Showing posts from 2013

Josef Jakobs: An Invalid at Dulwich Hospital, London

updated 3 April, 2019

Website Review - Trivia Library - The Last Execution in the Tower of London

Trivia Library - Famous Lasts - The Last Execution in the Tower of London

There are many references to Josef Jakobs on the internet. The Trivia Library entry provides a fairly long article and is often referenced by other websites. The article on Josef is essentially a repeat of an article taken from The People's Almanac, a series of reference books published between 1975 and 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace.

Unfortunately, some of the information in the article is dated and incomplete. There are several glaring errors which have been corrected below. The original Trivia Library statements are italicized. The accurate information has been obtained from the official MI5 files housed at the National Archives in Kew.

Trivia Library - Paragraph 1 - Execution took place on Thursday, Aug. 14, 1941 MI5 files - Execution took place on Friday August 15, 1941
Trivia Library - Paragraph 2 - Parachuted into a wooded area of Stifford in Essex County MI5 files - Parachu…

Book Review - Tales from the Tower of London by Daniel Diehl & Mark P. Donnelly

The Book
Tales from the Tower of London, Daniel Diehl & Mark P. Donnelly, The History Press, 2004 edition.

This book receives Average to Good reviews on Amazon. Several Amazon reviewers have noted that the book is rife with errors and historical inaccuracies. While their comments focus on inaccuracies from chapters that focus on the medieval period, I thought I would review the chapter on Josef Jakobs.

Chapter 15 is entitled The Weatherman: Josef Jakobs: 1941. The authors begin by mentioning the damage caused to the Tower during World War 2 and then reference Rudolf Hess and his brief incarceration within the Tower. From that point onwards, facts are in short supply but errors and fanciful flights of imagination are common.

It would be too much to highlight and correct all of the errors contained within this chapter. The dramatic scene that played out within the Tower in 1991 is pure fiction. No middle-aged daughter (or any relative) of Josef Jakobs ever approached a Yeoman W…

Scots Guards and the Execution of Josef Jakobs

Tourists in London flock to Buckingham Palace and the Wellington Barracks to see Changing the Guard. It is a spectacular event in which the company on duty assembles on the parade ground of Wellington Barracks and then makes its way to Buckingham Palace.
The soldiers that guard the Queen's residences are collectively known as the Queen's Guard and are normally drawn from the five Foot Guards regiments stationed at Wellington Barracks and Woolich. The Queen's Guard soldiers are responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace and the Tower of London, still technically a Royal Residence.
The five Foot Guards regiments are the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards. The Guards ceremonial uniform is one of the most iconic uniforms in the world. Its black trousers, red tunic and bearskin hat are easily recognizable and often imitated.

At first glance, the different Guards regiments may appear difficult to distinguish, b…

Website Review - Stephen Stratford

There are many websites on the internet that make reference to Josef Jakobs. A plethora of sites feature the trivia question: Who was the last person executed in the Tower of London. In addition to the trivia sites, there are several that contain grossly inaccurate information (reviews in progress). There are also several that present relatively accurate, and in some cases, well researched information. One of these latter sites is that of Stephen Stratford.

It is very clear that Stratford has viewed Jakobs' Court Martial file as well as his letter of petition to the King, both held at the National Archives in Kew.

While most of the Jakobs information presented on Stratford's site is accurate, there are some minor factual errors and typographical mistakes in the summaries of the witness statements.

There is one piece of information provided on Stratford's site that has proven difficult to corroborate. Towards the end of the section on Jakobs, it says:

Later that day, a post-…

James Henry Godfrey - Ramsey Home Guard Hero

James Henry Godfrey (Harry to his friends and family) was a lucky man. He was born in 1903 in the village of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. His parents, Harry & Sarah, timed his birth just right, for Harry ended up being too young to fight in World War I. By the time World War II rolled around Harry's job as a farm labourer was a reserved occupation that exempted him from overseas service in His Majesty's Armed Forces. But Harry was also a brave man and wanted to serve his country so when the call went out in May 1940 for Home Guard volunteers, Harry stepped up and was the fourth recruit to join the Ramsey Home Guard where he soon received the rank of Lance Corporal.

Harry Godfrey was also a family man. In 1921 he married his wife Doris and together they had four children, Ronald, Sylvia, Barbara and Jean.

Life was good for Harry Godfrey, if perhaps a bit boring on the Home Guard front. But all of that changed on the morning of February 1, 1941 when Harry was working at Wistow…

Josef Jakobs landed by parachute near Ramsey, Huntingdonshire

On the night of January 31, 1941, Josef Jakobs descended by parachute just southeast of the sleepy village of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.
 His descent in the darkness was unnoticed. His capture the following morning was inevitable given that he had broken his ankle either departing the aircraft or upon landing in a potato field. He was discovered on the morning of February 1 by two farmers walking to work who heard the shots that Jakobs fired from his pistol.

Various documents and first-hand accounts from 1941 mention several geographical features marking Jakobs' landing site.
Ash DrainRamsey HollowDovehouse FarmWistow Fen Farm This information is all helpful for gleaning a general idea of where Jakobs landed. A map published on the RAF Upwood site shows the general location of Dovehouse Farm and the site of Jakobs' landing.

In 1976, Winston Ramsey of After the Battle Magazine, traced Josef's landing point to a specific location on Dovehouse Farm, probably with the assistance…

Did Josef Jakobs land in North Stifford, Essex?

The mystery and secrecy surrounding the capture of Josef Jakobs in 1941 has often made it difficult for researchers to track down accurate information on Jakobs and the circumstances surrounding his arrival in England. Over the years, two landing sites have been mentioned for Jakobs: North Stifford Village in Essex and Ramsey Village in Huntingdonshire.

Until last year (2012), North Stifford Village had a small story on their website that detailed the capture of Jakobs. The section on Jakobs has since been removed but it did read:

"On the night of 31st January 1941, Josef Jakobs, a German Spy, was dropped by parachute and landed near a wood close to Ardale School.  Under his flying suit he wore civilian clothes and he was equipped with a wireless transmitter, English money, food, brandy and a traditional German sausage. He also had a forged identity card in the name of James Rymer.  Several people saw him land and informed the Home Guard.  He was quickly captured by the army.…