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Showing posts from October, 2014

Food for the Hungry

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Genuine British Ration Books from 1939. From the Quince Tree blog. Had German spy Josef Jakobs landed uneventfully in Huntingdonshire on the evening of 31 January, 1941, he would still have faced a number of hurdles on his way to London. Wartime Britain had instituted food rationing in January 1940 and every man, woman and child required a Ration Book. All food items were rationed: sugar, tea, meat, bacon, butter, margarine and fat. In order to purchase food, Josef would have needed to present a Ration Book. The British authorities issued different ration books for different groups. The general Adult ration book was a buff colour. Soldiers on leave received a different style of Ration Book. Later in the war, children were also issued with slightly different Ration Books. The pink Traveller's Ration Book found in Josef Jakob's possession. Held at the National Archives. (photograph copyright G.K. Jakobs). The German Abwehr provided their spies with forged Trave

A Light in the Darkness

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The torch found in the possession of Josef Jakobs. Held at the National Archives. (photograph copyright G.K. Jakobs) The farm field in which German spy Josef Jakobs landed on the night of 31 January 1941 was most likely enshrouded in unrelieved darkness. The waxing crescent moon was hidden behind clouds and British wartime regulations ensured that farmhouse lights were hidden behind blackout curtains. Josef was equipped with two items which would have helped to relieve the darkness: a cigarette lighter manufactured by Karl Wieden and a small torch/flashlight.  The electric torch was powered by a battery and could give off an exceptionally bright light. A silver lighter manufactured by Karl Wieden - similar to the one Josef had. (From My Lighter website ). The torch was also equipped with a flashing device which, in the opinion of MI5 officers, was intended for signaling enemy aircraft. Given the fact that Josef had broken his right ankle while leaving the German a

The Gun that Saved a Life

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German spy Josef Jakobs landed in a farmer's field near the village of Ramsey on the evening of January 31, 1941. Having broken his ankle while leaving the aircraft, Josef was unable to move from his landing place and lay there all night. The following morning at around 8:30 a.m. he fired his pistol into the air several times to attract attention. He was in luck and two farm workers heard his shots and came to his rescue. A Mauser 1914/34 pistol (serial #487232) - Josef's pistol would have looked very similar to this one. (From Mauser Guns - opens as a pdf file) According to the MI5 files, the pistol that Josef used was a 7.65 mm Mauser pocket pistol, serial number 489356. The Mauser pistol was manufactured by the German Small Arms company, Mauser-Werke A.G. Oberndorfe A.N. Based on the serial number, Josef's pistol would have been a 1914/34 model (transitional from the 1914 model to the 1934 model). It was manufactured sometime between 1929 and 1933.

Money Money Money

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A £1 note from the 1930s. (From Bank of England website) When German spy Josef Jakobs parachuted into a farm field near the village of Ramsey in England, he carried upon his person a small fortune in British currency. Members of the Home Guard who searched him the following morning found wads of new and old £1 notes tucked away in his wallet and various pockets. The Ramsey Police counted the notes several times and came up with a total of £497 or £498. Today, that amount would be the equivalent of about £22,000. Det. Sgt. Oliver Mills noted that several of the notes looked like forgeries to him. Several MI5 officers noted that Josef Jakobs was, up until that point, the highest paid agent to land in Britain. That fact only made them think that he was highly valued by the German Abwehr. Other German agents had generally arrived with £200 or less. Josef steadfastly maintained that he had been given more money than other agents because the previous amounts were deemed to be inad

The Mystery of the Two Notebooks and a Boy named Kenneth C. Howard

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N.B. See my February 12, 2017 blog for a break in the case.  In April 2012, I wrote a blog article entitled Who is Kenneth C. Howard? The article arose out of two small notebooks which were contained within one of Josef Jakobs' files at the National Archives in Kew. At the time, the notebooks (or facsimiles thereof) were on display in the small curator's museum at the Archives. The notebooks have proved to be an ongoing conundrum. You see, the police and MI5 made several inventories of the articles in Josef's possession and the only notebook-like articles were: a brown leather purse with a zip fastener a blue leather note case with guard Neither of those descriptions match the two small notebooks at the National Archives. In fact, had those notebooks been in Josef's possession, the officers of MI5 would have questioned Josef rigorously about the Kenneth C. Howard to whom the notebooks belonged. Black Notebook Black notebook - National Archives (KV 2/27

Radio Review - BBC - World War I at Home - Carl Hans Lody

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BBC Radio Scotland - Edinburgh, Scotland: Carl Lody, Spy on the Forth Original Air Date - 17 February 2014 Station - BBC Radio Show - World War I at Home Duration - 6:38 minutes Producer -unknown Clip available here Review Carl Hans Lody circa 1914. (From The British Library ) This programme tells the story of Carl Hans Lody, a German spy who was executed at the Tower of London on November 6, 1914. The story is told by Canadian Peter Jackson, a professor of history at the University of Glasgow. The story itself is quite gripping and notes that Lody spoke English fluently but with an American accent. The programme has recreated sound clips of Lody reading out the reports that he sent back to Germany. Unfortunately, having just noted that the Lody spoke English with an American accent, the programme gives Lody a strong German accent. The programme concludes with the recreated voice of Lody reading an excerpt from his final letter to his family. Review Score 4 ou

Radio Review - BBC Radio - World War I at Home - Tower of London: The Execution of Eleven German Spies

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Radio - Tower of London, London: The Execution of Eleven German Spies Original Air Date - 3 February 2014 Station - BBC Radio Show - World War I at Home Duration - 6:49 minutes Producer -unknown Clip available here Review Miniature Rifle Range - 1914-1916 (From Imperial War Museum - fair use policy) Although this radio programme deals primarily with the execution of German spies during World War I, it does provide some new and useful information that relates to the execution of Josef Jakobs as well. The programme doesn't have a narrator but the bulk of the narration is provided by Sally Dixon-Smith (Collections Curator at the Tower of London) and Kevin Kitcher (Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London). The first interesting tidbit is a note that more people were executed within the Tower of London in the 20th century than under the Tudors (e.g. Henry VII and his many wives). Many people think of the modern Tower as a place for the Crown Jewels and not as a plac