From the Mailbox

A few months back, I received some very kind feedback on The Spy in the Tower. I've been meaning to share the comments for a while and my weekly Mailbox blog post seems like a good place for that.

Winston Ramsey, After the Battle Magazine

Winston was the first person I reached out to back in the late 1980s when I was trying to track down information on my grandfather, Josef Jakobs. After the Battle's classic spread on the executed spies from the Second World War was instrumental in helping me move a step up in my quest.

"Words fail me! Since it arrived I have only had time to dip into your book but already it comes across as a masterly scholarship blended with your own beautiful expressive way of telling the story. Which makes it very hard to put it down when I have chores to do.

I am privileged to have been able to help you with your project and I still treasure the memories of the first day I spent with you in 1990 on that whistle-stop tour of the London locations. We were so fortunate to see those places that have now been lost.

Since then you must have spent countless hours on meticulous research yet have managed to put it all together in 400-odd pages. It is a true masterpiece."

As I noted in the Acknowledgements section of the book, I am deeply grateful to both Winston and Nigel West for their early, and ongoing, assistance in my quest. Winston took me on a tour of the Ramsey area a few years ago and we ended up standing on the spot (roughly) where Josef had landed. A moving day for sure.

Fr. Rupert McHardy C.O., Brompton Oratory

In his final weeks prior to his execution, Josef received spiritual comfort from Fr. Edward Jackson Griffith C.O., a military chaplain who was also a member of the Congregation of Oratorians. I reached out to the Brompton Oratory a few years ago, hoping that they might have some records on Fr. Griffith. I ended up meeting with Fr. Rupert McHardy who shared what information they had. We've stayed in touch over the years and I received this kind email from him a few months ago.

"I have just finished reading the book on your [grandfather]. It is quite a story and a very moving one at the end. I find the letter home so beautiful. It is such a tragedy and a disgrace that your grandmother never got it. Reflecting on Josef's life has confirmed my belief that God really does take us when we are ready. As sad as your grandfather's end was from a human point of view, he died as best prepared as is possible to meet his maker. Given his earlier life, I cannot help thinking (if you will forgive me for this thought) that it was good that he was given time to reflect on his past life and prepare spiritually for his death."

My quest to trace the life of my grandfather has brought me into contact with a number of diverse individuals. I am always enriched by their accounts of how Josef's story touched their lives in some way.


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