30 April 2015

Today in 1941 - April 30 - Major Robin W.G. Stephens pushed Josef's case in the direction of the Treachery Act

Today in 1941, the Commandant of Camp 020 (Latchmere House), Major Robin W.G. Stephens wrote a report on the progress of Josef Jakobs' interrogations.

Stephens was skeptical about most of Josef's story and had no doubt that Josef "came over here as an active and willing spy for the Germans".

The day previously, Lt. G.F. Sampson and 2nd Lt. T.L. Winn had questioned Jakobs about his knowledge of another spy being trained in Hamburg. Based on the description provided to Josef by MI5, Josef thought the man might be identical with a spy named Karel Richter.

As it turned out, the description of the man had been provided to double-agent TATE (Wulf Schmidt) by the German Abwehr. TATE needed money, and this spy would soon bring him what he needed. MI5 was excited... they had another spy in their sights... and thanks to Josef, they had a name to go with the description. But Stephens was dismissive of Josef's usefulness.

"It may be that [Josef] thinks he is gaining our confidence, and so long as he remains under that preposterous illusion we are likely to get further information from him from time to time. I do not, however, think it is a case which should be unduly postponed in so far as action under the Treachery Act is concerned".

Three weeks later, however, Stephens would change his tune when Richter proved to be a very tough nut to crack.

29 April 2015

The Mystery of the Vanished Spies

Did the British Security Service (MI5) capture every single one of the German spies who parachuted into England during World War II? That was the claim made by John C. Masterman, chair of MI5s Double-Cross Committee, in his classic book published in 1972. Today, MI5 still claims that the only spy to evade their net during World War II was Engelbertus Fukken (alias Willem Ter Braak) who committed suicide in a Cambridge air raid shelter early in 1941. But is this claim of infallibility actually true?

In February 1941, double-agent SNOW visited Lisbon to meet his German spy master, Nikolaus Ritter. During their conversation, Ritter expressed frustration with the parachute method of inserting spies into England. He acknowledged that the Abwehr had “lost many men by parachute”  and his suspiciouns were aroused. “We’ve sent a lot of men over and nothing’s happened. They’ve gone wrong. There’s something wrong somewhere.” How many men did the Germans actually send over by parachute? The British Security Service extracted numbers and descriptions from the Abwehr handlers after the war, but one wonders if the Germans told the truth in its entirety. Perhaps the Germans omitted a few due to "faulty" memories.

The Spy in the Canal
Dropping agents by parachute, in the dark, with very little training was an endeavour fraught with risk. Several of Ritter's spies had been injured during their landings - wrenched and broken ankles, scratches, concussions. More serious yet, Ritter suspected that one of his agents had landed in a canal and drowned. Ritter told SNOW that the spy destined for Manchester had been sent over and yet this same spy had apparently not made contact with SNOW.

These two statements match up with a reference in Game of the Foxes by Ladislaus Farago. Farago stated that a spy "came down in the Manchester Ship Canal near the Mersey estuary above Birkenhead. He drowned, helpless and alone, on the night of September 7, 1940." Ritter also told SNOW that the same thing had happened to the spy from South Africa who probably "came down in a canal and sank because of the radio on him".

Beyond that, there is no reference to this mysterious spy of the Manchester Ship Canal. No hint as to his name or mission.

The Spy in the Cave
In 1947, in a cave on the Yorkshire Dales north of Manchester, two cavers found a skeleton. The police were notified and the body was sent off for forensic analysis.

The remains were found to be those of a male, about 5 ft 5 in tall with light brown hair. At the time of his death, two to six years prior to 1947 (i.e. 1941 to 1945), he would have been in in his mid to late 20s.

Although his clothing was badly decomposed, he appeared to have been well-dressed wearing a blue shirt and tie with a grey-blue suit that had red and white stripes. His outfit was completed with a tweedy, herringbone overcoat, a grey trilby hat and a plum coloured scarf. The scarf indicated the possible cause of death, being over his mouth at the time of death.

The skeleton was found with a small glass bottle and an unbroken ampule, both of which contained sodium cyanide, a lethal posion. The glass bottle was full to the shoulder and the coroner concluded that a lethal dose could possibly have been extracted from it. The coroner admitted that the bottle and ampule were of a design that he had never before seen.

The man also had two pairs of shoes, a mineral water bottle of the type issued to local hotels, a wristlet watch, handerchief, shaving tube, studs, toothbrush, fountain pen, propelling pencil, compass, box of matches, tablets, flashlamp, and toiletries. All of these items were typical of the sorts of things that parachutist spies brought with them. In addition, the man had a key but the police could not figure out which lock it might open.

Wide publicity around the discovery brought many people forward, claiming the body as their missing relative or acquaintance. But after exhaustive studies, all were ruled out. The identity of the body remained a mystery.

Was the man a German spy? A lost businessman wandering the Yorkshire Dales in the mist? Had he committed suicide or was it murder? Perhaps the key found on his person was to a briefcase containing his wireless transmitter, tucked away in some secret place?

The Spy in the Attic
Interestingly enough, there is yet another mysterious case from the Liverpool/Manchester area. This one is a bit sketchier.

Apparently, during the war, a man went up into his attic and heard the tapping of morse code from the semi-detached house next door. He told his wife that they should inform the police that they had spies living next door. She supposedly replied, "We shall do no such thing. Whilst they are spying the Germans are not going to bomb us". So, nothing was done.

After the war, the "spies" moved out and a new family moved in. The new man of the house later said that he found lots of aerial wires hidden in the chimney in the attic, but no wireless set.

Rumour or truth? Was there a lodger next door tapping out morse code from the attic? Was it simply a harmless radio buff practicing his morse code before being assigned to a ship as a signals officer? Or was it a British-born spy acting on behalf of the Germans?

SNOW: The Double Life of a World War II Spy. Nigel West & Madoc Roberts, Biteback Publishing Ltd. 2011.

The Game of the Foxes: The Untold Story of German Espionage in the United States and Great Britain during World War II. Ladislas Farago, David McKay Company Inc. 1971.

In the Highest Degree Odious. A. W. B. Simpson, Oxford Press, 1992.

MI5 website - World War II.

Spy in the Attic - History of the Wirral Hundred website.

Trow Ghyll Skeleton - Wikipedia.

Trow Gill Skeleton - Walking with a Smacked Pentax blog, 21 March, 2015.

The Unsolved Mystery of Body Pot - A Three Peaks Up and Under blog, 23 June, 2013.

24 April 2015

X-ray Images of Josef Jakobs' broken leg

Within the National Archives at Kew, London, Josef Jakobs' KV 2/24 file contains copies of his medical records from Dulwich Community Hospital. The medical records have the original x-ray images of Josef's fractured leg. These images naturally do not photocopy well but the National Archives has helpfully digitized some of these x-rays.

The National Archives has five images of Josef's x-rays available for purchase, conveniently labeled 1 to 5. The images are not in chronological order. Images 5 (Feb 3) and 2 & 4 (Feb 5) are the most interesting. Image 3 was taken on Feb 3 and shows the upper part of the tibia and fibula. Image 1 was taken on March 4 and shows the partially healed fractures.
X-ray images of Josef Jakobs' right leg (from The National Archives)
X-ray images of Josef Jakobs' right leg (from The National Archives)
According to the medical records, Josef had a "comminuted fracture of the lower end of shaft of tibia and fibula with overlapping tibial fragments and forward displacement of the tibial fragments". This rather dense medical description becomes more understandable when accompanied by the x-rays. As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words".

The word "comminuted" simply means that the bone was broken into multiple fragments or splinters. The fibula is the smaller bone in the lower leg, whereas the tibia is the larger bone in the lower leg (also known as the shinbone).
Image of a typical lower right leg (from Encyclopedia Britannica)
Image of a typical lower right leg (from Encyclopedia Britannica)

Image 5 was taken on February 3 and shows a side view of Josef's lower leg. One can clearly see the forward displacement of the large lower leg bone, the tibia. The fractured fibula (the small lower leg bone) can be seen behind the tibia.
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - side view  (screen capture of National Archives)
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - side view
(screen capture of National Archives)

Image 2 was taken on February 5 and shows a frontal view of Josef's lower right leg. One can clearly see the comminuted fracture of the smaller leg bone, the fibula. The fracture of the fibula is faintly visible.
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - frontal view  (screen capture of National Archives)
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - frontal view
(screen capture of National Archives)
Image 4 was taken on February 5 and shows another side view of Josef's lower right leg. One can see the post-surgical realigment of the tibia. The fractured fibula can be seen behind the tibia.
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - side view  (screen capture of National Archives)
X-ray of Josef Jakob's broken leg - side view
(screen capture of National Archives)

20 April 2015

A Brief Internment in Brixton Prison for German Spy Josef Jakobs

Condensed timelines of Josef Jakobs' time in England generally have him landing in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, being transferred to Ham Common (a.k.a. Camp 020) on the outskirts of London and then being executed at the Tower of London. In truth, Josef was transferred between several London locations from February 1 to August 15.

Old main entrance to Brixton Prison. (From Leading Britain's Conversation website)
Old main entrance to Brixton Prison.
(From Leading Britain's Conversation website)
On February 1, after being briefly interrogated at Cannon Row Police Station by Major T.A. Robertson of MI5, Josef was transferred to Brixton Prison Infirmary for treatment of his broken ankle. On February 3, the doctors at Brixton Prison decided that Josef's broken ankle needed more medical attention than they could provide, and Josef was transferred to Dulwich Community Hospital.

Josef was not done with Brixton Prison however, and around March 31, Josef was once again held in the Brixton Prison Infirmary after developing a fever at Ham Common. Josef would spend about two weeks in Brixton Prison Infirmary, being released to Ham Common on April 15, 1941.

1870 plan of Brixton Prison  (From British History Online website)
1870 plan of Brixton Prison
(From British History Online website)
Brixton Prison opened in 1820 as the Surrey House of Corrections and became infamous for the treadmill that was installed as a punishment device in 1821. The treadmill was essentially a never-ending stair-master and was eventually banned in 1902. In 1853, the prison was converted to a female prison and remained so until 1898 when the prison became a trial-and-remand centre for London and the Home Counties.

An 1870 plan of the prison shows the various wards and the exercise grounds. The central hexagonal building in the middle is labelled offices and was later known as the Regency Roundhouse. Constructed in 1819, the building would serve as the Prison Governor's house at some point and most recently has been refurbished as The Clink restaurant. Along the top of the diagram are two buildings, one labelled Stores and one labelled Infirmary.

The same buildings can be seen in an oblique view of the prison from the opposite angle (i.e. looking south). From this perspective, the Infirmary, where Josef was held is the building in the lower left foreground of the picture.
Bird's-eye View of Brixton prison circa 1862  (From Victorian London website)
Bird's-eye View of Brixton prison circa 1862
(From Victorian London website)

Today, the prison looks very different from the Victorian images.

Aerial view of Brixton Prison from Apple Maps via Brixton Blog website.
Aerial view of Brixton Prison from Apple Maps via Brixton Blog website.

The Governor's house is still visible and from there, one can identify the old Infirmary building as well as the Main Gate. Many of the original wards have been rebuilt or removed.

Unfortunately, no medical records from Josef's time at Brixton Prison Infirmary are contained within Josef's Security Service files (KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27).

17 April 2015

Today in 1941 - April 17 - German spy Josef Jakobs wrote his Third Statement to Camp 020 Interrogators

Today in 1941, Josef wrote his third statement about his life and handed it to Captain George F. Sampson, one of the Camp 020 interrogators.

On 17 April, Josef typed up a third statement in which he gave the reason for his journey to England. Josef spoke of how horrible life was under the Nazis. He believed that England would never be able to beat the Nazis since there was no landing spot for them on the Continent. England could only hope to defeat the Nazis if they enlisted the support of anti-Nazi groups within Germany, of which there were many. Josef said that he belonged to one such group, and that they had supported his mission to England, in order to obtain the support of the English government. In addition, they hoped to acquire monetary support from refugee German Jews. Josef restated his desire to help the English.

The statement, typewritten in German, was translated into English by the officers at Camp 020.

16 April 2015

Today in 1941 - April 16 - German spy Josef Jakobs wrote his Second Statement to Camp 020 Interrogators

Today in 1941, Josef wrote his second statement about his life and handed it to Captain George F. Sampson, one of the Camp 020 interrogators.

On 16 April, Josef typed up a second statement in which he tried to prove that he had not come to England as an enemy. He spoke of how he had been betrayed by a friend (Van Hees) when he confided that he had no intention of helping the Nazis in England. Instead, he planned to contact the English Secret Service or, failing that, make his way to America where he had an aunt. Van Hees informed the Gestapo of Josef's plans and they in turn informed the German Intelligence Service. Despite this information, the German Intelligence Service sent Josef to England, albeit without the Swiss passport he had expected. Josef spoke of how his leg was hurt while still in the aircraft but that he decided to jump anyhow.

The statement, typewritten in German, was translated into English by the officers at Camp 020.

15 April 2015

Today in 1941 - April 15 - Josef Jakobs was returned to Camp 020 and wrote a statement about his life

Today in 1941, Josef was returned to Ham Common (a.k.a. Camp 020) from Brixton Prison Infirmary. Upon his arrival at Camp 020, Josef was handed over to Captain George F. Sampson who induced Josef to make several statements.

On 15 April, Josef typed up an account of his life which was handed in to Sampson the following day. The statement touched on Josef's birth and childhood, leading into his World War I service with the 4th Foot Guards Regiment. Josef then went on to relate his post-war activities, his dentistry studies and his trip to Argentina. After returning to Germany in 1924, Josef practiced as a dentist, got married and had three children. With the financial turmoil of the early 1930s, Josef engaged in various questionable business transactions which eventually culminated in 1934 with his arrest and imprisonment in Switzerland for gold forgery. After his release from prison, he returned to Germany and became involved in a blackmarket passport business through which Jews wishing to escape Germany could purchase foreign passports, for a price. In October 1938, Josef claimed that he was arrested because of the passport business and sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, from which he was released on 20 March, 1940.

The statement, typewritten in German, was translated into English by the officers at Camp 020.

14 April 2015

T.L. Winn - Dentist and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941

In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, I had purposely left Second Lieutenant Winn to the last. I had very little information to go on and, since Winn was a rather common name and I had no first initials for the man, the odds of tracking him down seemed slim.

Signature of 2nd Lt T.L. Winn (National Archives - KV 2 files on Jakobs)
Signature of 2nd Lt T.L. Winn
(National Archives - KV 2 files on Jakobs)
But persistence pays off. Whilst flipping through the KV 2 files on Josef Jakobs, in search of signatures for the other interrogators, I came across the signature of T.L. Winn, who had signed a report on behalf of Stephens. I had the key that I needed and, with that in hand, unlocked the British Army List and the London Gazette to uncover the story of Second Lieutenant Thomas Leith Winn.

Early Life
Royal Naval Division Recruiting Poster (From Wikipedia)
Royal Naval Division
Recruiting Poster
(From Wikipedia)
Leith (as he was known in later years) was born to Thomas Cromwell Winn and Marie Elmore Hilton on 29 November, 1894, in Hackney, London. Married in 1890, Thomas and Marie welcomed their first child with open arms and had him baptized at St. John of Jersualem Parish on 28 June, 1895. As a surgeon, Thomas was quite well-off and the family employed a cook and a nurse-maid. The nurse-maid came in handy, for by 1901, Leith had three younger siblings to shoo around the house, one sister and two brothers. At the age of 16, Leith was employed as a Merchant's Clerk for an Iron Foundry, but his ultimate destiny lay elsewhere.

In 1913, while enrolled as a pharmaceutical student, Leith joined the Naval Reserve. Of average height, with fair hair and blue eyes, one of Leith's main qualification as Able Seaman was his ability to swim.

World War I
On 2 August, 1914, Leith was called up to the Naval Training Depot at Chatham, also known as H.M.S. Pembroke. After a short training period, on 17 September, Leith joined the Hawke Battalion of the 1st Brigade. Despite having signed up with the Navy, Leith would see military action on land when he and his unit were sent to Belgium to help defend the city of Antwerp against the Germans.

Cover of The Camp Magazine  First Royal Naval Bridgae, Groningen  July, 1915, Issue #4.  (From Groningen Camp website)
Cover of The Camp Magazine
First Royal Naval Bridgae, Groningen
July, 1915, Issue #4.
(From Groningen Camp website)
As the Germans advanced, they threatened to encircle the city and the Belgian and British troops retreated via the River Schelde. Unfortunately, some of the British battalions from the 1st Brigade, including Leith's Hawke Battalion, did not received the order to retreat until too late. By the time they had crossed the river and reached the railway, they had missed the last train out. With the Germans hot on their heels, Commodore Henderson, commander of the 1st Brigade, marched his troops into neutral Holland where the sailors were interned for the duration of the war.

Leith and his fellow seamen were housed in wooden barracks in Groningen. A variety of activities were organized to prevent the troops from getting demoralized. The sailors had a daily routine of exercise, march and practice along with a variety of music, drama and sports clubs. A camp newsletter was even published on a regular basis. By 1917, the Dutch commander of the camp had arranged for the British seamen to be sent home on general leave, usually of a month or two month's duration.

In June 1917, Leith received leave from Holland for several weeks (expiring 26 July 1917). A second leave was granted from 17 April, 1918 to 26 May, 1918. Finally, on 19 November, 1918, Leith and his mates from the Hawke Battalion were repatriated home.

Sopwith Triplane (from Wikimedia)
Sopwith Triplane (from Wikimedia)
While Leith's military adventures had ended with "safe" internment in Holland for the duration of the war, his younger brother, John Hilton, was not so fortunate. John was born in January 1899 and after studying in London, entered the service of Lloyds in 1915. In April, 1916, John joined the staff of the Bank of Montreal in London but only remained there for a year. In March, 1917, two months after turning 18, John enlisted for overseas service and immediately received a commission into the Royal Naval Air Service.

In the summer of 1917, having received his Pilot's certificate, John was sent to France where he was attached to the 1st Naval Air Squadron at Bailleul as a newly qualified Flight Sub-Lieutenant. John ended up flying the Sopwith Triplane and had a few crack-ups. On 20 August, 1917, John emerged unscathed after his plane crashed during take-off because the engine choked. A few weeks later, John landed a tad too fast and collided with another plane.

John Hilton Winn  (From Memorial of the Great War)
John Hilton Winn
(From Memorial of the Great War)
On 20 September, 1917, John and his plane did not return from a flight over enemy lines and he was listed as "missing". He and a few of his mates had gotten into a scrap with some Germans over Becelaere, Belgium. While John was credited with one "out of control" victim, he appears to have crashed near "Kruisher" (possibly Kruiseke, southeast of Gheluveldt). Word of John's death would have been slow to reach Leith but when it did, he must have chafed with frustration. He and 1400 other able-bodied men were twiddling their thumbs in Holland while the war raged on without them.

Having returned to England in November 1918, Leith was attached to the Second Reserve Battalion in February 1919. He picked up his interrupted studies, this time as a student of dentistry. In early March, Leith was attached to the Command Dental Laboratory at Aldershot. A few months later, in July, Leith was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (fibroid phthisis). Doctors determined that the condition was attributable to his military service and recommended that Leith be discharged. A month later, on 21 August, 1919, Leith was discharged with a 40% disability.

Fibroid phthisis was a chronic lung disease in which fibroid tissue would slowly grow in the affected lung. Over a long period of time, the lung would be reduced in size, become hardened in dense. The latter stages of the disease were more serious. But, at his young age, Leith was not going to let a lung disease distract him from his course.

By 1925,  Leith had completed his studies and received his Licentiate in Dental Surgery. Leith's father passed away in 1924 at the age of 64, and Leith ended up living with his mother at 57 Buxton Road, Chingford, a suburb of London. Over the next 25 years or so, Leith continued to practice dentistry in London.

In 1930, Leith attended the wedding of his younger brother, Kenneth, to Florence Elsie Jones. There is, however, no evidence that Leith himself ever married.

World War 2
In 1941, Leith was drawn into the war, receiving an Regular Army Emergency Commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps. Leith was assigned as an Intelligence Officer to Camp 020 and assisted Captain George F. Sampson at several interrogations of Josef Jakobs in April 1941. Major Stephens, Commandant of the Camp was a firm believer that spies would open up to interrogators who shared common interests - "A spy will talk ships to a man who knows little ships; he will talk desert war with a man who understands the meaning of thirst; he will talk Latin logic with a man who had the patience of Job." Thus, Leith, the dentist, was assigned to assist in the interrogation of Josef Jakobs, the dentist.

Norwegian spy Nikolai Hansen  (from National Archives)
Norwegian spy Nikolai Hansen
(from National Archives)
Leith's practical dental skills were also put to good use at Camp 020. In 1943, the Norwegian spy Nikolai Hansen arrived at Camp 020 and, after relentless interrogation by Stephens, finally admitted that the Germans had tucked some secret writing material into one of his teeth. Stephens later noted, "Now among the intelligence officers at Ham was one who in peacetime practiced dentistry. Hansen's permission for the surgical operation was obtained, and the officer pulled Hansen's tooth in the interrogation room, thus retrieving the secret material." This dental Intelligence Officer was most likely our friend Leith.

Post War
References to Leith's activities after the war are scarce. We know that he continued to practice dentistry in London until the early 1950s, acquiring a Higher Dental Diploma in the process.

By 1952, Leith and his mother had moved to 71 Castle-drive in Pevensey Bay, Sussex, perhaps to take advantage of the restorative properties of the sea air for Leith's diseased lungs.

Pevensey Bay's primary claim to fame was as the landing site of William the Conqueror in 1066. The Germans had eyed the same area as a potential landing site for Operation Sealion during the summer of 1940.

Perhaps Leith walked the shoreline of the bay and thought back to those wartime years when Britain's fate hung in the balance. Leith and his fellow Intelligence Officers had played a significant role in confusing the Germans. It is doubtful, however, that Leith ever spoke of his time at Camp 020 as he died before the true story started to emerge from the cracks of time and wartime secrecy.

A year after moving to this historic locale, Leith's mother, widow Marie Elmore Winn passed away at the age of 94, survived by her children, Leith, Gladys May and Kenneth.

A few years later, in November 1957, Leith's brother, Kenneth, passed away, leaving his effects to his widow. There was no evidence that Kenneth and his wife had any children.

Leith himself passed away on 10 December 1964 at Charing Cross Hospital. While still a resident of Pevensey Bay, he had apparently been transferred back to London for medical care. In the latter stages of fibroid phthisis, Leith was probably subject to paroxysmal coughing upon arising in the morning. His coughs would have expelled fairly large quantities of "purulent expectoration of an offensive sputum". Leith would have had trouble breathing and his health would have been greatly impaired. In the final stages of the disease, his other organs (heart, liver, kidneys) would have been affected. His was most likley not a pretty death. Leith left about £13,000 to his spinster sister, Gladys May Winn.

Although Leith played a relatively minor role in the case of German spy Josef Jakobs, the thread of his life is fascinating in its own right.

Air History website - info on John Hilton Winn.
British Army Lists - 1940 & 1941.
Groningen Camp Magazine website.
First World War website - info on Groningen Camp
Genealogy websites - Ancestry, FamilySearch - births, marriages, deaths, census, passenger lists.
London Gazette - 1940 & 1941.
Memorial of the Great War 1914-1918 - A Record of Service. Published by the Bank of Montreal. 1910.
National Archives - KV 2 files on Josef Jakobs, KV 2/1936 file on Nikolai Hansen & Admiralty (ADM) file on Thomas Leith Winn.
Stephens, R.W.G. - Camp 020:MI5 and the Nazi Spies (edited by Oliver Hoare). 2000.

10 April 2015

R.A.F. Short - Travel Clerk and Interrogator at Camp 020 during 1941

In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, it has become abundantly clear that few of them were chosen for their prior experience with interrogation or intelligence work. They were drawn from the ranks of diplomats, tailors, former soldiers, dentists, historians and even travel agents.

In his history of Camp 020, Stephens touched on the qualities of a good interrogator: "Obviously a man of experience is required, essentially a man of common sense. If he has traveled, so much the better. If too he has seen war, lost much, that is an advantage. The wider the range of his interests the better.... So much depends upon personality, upon mood, upon the man who can impress or cajole, blow hot blow cold, stand down at the psychological moment, without jealousy, in favour of another officer." Stephens had quite a motley crew of interrogators at his command in Camp 020, but such variety meant that the right interrogator could be chosen to match the character of each spy. One of those interrogators was Lieutenant Roland Alfred Frederick Short.

Early Life
Lt. Roland Alfred Frederick Short (Imperial War Museum HU66578)
Lt. Roland Alfred Frederick Short
(Imperial War Museum HU66578)
Unlike many of his fellow interrogators, Roland was a Londoner, born on 30 April,1904, in Wandsworth to William George Short, a jeweler and his wife Ellen Mary Heal.

During the 1911 census, Roland was enumerated at the address of his aunt and uncle (James & Louisa Jones) in Battersea. His parents were enumerated at the home of Roland's paternal grandparents, a few blocks away. Beyond that, we know little of Roland and his upbringing and education.

We pick up Roland's trail again in the mid 1920's, living with his parents in Battersea. In 1928, Roland set sail from Southampton for the wonders of New York. Roland gave his occupation as Travel Clerk, possibly employed by American Express Travel Ltd. After returning to London, Roland continued to live with his parents until the mid-1930's when he moved out on his own, still single.

World War 2
In 1940, Roland was drawn into the war and assigned to the Intelligence Corps. During his time at Camp 020, Roland was heavily involved in the interrogations of Josef Jakobs and Karel Richter. One author noted Stephens and Short would often alternate in a technique Stephens called "blow hot-blow cold". Stephens would come across as the "heavy" and then Short, "a rotund, owlish figure who was as cheery as his boss was menacing," would step in to offer a sympathetic ear (Macintyre). In the fall of 1941, Karel Richter appealed to that "sympathetic ear". Richter wrote several impassioned letters to Lt. Short, begging him for a hearing, a chance to impart more information to MI5, anything that would allow Richter to escape the hangman's noose. His pleas were in vain. During the course of the war, Roland rose to the rank of Assistant Commandant of Camp 020.

Post War
After the war, Roland, now a Captain, was one of the few Camp 020 interrogators from 1941 who continued to work with Lt. Col. Stephens. Roland was sent to Bad Nenndorf in Germany where Stephens ran another, darker, interrogation centre. Rumours of the mistreatment of the prisoners swirled through the chilly halls of MI5. During this time, Roland assisted Stephens as he wrote the history of Camp 020. While Stephens and Roland wrote about the lack of physical torture at Camp 020 during the war, prisoners at Bad Nenndorf started to die of malnutrition and exposure.

Signature of Lt. R.A.F. Short (National Archives KV 2/24)
Signature of Lt. R.A.F. Short
(National Archives KV 2/24)
Eventually in 1948, based largely on allegations by Roland, Stephens and several other officers were court-martialed for the ill-treatment of prisoners at Bad Nenndorf. One officer, the camp doctor, was dismissed from the service, the other three officers, including Stephens, were acquitted. Information at any price was the name of the game. Stephens turned out to be a nasty enemy and, in the end, Roland was disgraced.

What became of Roland after the war? We know that he passed away of prostate cancer in Brighton at the age of 65 in 1969. His parents, William George Short and Ellen Mary Short may have lived in Brighton as well, for two individuals of that name also passed away in Brighton in 1970 and 1972 (both aged 95).

British Army Lists - 1940 & 1941.
Genealogy websites - Ancestry, FamilySearch - births, marriages, deaths, census, passenger lists.
Imperial War Museum.
London Gazette.
Macintyre, Ben. 2008. Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal. Broadway Books.
National Archives - various KV 2 files.
Stephens, R.W.G. - Camp 020:MI5 and the Nazi Spies (edited by Oliver Hoare). 2000.

06 April 2015

D.B. Stimson - Tailor and Administrator at Camp 020 during 1941

In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, it is always nice to across an individual with a rich history. Such an individual is Douglas Bernard Stimson, "Stimmy" to his colleagues. Although technically not an interrogator, Douglas was in charge of Administration at Camp 020 and had interactions with the prisoners.

Douglas Bernard Stimson  (Imperial War Musuem HU 66766)
Douglas Bernard Stimson
(Imperial War Musuem HU 66766)
Early Life
Douglas was born on 23 October, 1897, in the Parish of Kew, Greater London to William Adolphe Stimson and Ellen Beatrice Phillips. William and Ellen had married in London in 1892 and Douglas was their third child. As fate would have it, Douglas and his older brothers (Montague Adolph and Eric Malcolm), born in the late 1890s, were all drawn into the maelstrom of World War I.

But before that happened, Douglas would have a pleasant childhood growing up in Richmond, southwest of London. William was a Master Tailor and the family was evidently well-off with a Cook and Nursemaid as servants.In 1911, Douglas was attending school in Swaffham, Norfolk but may have apprenticed as a tailor prior to the war.

World War I
Eric Malcolm Stimson  (Lijssenthoek Cemetery website)
Eric Malcolm Stimson
(Lijssenthoek Cemetery website)
As war broke out in Europe, all three brothers enlisted in the British Army.

Montague joined the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) on 5 August, 1914, as a private. Douglas, despite being only 16 years old, managed to follow in his elder brother's footsteps and joined the same regiment in the fall of 1914.

Eric marched to a different beat and was initially assigned to the 7th Reserve Cavalry Regiment for training purposes before ending up with the 9th Rifle Brigade. On his application, Eric stated that he was a tailor and claimed to be 19 years old. He was, in fact, only 17 years old when he enlisted, having being born in the fall of 1896. His eagerness to join up would be short-lived. On June 30, 1915, Eric disembarked with the 9th Rifle Brigade in France. Less than two months later, on 24 August, Eric died from wounds sustained in battle.

Worcestershire Regiment Cap Badge  (National Army Museum)
Worcestershire Regiment Cap Badge
(National Army Museum)
Montague initially served with the 1st Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company and was sent to France on 18 September, 1914. He was commissioned into the 10th Battalion East Surrey Regiment on 9 March, 1915 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was killed on the Somme on 30 September, 1916, while attached to the 8th Battalion Easy Surrey Regiment.

Douglas initially served with the 2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company. He was later commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment and arrived in France on 18 August, 1915. Douglas was eventually commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment on 12 May, 1917. On 1 July, 1918, Douglas was promoted to Acting Lieutenant while commanding a company at the Reserve Battalion Depot of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Inter-War Period
Douglas had survived the war but the cost had been high, with both of his brothers paying the ultimate price.

In 1922, Douglas married Lydia Stephens (née Baker), the widow of 2nd Lt. Thomas Alexander Stephens of the Royal Engineers. Douglas and Lydia had at least one child with a daughter, Lydia J. Stimson, being born in 1924.

Douglas Bernard Stimson at Camp 020
Douglas Bernard Stimson at Camp 020
(Photograph album on display at the Imperial War Museum -
caption below photograph reads:
Tailor of Hanover Square + AFM/ATM(?))
That same year, on 29 February, 1924, Douglas' father passed away leaving a estate in excess of £50,000, as well as a flourishing tailoring business. Douglas picked up the reins of W.A. Stimson Ltd, Hannover Square and continued to run the business until 1940.

World War 2
On 17 September, 1940, Douglas was re-commissioned into the British Army as a Lieutenant and ended up serving with the Intelligence Corps as an Acting Captain. With his previous military experience and business acumen, Stimson was placed in charge of Administration at Camp 020. While other officers interrogated suspected enemy spies, Stimson ensured that Camp 020 ran efficiently. On several occasions in June 1941, Douglas sat in on Josef Jakobs' interrogations.

Signature of Capt. D.B. Stimson  (National Archives KV files)
Signature of Capt. D.B. Stimson
(National Archives KV files)
On 13 October, 1940, Douglas' mother passed away in Llandudno, Wales. She left her son just over £20,000 in her estate. Douglas seems to have remained at Camp 020 until the end of the war eventually rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Post War
What became of Douglas after the war? In April 1945, W.A. Stimson Ltd. served notice in The Gazette of the voluntary winding-up of the company. The winding-up took a couple of years and appears to have been completed in the fall of 1947. There is some evidence that the tailoring business of W.A. Stimson Ltd. still produced clothing well into the 1950s, although from a different address, 50 Maddox Street.

W.A. Stimson Ltd. waistcoat  (From Worthpoint website)
W.A. Stimson Ltd. waistcoat
(From Worthpoint website)
Douglas passed away late in 1979, at the ripe old age of 82, in the town of Windsor, Berkshire, just west of Heathrow Airport. His wife, Lydia, passed away less than three months later, early in 1980.

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

01 April 2015

A.D.M. Evans - United Nations Director and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941.

One of the Camp 020 interrogators involved in the questioning of Josef Jakobs was not included in Richter's parachute outing. A.D. Meurig Evans was a 2nd Lieutenant and while Evans is a rather common name, Meurig Evans is a bit more unique. Again, by cross-referencing the British Army Lists and the London Gazette from 1940 and 1941, we find only one A.D.M. Evans being commissioned into the Intelligence Corps, Albert Dan Meurig Evans.

Early Life
Map showing location of Toxteth Park in Liverpool. (from Google Maps)
Map showing location of Toxteth Park in Liverpool.
(from Google Maps)
Albert was born 25 May, 1902, in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, Lancashire. His father, Albert Edward Evans was a Liverpool native and schoolmaster at an elementary school. His mother, Katherine Eleanor was a Welsh lass, born in Strata Florida, Cardiganshire.

Albert's parents were apparently married in 1902 which makes one wonder if Albert's imminent arrival precipitated a hasty wedding. By 1911, Albert had two younger sisters to order around, Katherine Eirys and Helen Vivyenne. The family must have been fairly well to-do for they also had a Welsh housemaid to help with the chores and childcare.

After 1911, little is known of Albert's movements. He apparently visited the United States (Massachusetts) in 1925/26 as a student, but beyond that we find no trace of him.

World War 2
Signature of Lt. A.D.M. Evans (National Archives KV 2 files)
Signature of Lt. A.D.M. Evans
(National Archives KV 2 files)
Albert resurfaces in 1940 when he is commissioned into the British Army as Intelligence Corps officer. Unfortunately, other than assisting at several of Josef's interrogations, Albert does not appear to have become a lead interrogator at Camp 020. His activities during the remainder of the war remain a mystery.

Post War
After the war, Albert joined the United Nations Organization in Switzerland. He traveled back and forth between England, Switzerland and New York quite a bit. Unlike many of his fellow UNO workers, Albert generally avoided lengthy sea voyages and traveled by airplane. On a trip in 1946, he listed his status as "married". A later passenger manifest lists his wife as Henriette F.L. Evans, a British subject.

United Nations Flag
United Nations Flag
By 1949, Albert had risen to the rank of Assistant Director of the United Nations Office in Geneva. In his role, he represented the Secretary General in several commissions (World Health Organization and Committee on Refugees).

Our last trace on Albert comes from a passenger manifest in 1956 when Albert and his wife set sail on the Queen Elizabeth from Southampton, England to New York. They both listed their country of permanent residence as the USA. What became of Albert and his wife? Did they remain in the USA or did they eventually return to England or Switzerland?

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.