Book Review - Historical Dictionary of World War II Intelligence (2008) by Nigel West

Cover of Historical Dictionary  of World War II Intelligence.
Cover of Historical Dictionary
of World War II Intelligence.

The Book
Historical Dictionary of World War II Intelligence, Nigel West, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 2007.

As the name indicates, this is dictionary style book that gives short summaries of various people and places related to World War II Intelligence. This style of book is generally a great reference resource, with a myriad number of short, topical extracts.

The section on Josef Jakobs has only a couple of minor errors. Despite that, the article is accurate and provides a connection with double-agent SNOW and demonstrates how newly-arrived spies were already expected by the British.

JAKOBS, Josef. A 43-year-old German dentist, Josef Jakobs was a parachute agent who landed in a potato field in Huntingdonshire on 1 February 1941 [Correction - He landed 31 January]. He was court-martialled in August 1941 and shot at the Tower of London 10 days later. His imminent arrival had been signaled to Arthur Owens, who had supplied the Abwehr with his cover name, "James Rymer", and other information that was found on his forged identity card. MI5 had been confident of catching "Rymer" because Owens had been instructed to make contact with him, but an unforeseen accident had wrecked the scheme. Jakobs had broken both ankles [Correction - He broke one ankle] when he hit the ground and had been arrested a few hours laters as he lay in agony beside his parachute. The circumstances of his capture near Ramsey were widely known in the neighbourhood, so there was considerable risk to employing him as a double agent. As a result, Jakobs became a prime candidate for prosecution.

The article on Josef Jakobs is necessarily short but brings forward a couple of lesser known points about Jakobs and his connection with double-agent SNOW (Arthur Owens). The article also provides an accurate reason for Jakobs' not being suitable as a double-agent - the public nature of his capture.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - The piece on Josef, while short, is accurate.


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