24 February 2014

The Final Resting Place of Josef Jakobs

Map showing location of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Location of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery - Google Maps
On 18 August 1941, following the execution and autopsy at the Tower of London, Jakobs' body was driven to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, in northwest London. A funeral service was held at the chapel, possibly presided over by the army chaplain who had ministered to Jakobs during the final weeks of his life. Jakobs was then buried in an unmarked grave (Plot 1734G) in the Common Graves area of the cemetery.


St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery
St. Mary's Cemetery opened on 10 May 1858. Over 165,000 people have been buried in the cemetery. The cemetery has both Public and Private Graves.

Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Chapel at St. Mary's Cemetery.
(Nigel Cox - Creative Commons License)
Public Graves, also known as Common Graves, were the cheaper burial option and were used up until the end of the 1970s. Over 115,000 people were interred in Public Graves at the cemetery.

A Public Grave could contain several people, often more than eight, who were not related to each other but who died around the same time. Over 115,000 adults and children were interred in Public Graves at St Mary's Cemetery.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Private Graves at St. Mary's Cemetery.
(© 2010 Giselle K. Jakobs)

In the mid to late 1970s, the cemetery reclaimed all of the Common Graves. Headstones and grave markers were removed and 12 feet of fresh soil was placed on top of the graves. The newly created plot was then used for Private Graves.
Private Graves or Family Graves were available for purchase but in recent years the amount of space available in the cemetery has been severely restricted. The maintenance of the cemetery depends upon funds derived from the sale of burial plots. Given the restriction in plots and funds, the cemetery trustees erected a sign outside the chapel advising visitors that they have had "no alternative but to reduce the standard and extent of the maintenance of the cemetery to a level consistent with the income at their disposal". As a result, older portions of the cemetery have a decidedly neglected air.


Josef Jakobs
Map of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London, showing location of grave of Josef Jakobs.
Map of St. Mary's Cemetery showing the approximate location of
the grave of Josef Jakobs. (from St. Mary's Cemetery website)
Josef Jakobs was buried in Plot 1734G. The "G" area was one of those reclaimed in the 1970s and is located near the southern boundary of the cemetery.
Sir Winston Ramsey, editor of After the Battle magazine, was the sleuth who, in the late 1970s, determined the exact location of Jakobs' grave.

In 1991, I accompanied Ramsey to St. Mary's Cemetery where he showed me the approximate site of Jakobs' grave. The exact location will most likely remain a mystery given the addition of 12 feet of soil onto the former Plot G.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Approximate area in which Jakobs was buried.
(© 2010 Giselle K. Jakobs)
Interestingly, the area above Jakobs' grave, while populated by a number of impressive gravestones, also contains a grave marked by a simple wooden cross. While having no relation to Jakobs' grave, the wooden cross serves as a distinctive reference point when searching for the approximate location of the grave.
A Memorial
Interior of Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Inside view of St. Mary's Chapel.
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)
Memorial statue in Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Memorial Statue for all
those buried in Plot G
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)

In searching for Jakobs' grave, Sir Winston Ramsey contacted the German War Graves Commission. The Commission disavowed any knowledge of Josef Jakobs, although they made a note of Ramsey's enquiry.

In early 2012, I contacted the German Dienststelle and the German War Graves regarding Josef Jakobs. After sharing some family documents regarding the service record of Josef Jakobs, the German War Graves Commission added Josef Jakobs to their online database.
Jakobs' grave had no headstone and there was, until recently, no individual burial memorial for Jakobs. The cemetery does have a chapel, within which funerals and memorial Masses are conducted.
Along the side wall of the chapel is a statue of Mary with an inscription below. 
Memorial plaque in Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Memorial Plaque erected in memory of those buried in Plot G.
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)
 This Statue was erected in memory of
Maria Grazia D'Urso
who was buried on the "G" Plot in July 1932.
After the closure on 17th June 1970 this Statue
was placed in St. Mary's Chapel in Memory
of all the Souls at rest in this section,
and was dedicated to their memory on
Sunday 4th October 1970 by The Very
Reverend Canon J.F. Marriott, Chief Adm.


Example of private memorial plaque in Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Private memorial plaque.
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)

Example of memorial wall plaque in Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Memorial Wall Plaque
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)
Some descendants of those buried in Plot G have sought to have a more personal memorial erected in honour of their deceased family members.
Personal plaques can be purchased or the name of the deceased can be inscribed on a common memorial wall plaque.
In 2012, the family of Josef Jakobs purchased a memorial line on a wall plaque located on the left wall of the chapel sanctuary.
Memorial wall plaque for Josef Jakobs in Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in London.
Wall Memorial Plaque for Josef Jakobs.
(© 2012 Giselle K. Jakobs)

While Jakobs has had a virtual memorial/grave on the Find A Grave website for several years, a physical memorial is far more tangible.

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