30 April 2014

Was Josef Jakobs held as a prisoner of the Tower of London?

Tower of London - East Tower of Waterloo Block (copyright G.K. Jakobs)
Tower of London - East Tower of
Waterloo Block (copyright G.K. Jakobs)
It is a well-established fact that Josef Jakobs was executed at the Tower of London on 15 August 1941. What is not so clear is this: was Jakobs held at the Tower prior to his execution? Several stories variously suggest that he was held at the Tower (a) for the night prior to his death, (b) for the period from August 5 to August 15 (between his court- martial and his execution), (c) for several months prior to his execution.

Most stories agree that Jakobs was held in a room on the top floor of the east tower of the Waterloo Barracks within the Tower precinct. Recently, however, some other information has come to light which calls this long-standing story into question.

Wandsworth Prison
In 1958, the former Governor of Wandsworth Prison, Major B.D. Grew, wrote a memoir in which he mentioned Josef Jakobs and the morning of his execution.
[Josef Jakobs] spent his last night at Wandsworth before being taken to the Tower to face the firing squad.

As dawn came I stood at the entrance to my office as he approached, still limping from his injury, with the stalwart British military policemen escorting him. ...

I watched him go down the steps, and into a military police car with its outrider escort alongside and escort cars in front and behind.

As the massive doors of Wandsworth Prison swung slowly open the coming dawn was lighting the field in front, and touching the trees and barrage balloons with its cold light.

The procession of cars with its central figure passed quickly through the gateway into the deserted streets on its way to the Tower.
Wandsworth Prison
Wandsworth Prison - from Pinterest
Finally, the Governor's journal, in which he logged details of the prison's daily routine noted:
23rd July 1941 - Josef Jacobs, military prisoner arrived as lodger in F3 (Mil Prison)
15th August 1941 - I visited the prison at 4:40 am, all parts in order. Military prisoner Josef Jacobs taken at dawn to be shot at the Tower.
It is quite clear from Major Grew's account that Jakobs was held at Wandsworth Prison from July 23 until the early morning hours of August 15, the morning of Jakobs' execution.

Tower of London
Additional information surrounding that fateful morning comes from the Regimental Sergeant Major's instructions from the Tower of London. According to this document, the prisoner was scheduled to arrive around 5:30 a.m.

Military Policeman Testimony
Cap of the Corps of Military Police
Cap of the Corps of Military Police
(from Ebay)
Finally, one of the military policeman who guarded Josef Jakobs from July 23 until August 15 wrote a short summary of his experience. According to this Corporal, Jakobs and his escort left Wandsworth Prison in a taxi on the morning of August 15 and arrived at the Tower of London around 7:30 am.

While the time is most likely not accurate (Jakobs was excecuted at 7:12 am), the general pattern of the account matches that of Major Grew.

Transfer from Wandsworth Prison to Tower of London
On the morning of 15 August, 1941, the Governor of Wandsworth Prison visited the prison at 4:40 am. He had a brief encounter with Josef Jakobs who was being transferred to the Tower of London. As the car carrying Jakobs left the prison, the Governor noted that dawn was coming. On the morning of August 15, 1941, dawn (civilian twilight) would have begun at 5:08 am with sunrise coming at 5:46 am. Jakobs was driven to the Tower of London, a journey that takes about 22 minutes today (slightly longer if there is traffic). Jakobs was expected to arrive at the Tower around 5:30 am.

Josef Jakobs was not held at the Tower of London at any point during his incarceration. He was only transferred there from Wandsworth Prison in the early morning hours of 15 August, 1941.

The Prison Governor, Major B.D. Grew, 1958.
RSM Orders, Tower of London.
Military Policeman's personal account of execution.

25 April 2014

W.R.H. Heddy - Coroner at the Post-Mortem of German Spy Josef Jakobs

William Reginald Huleatt Heddy was born on 30 December 1890 in London His parents were William Jackson Heddy and Laura Mary Latter. The family lived in Kensington with their servants and were quite well to-do as William Sr. was a surgical physician.

Dover College Chapel
Dover College Chapel
While career options for William's three sisters were limited, young William was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. In 1906 attended Dover College where he presumably studied Natural Science. In 1908 he entered Middlesex Hospital to study medicine, eventually becoming an anaesthetist. In 1911, William was still a medical student and living with his parents and sisters in Hampstead.On 29 January 1914, William received the medical diploma of L.R.C.P. (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians) and on 12 February 1914, the surgical diploma of M.R.C.S. (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons).

With the outbreak of war, William joined the London (City of London) Field Ambulance. He landed in France on 25 October 1914. The day after his birthday, on 31 December, 1914, William's mother passed away in Ealing. William was promoted to Lieutenant on 2 July 1915 and married Ruby E. Taylor that same summer. The young couple had one son, Brian Huleatt Heddy (born 1916) who went on to serve with the British Foreign Service.

Royal Army Medical Corps badge
Royal Army Medical Corps badge
On 2 January 1916, William was promoted to the rank of Captain and was attached to the Lille Mobile Unit with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Based on his war experience, William wrote an article for the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1918 entitled Anaesthetics in the Field.

On 13 July, 1920, William resigned his commission with the Royal Army Medical Corps but retained the rank of Captain.

At some point after the war, William began to serve as a coroner and on 25 January 1934, was appointed Assistant Deputy Coroner under Major Francis Danford Thomas. In 1938, William was Deputy Coroner for St. Pancras and in 1940 was appointed Coroner of the Eastern District of London.

Less than a year later, he was present at the post-mortem of Josef Jakobs. Sixteen years later, on 31 March, 1956, William retired at the age of 65. He enjoyed his retirement before passing away in March 1972 in Ealing.

Interestingly, all three of William's sisters chose not to marry. Charlotte Maud became a nurse and midwife and traveled the world extensively (South Africa, Australia, Mozambique). Grace Barnard & Jessie Marian lived together in Ealing until their deaths. Grace passed away in January 1966, Charlotte in Dec 1966 and Jessie in March 1976.

Ancestry genealogy records.
London Gazette

21 April 2014

Who performed the post-mortem on executed German spy Josef Jakobs?

Josef Jakobs was executed by firing squad at 7:12 am on Friday 15 August 1941, at the Tower of London. After the execution, a post-mortem was conducted and on Monday 18 August 1941, Jakobs was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Kensal Green.

There is some uncertainty as to who conducted the post-mortem on Jakobs. Several sources mentioned that the famous pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury, conducted the post-mortem, while other sources indicated that East London Coroner W.R.H. Heddy did the honours.

Update 2017 03 05 - I've since learned that the pathologist would have conducted the post-mortem while the coroner oversaw the legalities of an inquest (was it a legal execution, etc.). So the answer to the questions is: Spilsbury did the post-mortem, Heddy oversaw the inquest into the death.

The Case for Sir Bernard Spilsbury

In 1976, After the Battle Magazine published one of the first substantial articles on Jakobs. The editor, while not having access to the classified MI5 documents, pieced together quite a bit of Jakobs' story. According to the magazine:
 Jakobs' body was taken to the old mortuary which lies directly beneath the northern approach to the Tower Bridge, where Sir Bernard Spilsbury carried out a post-mortem.
Sir Bernard Spilsbury ca 1920
Sir Bernard Spilsbury ca 1920
(from The Scalpel of Scotland
by Browne & Tullett)
Five years later, Nigel West published his ground-breaking book on MI5 which also noted:

Jakob's body was then carried to the Tower mortuary in the moat where Sir Bernard Spilsbury carried out a post-mortem. He certified the cause of death as 'injuries to the heart due to the passage of bullets'.
Sir Bernard Spilsbury was a famous forensic pathologist in London who was involved in the autopsies of many of the World War II spies. His presence at Jakobs' post-mortem would simply follow the pattern that had been set with earlier spies who had been executed.

A few decades later, Stephen Stratford included some information on Jakobs on his website which is focused on British Criminal & Military History. According to Stratford:
Later that day [August 15], a post-mortem was performed by Bernard Spilsbury. One shot had hit Jakobs in the head, the other seven had been around the target area. An inquest held that afternoon decided that Jakobs had died of "Injuries to the heart caused by the passage of bullets", and the inquest verdict was "Execution of judicial sentence of death in accordance with military law".
This site added a new twist to the information on Jakobs, stating that one of the shots had hit Jakobs in the head. Stratford gave no specific reference for this information.

In 2006, Colin Evans published a book on Bernard Spilsbury, entitled Father of Forensics. Evans noted that:
[Bernard Spilsbury] was involved in a historical curiosity when he autopsied Josef Jakobs, the last person to be executed in the Tower of London. Unlike all the other spies condemned to death in World War II, Jakobs was not hanged but shot... Later that day, a post-mortem performed by Spilsbury recorded that one shot had hit Jakobs in the head, the other seven had been around the target area.
Dead Man's Hole, Tower Bridge - Site of Tower Mortuary
Dead Man's Hole, Tower Bridge - Site of Tower Mortuary
(From Bowl of Chalk blog)
When contacted, Evans told me that the information had come from Stratford's website but, when contacted, Stratford could not provide a source for the information.

Research into Spilsbury's life yielded the following snippet from a 1952 book entitled The Scalpel of Scotland Yard - The Life of Sir Bernard Spilsbury:
And in August, after carrying out post-mortems in almost every imaginable locale, Spilsbury had a new experience when he performed one in the Tower of London, where a British subject named Jakobs was shots as a spy. One of the firing squad appears to have fired high, his bullet entering the head, but there were seven wounds in the target area over the heart.
This source provided the most concrete lead in confirming that Bernard Spilsbury performed Jakobs' post-mortem.

The Case for East London Coroner W.R.H. Heddy

Interestingly, several contemporary references from 1941 and 1942 told a different story. A British and a Canadian newspaper, reporting on the death of Jakobs, noted:
"Execution of judicial sentence of death" was recorded by the East London coroner, Mr. W.R. Heddy, at the inquest on Jakobs held in camera at the Tower" Ottawa Journal - January 24, 1942
The verdict at the inquest [of Jakobs], held yesterday by the East London coroner, Mr. W.R.H. Heddy, was execution of judicial sentence of death. British Newspaper on display in Ramsey Rural Museum - no note as to its provenance)
Both of these reports were more in line with the GRO death registration of Josef Jakobs which stated:
Cause of Death
Injuries to the heart due to the passage of bullets. Execution of judicial sentence in accordance with military law. P.M.
Signature, Description and Residence of Informant
Certificate received from W.R.H. Heddy, Coroner for London Easter District. Inquest held 15th August 1941.
GRO Death Registration for Josef Jakobs.
GRO Death Registration for Josef Jakobs.
Who Done It?

The medical cards of Sir Bernard Spilsbury were held at the Wellcome Library in London, but did not include any mention of Josef Jakobs.

The coroner's records for the Eastern District of London were held at the London Metropolitan Archives, but did not hold those for W.R.H. Heddy.

[Corrected 2017 03 05] In all likelihood, both men were present at the post-mortem. As Traugott Vitz kindly pointed out to me recently:
It seems that in 1940, a London coroner was either a medical man or a lawyer by training, but even if he was a medical man, wielding a knife was not within his job description. He would sit on a bench and have the pathologist (whom he paid) in front of him giving evidence during a kind of trial called inquest. He would not be expected to be present at a post mortem.
There is evidence that after several executions, both Spilsbury and the local district coroner were present (e.g. hanging of Herbert "Pat" Mahon at Wandsworth Prison on 3 September 1924). Given that Spilsbury had once been the honorary pathologist of the Home Office, Heddy likely invited Spilsbury to conduct the post-mortem examination of Josef Jakobs. While an execution by hanging would have had an inquest afterwards (complete with a jury of civilians), Josef's execution was a military affair and no formal inquest was required. The less witnesses to his execution and post-mortem, the better - at least in the eyes of MI5. In all likelihood, Spilsbury and Heddy were both present at the post mortem.

After the Battle Magazine, Volume 11.
MI5: British Security Service Operations, 1909-1945, Nigel West.
Stephen Stratford's website.
Father of Forensics, Colin Evans.
The Scalpel of Scotland Yard, D.G. Browne & E.V. Tullett.
Ramsey Rural Museum, British newspaper clipping (no header information with clipping).
Ottawa Journal, 24 January 1942.
General Record Office, Josef Jakobs death registration.

16 April 2014

Major P.D.J. Waters - Commander of the Firing Squad that Executed Josef Jakobs

In the early morning hours of August 15, 1941, Josef Jakobs was escorted to the Tower of London for his execution. The firing squad that carried out the execution was drawn from members of the Scots Guards Holding Battalion. The commander of the firing squad was Major P.D.J. Waters.

Philip Duncan Joseph Waters

Philip Duncan Joseph Waters was born in the late summer of 1897 in Kensington, London. His father, John Michael Waters was an Irish Catholic wine merchant. His mother, Helen Frances Dallas, had been born in the wilds of Bombay, India, although her father also came from Ireland. Philip was the youngest of five children, and the well-to-do family had a series of domestic servants to assist with the children and the household.

Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) cap badge
Yorkshire Regiment cap badge
Philip joined the City of London Yeomanry (British Territorial Army) and, when war was declared, volunteered for overseas service.

Philip was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) on 12 March 1915 and was sent to France on 12 July 1915. His older brother by eight years, John Dallas, joined the Royal Fusiliers. On 15 August 1917, Philip was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. A dispatch in the Edinburgh Gazette on 18 September 1918 noted:
Lt. (A./Capt.) Philip Duncan Joseph Waters, Yorkshire Regiment
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when transport officer. He brought up rations under heavy machine-gun and shell fire within 200 yards of the front line.
During the whole time his battalion was in action he never failed to reach it with rations, though its position was constantly changed. His conduct throughout set a fine example for his men.
Military Cross
Military Cross (MC)
Both brothers survived the war and John was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) while Philip came away with a Military Cross (MC).

Upon the conclusion of the war, John Dallas married the Hon. Lettice Leigh (widow of John Edgerton-Warburton) in 1919. Philip, being the younger, married slightly later, choosing Blanche Ella Wilmot-Sitwell (a minor character in the Peerage) in 1925. While John chose to retire from the army (with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel), Philip remained in the service of His Majesty's Forces. He transferred to the Scots Guards and was promoted to Captain, eventually becoming part of the Regular British Army Reserve.

A few small news articles suggest that Philip became involved in farming. In early 1934, he and his wife traveled to Australia where Philip and a business partner formed the Leylands Pastoral Company and purchased a cattle farm. According to the article, Philip had been involved in farming in the south of France prior to this investment. However, by December 1934, the partnership dissolved and Philip became sole owner of Leylands.
Scots Guards shoulder patch
Scots Guards shoulder patch

With the return of war in 1939, Philip returned to active duty and was promoted to Major in the Scots Guards. His duty apparently included that fateful morning of 15 August, 1941 at the Tower of London. By 1944, Philip had been moved to an active overseas position, serving with distinction in Malta.

On 25 May, 1947, having reached the age of 50, Philip relinquished his commission and retired with the rank of Colonel. Unfortunately, Philip did not get to enjoy a long retirement, passing away on 13 October, 1949, at the age of 52. He was survived by his wife Blanche, who passed away on 24 February, 1964, in Nice, France.

 Ancestry genealogy site (Records for birth, marriage, death, census, immigration, military).
Perth Newspapers
Peerage lists

11 April 2014

Dr. Harold Dearden - Psychiatrist at Camp 020

Dr. Harold Dearden ca 1940s.
Dr. Harold Dearden ca. 1940s
(from Special Forces website)
On the afternoon of February 2, having spent the night in Brixton Prixon Infirmary, Josef Jakobs was brought to Latchmere House (Camp 020) for a preliminary interrogation. Dr. Harold Dearden, the camp doctor and psychiatrist took note of Jakobs' physical attributes (height, weight, etc.) and formed part of the panel that questioned Jakobs. The interrogation session was necessarily short, due to Jakobs' ankle injury and after a couple of hours Jakobs was returned to Brixton Prison.

On February 3, owing to the seriousness of his injury, Jakobs was transferred to Dulwich Hospital, where he remained for almost two months. Dr. Dearden telephoned Jakobs' physician, Dr. Roberts for periodic updates. As Jakobs' condition deteriorated (sepsis at the site of the break and broncho-pneumonia), the interrogators at Camp 020 chafed at the bit, eager to question this newly arrived German spy. Colonel Stephens declared himself frustrated by the humanitarian motives of the medical profession. Dr. Dearden, however, concurred with Dr. Robert’s decision to keep Jakobs at Dulwich, which he felt had nothing to do with humanitarian considerations. Given Jakobs’ general state of health, it would have been inadvisable to transfer him as it might have jeopardized his survival and thus destroyed his usefulness for intelligence purposes.

When Jakobs was finally returned to Latchmere House in mid-April, Dr. Dearden was probably involved in his interrogations. An earlier spy, Wulf Schmidt, who parachuted into England in September and was successfully turned into a Double Agent (TATE) had this to say about the enigmatic Doctor:
When I was brought in for interrogation, I was fascinated by the strange old man in civilian clothes. He was reading a newspaper. He looked at me briefly as I came in and then went on reading. I couldn't take my eyes off him.
Who was this "strange old man in civilian clothes"?

Harold Goldsmith Dearden

Map showing location of Bolton, Lancashire.
Location of Bolton, Lancashire
(From Google Maps)
Harold Goldsmith Dearden was born 13 December 1882 in Bolton, Lancashire, the son of Jonathan Dearden and Frances Goldsmith. While Jonathan was born and raised in Bolton, Lancashire, his wife was born and raised on the Isle of Man.

Jonathan was a cotton manufacturer, a wealthy man who clearly traveled quite a bit. It might have been on a visit to the cotton mills on the Isle of Man that Jonathan met his future wife, Frances. They were married on 8 November 1870 in the village of Braddan on the island.

Jonathan's father, Oliver Dearden, who was also a cotton manufacturer, passed away on 8 May 1863, and Jonathan took over the cotton mills. Jonathan Dearden & Co ran two mills, Little Bridge Mill on Chorley Street and Gibralter Mill in Gilnow. According to an 1891 directory, Jonathan's company had 1000 spindles, 1000 candlewicks and 150 looms, with which they made alhambras, quilts and damasks.

It was into this wealth and stability that Harold Dearden was born. In 1891, the family of eight had three servants. By 1901, five servants and a visiting nurse were caring for the family. Perhaps the nurse was caring for Harold's father, Jonathan, who eventually passed away in 1903.

Bromsgrove School
Bromsgrove School
(from Ebay)
Harold may not have been at home when his father died. As a young student, Harold attended Bromsgrove Prepatory School southeast of Birmingham. Later, in October 1901, Harold was admitted to the prestigious Gonville & Caius College at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with a degree in Natural Sciences in 1904.

He then went on to study medicine in London, training at Guys Hospital, where he became a qualified physician on 10 April 1911. It seemed that Harold married Ethel Kathleen Peacock in 1909 but the marriage did not survive. Harold held several junior medical posts in London between 1911 and 1914.

World War I

Captain Harold Dearden ca 1918
Captain Harold Dearden MD
(from National Portrait Gallery - creative commons)
With the outbreak of the war, Harold joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and in 1916, received a commission as an honorary Captain. He served with the No. 3 British Red Cross Hospital, as Medical Officer in charge of the Anglo-American Hospital and as Medical Officer to the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

Harold's service in World War I had a profound influence on him. Serving close to the front, he saw horrible things and, like many soldiers and doctors, developed a hardened shell that could look upon horror and not flinch. With an emphasis on regimental strength as opposed to individual health, the main role of doctors was to patch up the soldiers as best they could and then send them back to the front. Harold admitted that most [doctors] were intent on proving nothing was wrong with the people they were treating. Although Harold never lost sight of the military imperative, he observed that patching up wounded soldiers to send them back into the fray simply turned an "illogical business into an insane one". Twenty years after the war, in his second biographical volume, Harold described the war as a 'fantastic business" that served him magnificently. The camaraderie and the common purpose were rare and delightful.

Royal Army Medical Corps badge.
Royal Army Medical Corps Badge
(from Roll of Honour website)
But even Harold was traumatized by the war. At one point, the far from squeamish Harold felt upset as he watched a German soldier, both legs blown off, drag himself along the road on his chest and elbows. At another time, while enlisting captured Germans to serve as stretcher bearers, Harold came across a recalcitrant German:
"One fellow didn't want to carry and I had to clout him over the head to make him lend a hand. When we got back to the aid post he sat down on the steps of the dug-out, and every time I came near him he kept plucking me by the coat and saying something. I took no notice of him, but it struck me as curious that he hadn't gone downstairs to be gorged with 'enemy' cocoa and bread, as most of them do at once." Captain Harold Dearden, RAMC, Guards Division (Medicine & Duty)
A German shell damaged the aid post's entrance and revealed the reasons for the German's reluctance:
"It put the wind up me all right, but when I turned round there he was still sitting quietly as before, and I knew he must be hit or something. I went over to him, and when I saw his face I was certain. He didn't look hurt, he looked dead, and dead a long time at that. Then I saw he was holding his trousers together with one hand; and when I pulled his hand away the entire contents of his belly just spilled itself over his knees. I tucked them in again, covered him up, and gave him two grains of morphia to suck. It was the best I could do for him, poor devil. But I wish now I hadn't hit him. I wish that quite a lot." Captain Harold Dearden, RAMC, Guards Division (Medicine & Duty)
In a war where so many soldiers were misdiagnosed as cowards when they were only suffering from shell shock, it is interesting to note that Harold was invalided out of the war after losing an eye and suffering shell shock. He returned to England was attached to the Palace Green Hospital for Officers in London.
Cover of the book "Devilish but True" by Harold Dearden.
Devilish but True
(from Amazon)

After the war, Harold took up psychiatry and also began to do some writing, where he experienced quite a bit of success. He published several books including: Insanity: Prevention or Cure? (1922); The Moral Imbecile (1922); The Technique of Living (1924); The Doctor Looks at Life (1924); The Science of Happiness (1925); The Mind of the Murderer (1930); Such Women are Dangerous (1933); The Fire Raisers (1934); A Confessor of Women (1934) and Devilish but True (1936). He wrote several plays, most notably Interference (1928) and Two White Arms (1928) both of which went on to become films in their own right: Without Regret (1935) and Wives Beware (1932).

Harold also wrote several memoirs: Medicine & Duty (1928) about his experience in World War I; The Wind of Circumstance (1938) and Time & Chance (1940).

World War II

Latchmere House (Camp 020)
View of Latchmere House
(from Google Streetview)
With his burgeoning writing career, Harold gave up the practice of psychiatry during the inter-war years, but with the outbreak of World War 2, was called into action again. The Security Service (MI5) requested that Harold serve as psychiatrist at Latchmere House (Camp 020) in Ham Common, the interrogation centre for would-be German spies. Harold served at Camp 020 from 1940 through to the end of the war, despite getting into several altercations with the camp commandant, Major/Colonel Robin Stephens.

Dr. Harold Dearden ca 1920
Harold Dearden ca1920
(from National Portrait Gallery - creative commons)
While apparently eschewing physical violence, Stephens and Dearden devised various psychological regimes of starvation and sleep & sensory deprivation to break the will of the inmates. Dearden apparently experimented with tortuous techniques that left few marks, methods that could be denied by the tortuers.

In 1943, he married Ann Verity Gibson Watt and together they had four children. After the war, Harold and his wife retired to Hay-on-Wye, in Wales. Harold passed away on 6 July 1962 of a cerebral thrombosis. In Harold's obituary, a fellow doctor wrote that Harold was well-traveled and a brilliant conversationalist. He understood animals and mixed with them as though they were people. He was a strong man, once a famous boxer and athlete who led a full life.

N.B. It should be noted that Dr. Harold Dearden (1882-1962) was an author and a psychiatrist. He should not be confused with another Harold Dearden (1888-1969) who was a painter and artist.

Daily Mail - Ian Cobain - How Britain Tortured Nazi POWs .
Ancestry Genealogy Website (Birth, Marriage, Death, Census, Passenger Lists).
Before my Helpless Sight - Leo van Bergen - 2009.
Obituary of Harold Dearden - British Medical Journal - July 21, 1962.

07 April 2014

Website Review - World War II Today

Website Review - World War II TodayWorld War II Today is an interesting site with stories from the war, updated 70 years after the event. The site is currently posting events from 1944 but the site also has articles from previous years. One article entitled the Last Execution in the Tower of London appears for 15 August 1941.

The article is rather brief and makes note of Jakobs' landing near Ramsey, the charge of Treachery and the death warrant sent to the Constable of the Tower of London. While brief, the article is generally accurate.

4/5 - brief but accurate.

02 April 2014

Website Review - Historic Ramsey in Pictures

Tidbits of information about Josef abound on the internet, usually in the context of trivia questions such as "Who was the last person executed in the Tower of London". There are other websites which contain a bit more information and one of those is Historic Ramsey in Pictures.

Ramsey Police Station
Ramsey Police Station
This project by the Sisman Family includes various pictures of Ramsey, including a common postcard photo of the Ramsey Police Station.

The site doesn't have much information on Josef, but most of what is included is accurate. Some corrections and comments are included in square brackets.

What follows is the unfortunate tale of Josef Jakobs; the last person to be executed (by firing squad) at the Tower of London. Jakobs was held at the Police Station after being arrested by the sergeant. [Acting Inspector Horace Jaikens]

The charge -  "Committing treachery in that you at Ramsey in Huntingdonshire on the night of 31 January 1941/1 February 1941 descended by parachute with intent to help the enemy."

Jakobs broke his right ankle, when he was getting out of the plane and on landing had fired his revolver to summons help, not that the help was much good to him, they performed what is known as a citizens arrest
[Godfrey was actually a member of the Home Guard], it is not good to mess with Ramsey folk! Jakobs was found by James Godfrey, Harry Coulson and Charles Baldock [Jakobs was found by Coulson & Baldock who summoned Godfrey from nearby Wistow Fen Farm] at Dovehouse Farm, Ramsey Hollow. The Police were notified and Sergeant Ernest Pottle rushed to the scene using a high speed horse and cart! [The police were notified, but they then notified the Home Guard. Members of the Home Guard requisitioned a horse drawn cart to convey Jakobs to the police station. Acting Sergeant Pottle from Bury arrived at the farm after the Home Guard had departed and then proceeded to the police station. He was sent back to Jakobs' landing site later to gather more items from the field.]

Jakobs was made to open his attaché case, which contained a wireless set, headphones, batteries, insulating wire and some sheets of paper and maps of Upwood.
[A touring map of Great Britain with some marks on the map that coincided with RAF Upwood & RAF Warboys.]

At 7.12am on 15 August 1941, an eight-man firing squad composed from members of The Holding Battalion, Scots Guards, shot unfortunate Josef Jakobs, who was sitting in a brown Windsor chair (due to his poor foot).
[Josef could stand/walk. World War I spies executed at the Tower were also seated in a chair - it was standard procedure at the time.]

3/5 - generally accurate.