04 May 2015

The Court Martial of German Spy Josef Jakobs

In early August, after weeks of preparation, the wheels of the British military establishment finally turned to Josef's court martial. The trial took place on 4 and 5 August, 1941, at the Duke of York's Headquarters, the halls of which bustled with decorated soldiers and bewigged lawyers.

Postcard of Duke of York's Headquarters, Chelsea.
Postcard of Duke of York's Headquarters, Chelsea.
The court martial tribunal was made up of one President, five sitting Members and two waiting members. The Waiting Members were generally not required but were available in case anything should befall one of the Members or if the accused objected to a Member. In Josef's case, the tribunal was composed of:

President
  Major-General B.T. Wilson, C.B., D.S.O.

Members
  Brigadier F.A.M. Browning, D.S.O., Commander 24th (Guards) Independent Brigade Group
  Col. E.W.S. Balfour, D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., Commanding Scots Guards
  Lt. Col. H.H. Cripps, D.S.O., Officer Commanding, Infantry Training Centre, Royal Fusiliers
  Major R.O.R. Kenyon-Slaney, Grenadier Guards

Waiting Members
  Lt. Col. E.D. Mackenzie, C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O., Officer Commanding, Holding Battalion, Scots Guards
  Major R.C. Alexander, Irish Guards

Signatures of the Judge Advocate, President and four Members of the Court Martial  (National Archives - WO 32/18144)
Signatures of the Judge Advocate, President and four Members of the Court Martial
(National Archives - WO 32/18144)

In addition to these highly decorated soldiers, there were a few men from the legal profession. While the President was in charge of the court martial, the Judge Advocate was there to ensure that the proper legal procedures were followed. Naturally there was an Attorney for the Prosecution as well as an Attorney for the Defence. In Josef's case, the following filled those roles:

Judge Advocate
  C.L. Stirling, Esq, Deputy Judge Advocate General

Attorney for the Prosecution
  Major A.A.H. Marlowe, Judge Advocate General’s Office

Attorney for the Defence
  Captain E.V.E. White, Barrister-at-Law


Finally, there was an Interpreter and a Shorthand Writer.

Interpreter
  Lieutenant W.J. Thomas, Intelligence Corps

Shorthand Writer
  7653216 Quartermaster Sergeant B.A. Balment, R.A.O.C.

Perhaps it's just me, but this long list of names is rather meaningless. Ranks, Surnames, Decorations, Commands - but little else. I want to know something of these men who decided the fate of Josef Jakobs. I want to meet these men in at least some fashion. With a bit of tenacity, most have background stories that can be teased out of the dusty backrooms of history.

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