13 September 2017

Tracking the Mysterious Notebook

In the last blog, I introduced another notebook mystery from the files of German spy, Josef Jakobs. During his court martial on August 4 and 5, 1941, Josef was presented with a notebook, contained in a wallet, which apparently contained dates, times and locations of possible assignations with other German agents.

I initially thought this topic would be one blog but... as I delved deeper into the details of the story, the blog kept getting longer. The threads of the tale have taken me into the files of TATE as well as Jan Willem Ter Braak and opened up some intriguing possibilities. But, I digress... in the last blog, I ended with four questions:
  1. Tracking the Notebook - Where did the notebook come from as it does not appear on any of the detailed lists that itemized the articles found on Josef?
  2. Camp 020 Interrogations - Why was Josef never interrogated about the times/dates/locations for covert "assignations" during his many months at Camp 020?
  3. Contents of Notebook - What was actually written in the notebook and were the three locales (Zoological Gardens, Derby Station, Oxford Street and Edgar Road) actually in London?
  4. Assignation Candidates - Who might have shown up at those dates/times/locations to rendezvous with Josef?
1. Tracking the Notebook
The notebook that was referenced at the court martial was not listed as an Exhibit, but was apparently contained within Exhibit 8, simply described as "a wallet". We need to go back to Josef's initial arrival in the UK and track this wallet.

When Josef was captured at Dove House farm on the morning of February 1, 1941, he was brought to the Ramsey Police Station. He was searched thoroughly and his possessions were catalogued in exquisite detail. In addition, the statements of the Home Guard and police officers who found Josef made mention of several key items (KV 2/24 20b). From these statements, it would appear Josef had two wallet-like items in his possession:
Brown Leather Wallet
  • a brown leather wallet containing a Ration Book..., an Identity card... The wallet also contained a blank identity card and a picture post card... (Jaikens statement)
  • brown leather purse with zip fastener (Jaikens statement)
  • a brown leather wallet containing a ration book, identity cards and a photograph of a girl (Newton's statement)
  • a leather wallet (Curedale) 
  • wallets (Godfrey)
Blue Leather Note-Case
  • a leather note case was found to contain 4 £1 bank of England notes (Jaikens statement)
  • blue leather note-case with chain guard attached (Jaikens statement)
  • a leather note case containing some £1 notes (Newton's statement)
  • a note-case (Curedale)
  • wallets (Godfrey)
When the Ramsey police typed up the list of possessions, it included: a leather note-case, a brown leather wallet and a leather purse. But when Major Robertson, the first MI5 officer to extract a statement from Josef, drew up his list on February 2, 1941, he simply noted: one brown leather purse, zip fastener (empty) and one blue leather note case, chain guard (empty) (KV 2/24 7a). The inclusion of an extra "leather purse" on the Ramsey list is most likely an error for it is not mentioned anywhere else.

In describing the blue leather note-case and the brown leather wallet, none of the investigators described a notebook or any writing that might be present in either the wallet or the note-case.

The blue leather note-case simply contained 4 £1 notes and the brown leather wallet contained the Ration Book, Identity Cards and the picture post card.

KV 2/27 - National Archives - description of Exhibit 8
KV 2/27 - National Archives - description of Exhibit 8
The strange thing is... there actually is a small coil-bound graph-paper notebook contained with Josef's KV 2/27 file, listed as Exhibit 8 from the court martial. The description, provided by the National Archives for this object states:
Rex v. Josef JAKOBS
Exhibit No. 8
Original enveloped said (Leather Wallet) but on transfer there is no leather wallet in this envelope, there is however a small graph papered spiral bound notebook.
PF 55039/SUPPA

KV 2/27 - National Archives - small notebook included as Exhibit 8
KV 2/27 - National Archives - small notebook
included as Exhibit 8

The notebook itself is small, a couple of inches wide by perhaps three inches tall. It contains graph-lined paper and one page has writing on it (which we will get to in due course).

The problem remains though... where did this small notebook come from? Within the KV 2/26 file on Josef, which is primarily concerned with preparations for his court martial, there is a copy of Major Robertson's list of possessions from February 2, 1941. Edward Cussen from MI5's B13 (the office involved in the prosecution of spies) has made marginal notes against all of the items.

Some items are marked "Ret" - these were returned to Josef. Some are marked with the initials J.M. (likely John Marriott - from Robertson's office) and 2.2.41 - these were sent out for further investigation by Marriott - the tablets/pills, picture post card, identity cards, ration book, bottle of brandy/cognac, etc. The packet of sandwiches, marked with a question mark, also has a note that it was "Dest" (destroyed). The Catholic Badge was "Lost" very early in the case.

KV 2/26 - Copy of Robertson's list of Josef's possessions with annotations by Edward Cussen.
KV 2/26 - unnumbered folio -  Copy of Robertson's list of Josef's possessions
with annotations by Edward Cussen. (National Archives)
Against the brown leather purse, there is a simple check mark. Against the blue leather note case, there is a question mark. MI5 was apparently not all that practiced in keeping track of the possessions of the spies in their custody.

The interesting aspect of this annotated list comes at the bottom of the second page where Edward Cussen (assistant to W.E. Hinchley Cooke) has added two items to the list:
KV 2/26 - Copy of Robertson's list of Josef's possessions with hand-written addition of Torch and graph paper pad by Edward Cussen
KV 2/26 - unnumbered folio - Copy of Robertson's list of Josef's possessions
with hand-written addition of Torch and graph paper pad by Edward Cussen.
(National Archives)
  • 1 Torch - dated 22/7/41
  • 1 graph paper pad small - also dated 22/7/41
This is most intriguing and perplexing. From whence did this "graph paper pad small" make its appearance? It was clearly never contained within the two leather wallets. But, less than two weeks before Josef's court martial, it appears on one of the lists. At this time, Cussen was helping Hinchley-Cooke to prepare for the Summary of Evidence and gathering all of the items that the prosecution was planning to present as Exhibits at the court martial.

KV 2/26 - folio 2a - Report on Josef Jakobs' transceiver by Inspector Leonard W. Humphrey of the Radio Security Service (National Archives)
KV 2/26 - folio 2a - Report on Josef Jakobs' transceiver by Inspector
Leonard W. Humphrey of the Radio Security Service
(National Archives)
The only other object that Josef had in his possession which contained a multitude of items was the blue attache case containing the wireless set. Could the small graph paper pad been found within the attache case?

On February 13, 1941, Inspector Leonard W. Humphrey of the Radio Security Service submitted a report on Josef's wireless transceiver. He included a detailed list of all of the items contained within the attache case. The item that most closely resembled a notebook was:
  • 1 Stationary pad ruled in 8 millimetre squares 30 centimetres by 21 centimetres and 6 millimetres thick
There were also some sheets of paper and Humphrey noted what was written on those sheets. The stationary pad that Humphrey found within the attache case is, however, clearly much larger than the small notebook that was presented at the court martial. So, the notebook is unlikely to have been "found" within the attache case.

Which leaves us back at the beginning? Where did the notebook come from? At this point, we have no answers to this question and it actually raises even more questions, one of which is: did the notebook actually belong to Josef? In that respect, we can definitely answer in the affirmative for during his interrogation at Camp 020, Josef actually referenced a small note block that threw the Latchmere House officers into a tizzy. More on this in the next blog(s).

No comments: