31 March 2015

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

Today in 1941: German spy Josef Jakobs returned to Brixton Prison InfirmaryToday 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.



27 March 2015

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 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

Lt. E.B. Goodacre, May 1941  (Imperial War Museum,  HU 66766, Fair Use)
Lt. E.B. Goodacre, May 1941
(Imperial War Museum,
HU 66766, Fair Use)
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 Manchester.

In 1903, Edward Sr. and Helena welcomed a son, Randall William into their family. Five years later, the family grew again with the birth of Marjorie Helen. Both children were baptized at St. John's Church in Atherton by their father.

In 1909, Edward Sr. traveled to Jamaica but the following year he passed away on 7 October, in the town of Southport, Merseyside. Edward Sr. was buried in Aughton, Lancashire, just south of Ormskirk.

Helena raised the three children on her own, living off of "private means". At this point, we lose the trail for Edward Jr. and his family. We do know that Edward Jr. went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts from Oxford, probably in the early 1920s. His brother, Randal William was cut from different cloth and in September, 1923, emigrated to Australia. It appears from several academic references that Edward Jr. studied history and wrote several articles on Shakespeare as well historical personages.

World War 2
Signature for Lt. E.B. Goodacre (National Archives KV 2 files)
Signature (of sorts) for Lt. E.B. Goodacre
(National Archives KV 2 files)
In 1941, Edward Jr. was drawn into the war when he was commissioned into the British Army as a member of the Intelligence Corps. He was 40 years old. One of Edward's first jobs was to interview Frau Lily Knips in late February 1941, along with Lt. R.A.F. Short. German spy, Josef Jakobs, had named Frau Knips as a contact in London and MI5 was naturally quite interested in her connection with a capture German spy. In the end, much to her relief, Frau Knips was cleared of any suspicious activity.

In 1943, Sir David Petrie, Director General of the Security Service posted Edward to Trinidad as a security officer. Edward sailed from Gourock, Scotland on 2 June, 1943 and arrived in New York a week or so later. He then made his way to Miami, Florida, where he caught a Pan Am flight to Puerto Rico on 22 June 1943.

Edward didn't stay in the Carribean long. On 12 January, 1944, he arrived back in New York onboard a ship from Trinidad enroute to England. A couple of months later, Edward's mother passed away near Wigan, Lancashire and Edward may have returned to England to probate her will. Edward may have remained in England for the remainder of the war.

Post War
United Nations Flag
United Nations Flag
After the war, Edward joined the United Nations Organization, traveling back and forth between England and New York several times in 1946 and 1947. On 12 May, 1948, Edward married Kathleen Margaret Ashworth in Manchester. That same year, Edward was posted to the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland and two of his children would be born there, one in 1949 and one in 1953.

Edward continued to travel to New York on occasion (1955) but the remainder of his life is a bit of a mystery. He apparently died in 1979, location unknown.

References
British Army Lists - 1940 & 1941.
Genealogy websites - Ancestry, FamilySearch - births, marriages, deaths, census, passenger lists.
London Gazette - 1940 & 1941.
Stephens, R.W.G. - Camp 020:MI5 and the Nazi Spies (edited by Oliver Hoare). 2000.

23 March 2015

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

George Frederick Sampson at Latchmere House (Camp 020).  (Imperial War Museum - HU 66757 - Fair Use)
George Frederick Sampson at Latchmere House (Camp 020).
(Imperial War Museum - HU 66757 - Fair Use)
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 Ann. By 1891, the family had moved from Lincoln to Stanley, just southeast of Leeds, where John became a coal miner. Herbert, and presumably George as well, attended the Wakefield Grammar School, south of Leeds. By 1901, the family had moved a tad closer to Leeds and settled in Holbeck. Both Herbert (20 years old) and George (18 years old) were employed as clerks for a corn miller. George's whereabouts between 1901 and 1909 are shrouded in mystery. His brother, Herbert, became a language teacher and traveled around the continent.

Palais Strousberg in Berlin - British Embassy 1877-1939  (From Wikipedia)
Palais Strousberg in Berlin - British Embassy 1877-1939
(From Wikipedia)
We next pick up George's trail in 1909, when we find him serving as an archivist at the British Embassy in Berlin. It seems likely that George would have met a young clerk from the British Legation in Dresden named William Edward Hinchley Cooke. Neither man could know that their paths would cross again thirty years later at Camp 020. During his time at the embassy, George became quite fluent in German, a skill that would serve him well as an interrogator in Camp 020.

While living in Berlin, George went on leave to Stockholm on several occasions, visits which seem rather mysterious until one learns that George's future wife was Swedish. Gerda was born in Gävle, Sweden around 1882, and may have been attached to the Swedish Embassy in Berlin. The two possibly met at diplomatic soirées in Berlin and George likely traveled to Stockholm to meet Gerda's parents and ask for her hand in marriage. In 1912, George and Gerda welcomed a little girl, Margaret, into their lives. In 1914, at the outbreak of war, George and his family were expelled from Germany, along with all of the other diplomatic staff.

Last resting place of Herbert Harris Sampson  Loos Memorial (CWGC)
Last resting place of Herbert Harris Sampson
Loos Memorial (CWGC)

George's activities during the war are, again, unknown. He may have been drawn into intelligence work or he may have been assigned to another diplomatic post. While his war service is a mystery, that of his brother is not. At the outbreak of the war, Herbert Harris Sampson enlisted in Wakefield and ended up joining the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards as a Private. Herbert saw battle in France and was killed in action on 12 October, 1915, during the Battle of Loos. His personal effects were sent back to his father.

In 1920, George was awarded the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division). At the time he was serving as Assistant Commercial Attaché for His Majesty's Legation in Stockholm, Sweden. By 1922, George was back in England, living in Hammersmith with his family.

World War 2
Lt. G.F. Sampson signature (National Archives - KV 2/24)
Lt. G.F. Sampson signature
(National Archives - KV 2/24)
George's activities during the inter-war period are also shrouded in mystery. He surfaces again in early 1940 when he was commissioned into the British Army as a member of the Intelligence Corps. He was 57 years old. One of George's first jobs was to oversee the transformation of Latchmere House into a top-secret intelligence interrogation centre. When Latchmere House officially opened in July 1940, Lieutenant George F. Sampson became Assistant Commandant under Major R.W.G. Stephens.

United Nations Flag
United Nations Flag
Post War
After the war ended, George was charged with writing a history of Camp 020 and submitted it to the Deputy Director General of MI5 before retiring from the military. He, along with several of his fellow Camp 020 interrogators, joined the League of Nations (replaced by the United Nations in 1945/46) in the Documents Service division. George's skill at languages and his background in intelligence work proved to be an asset to the fledgling organization.

George was posted to the United Nations office in New York and traveled back and forth between England and the United States several times between 1946 and 1947. His wife, Gerda, and his daughter, Margaret accompanied him. Margaret had become an accomplished woman in her own right, working as an official for the BBC.

On 2 December, 1948, George was involved in a fatal accident in Paris, France. He passed away at L'hôpital Boucicaut at the age of 65. George's wife inherited his effects, valued at about £7000. Twelve years later, on 28 June 1960, Gerda Sampson passed away at Bolingbroke Hospital in London. She was 78 years old and left £17,000 to her daughter.

References
British Army Lists - 1940 & 1941.
Genealogy websites - Ancestry, FamilySearch - births, marriages, deaths, census, passenger lists.
London Gazette - 1940 & 1941.
Stephens, R.W.G. - Camp 020:MI5 and the Nazi Spies (edited by Oliver Hoare). 2000.

18 March 2015

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.
Extract from a report by D.B. Stimson summarizing the expedition to  recover Richter's belongings. Stimson notes the names of all the officers  involved in the expedition: Stephens, Sampson, Richter, an escort (guard),  Short, Goodacre, Dearden and Superintendent Reeves.  (National Archives - KV 2/30, folio 14a)
Extract from a report by D.B. Stimson summarizing the expedition to
recover Richter's belongings. Stimson notes the names of all the officers
involved in the expedition: Stephens, Sampson, Richter, an escort (guard),
Short, Goodacre, Dearden and Superintendent Reeves.
(National Archives - KV 2/30, folio 14a)
 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.
Camp 020 interrogators and German spy Karel Richter, 18 May 1941.  (Imperial War Museum - HU 66766 - Fair Use)
Camp 020 interrogators and German spy Karel Richter, 18 May 1941.
(R.W.G. Stephens, G.F. Sampson, R.A.F. Short, Karel Richter,
D.B. Stimson, E.B. Goodacre)
(Imperial War Museum - HU 66766 - Fair Use)
From left to right, we have:
   Major R.W.G. Stephens, Camp 020 Commandant (promoted to Lt. Col. in June/July 1941)
   Lt. G.F. Sampson, Camp 020 Asst. Commandant (promoted to Captain in June/July 1941)
   Lt. R.A.F. Short (promoted to Captain between June and Sept 1941)
   Karel Richter - captured German spy, executed 10 December 1941
   Captain D.B. Stimson, in charge of Camp 020 Administration
   Lt. E.B. Goodacre - interrogator

In addition to the men pictured above, two other officers were involved in the interrogations of Josef and Richter, Lt. A.D. Meurig Evans and 2nd Lt. T.L. Winn.

While much has been written about Stephens, finding information on the other officers is a bit more of a challenge. Over the next few posts, I will share the information that I have gleaned about these men. First up, Lt. G.F. Sampson.

13 March 2015

Magazine Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 35

After the Battle Magazine - No. 35  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No. 35
(From After the Battle website)
The Magazine
German Spies in Britain, After the Battle, volume 35, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1982, page 20.

Summary
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 was subsequently published.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - It is always nice when authors keep readers updated on the newest, most up-to-date information.

09 March 2015

Albert Pierrepoint - Britain's Most Efficient Executioner

Albert Pierrepoint (Wikipedia)
Albert Pierrepoint
(Wikipedia)
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 home. After leaving the Prison Service, Pierrepoint wrote a memoir in which he said:
"I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people ...The trouble with the death penalty has always been that nobody wanted it for everybody, but everybody differed about who should get off."
In researching the life of this fascinating man, I came across a couple of YouTube videos, both of which I highly recommend.

The first is a documentary released in 2006 entitled Executioner Pierrepoint.It provides a good historical background to Pierrepoint and covers some of his more famous executions

The second is a fictional film, also released in 2006 entitled simply Pierrepoint. Timothy Spall plays Pierrepoint and does a great job. There are several versions of the film available on YouTube. The first version, available here, has the film in its entirety, albeit with English subtitles, which get to be a bit annoying after a while. The second version presents the film in 9 segments of about 10 minutes each - see below.
Pierrepoint Part 1
Pierrepoint Part 2
Pierrepoint Part 3
Pierrepoint Part 4
Pierrepoint Part 5
Pierrepoint Part 6
Pierrepoint Part 7
Pierrepoint Part 8
Pierrepoint Part 9

References
Albert Pierrepoint - Obituary in The Telegraph, 13 July 1992.
British Executions website.

04 March 2015

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.
Treachery Act - 23 May 1940 - Header (National Archives - LCO 53/54)
Treachery Act - 23 May 1940 - Header
(National Archives - LCO 53/54)

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 judged by a jury of their peers in a civil trial. Their sentence was generally death by hanging. In cases where the nationality of a civilian was in doubt, they were to be given the benefit of the doubt and allowed a civil trial. In cases where an enemy alien was tried jointly with neutrals or British nationals, the trial was also to be a civil one.

At one point, during the summer of 1941, Karel Richter was being considered for trial by court martial but officials couldn't decide if he was Czech or German. If he was Czech, then he was a neutral and should be granted a civil trial. But the Sudetenland area of Czechoslavakia where Richter was from had been annexed by the Germans. If Richter was German, then he was an enemy alien and should be tried by court martial. In the end, the officials decided to give Richter the benefit of the doubt and he was tried by a civil court.

If we look back to World War I, we find another execution anomaly, but the opposite one. During World War I, Britain executed 12 men as spies under DORA (Defence of the Realm Act). Eleven were shot at the Tower of London after either: a war crime trial (one case), a court martial (eight cases) or a civil trial (two cases). One man, Robert Rosenthal, was tried by court martial and, upon conviction should have been executed by firing squad. Such was not to be his fate as, on 15 July 1915, Rosenthal was hanged at Wandsworth Prison, the only spy to suffer such a fate during World War I.

Robert Rosenthal was born in 1892 in Magdeburg, Germany to Jewish parents. He was apprenticed to a baker in 1906 but the post did not agree with him. Returning home after several months, he obtained a positionin a lamp store. After committing a forgery, Rosenthal was dismissed from his post and sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

Robert Rosenthal - 23 years old.  (Felstead, German Spies at Bay, 1920)
Robert Rosenthal - 23 years old.
(Felstead, German Spies at Bay, 1920)
Upon his release (1907-1908), Rosenthal went to sea, spent a bit of time in America visiting relatives and eventually found himself back in Hamburg at the start of the war. In late 1914, Rosenthal agreed to travel to England under the guise of a cigar-lighter salesman. He arrived at Folkestone in November 1914 using an American passport in the name of Harry Berger.

Rosenthal's presence in England went undetected by the British authorities and Rosenthal sent several letters back to the Continent with secret ink messages. He left the country in December 1914 and returned in early January 1915 on a second mission. He left the country a week later but returned for a third mission in April 1915. On this occasion however, his luck ran out. Rosenthal was apprehended by the British authorities on 11 May, 1915, as he tried to board a ship sailing from Newmarket to Copenhagen. It turned out that Rosenthal himself had tipped off the English authorities.

A short while previously, British Postal Censorship had intercepted a letter in a mail bag from Denmark. The letter was addressed from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany and had been included in the postal bag by mistake. It was written by Rosenthal and informed his Berlin handlers that he was about to set off on an espionage mission to England as a cigar-lighter salesman. Port and Immigration authorities were notified and Rosenthal was nabbed. Faced with the letter, in his own handwriting, Rosenthal confessed and offered his services to the British authorities. His offer was refused.

On 11 July, 1915, Rosenthal was tried by General Court Martial and found guilty. He was held at Wandsworth Detention Barracks (a section of Wandsworth Prison had been designated as a military prison) and made two attempts to commit suicide, both unsuccessful.

Wandsworth Prison - The Gallows.  (From Capital Punishment UK)
Wandsworth Prison - The Gallows.
(From Capital Punishment UK)
At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of 15 July, 1915, "Rosenthal, escorted by two stalwart policemen, went to his death." (Felstead) Apparently he was "dragged to the scaffold crying his innocence and protesting his willingness to do any service for England in return for his freedom". (Wild & Curtis-Bennett)  "Towards the end he broke down badly and gave unutterable disgust to the authorities by his lack of common courage. In fact, the commandant described him as a 'cur' ". (Felstead) All of Rosenthal's pleas and protestations fell on deaf ears and in the end executioner Thomas Pierrepoint pulled the lever and Rosenthal's life was over.

There are two theories as to why Rosenthal was hanged and not executed by firing squad after his court martial.

In 1920, Sidney Theodore Felstead wrote a book about the German spies in England during World War I. He indicated that "for reasons connected with the military occupation of the Tower it was decided by the authorities that the spy should suffer death by hanging." A few short weeks later, on 30 July, 1915, two German spies (Roos and Janssen) were executed by firing squad in the Tower moat instead of the miniature rifle range. It is possible that, at the time of Rosenthal's execution, the miniature rifle range had already been torn down in preparation for the construction of the new one.

The second theory is a bit darker. In early 1940, British officials were wrestling with the logistics of court martials, enemy aliens, hangings and firing squads. The War Office was asked to explain why two spies (Breeckow and Muller) were tried by civil courts and executed by firing squad while Rosenthal was tried by court martial and hanged.  One H.T. Allen, War Office wrote back and noted that "the reason why [Rosenthal] was hanged and not shot was the subject of an investigation in MI5 in 1932. It was then reported that there was no record of the reason in MI5, War Office or Home Office files, but the investigator reported that he heard at the time 'that the Court considered a bullet too good for him on account of his extremely cowardly behaviour during the trial." Interestingly, a biography of Henry Curtis-Bennett (Rosenthal's defence counsel) noted that while Rosenthal was "a completely contemptible, cowardly type", he actually "bore himself well" during the actual court martial.

References

Andrew, Christopher. 2009. Defence of the Realm - The Authorized History of MI5.

BBC Radio I. World War I at Home. 6 November 2014. Wandsworth Prison, London: Where Military Prisoners and Conscientious Objectors were Held.

Felstead, Sidney Theodore. 1920. German Spies at Bay - Being an Actual Record of the German Espionage in Great Britain During the Years 1914-1918.

National Archives - Lord Chancellor's Office file (LCO 53/54) - Correspondence leading to draft Treachery Bill 1940.

Thomson, Basil. 1922. Odd People - Hunting Spies in the First World War (republished 2015).

West, Nigel. 2013. Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence.

Wild, Roland & Curtis-Bennett, Derek. 2010. King's Counsel: The Life of Sir Henry Curtis-Bennett.