31 July 2015

Today in 1941 - July 31 - German spy Josef Jakobs served with documents at Wandsworth Prison

Today in 1941, Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley-Cooke visited Josef Jakobs at Wandsworth Prison. He served Josef with several legal documents:
  • Charge Sheet (Josef was charged under the Treachery Act)
  • Summary of Evidence (taken on July 28 - witness statements)
  • Copy of Exhibit 16 (torn fragments of disc code)
  • Copy of Exhibit 17 (Josef's statement to Hinchley-Cooke taken on June 18, 1941.
  • Copy of evidence to be given by Mr. L.W. Humphreys (radio expert - not present at Summary of Evidence)
At Josef's request, Hinchley-Cooke explained the nature of Humphreys' statement, something that might have been beyond Josef's limited English skills. Josef also asked for a Catholic priest and Hinchley-Cooke said that one would be arranged.

28 July 2015

Today in 1941 - July 28 - Summary of Evidence taken at Wellington Barracks

Today in 1941, Lt. Col. George M. Cornish of the Grenadier Guards oversaw the Summary of Evidence in preparation for Josef Jakobs' court martial. The event took place at Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk in London

The Summary of Evidence was a chance for the prosecution, in this case, Major Anthony A.H. Marlowe, to present the accused with all of the witnesses (and their statements). The accused, in this case Josef Jakobs, was given a chance to ask questions of the witnesses. He asked one question of the first witness but declined to question any of the other witnesses. There is no evidence that a defence attorney was present during the Summary of Evidence.

Based on the Summary of Evidence, Lt. Col. Cornish concluded that there was sufficient evidence to convene a General Court Martial.

24 July 2015

Today in 1941 - July 24 - German spy Josef Jakobs was charged under the Treachery Act

Today in 1941, Lt. Col. Hinchley Cooke visited Josef Jakobs at Wandsworth Prison and formally charged him with an offence under the Treachery Act (1940).

Hinchley-Cooke was accompanied by the Deputy Provost Marshal (London District), Lt. Col. Charles Robert Tolver Michael Gerard.

Hinchley-Cooke charged Josef with:
"committing a civil offence, that is to say, Treachery, an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Treachery Act, 1940, in that at Ramsey in the County of Huntingdon on the night of 31st January/1st February, 1941 with intent to help the enemy did an act designed or likely to give assistance to the naval, military or air operations of the enemy, or to impede such operations of His Majesty's Forces, namely did descend by parachute in the United Kingdom."
After reading out the charge in English, and then in German, Hinchley-Cooke explained the legal procedure to Josef. There would be a Summary of Evidence and then the court-martial. Josef would be provided with a defence attorney. In the event that the court found Josef guilty, he would be executed by firing squad.

23 July 2015

Today in 1941 - July 23 - German spy Josef Jakobs was moved from Latchmere House to Wandsworth Prison

Today in 1941, Josef Jakobs left the comparative security of Latchmere House interrogation centre for an uncertain future at Wandsworth Prison.

MI5 had extracted what the could from Josef, and now it was time for the military justice system to take control of Josef, and his future.

Because Josef was a prisoner of the military, the cell in which he was held at Wandsworth Prison (F/3) was designated a military prison. Josef would be guarded by a detachment of Military Policemen under the command of the Deputy Provost Marshall of London District. The Governor of Wandsworth Prison noted in his journal that Josef Jakobs had been "received as lodger in F/3 (military prison)".

For a spy to be transferred to a civilian prison (or a military one for that matter) could mean one of two things: (a) he was being held for the duration of the war or (b) he was soon to be executed. For Josef, it would be the latter.

22 July 2015

Clara Bauerle's Music

Another post on Clara Bauerle. A friend asked for links to Clara's music so I thought I'd post them here for others. Clara can be a bit tough to find on YouTube since she is usually listed as Claire Bauerle.
Record label for Clara (Claire) Bauerle)
Record label for Clara (Claire) Bauerle)

Schiff ahoi! - Claire Bäuerle, Heyn-Quartett, 1940

Die Männer sind schon die Liebe wert - Bernhard Ette Orchestra & Claire Bäuerle, 1939

Du darfst mir nie mehr rote Rosen schenken - Bernhard Ette Orchestra & Claire Bäuerle,1940

Wenn die kleinen Veilchen blühen - Bernhard Ette Orchestra & Claire Bäuerle,1940

17 July 2015

Update on the Elusive Clara Bauerle and Bella in the Wych Elm

Clara Bauerle
Clara Bauerle
Who knew a picture postcard of a German cabaret singer would create such a stir?

When Josef parachuted into England on the night of 31 January, 1941, with Clara Bauerle's photograph in his pocket, a seemingly endless series of dominoes began to fall.

Was Clara another German spy destined for England? The officers of MI5 had their suspicions but as the months wore on, with no sign of Clara, they put her case on the back burner.

Decades later... just a couple of years ago... an intrepid reporter put two and two together and suggested that Clara Bauerle had actually arrived in England. The reporter suggested that Clara had ended up dead, stuffed into a hollow Wych Elm in Hagley Wood, West Midlands. Was it possible?

A few obvious clues suggest otherwise. The woman in the Wych Elm was short, about 5 feet tall whereas Clara had been described as being tall, almost 6 feet. An online music resource also indicated that Clara passed away in Berlin on 16 December, 1942. But that resource had no references and so the rumours persist.

I posted a tri-part blog series on Clara:
1. Clara Bauerle & Josef Jakobs
2. Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
3. The Truth about Clara Bauerle

Since then, I've done my fair share of digging on the Clara Bauerle saga.

I put feelers out on German grammophone forums and came up empty. People knew about Clara and her relationship to the Bernhard Ette Orchestra but no one came forward with any information on her death.

I sent a request to the International Tracing Service regarding Clara but my request didn't fall within their parameters: (a) I was not a relative and (b) Clara had not disappeared under suspicious circumstances (i.e. concentration camp, deportation, etc.). No luck there.

I hired a researcher to try and dig up a Berlin Death Certificate on Clara but... without an actual Standesamt (civil registration district)... that is seemingly impossible. It would be like trying to find a death in London without a city district. The researcher checked with the German Landesarchiv regarding the Resident Registration Database but these are threadbare for the war period, and there was no record of Clara. She may not even have been a resident of Berlin as she was often on tour with orchestras.

I contacted an author who has a draft version of a book about Bella in the Wych Elm in the works - Piu Marie Eatwell. I asked her if she had any information on Clara's death and got a non-committal reply in return. It seems that trackers of the elusive Clara Bauerle like to protect their information and/or sources.

Finally, I sent an email to the person behind the Bavarian Music Lexicon Online, the website that listed a death date for Clara. I've asked for a reference for that little tidbit of information. To date... no word back.

But... all is not lost. Today, I was sifting through the internet again and came across an obscure book on German cabaret singers and... it had a tidbit on Clara. Google Books only gave me a snippet of the piece on Clara, but it was enough to recognize that it referred to her. Alas... this book is so obscure that there are no copies in Canada. But... I've put out some feelers in Germany and hope to have a photocopy of the article within the next week... keeping all fingers crossed.

13 July 2015

Revisiting Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens - Commandant of Camp 020

Last year, I wrote a blog about the famous (or infamous) Commandant of MI5's secret interrogation centre, Camp 020 (also known as Ham Common or Latchmere House): Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens. I always find it fascinating to dig into the personal histories of some of these characters and Stephens was one of the more interesting. Alas, there were a couple of brick walls in Stephens' narrative that refused to crumble. Stephens was born in exotic Alexandria, Egypt, and although I figured out his father's name, his mother's name eluded me. I also had zero success in tracking down Stephens' death, although I did manage to find that of his wife.

This morning, however, I came across a thread of a clue that revealed a bit more about Stephens. An anonymous commentator left a note on my blog about Camp 020 interrogator, Edward Brereton Goodacre, which set me on the trail of Overseas Births, Marriages and Deaths. I generally use Ancestry.com but it does not have the Overseas information. A bit of digging convinced me that the Find My Past website had what I was looking for. I bought some credits and was off and running.

I learned that in 1907, Robin William George Stephens was enrolled in a grammar school, most likely Bedford School in England (based on other references). The entry didn't reveal much about Stephens and seemed to have his birth date wrong, June 21 instead of June 23. However, there was another boy who registered for school on the same day, Howell Charles Stephens, born in 1898. Could this boy be a brother of Stephens?
Grammar School record from 1907 (FindMyPast.com)
Grammar School record from 1907 (FindMyPast.com)
The Overseas Birth Indices revealed that the two boys could indeed be brothers: Howell Charles Stephens was born in Cairo and Robin William George was born in Alexandria.
Overseas Birth Indices (FindMyPast.com)
Overseas Birth Indices (FindMyPast.com)
I went back to Ancestry and did a search for Howell Charles Stephens and learned that he had been killed in battle in 1917 near Ypres. He had been a 2nd Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment. His name is engraved on the Menin Gate in Ypres.
Inscription for Howell Charles Stephens on the Menin Gate, Ypres (Panel 34)  (From The Channel Islands and the Great War)
Inscription for Howell Charles Stephens on the Menin Gate, Ypres (Panel 34)
(From The Channel Islands and the Great War)
Losing Howell during the war must have come as a blow to Stephens and his parents. The World War I Medal Cards revealed that Howell's father was indeed William Henry Stephens (from Cairo). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website revealed that Howell's parents were Mr. W.H. Stephens and Mrs. J.E. Stephens from Cairo, Egypt. At last, initials for the first name of Stephens' mother!

The Overseas Marriage Indices yielded up the information that William Henry Stephens had married Julia Elizabeth Howell between 1891 and 1895, most likely in Egypt. William had traveled there in 1890 to teach for the Ministry of Education but it's not clear how Julia ended up down there.

Finally, there was a 1910 Passenger manifest from Southampton which had Mr. W.H. Stephens, Mrs. Stephens, Master H. Stephens and Master R. Stephens traveling to Port Said, the main Egyptian port at which passenger vessels arrived and departed. This would seem to indicate that Stephens and his brother were the only surviving children of Julia and William.

With the full first name of Stephens' mother, I was able to dig up a bit more information. I learned that she had been born in Liverpool in 1871 to George and Annie Howell. Stephen's father, William Henry Stephens had been born in Birmingham in 1866 to Charles & Julia Hough. Stephen's mother passed away in 1949 in Gloucestershire while his father lived to the ripe old age of 96, passing away in 1962, also in Gloucestershire.

The story would not be complete however, without mentioning that Stephens' parents had the misfortune to be visiting the isle of Jersey at a very inopportune time: the summer of 1940. It was extremely bad timing. The Allies had pulled their troops off the Continent in late May and early June. There was much debate about what to do with the Channel Islands: defend them or let them go. Eventually the British government decided to remove all British troops and leave the islands to fend for themselves. Some civilians tried to get off the islands but there really wasn't enough time to conduct a mass-scale evacuation. In the end, many children were evacuated but the adults were stuck.

On July 1, 1940, Jersey was occupied by German forces, who would remain there until the end of the war. Julia and William were essentially prisoners of war. Luckily, the Germans didn't have a clue as to who they had in their possession, the aged parents of the new Commandant of Camp 020.

Julia Elizabeth (nee Howell) Stephens  (1941 Jersey Registration Card)
Julia Elizabeth (nee Howell) Stephens
(1941 Jersey Registration Card)
William Henry Stephens  (1941 Jersey Registration Card)
William Henry Stephens
(1941 Jersey Registration Card)

Robin William George Stephens
Robin William George Stephens
This begins to shed a bit of light on Stephens and his xenophobic hatred of all things German. The Germans had killed his brother in World War I and held his parents in durance vile during World War II. While Stephens' parents suffered under German occupation, he did everything he could to ensure that the same fate would not befall England. On a side note... one can see from whom Stephens got his icy glare.

08 July 2015

Wellington Barracks & German spy, Josef Jakobs

An Inside View of Changing of the Guard - copyright G.K. Jakobs 2012.
An Inside View of Changing of the Guard - copyright G.K. Jakobs 2012.
If you were to visit London (England!) today, you would see flocks of tourists congregating along Bird Cage Walk, faces pressed up against the wrought iron railings of the parade grounds of Wellington Barracks.

They are there to catch a glimpse of the Changing of the Guard, a ceremonial procession during which a fresh squad of Guardsmen are march from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace to relieve the Guards on duty there.

There is a lot of pomp and ceremony involved. Much marching and stamping of feet. Yelling by Sergeant Majors. The band plays and the squad marchs out the gates.

Wellington Barracks - from Wikipedia
Wellington Barracks - from Wikipedia
Tourists snap frantic photographs or try to capture the entire event on video. It is definitely a memorable moment. All eyes are fixed on the Guardsmen in their spiffy red uniforms and bearskin hats. Drawn from one of the Foot Guards regiments (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Welsh or Irish), the Guardsmen are most impressive.

Providing a backdrop to the Changing of the Guard is the white facade of Wellington Barracks. Completed in 1833, Wellington Barracks has housed a succession of Foot Guards, mainly those on ceremonial duties in London.

Today, the Barracks houses the Regimental Headquarters of the Foot Guards regiments, as well as the ceremonial battalion of Guardsmen.

Grenadier Guards in Wellington Barracks  (IWM 19/124)
Grenadier Guards in Wellington Barracks
(IWM 19/124)
Few tourists could know that on Monday 28 July, 1941, the Wellington Barracks played a small role in the saga of German spy, Josef Jakobs.

In order for Josef to be tried by military court-martial he required a "commanding officer" and that dubious honour fell to Lt. Col. George Mervyn Cornish, General Officer Commanding Holding Battalion Grenadier Guards. It was Cornish's duty to investigate the charge against Josef.

Thus it was that on 28 July, 1941, Josef found himself being hustled into a back entrance of Wellington Barracks for his Summary of Evidence. Witnesses gave their statements, one after the other and Josef was given an opportunity to question them if he so desired. Aside from one question to the first witness, Charles Baldock, Josef asked no questions. The Summary of Evidence was taken down by Major Anthony A.H. Marlowe, the same man who would serve as Attorney for the Prosecution at Josef's court-martial.

The following day, Lt. Col. Cornish approved the charge and Josef's court-martial was confirmed.

03 July 2015

Blog Review - Secrets & Spies: Latchmere House

Latchmere House - Wiki Commons
Latchmere House - Wiki Commons
Latchmere House. Ham Common. Camp 020. Whatever you want to call it, the grounds of MI5's secret interrogation centre in Richmond had a long, and sometimes grim history. I've been meaning to write a blog posting about Josef's time at Latchmere House, but in the meantime, came across a blog written by Steve Woodbridge, a Senior Lecturer in History at Kingston University. His blog, entitled Secrets & Spies:Latchmere House is actually a better source of information than the Wikipedia article.

Woodbridge gives a nice summary of the history of Latchmere House and its role during World War II. He does indicate that the first German spy arrived at the camp in July 1940, but in actual fact, that notable event took place in early September 1940 when the four "spies in dinghies" arrived at the camp - Jose Waldberg, Carl Meier, Charles van den Kieboom and Sjoerd Pons.

As Woodbridge notes, a few erroneous rumours about Latchmere House continue to persist. Sir Oswald Mosley (leader of the British Union of Fascists) and Rudolf Hess (Hitler's second-in-command) were not held at Latchmere House.

Other than providing a bit of information on Lt. Col. Robin W.G. Stephens, commandant of Latchmere House during World War II, Woodbridge provides no information on some of the other MI5 officers who staffed the facility: G.F. Sampson, R.A.F. Short, D.B. Stimson, E.B. Goodacre,
A.D. Meurig Evans and T.L. Winn.