk.
Map showing village of Ramsey and Dovehouse Farm where Josef Jakobs landed.
Ramsey & Dovehouse Farm (from www.streetmap.co.uk)

This extra information on the RAF Warboys site is accurate. The site also makes mention of the map in Josef's possession which highlighted the locations of the aerodromes at Upwood and Warboys.

RAF Warboys Website

This website was only uploaded in 2012 and is still under construction. Construction on RAF Warboys began in 1940 and the airfield was ready for use in July 1941, several months after Josef had landed. While this website makes no particular mention of Josef, it is interesting to know that the Germans may have already had information on the airfield even before it was put into use.
Aerial view of former location of RAF Warboys.
Former location of RAF Warboys - southwest of village of Warboys.
A couple of good websites with quite a bit of information on the history of RAF Upwood & RAF Warboys. The information provided on Josef's court-martial is based on Stephen Stratford's site which contains a few errors. The introductory paragraph on Josef is accurate.

4.5 out of 5