27 February 2017

Duke of York's Headquarters targeted by Luftwaffe during World War 2

Map from a former Luftwaffe Gunner (Mail Online) dated November 30, 1941 identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
Map from a former Luftwaffe Navigator (Mail Online) dated November 30, 1941
identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
The Mail Online has an interesting article about an old map that has recently come to light.

The map, which belonged to a Luftwaffe navigator, was found in an attic of a former WW2 air gunner and likely came from a downed Luftwaffe plane.

Dated November 30, 1941, the map identifies some of the key targets for the German bombers.

One of the targets was the Duke of York Headquarters (numbered #56 in the map at right). The online newspaper notes that "The Duke of York’s headquarters in Kensington was identified because the court martials of German spies Josef Jakobs and Theodore Schurch were conducted in the building."

 Not entirely sure this would be accurate. Theodore Schurch wasn't court-martialed until later in the war (after 1941) and the location of Josef's court martial wasn't revealed in any of the contemporary newspaper accounts that I have seen. In all likelihood, the Germans simply identified all military targets of relatively high value.

Map from a former Luftwaffe Navigator (Mail Online) dated November 30, 1941 identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
Map from a former Luftwaffe Navigator (Mail Online) dated November 30, 1941
identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
The map is only one sheet of a series that would have covered the Greater London area. Alas, places like Wellington Barracks and the Tower of London are not on this sheet. The article noted that "One small mercy was that hospitals had a cross through them (pictured at left) so they were off limits for the German bombers." One does wonder why, if that were the case, the Royal Hospital at Chelsea had a box around it and a number associated with it. This would seem to suggest that hospitals were indeed targets, at least some of them.

Map from a former Luftwaffe Navigator (Mail Online) dated November 30, 1941, identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
Map from a former Luftwaffe Navigator (Mail Online) dated
November 30, 1941, identifying some of the bombing targets in London.
On another part of the map, just east of Clapham, Lambeth Hospital has a box around it and a number (#131). In addition, a firehall (#63) was marked as well as a post office (the little bugle shape).

The Mail Online article has a picture that shows the entire map sheet with the accompanying legend. It would, naturally, be interesting to see what is written concerning targets like the Lambeth Hospital, the Royal Hospital (Chelsea) and the firehalls and post offices.

Given that the map is going to be auctioned off, it will be interesting to see how purchases it.



25 February 2017

A Poem about Josef Jakobs

Josef Jakobs - chair of execution
Josef Jakobs - chair of execution
Well, this is interesting. Some budding poet has written a few verses about Josef and his execution. While the poem is short, there is an interesting discussion in the comments from other readers. Most are quite taken with the line:
... but died he did, and the chair never healed.
Indeed, a moving line.

I would say that most of the commentators are not entirely knowledgeable about the Double-Cross system. The idea that Josef was betrayed by a Welsh Nationalist is a bit of a stretch. Agent SNOW was a double-cross agent... some would even say a triple or quadruple-cross agent. His loyalties have never been firmly established, except perhaps to say that he was loyal only to himself.


17 February 2017

Media Review - BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces

BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar - Britain's Great Palaces
BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar - Britain's Great Palaces
BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces (2015)

Original Air Date - 2 July 2014
Series - Majesty & Mortar

Duration - 59:25 minutes

Director - Graham  Cooper
Host - Dan Cruickshank

Last January, a friend in England informed me that BBC4, Majesty & Mortar had aired a piece which included a reference to Josef Jakobs.

It's taken me a while to track down the reference. Naturally, the episode is not available in North America, nor it appears, in the U.K.

I did have a more intense snoop around the internet and came across the Daily Motion website which appears to have the entire episode available for viewing, at least here in North America. Not sure how long that will remain the case, given copyright law but... for what it's worth, you can go to this link and see the episode in its entirety.

If you'd rather skip ahead to the section on Josef Jakobs, fast forward to the 28 minute mark. The piece runs from about 28:15 to 31:51.

Summary
Dan Cruickshank, the host, gives a bit of an intro into the role of the Tower during WW1 and WW2.

"But in WW2, the Tower was shut to the public, the moat converted into allotments and the Crown Jewels whisked away to a secret location. Captured U-boat crews were imprisoned in the Salt Tower. And Hitler's Deputy, Rudolf Hess was held in the Tower in May 1941. It was also the last home to Josef Jakobs, a German spy."

"This is the chair on which Jakobs was sat for his execution. He was executed at 7:12 in the morning on the 15 of August, 1941 in the East Casement firing range here in the Tower. So nearly seven months after his capture. A long time for him to brood, to hope."

Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank with the chair upon which Josef Jakobs faced the firing squad on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank with the chair upon which Josef Jakobs
faced the firing squad on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

"He was shot using rifles like this, a short magazine Lee Enfield, a standard Army issue weapon, firing a .303 round, a large round. The body would have been almost torn apart, I suppose. There were eight hits, seven to the heart, one to the head, the heart being the main target."
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank holding a Lee Enfield rifle, similar to that which would have been used at the execution of Josef Jakobs on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank holding a Lee Enfield rifle, similar to that
which would have been used at the execution of Josef Jakobs on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

"The chair says it all, doesn't it, the back and the spindles torn away. Jakobs sitting here, his heart would have been just in front of this area, just here... the bullets going through... phew.. golly. His execution marked the end of a chapter in the history of the Tower of London. It was the last execution to take place here."
Screenshot of the chair in which Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of the chair in which Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

Review
This piece is a bit different than some of the others in that they actually get the chair out from its glass case. It does pander a bit to the macabre aspects of Josef's execution but not in an offensive way.

There are a few factual errors. Josef was never housed within the Tower, but arrived there from Wandsworth Prison at about 5:30 am on the morning of 15 August, 1941. So, not quite accurate to say that it was his "last home". There was at least one blank round issued to the firing squad, so unlikely to be seven hits to the heart.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - interesting to see the chair out of the glass case.

12 February 2017

Solved - Kenneth Clifford Howard & His Diaries

1936 Pocket Diary of Kenneth Clifford Howard (National Archives - KV 2/27)
1936 Pocket Diary of Kenneth Clifford Howard
(National Archives - KV 2/27)
For the last few years, I have been scratching away at an irksome little mystery. Within the National

Archives' KV 2/27 file on Josef Jakobs are two small diary-style notebooks. Both notebooks were apparently the property of Kenneth C. Howard from Birmingham. They were sent to MI5 by the Birmingham Police in June 1941, but the only spy connection seems to be a reference to Karl Theodore Druecke (a spy who was executed in August 1941). Nowhere in the MI5 files on Josef Jakobs is there any mention of these notebooks nor any questions around Kenneth C. Howard.

I've done several blogs on Kenneth and his little notebooks detailing my attempts to solve the mystery:
 2015 - Oct - Update on the Hunt for Kenneth C. Howard
2014 - Dec - Kenneth C. Howard's Little Black Book
2014 - Dec - The Mysterious Diary of Kenneth C. Howard
2014 - Oct - The Mystery of the Two Notebooks and a Boy named Kenneth C. Howard
2012 - Apr - Who is Kenneth C. Howard?
Today, thanks to another author, Traugott Vitz, the mystery is solved! Herr Vitz was kind enough to direct my attention to file KV 2/1701, a file on Druecke, Walti (Peter) and the beautiful Vera, that I had missed on my last whirlwind trip to the National Archives.

Within KV 2/1701 are two documents which reference the two diaries.

-----------------

Birmingham City Police
Criminal Investigation Dept.
Central Station

C.I.D. 958776
5 June 1941
Diary and Address Book Found and Handed to the Police at Leicester
Notebook of Kenneth Clifford Howard (National Archives - KV 2/27)
Notebook of Kenneth Clifford Howard
(National Archives - KV 2/27)

I have to report that on Sunday, 1st June 1941, a communication was received from the Chief Constable, City Police Headquarters, Leicester, enclosing a diary dated 1936 and an address book. These apparently belong to Kenneth C. Howard, sometime of 17, Evelyn Road, Sparkhill, and contain a number of German references, also two addresses in Birmingham.

I have made enquiries at 17 Evelyn Road, Birmingham but there is no trace of Howard ever having lived there. Enquiries at 86, Durham Road reveal that Eric Porter, whose name is mentioned in the address book, left this house about four years ago. His present whereabouts are unknown.

I visited 45 Shepherds Green Road, Birmingham and interviewed Mr. S.F. Philpot, whose name is also mentioned in the address book. He told me that he did not know Kenneth C. Howard, neither did any of the names contained in the address book convey anything to him. He is unable to explain how his name and address became known to Howard.

it will be seen on page 64 of the diary that Howard at one time lived at 120 Durham Road, Bromley, Kent.

I respectfully suggest that this report together with the address book and diary be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, New Scotland Yard, London, S.W.1., for any action he may deem advisable.

(sgd). Maurice Bennett
Constable C.I. Dept.
(sgd). C.C.H. Moriarty,
Chief Constable
-----------------

Finally, some piece of paper documents that these diaries actually existed! There is, however, a mystery that still remains - how did these diaries end up Leicester? Who found them? Who turned them in?

The Metropolitan Police conducted a more detailed investigation into the diaries and sent the report to Lt. Col. Hinchley-Cooke.

-----------------

Metropolitan Police
Special Branch
23 Day of June, 1941

With reference to letter dated 5.6.41 from Birmingham City Police - Ref: C.I.D. 958776 - regarding Kenneth C. Howard, with which was forwarded a diary for 1936 and a notebook containing names and addresses etc, for any necessary action:-

Enquiries have revealed that a family named Howard lived at 128 (not 120) Durham Road, Bromley, Kent, from 2.5.1931 until 17.6.1936. The rated occupier was Frank Howard, who lived there with his wife, Flora, nee Mitchell, and son Kenneth Clifford.

Frank Howard was a blouse merchant and had a business under the style of 'Flora Mitchell' at 21, East Street, Bromley, where his wife assisted in dressmaking. I was informed that towards the end of his stay at 128 Durham Road, Howard was in some financial difficulty and took employment as a salesman with "Hoovers". Enquiries of Messrs., Hoovers Ltd. Westway, Perivale, fail to show that Howard was ever so employed.

On leaving Bromley, Frank Howard gave as his intended address, 17, Evelyn Road, Spark Hill, Birmingham - the address which appears in the notebook mentioned above. No member of the family is known to have returned to London.

Kenneth Clifford Howard was born on 4th June 1921 at 3, Leigham Court Road, Streatham. He attended Bromley County School, Hayes Road, Bromley Kent. From the fact that he could have been no more than 15 years old when he lived at Bromley, it would appear that he was impelled by a boyish interest in detectives in making several of the entries in the notebook.



Karl Theodore Druecke - National Archives
Karl Theodore Druecke
National Archives


Examination of the diary bearing Kenneth's Howard's name revealed the entry, made in pencil, for Wednesday, 13th May, 1936, as follows: - "Today my friend & (?) Ally Karl Theodor Drucke 30 years old. Was today sentenced to 3 yrs imprisonment and 10 yrs banishment". Drucke would appear to be identical with Karl Theodore Drueke, born 1906, who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in France some years ago, and on 16.6.41 was sentenced to death at the Central Criminal Court for treachery with intent to assist the enemy.

-----------------

The police reported also traced 9 of the people/addresses in Kenneth's notebook. None of the people who were traced knew the Howard family.

A bit of searching on Ancestry has not revealed much, although one Kenneth Clifford Howard, born in 1921, passed away on June 29, 2014 in Poole, England. What happened to Kenneth between 1936 and 2014? Impossible to say. His death record will also be inaccessible for a few decades, so, at this point, we are at a bit of an impasse again.

On the other hand, the reference to the diary and the address book in KV 2/1701 have cleared up a bit of the mystery. From what I can gather from the minute sheets and cover pages of this sequence of files... this file was found in Lt. Col. Hinchley-Cooke's office. How the notebooks ended up in Josef's file is another mystery. It seems that when one is successful in solving one mystery, several others pop up!

08 February 2017

The Untold Story of Jan Willem ter Braak (a.k.a. Engelbertus Fukken)

Spion tegen Churchill by Jan Willem van den Braak (to be published 2017)
Spion tegen Churchill by
Jan Willem van den Braak
(to be published 2017)
A friend of mine has been in touch with an author named Jan Willem van den Braak, a dogged researcher who has been tracing the story of a doomed Abwehr spy, Jan Willem ter Braak (no relation to the dogged researcher). Confusing, no?

Jan Willem ter Braak (the spy) was found shot in the head in early April 1941, in a an air raid shelter in Cambridge, England. MI5 determined that ter Braak (real name Engelbertus Fukken) had parachuted into England in early November 1940 and lived in Cambridge undetected.

They theorized that, despite having a wireless transmitter, he had failed to make contact with his handlers in the German Abwehr. Running short on funds, MI5 guessed that ter Braak had shot himself in the air raid shelter.

Much speculation has swirled around ter Braak since then. Did he really fail to make contact with the Abwehr? What was his mission? Did he really commit suicide? Author van den Braak has apparently dug up more on ter Braak than other researchers. His book on ter Braak, Spion tegen Churchill (Spy against Hitler) will be published in April 2017 in Dutch.

Spion tegen Churchill - back cover
Spion tegen Churchill - back cover
Alas... this blogger isn't fluent (or conversant) in Dutch, so we can only hope that a review in English will highlight some of van den Braak's discoveries.

Some information can be found on this Dutch site which quotes the Cambridge News.

03 February 2017

Article Review - Kriminalia Online Magazine - The Executioner at War: Soldiers, Spies & Traitors

Langen Seil Schneller Tod by Traugott Vitz
Kirchslager Publishers
Article Review - Kriminalia Online Magazine

I don't often find anything published on Josef Jakobs in Germany, but... that has changed.

Back in October, Michael Kirchschlager of Kriminalia, an online magazine on criminal and legal history, published a brief article stub entitled The Executioner at War: Soldiers, Spies, and Traitors – Der Henker im Krieg: Soldaten, Spione und Verräter. The article stub mentioned both Josef Jakobs and Karel Richter. but points to something beyond itself. At the bottom of the stub, which is presented in both English and Germany, there is a link to a pdf document entitled The Executioner at War: Soldiers, Spies, and Traitors.

The pdf document is evidently a chapter (pages 167-253) from the book Langes Seil Schneller Tod: Wie Grossbritannien seine Moerder haengte (Long Rope Quick Death: How Great Britain hanged its Murders) by Traugott Vitz. It looks to me like Kirchschlager is a book publisher and this online magazine promotes their books and authors.

The pdf document is an English translation and has a few pages on Josef Jakobs and Karel Richter. Interestingly, the chapter begins with a summary of the Treachery Act and how it relied upon the "intent" of the person charged. The author notes that "intent" is notoriously hard to prove and concludes that Josef was essentially sacrificed upon the altar of political expediency - "handed over to the politicians as free game". Definitely an interesting read.

Rating
5/5 - nice to see a German take on the British execution of spies