Showing posts from March, 2015

Today in 1941: March 31 - German spy Josef Jakobs returned to Brixton Prison Infirmary

Today in 1941, German spy Josef Jakobs was transferred from Ham Common Internment Camp (a.k.a. Camp 020) to Brixton Prison Infirmary.

Josef had been transferred to Ham Common around March 26, having recovered sufficiently from his injuries and illnesses. Unfortunately, after a day or so at Ham Common, Josef began to develop a fever and Stephens (Commandant of Camp 020) decided that Josef should be transferred to a better-equipped medical facility. Thus, on March 30 or 31, Josef was transferred to Brixton Prison Infirmary, a place he had visited once before, in early February, when he first arrived in London.

Unfortunately, Josef's medical records from Brixton Prison Infirmary are not included in the KV 2 files. We do know that on 15 April, 1941, Josef was returned to Ham Common Internment Camp.

Today in 1941: March 27 - German spy Josef Jakobs transferred from Dulwich Community Hospital to Ham Common Internment Camp

Today in 1941, German spy Josef Jakobs was transferred from Dulwich Community Hospital in East Dulwich to Ham Common Internment Camp (a.k.a. Camp 020).

Since his arrival at Dulwich Hospital on 3 February, 1941, Josef's shattered ankle had been put into Plaster of Paris several times. He had developed septicemia at the site of the break which then morphed into broncho-pneumonia. His transfer to Ham Common was postponed numerous times due to his poor physical condition.

Finally, in late March, 1941, the doctors at Dulwich decided that Josef could be transferred to Ham Common, and his care assumed by the medical attendants there. Josef was transferred to Ham on March 26 or 27 but his transfer would be short-lived. A day or so after his transfer, Josef began to develop a fever.

E.B. Goodacre - Historian and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941

Digging up information on the elusive Camp 020 interrogators is a bit tricky given that they were generally only referenced by their initials and last name (e.g. E.B. Goodacre). Several sources suggested that Goodacre's first name was Eric but that proved to be a dead end. By cross-referencing the British Army Lists and the London Gazette from 1940 and 1941, we find only one Goodacre being commissioned into the Intelligence Corps, Edward Brereton Goodacre.

Early Life
Edward Brereton Goodacre was born on 26 July, 1901, in Rochdale, Lancashire, northeast of Manchester. He was the first child of Edward Ernest Goodacre and Helena Elizabeth Marsh, both from the Manchester area.

Edward Sr. received a Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge University in 1887 and was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1890. He was stationed in various churches and married Helena on 5 September 1900 in Upholland, Lancashire. From 1902 to 1909, the family was based in Atherton, northwest of Mancheste…

G.F. Sampson - Diplomat and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941

Digging up information on the elusive Camp 020 interrogators is a bit tricky given that they were generally only referenced by their initials and last name (e.g. G.F. Sampson) and rarely by their first and last names (e.g. George Sampson). But, by cross-referencing the British Army Lists and the London Gazette from 1940 and 1941, we learn that Sampson's full name was George Frederick Sampson. A further clue comes from Oliver Hoare's introduction to Camp 020 where he notes that by March 1946, "Sampson had left the Security Service, putting his extensive linguistic skills to use at the United Nations" (p. 4). With that key piece of information, we can begin to piece George's life together.

Early Life
George was born in early 1883 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire to John and Mary Ann Sampson. John was an ironstone miner and the young couple already had a son, born in 1881, named Herbert Harris Sampson. The two boys appeared to be the only surviving children of John and Mary…

Interrogators at Camp 020 in 1941

Very few photographs exist of the mysterious interrogators from Camp 020, also known as Latchmere House, Ham Common or simply Ham. In May 1941, with the help of Josef Jakobs, Camp 020 interrogators finally broke newly arrived spy Karel Richter. On the morning of 18 May, Richter reluctantly admitted that he had arrived by parachute. A field trip to London Colney (where Richter had landed) was quickly arranged that afternoon. Dr. Harold Dearden, the resident doctor at Camp 020, came along and brought his camera for good measure.One of the photographs taken by Dearden captured five of the primary interrogators at Camp 020 in 1941. All of these men were involved in the interrogations of both Karel Richter and Josef Jakobs. Some authors have added Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley-Cooke's name to the expedition but from the above report by Stimson, it is clear that Hinchley-Cooke was not present.
 From left to right, we have:
   Major R.W.G. Stephens, Camp 020 Commandant (promoted to Lt.…

Magazine Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 35

The Magazine
German Spies in Britain, After the Battle, volume 35, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1982, page 20.

Last year I wrote a short article review on After the Battle Magazine's classic piece on German Spies in Britain (Volume 11, published 1976). When the editor of the magazine, Winston Ramsey, wrote the article, MI5 files were still highly classified. As a result, some of the information gathered by Ramsey was not always accurate.

In Volume 35 of After the Battle Magazine, Ramsey acknowledged the limitations under which he had laboured in the mid 1970s. In 1981, military historian Nigel West wrote a book on the history of MI5 using information gleaned from interviews with some of the original MI5 officers and double agents.

Based on the new information unearthed by West, Ramsey noted that Josef Jakobs had not, in fact, landed near North Stifford in Essex, as he had originally stated in Volume 11, but near Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. A revised Volume 11…

Albert Pierrepoint - Britain's Most Efficient Executioner

During World War II, 15 men were hanged as spies in Great Britain, either at Pentonville Prison or Wandsworth Prison.

Many of those spies were hanged by Albert Pierrepoint, a man who would eventually become known as Britain's Most Efficient Executioner. Pierrepoint served as a hangman from 1932 to 1956 and during that period executed about 435 people, including 202 German War Criminals in the post-war period.

In 1951, Pierrepoint set a record for the fastest hanging - a total of seven seconds. Ten years earlier, however, in December 1941, Pierrepoint experienced one of the most stressful hangings of his career when German spy Karel Richter fought his fate to the bitter end.

Had Josef Jakobs not been tried by a General Court Martial, he too would have probably have met his death at the hands of Pierrepoint.

Pierrepoint was a fascinating man and claimed to have two personalities, a characteristic which allowed him to completely disassociate his life as executioner from his life at…

Anomalies in the Execution of Wartime Spies in Britain

During World War II, Britain executed 16 spies under the Treachery Act (1940). Of the sixteen, fifteen were tried in civil court and hanged, either at Pentonville Prison or Wandsworth Prison. Only one enemy agent, Josef Jakobs, was tried by court martial and subsequently shot at the Tower of London. This anomaly - one court martial and execution by firing squad - still puzzles some readers, but is easily explained.

Under the Treachery Act of 1940, a court martial was reserved for members of His Majesty's Armed Forces, members of the enemy's Armed Forces and some enemy alien civilians (at the discretion of the Secretary of State).

Josef Jakobs was a German citizen (an enemy alien) and also claimed to be a member of the German Armed Forces. He was a prime candidate for trial by court martial. A soldier sentenced to death by court martial was accorded an honourable death by firing squad.

Under the Treachery Act, civilians from Britain or neutral territories had the right to be ju…