31 January 2017

BBC One Show - February 1, 2017 - Josef Jakobs & William Chidlow

BBC One Show website
Today marks the 76th anniversary of the capture of German spy Josef Jakobs at Dove House Farm near the village of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.

Having broken his ankle during his exit from the aircraft via parachute, Josef was found around 8:30 am by two farmers on their way to work.

Josef spent the next few months in Dulwich Hospital, London and then several more at MI5's secret interrogation centre, Camp 020, on the outskirts of London.

On July 24, 1941, Josef was transferred to Wandsworth Prison, where he spent the last few weeks of his life. He was executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 7:12 am on August 15, 1941.

Back in October (2016), my sister and I flew to London for a spot of filming courtesy of the BBC One Show. They wanted to film the meeting of myself (granddaughter of Josef Jakobs) and Kate (daughter of William Chidlow). While Kate and I had been in contact via email, we had never met in person.

Kate's dad, William, was one of the Military Policemen who guarded Josef during the final weeks of his life at Wandsworth Prison. William even accompanied Josef to his execution at the Tower. Before leaving the prison, Josef gave William one of his personal belongings which William held in trust for decades. A few years ago, Kate tracked us down and returned the object. (Yup, you'll have to watch the episode to learn more).

Just over 75 years later, the circle finally closed when Kate and I met at the Tower of London.

The BBC One Show airs the 5 minute episode this evening, February 1, 2017 on BBC One between 19:00 and 19:30 - in the United Kingdom. Whether it will air here in North America is unknown.

I have to admit, while it was only 5 minutes of video... it was over 6 hours of filming. It was bitingly cold that day and the experience gave me a new appreciation for everything that goes into a few minutes of finished film!

Many thanks to my sister for acting as behind-the-scenes photographer! Thanks as well to the BBC crew and the Tower Press Office...

On the night before his execution, Josef  gave William a object which Kate  returned to us a few years ago. (c) G.K. Jakobs
On the night before his execution, Josef
gave William a object which Kate
returned to us a few years ago.
(c) G.K. Jakobs

Kate and I with our crew. (c) G.K. Jakobs
Kate and I with our crew.
(c) G.K. Jakobs


A stand-in for the chair that Josef sat on  for his execution. (c) G.K. Jakobs
A stand-in for the chair that Josef sat on
for his execution.
(c) G.K. Jakobs

Kate and I grimacing in the cold! (c) G.K. Jakobs
Kate and I grimacing in the cold!
(c) G.K. Jakobs

A break in filming when we put on our  jackets and mittens! (c) G.K. Jakobs
A break in filming when we put on our
jackets and mittens!
(c) G.K. Jakobs

Many, many takes required for some shots! (c) G.K. Jakobs
Many, many takes required for some shots!
(c) G.K. Jakobs

Myself and my sister at the Tower (c) G.K. Jakobs
Myself and my sister at the Tower
(c) G.K. Jakobs

All photos copyright G.K. Jakobs.
That means, ask if you want to use them.

30 January 2017

Article Review - The Guardian - Secrecy and firing squads: Britain's ruthless war on Nazi spies

The Guardian - 2016 08 28 - Ian Cobain article - Secrecy and firing squads: Britain's ruthless war on Nazi spies.
The Guardian - 2016 08 28 - Ian Cobain article
Secrecy and firing squads: Britain's ruthless war on Nazi spies.
Article Review - The Guardian

Another great article came out on August 28, 2016 via The Guardian. This one was written by Ian Cobain, author of Cruel Britannia. The Guardian Article is entitled Secrecy and firing squads: Britain's ruthless war on Nazi spies.

The article begins with the story of the first four spies who landed on the coast of Kent in September 1940. Cobain questions the justice of their trials, something that I have wondered as well. The article examines how MI5 wanted secrecy during trials and how this became increasingly difficult to ensure when civil trials were held at the Old Bailey. When Josef Jakobs landed in the hands of the English, claiming to be a member of the German Armed Forces, the stage was set for a secret military court martial.

The article is very good and I liked how Cobain wove in the stories of other spies. Apparently, he published a book on September 1, 2016 entitled The History Thieves, a history of official secrecy in Great Britain. According to the publisher - "The shocking new book from the author of Cruel Britannia, which uncovers the role of secrecy in the British state - and the lies, omissions and misrepresentations we've been fed to maintain the facade of a fair and just Britain." Definitely on my reading list!

Rating
5/5 - Enjoyed the article very much and highly recommend it.




25 January 2017

Article Review - Daily Telegraph (AU) on Josef Jakobs

Daily Telegraph - 2016 08 14 - Article on Josef Jakobs
Daily Telegraph - 2016 08 14
Article on Josef Jakobs
Article Review - Daily Telegraph AU

I'm a bit behind the times and catching up on six months of references to Josef around the web. Back in August, the Daily Telegraph in Australia published an article on Josef.

The article was actually quite well written and has no glaring inaccuracies, which is a nice surprise. It's always nice to come across an article that is accurate and presents the facts in a coherent framework. Kudos to the author, Marea Donnelly for a job well-done.

If I were to get really nit-picky... I would suggest a slightly different title - "last man" could lead one to believe that perhaps there was as "last woman" to be executed as well. Josef was the last person to be executed in the Tower of London.

Rating
5/5 - excellent accuracy

20 January 2017

New Josef Jakobs Website Up and Running

The new Josef Jakobs website is up and running, finally! The old domain - www.josefjakobs.com works now and will take you to www.josefjakobs.weebly.com. Still need to update some of the blog links on the site but... that will come.

New Josef Jakobs website on Weebly
New Josef Jakobs website on Weebly

16 January 2017

Article Review - National Archives Blog - Shot at the Tower - 2016 08 15

Shot at the Tower - Dr. Richard Dunley - National Archives Blog - 2016 08 15
Shot at the Tower - Dr. Richard Dunley
National Archives Blog - 2016 08 15
Article Review - National Archives Blog

Another pleasant surprise - a National Archives blog on the case of German spy, Josef Jakobs. The blog post was written by Dr. Richard Dunley at the National Archives and is well researched. Given that the National Archives has the voluminous declassified MI5 files on Josef as well as the court martial documents, the author has done an admirable job of distilling the story down to a single blog post. At the end of the article, the author notes that Josef's guilty verdict seems to have been a foregone conclusion, a statement with which I would agree.

Rating
5/5 - well written and accurate


11 January 2017

Blog Review - History of Sorts

Josef Jakobs - 1940 (c) Giselle K. Jakobs
Josef Jakobs - 1940
(c) Giselle K. Jakobs
Blog Review - History of Sorts

I came across another blog post about Josef Jakobs last week. This particular blog, History of Sorts, is written by a Dutchman living in Ireland, Dirk deKlein. Dirk has an interest in history and writes in a fairly engaging way.

His post on Josef can be found here. I'm not sure on his sources as he lists none, nor does he give any sort of credit for the photos that he uses on the site, at least one of which comes from my website and/or blog. There are the usual inaccuracies - that Josef was seated because of his broken ankle and a few new ones. According to Dirk, Josef was not hanged because of his broken ankle and was therefore shot. In actual fact, Josef was shot because he was considered a member of the German military and therefore had a military court martial. Soldiers like to shoot soldiers... a more honourable death than hanging.

Rating
3/5 - inaccuracies and no sources or photo credits


06 January 2017

The Farmers who Saved Josef Jakobs' Life

Potato field in which Josef Jakobs landed at Dovehouse Farm.
Potato field in which Josef Jakobs landed at Dovehouse Farm.
I am always interested in learning more about the people involved in the saga of Josef Jakobs. The farmers who found Josef in the potato field at Dovehouse Farm have been a bit of a mystery. Harry Coulson, Charles Baldock and Harry Godfrey seem to have lived very quiet, local lives in the Ramsey/Warboys area. Tracking down information on them has been a bit of a dead-end.

Last March, I wrote an email to the Ramsey 1940s Weekend committee asking them if they might be able to help. I wasn't expecting all that much but... that email has generated a few leads.

In June of this year, I received an email from the granddaughter of Harry Coulson, a lady named Julia. She was able to give me a bit of information about her grandfather but, since he died when she was only 16 years old, she didn't have a lot of information. Apparently Coulson did not talk about his experience all that much, which is a shame. So much of the personal aspects of history are lost as people pass on without telling the story of their experience.

Last week, I received a comment on this blog site from the great granddaughter of Charles Baldock, a lady named Hannah. That was a very nice surprise, particularly as Hannah said that her grandmother was still alive. Hannah was able to relate some of the memories of her grandmother, which were very moving and which I will now be able to share with my father, Josef's son.

So far, I still have no contact with the family of Harry Godfrey, although one never knows... an email may come tomorrow or the next day!

I know that our family will always be grateful to Baldock, Coulson and Godfrey for saving Josef's life. Had Baldock and Coulson not heard the pistol shots, it is very likely Josef would have died of exposure in that frigid potato field near Ramsey.


02 January 2017

Clara Bauerle on Find-a-Grave

In July of last year, I noticed that there was an entry for Clara Bauerle on Find-a-Grave. The creators of that memorial had run with the idea that Clara was, in fact, Bella in the Wych Elm. I sent a note to the folks responsible for the memorial suggesting some corrections but heard nothing back.

I then decided to create an accurate memorial for Clara. Given that her full name was Hedwig Klara Bauerle, I struggled a bit with how to enter her name in the First/Middle name fields.

If I stuck with rigid accuracy, no one would ever find her memorial. So, I have created a memorial for Clara Bauerle and noted her full birth name in the biography section.

It would be nice, at some point, to perhaps discover her burial location. It might be a long shot for a number of reasons:
  1. She died during World War 2 in a city that was heavily bombed. Graves and cemeteries might have been disturbed.
  2. The district in which she died later became part of East Berlin. Hard to say how the Soviets and/or East Germans managed cemeteries.
  3. Most graves in Germany have an expiry date after 20 or 30 years. Unless there is family around to renew the grave "subscription", the remains are exhumed and disposed of, while the stones are destroyed.
One option for research would be to search for her funeral records with the Protestant church. My experience suggests that the Protestants are fairly organized with their baptism, marriage and funeral records, so it might be possible. A project for the future, perhaps.