04 May 2012

Radio Times Article - April 16, 2012

I had an interview with Terry Payne of Radio Times in late January 2012, when I visited London. While there are a few inaccuracies (I don't work in schools for native Americans), on the whole it is fairly accurate.

The print article (sent to me courtesy of National Geographic) has a picture of Josef, myself and the envelope containing Josef's last letter. You can read the digital article here.

01 May 2012

Trailer from Bloody Tales of the Tower

While Bloody Tales of the Tower has not yet aired on National Geographic in Canada, we can see a tiny snippet of it on their website.

Or you can watch the full episode on YouTube:

18 April 2012

The Virtual Grave of Josef Jakobs

Josef Jakobs was buried in the Common Plot at St. Mary's Cemetery (Kensal Green, London). What this basically means, is that the public purse paid for his burial, along with many others. No gravestone marked his final resting place and in the mid-1970s, a thick layer of soil buried the resting places of all in the Common Plot. The new layer of soil was used to bury others. So, Josef's grave is well and truly gone.

There are, however, other ways to remember the deceased. I came across the Find-a-Grave website several years ago, and found that Josef (being a "famous" person) was already listed there. I was able to leave a virtual bouquet of flowers, and read the comments of others who had "visited" his virtual grave.

This past year, I also added a photograph of Josef to the website. It is amazing to see how often that photograph has been picked up and used on other websites (without any acknowledgement as to the source). My intention in posting the picture was that people are able to put a face to a name. Somehow it makes the person more real... and Josef was very real.

14 April 2012

Ramsey Home Guard

On the morning of February 1, 1941, the Ramsey Home Guard received word that a suspected spy (Josef Jakobs) had been discovered in a field near Dove House Farm. Situated near the RAF Upwood airbase, the Home Guard was primed to be on the lookout for suspicious folk.

A simple phone call by Home Guard Volunteer James Harry Godfrey, to the local police station, tapped into the eager resources of the local Home Guard.

Captain William Henry Newton, Officer Commanding the Ramsey Company (Home Guard) and Lieutenant John Curedale, Platoon Commander (Home Guard), drove out to Dovehouse Farm and took Josef Jakobs into custody. After delivering the captive spy to the police station, the role of the Home Guard was over, for the moment.

Eventually, on August 4, 1941, both Godfrey and Newton would be called to testify at Jakobs' Court Martial Trial in London. Lieutenant John Curedale had been called up into the regular Armed Forces and was excused from testifying.

Who were these men of the Home Guard? Were they exempted from regular service because of age or some other "disability" (asthma perhaps?). Was the capture of this German spy their moment of fame? The Home Guard had a challenging job, defending the realm against an anticipated German invasion, with poor weaponry (most of the good stuff went to the regular forces). What they lacked in equipment, they made up in ingenuity and eagerness. There are many sites where one can find general information on the history of the Home Guard:

The Home Guard
Home Guard - Wikipedia

As well, there are numerous sites for the local companies of the Home Guard. But the one that interests me the most is the Ramsey Home Guard.

After a fair amount of searching on the internet and a foray through the Ramsey Rural Museum, I came across the website for the Ramsey and District Community Archive. It was there, in searching through an archive of images that I came across a 1941 photograph of the Ramsey Home Guard company (which also identified some of the men).
Ramsey Home Guard from Ramsey & District CCAN
Ramsey Home Guard from Ramsey & District CCAN

In the middle of the photograph, in the second row from the bottom, sits Captain Newton. I imagine that James Harry Godfrey is somewhere in there as well... and even perhaps Lieutenant John Curedale (if he hadn't yet been called up the regular services).

It is satisfying to finally be able to put a face to this Captain W.H. Newton, a man who took my grandfather into custody on behalf of the King. Seeing this photograph, seeing these men portrayed, fleshes out the whole encounter for me. They are no longer the faceless ones, but take on a life of their own. They had families too. They had homes to protect. They were doing their duty and protecting all that was dear to them.

09 April 2012

Josef Jakobs on Facebook

I had no idea that Josef had a Facebook page! How can one have a Facebook page when one has been deceased for 70+ years?

Well, apparently "famous people", deceased or alive, get a Facebook page if they have a Wikipedia article. So the information on Josef's Facebook page is essentially the same information as is in Wikipedia.

There isn't much that one can do with Josef's Facebook page, other than "like it" and "share it" on my own Facebook.

05 April 2012

Who is Kenneth C. Howard?

N.B. See my February 12, 2017 blog for a break in the case. 

The Public Record Office (National Archives) in Kew has a small museum which, when I visited in January 2012, contained a small display case featuring some items to do with Josef.

One of the items was a small black notebook, apparently found on Josef when he landed in England. The notebook is open to page 38 which features a picture of the King of Romania and the words:

"Der Könige Von Rumanie" and "Deutschland über Alle!"

Leaving aside the poor German syntax, the reference to the King of Romania, and the fact that the handwriting is not that of Josef, I am left to wonder, what is this notebook doing in a display featuring Josef?

Accessing the PRO files on Josef, I examine the original notebook (the display version is a facsimile) and discover on the inside cover several stickers from UK regiments as well as the name:

K.C. Howard
17 Evelyn Road,

A small blue appointment book from 1936 (also found on Josef) belongs to Kenneth C. Howard (also Birmingham, but a different street address). An MI5 note references the Birmingham police records.

Who is Kenneth C. Howard? How did his notebooks end up in the possession of Josef Jakobs? Were they stolen? Did the MI5 interrogators check out the Birmingham connection? A mystery to be solved.

Additional information has since come to light, which is covered in new blog postings:

The Mystery of the Two Notebooks and a Boy named Kenneth C. Howard

The Mysterious Diary of Kenneth C. Howard 

Kenneth C. Howard's Little Black Book

29 March 2012

Date of Execution for Josef Jakobs

In searching the internet for information on Josef, I have come across an interesting assortment of misinformation. Depending on where you look on the internet, for example, Josef was executed on:

a) August 13, 1941
b) August 14, 1941
c) August 15, 1941
d) none of the above

The correct answer is August 15, 1941. The death warrant was dated August 13, but it stated that the date of execution was to be on August 15.

Josef was taken from Wandsworth Prison to the Tower of London on August 15, 1941, and executed 7:12 a.m (certified by Lt. Col. C.R. Gerard, Deputy Provost Marshal of London District).

On a more personal note, the letter that Josef wrote to his family in the hours prior to his execution indicated that he would die on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15).

25 March 2012

Bloody Tales of the Tower

National Geographic has set a date and a time for the first episode of their three part series - Bloody Tales from the Tower. The three parts are: Traitors, Executions and Scandal.

The first episode will air on Monday April 16 at 8 pm (UK premiere) and includes the piece of Josef.

The episode featuring Josef (Traitors) can be seen on YouTube (below). Josef's segment begins at about the 30 minute mark.

22 January 2012

Filming - Bloody Tales of the Tower

An independent film company, True North Productions, contacted me in December. They are producing a mini-documentary on the history of the Tower and had heard about me. After several email conversations and an introductory Skype call, we connected via Skype, and I was interviewed by one of the hosts of the show.

The documentary is due to come out in early March... more details as they emerge.


I am the granddaughter of Josef Jakobs. I have been conducting research on Josef since 1988. My research has progressed from uncovering a few lines on Josef in obscure espionage books, to reading the entire set of files on Josef at the National Archives in London.

My goal is to share information on Josef, to portray the human side of a man whose legacy seems to be a trivia footnote in the annals of history.