21 December 2015

German Spy equipped with Two and a Half Pounds of Chocolate

Recently I've reestablished contact with Martyn, grandson of Horace Jaikens, the police officer who was in charge of the Ramsey Police Station when Josef was captured. Martyn is a war history buff and a great source of information on Ramsey and the surrounding area.

Last week, Martyn sent me some information from a book that detailed a bit of the history of the Huntingdonshire Constabulary (H.C.). There were some great group pics of the Ramsey police detachment as well as a letter from the Chief Constable of the H.C. dated February 17, 1941. Captain J. Rivett-Carnac was writing to all the police detachments informing them of Josef's capture. In his report, Rivett Carnac included a very detailed list of Josef's possessions, in some aspects, more detailed than the others drawn up by Jaikens and MI5. Let's take a look
  • pocket knife with wide blade, brown wooden handle, blade stamped "Swing"
  • oblong wristwatch stamped "9321 Fond Acier, Inoxidable"
  • dictionary with blue and gold covers with golden stars dotted thereon marked "Metiyka-Sorachfuhrer, English von Karl Blattner" size about 4" x 2.5 "x 0.5", inside the book was a piece of paper denoting money values in the country - i.e. 2/6 = half crown, 1/- = one shilling, etc. [N.B. Rivett-Carnac's original report must have been hand-written and then typewritten by a secretary who had trouble deciphering his handwriting. The dictionary was actually a Metoula Sprachfuhrer".]
  • one 2.5 cent piece
  • one pair horn rimmed spectacles in blue case marked "Optiker Ruhnke"
  • new brown leather cigarette case marked "Zeka Wettiggeder", square with tuck in flap to hold packet of American "Gordon Rouge" [Cordon Rouge] cigarettes, packets marked 3525 5ct+ o.p.c. 21/2 cent, American blend
  • one pair of scissors, nail file and nail bone in new leather case, brown
  • one comb 8" long in brown-grey crocodile case
  • one black torch with ribbed flass [flash? the glass was ribbed] about 5" long and 1" in diameter
  • 2 1/2 lb block chocolate marked "orange Fin Jonker produce" covers were blue and orange - on one side was blue boy and an orange partly quartered, on the reverse side was Lossord Chocolate van Cacaofabriek De. Jonker Zaandijk" [Two and a half pounds of chocolate???]
  • one bottle of "Bealieu Cie Cognac" 15 vos presumably containing brandy
  • one aluminum tube 1 1/2" long and about 5/16" in diameter containing small white tablets; two paper tubes each to hold 4 tablets, size of an aspirin tablet, one marked "Tabl. Solvent 0.4 WCX 1.V.Z.", the other marked "Phos 0.03 WS.PX.1." It would appear that the latter three articles are to relieve pain as two of the tablets were used and the liquor partly consumed.
  • Pencil marked, "Supper Norma" [probably Super Norma] containing four different colour leads - red, blue, green and black;
  • leather gloves with "Emka mk Nappa" [no idea] stamped on press buttons
  • small note book
  • small hand spade
  • crash helmet
  • revolver Mauser-Werke A.C. Oberndorf A.N.W. No. 489366 Cal. 7.65 together with a box of 25 rounds of ammunition. Revolver was new.
  • A wireless set size 1'5" x " x 13" in black imitation crocodile case was found. This was new with two catches chromium plated, a carrying handle which also had chromium fixtures. The case also contained papers which were evidently instructions for the manipulation of the set. It is worthy to note that the keys to the case were found in a wallet in the man's possession. These were stamped "165".
  • A "Shell" touring map with red covers. When folded measured approximately 9"x 5" on Roads of Great Britain and Wales, 10 miles to 1". Certain pencil marks were on the map connecting certain places, etc.
As for attire, Rivett Carnac noted that Josef, a rather frail-looking man, was wearing clothes that "were practically all new and it is significant to note that every garment was stamped or had a tab denoting that they were made in Germany proper or in occupied territory, such as Dresden, Zurich, Hamburg, Berlin, etc. One could also see that they were of foreign cut." I'm sure Rivett Carnac knew that Zurich (Switzerland) was not occupied territory but that this was simply a slip of the pen.

Rivett Carnac provided a detailed list of Josef's clothing:
  • new grey tweed overcoat
  • dark grey suit, not new
  • three pullovers
  • three shirts
  • collar with new bright tie
  • one pair new pants
  • one pair new blue stockings
  • one spare pair new grey socks
  • black pointed shoes with stamps and makers name etc., on inside arch of sole
  • inside shoes were new padded socks, perhaps for warmth and shock prevention
  • gray spats with zip fasteners
  • pork pie hat with maker's name etc. inside [everywhere else, this is referred to as a trilby hat]
  • new bluish handkerchief inside jacket breast pocket
  • woolen scarf
The item that most intrigued me was the 2.5 pounds of chocolate. Other spies were also equipped with chocolate but somehow I always imagined them as being relatively small bars. A 2.5 lb bar of chocolate was a lot of weight. Perhaps it was seen as the ultimate energy food. A spy could live for several days on a chunk of chocolate that size. He might, however, have a stomach ache or diarrhea at the end of it.

As for Rivett Carnac, it's not clear how he came to have such a detailed list. Jaikens wrote up a list which he sent to MI5 but it was not quite as detailed as this one from Rivett Carnac. According to MI5, the Chief Constable of Huntingdonshire fancied himself as a bit of a spy catcher, sending them ideas on what the markings on the map could mean and what questions they should ask the spy. He was obviously a keen-eyed policeman, one with an interesting history.

John Claude Thurlow Rivett Carnac was born on 14 June 1888, the son of James Thurlow Rivett Carnac and Edith Emily Brownlow. Given that John's parents were married in Bengal, India, it would seem likely that he was born in India. John's father was an Inspector with the India Police and his son would eventually follow in his father's footsteps.

John Claude Thurlow Rivett Carnac
(from The Badgers Lair)
A graduate of Eastbourne College, John returned to India and joined the Indian Police in 1909. With the outbreak of war, John fought with the 13th Lancers and 35th Scinde Horse (Indian Army), finishing the war as a Captain and earning the Military Cross for his efforts.

After the war, John resumed his service with the Indian Police although he did return to Britain in 1923 to wed Ola Jane Wilson. In 1922, John was awarded the King's Police Medal for Gallantry. In 1928, John retired from the Indian Police and joined the Huntingdonshire Constabulary as its Chief Constable, a post he would hold until 1957. Later in the war, John was attached to the military as a Lieutenant Colonel serving as Chief of Public Safety in Southern France and Senior Public Safety Officer in Aachen, Germany. John passed away in 1975 at the age of 87.

As an interesting side note (given that I am Canadian), John's younger brother, Charles Edward Rivett Carnac (born 1901 in Eastbourne) went on to serve with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police eventually becoming the Commissioner of that illustrious force.

Police service was definitely in the blood of the Rivett Carnac boys.

17 December 2015

The Mystery Spy - Double Agent GOOSE/GANDER

N.B. I posted a blog in April 2019 with new information that seems
 to confirm his real name was Kurt Karl Goose

On rare occasions I get distracted by the stories I encounter which are technically peripheral to my research into Josef Jakobs. One of those stories is that of double agent GANDER (GOOSE).

Information on GANDER is sketchy at best. There is no MI5 file on him in the National Archives, which is rather odd. References to GANDER in the literature are short but the basic line of the story is this:

GANDER was a German soldier who landed near Wellingborough (Northamptonshire) in early October 1940. He was apprehended by local farmers and eventually taken to Camp 020 where he admitted that he had been recruited to report on the weather, morale and road blocks. He told Major Robin W.G. Stephens, commandant of Camp 020, that he had no intention of carrying out his mission but wanted to get back to America where he had spent several years as a student. He quickly agreed to serve as a double agent. Unfortunately, his wireless radio set could only transmit, not receive, so after several weeks, he was retired as a double agent, being of limited value to MI5.

Modern Rumours about GANDER
For decades, the story of the German parachutist spy has been told and retold in the Wellingborough area and makes for interesting reading. In 2005, the village of Wellingborough published a 60th Anniversary Souvenir edition of their newspaper. Naturally, it included a piece on the spy:

Wellingborough Link - Commemorative Newspaper - 2005
Commemorative Newspaper - 2005
Wellingborough Link - Commemorative Newspaper - 2005SPY PARACHUTES IN: During the war, a German spy parachuted into a field just outside Easton Maudit.

He chatted in perfect English to one of my grandfather's farm workers, Billy Walker, by the church for 20 minutes, establishing where he was. He noticed a farm cart with W. Penn, Easton Maudit, on it (as with signposts, such names and identification marks should have been painted out).

Walking towards Yardley Hastings, he called at Percy Keggin's farm to buy eggs, telling the farmer he was staying with a Mr. Penn at Easton Maudit. Mr. Keggin became suspicious as he knew Wally Penn kept chickens, and so alerted the police.

Wellingborough Link - Commemorative Newspaper - 2005The spy was found hiding in a ditch and arrested. His belongings included a suitcase full of money and maps of the Coventry area. His task was to have identified Coventry-based munitions factories in preparation for a bombing mission.

Billy Walker, who was in the Home Guard, was later teased about his encounter with the German, especially as he had been awarded the Military Cross in the First World War.

The spy was taken to Bedford Prison, where he was hanged. (written by Cllr. Tim Allebone)

Makes for fascinating reading, doesn't it? Unfortunately, most of the details in the story are not accurate. So let's see what facts we can unearth about this mystery spy.

GANDER'S Real Name
Right off the bat, we run into trouble. Various names are ascribed to the man known as GANDER. His forged British Identity card was in the name of Alfred Philips, obviously an alias. GANDER also carried his personal army pay book which apparently listed his name as some variation of Kurt/Karl Grosse/Gross/Goose. Apparently at one point, MI5 was going to codename him GOOSE and that name may have stuck as being his last name.

In 1981, Nigel West noted that GANDER's real name was Hans Reysen/Reisen. This was based on what Wulf Schmidt had told MI5 interrogators but would seem to contradict the information in GANDER'S army pay book For the moment, let's just call our spy Karl Gross.

Early Life
Karl was born on 12 June 1911 in Berlin. He studied geology and mining in Berlin, studies that were interrupted in 1935 by two 8-week periods of infantry training. In 1936,  Karl traveled to America and continued his geological studies at the University of California. With the declaration of war in September 1939, Karl embarked on an adventurous trek to get back to Germany. He eventually succeeded in May 1940, arriving back in his home country via Japan.

As an able-bodied young man (29 years old), Karl was immediately called up into the Army. His fluency in English meant that he was a prime candidate for the Brandenburg Lehr-Regiment s.b.V 800. The Lehr Regiment was an offshoot of the German Abwehr (Intelligence Service) and was composed of men fluent in a variety of languages. The regiment was an intelligence and sabotage unit, but Karl wouldn't remain with them for long. One day, his Sergeant asked the men who was fluent in English. Karl put up his hand and was sent off to Brussels for espionage training.

In Brussels, Karl underwent three weeks of wireless training and learned the finer details of weather reporting. He met fellow spies Wulf Schmidt (TATE) and Gosta Caroli (SUMMER) during this period. Karl apparently told Schmidt that he knew capture meant a date with the executioner. Karl said he was going to bring his German Army pay book and a Luftwaffe uniform in order to be able to claim he was a Prisoner of War and not a spy.

Caroli and Schmidt parachuted separately into England in early to mid September but both were quickly captured and turned by the English. Schmidt and Caroli both admitted that they had met a man named Hans Reisen who was being trained to come to England. Reisen was 37 years old, spoke English with an American accent and was from Bremen. According to Schmidt, Reisen would be equipped with a National Identity card whose registration number began with CNFS, part of a bogus series of numbers sent to the Germans by double agent SNOW.

Dropped into England

Google Map showing location of GANDER sites
Google Map showing location of GANDER sites
Red markers - villages of Yardley Hastings, Bozeat and Easton Maudit.
Blue marker - possible location of Hollowell Plantation (close to
Easton Maudit and about 1 mile from Len Smith's place) - landing
site of GANDER
Purple marker - location where Len Smith met Karl.
Yellow marker - Percy Keggin - The Lodge farm.
On the evening on 3 October, 1941, Karl leapt from an airplane over Northamptonshire. Unlike many other parachute spies, Karl made an uneventful landing southwest of Wellingborough.

When dawn arrived, Karl cut up his parachute and harness and stuffed the pieces in various rabbit holes. The weather was not all that conducive to living rough and after reconnoitering for a few hours, Karl changed into civilian clothes, stuffed the rest of his gear under a number of bushes and took shelter in a farmer's barn about a mile from where he had landed. It wasn't the smartest move.

At about 6:30 pm, Thomas Leonard Smith of Yardley Hastings went to visit his farm buildings on Grendon Road. When he entered one of the buildings, he found Karl. Immediately suspicious of the stranger, Smith asked Karl what he was doing in there. Karl said that he was sheltering from the rain but thought that the weather had improved and said "I think I will be going". Smith asked Karl where he had come from and Karl eventually admitted that he had come from Harpenden to Bedford and arrived in Yardley Hastings on the bus. When asked where he was staying, Karl said that he was staying about a mile and a half along the road at a farm house, although he couldn't remember its name. Smith's suspicions got stronger and he told Karl that he would accompany him to this farm and asked to see his identity card. To Smith's uneducated eye, the card looked genuine and the two men began to walk along Grendon Road.

Google Earth view showing location of GANDER sites
Red markers - villages of Yardley Hastings, Bozeat and Easton Maudit.
Blue marker - possible location of Hollowell Plantation (close to
Easton Maudit and about 1 mile from Len Smith's place) - landing site
Purple marker - location where Len Smith met Karl.
Yellow marker - Percy Keggin - The Lodge farm.
A short while later, Percy Keggin drove up behind the men and Smith stopped him and asked for help. He told Keggin he had found the man in one of his buildings and didn't know what to do with him.

Keggin also took a look at Karl's identity card and then asked him where he was going. Karl admitted that he wanted to go to a farm along Grendon Road. Since it was such a wet night, Keggin offered to drive Karl to the farm and both Smith and Karl climbed into the vehicle.

After driving almost as far as Grendon without finding Karl's farm, the men returned to Keggin's house, The Lodge (also on Grendon Road). Tucked in the warmth of the kitchen, Keggin mentioned the names of various farmers and Karl admitted it might have been Mr. Penn of Easton Maudit. Karl said that he had left his coat at the farm after staying there the previous night.

The Lodge, Keggin's former farm - Grendon Road.
The Lodge, Keggin's former farm - Grendon Road.
Keggin, relieved to finally have a solution to the lost man, telephoned William Reginald Penn in nearby Easton Maudit and told him that the man who had stayed at Penn's farm the previous night was at his place and could he please come and fetch him as it was a wet night.

While Keggin and Smith were both rather simple farmers, William Penn was another matter entirely. Penn was head Air Raid Warden and a Section Leader for the Home Guard at Easton Maudit. After receiving the rather confusing phone call at about 7 pm, Penn rounded up Robert Ingram and drove off to Keggin's farm. Penn took a look at Karl's National Identity card and was immediately suspicious of its newness. He told Karl to come with him and he would "put him right". Penn, Ingram and Karl all piled into Penn's vehicle which he promptly drove to the Bozeat Police Station.

Arrested by the Police
PC 23, John William Forth (1951) (from BBC WW2 People's War)
PC 23, John William Forth (1951)
(from BBC WW2 People's War)
John William Forth, Police Constable (PC 23) responsible for policing that corner of Northamptonshire, had moved to the village of Bozeat in 1936. On the evening of 4 October, 1941, he and his wife were likely tucking their young daughter into bed. At about 7:35 pm, Walter Penn arrived at the station with Karl in tow. Penn told Forth that he was not satisfied with the man's identity and so had brought him to the police.

Forth had a look at Karl's Identity card which likely aroused the police constable's suspicions. The card was dated 20 May, 1940, and Forth likey knew that cards should not bear a date prior to 21 May, 1940. Engaging in conversation with the man, Forth noted that he spoke with a foreign accent and that all of his clothing appeared to be new and of foreign origin. Karl told the constable that he had come to Yardley Hastings from Bedford by bus and was aiming to get a job in Kettering as a waiter.

Forth rang up Inspector Sharman and "kept the man under close observation" until Sharman arrived at 8:00 pm. While they were waiting, Forth's wife took pity on the "very scared and hungry man" and cooked him a plate of scrambled eggs. Karl was "very polite" and "most grateful" for the food. He was clearly also very nervous for Forth's wife noticed that he couldn't stop playing the fringe of his scarf.

When Inspector Sharman arrived, things became very serious. Karl was subjected to a search and the following items were uncovered:
  • Identity card - Alfred Phillips - FMEG 296/1
  • several other identity cards
  • small pistol
Karl quickly realized that the game was up and confessed that he had parachuted into England and landed near a pumping station. His mission was to transmit weather reports back to Germany. He agreed to take the police to his landing point and retrieve the rest of his gear. After being handcuffed to Constable Forth, Karl led the police to a pumping station near Hollowell Plantation (Hollow Well Planting), Easton Maudit. After getting his bearings, Karl led the police to some bushes beneath which he had stashed his equipment. Opening up the suitcase, the police officers found Karl's Luftwaffe uniform and discovered that "he had had a rather embarrassing accident in his flight suit on the way down".

Inspector Sharman took possession of Karl and his gear and took him to Wellingborough Police Station. The following day, Sharman and Forth returned to Hollowell Plantation and found some of the parachute and parachute harness pieces stuffed in various rabbit holes. These, along with Karl and his possessions, were all passed on to MI5. Constable Forth and his family never learned what happened to the scared and hungry spy. Wellingborough rumours suggested that he was hanged in Bedford Prison.

Off to Camp 020
On 5 October, 1941, Karl arrived at Latchmere House and was interrogated by Major Robin W.G. Stephens and his team of offices. Karl put up no resistance. He told the story of his recruitment into the Abwehr. He said that he had had no intention of carrying out his mission, which was to report on the weather, morale and road blocks. He really just wanted to get back to America. Stephens and his crew were naturally skeptical since Karl was a fairly well-equipped spy.

His identity card was actually a pretty good forgery and didn't use any of the numbers sent over by SNOW. There were no continental characteristics to the writing and the name was actually entered in the correct order (last name first). But there were still a few errors. The name was entered with only a first initial which was not accurate. It should have been "Phillips, Alfred" not "Phillips, A.". And the date was a giveaway as well.

Rifling through Karl's gear, the MI5 officers also found:
  • £114 (not £500 as reported by some authors)
  • wireless transmitter (#40) but no receiver
  • grid code - likely similar to those of Waldberg, Meier, Kieboom and Pons
  • British Passport - in the name of Alfred Phillips
  • British Identity card - A. Phillips -  FMEG 296/1 
  • Ration Card - A. Phillips
  • British Identity card - blank
  • German Army pay book in his own name
  • automatic pistol and ammunition
  • road map of Great Britain
  • Luftwaffe uniform
  • barometer
  • compass
  • reagent for secret writing
According to Guy Liddell, MI5 proposed to use GANDER as an obvious double-cross in order to enhance the status of SUMMER. On 8 October, 1940, Liddell noted that one of MI5's radio operatives, Ronnie Reed, was going to work with Karl in composing a message to send to the Abwehr. A radio operator's morse code sending pattern (his "fist") was as unique as his voice and MI5 was going to have Reed send the message using GANDER's wireless set. In theory, the Abwehr would hear the message, recognize that the sender was not Karl and realize that he had been turned into a double agent. This would hopefully lend more credence to the authenticity of SUMMER and TATE. Liddell acknowledged that Karl was "a poor fish who never wanted to be a spy." One naturally wonders what would have happened to Karl's family if the Abwehr suspected that he had betrayed them.

While the radio message was being prepared, Karl was put in a room with Karl Meier, one of the spies who had landed on the Kent coast in early September. The two men talked about political events and the interrogation process, recognizing that they were being squeezed for information and were likely to be tossed in the "wastepaper basket" once they were dry.

Once the message for Karl had been prepared, he and Reed attempted to send it to Germany. Unfortunately, MI5 was unsuccessful in establishing contact with the Abwehr using Karl's set and, after three weeks, he was retired from the double agent crew. Since Karl's set could not receive messages from the Abwehr, one wonders how contact with the Abwehr could be called "unsuccessful".

While a prisoner at Camp 020, Karl tarnished his reputation by trying to bribe a soldier guard to smuggle a letter to the German embassy in Dublin. Karl was extremely lucky. MI5 drew up a Treachery Act case against him and he only escaped death by the narrowest of margins. In November 1941, Swinton, MI5, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General met to discuss the cases of "tarnished" double agents (SUMMER and GANDER). They eventually agreed that no question of prosecution could arise if MI5 had used an agent or given him a promise. Firstly, there was always the danger that secrets of the double agent system could be revealed at trial and secondly, and perhaps rather belatedly, "a promise once given had to be honoured."

Karl was transferred to Camp 020R (Huntercombe) for the duration of the war. According to MI5 files, Karl was sent to Diest (Belgium) on 2 July 1945. What became of him after that is a complete mystery.

Naturally, it would be fascinating to see Karl's actual KV 2 file... perplexing why that has not yet been released by MI5.

Agent TATE - 2011 - Tommy Jonason and Simon Ollsson
British Intelligence in the Second World War, Volume 4 - 1990 - F.H. Hinsley and C.A.G. Simkins. 
Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies - 2000 - Oliver Hoare.
Double Agent Snow - 2013 - James Hayward 
Guy Liddell Diaries, Volume 1 - 2009 - Nigel West

MI5: the True Story of the Most Secret Counterespionage Organization in the World - 1981 - Nigel West
Snow: the Double Life of a World War II Spy - 2011 - Nigel West and Madoc Roberts
Unternehmen Seelöwe - 2014 - Monika Siedentopf

National Archives files
  • KV 2/12 - Security Service file on Karl Meier
  • KV 2/114 - Security Service file on Engelbertus Fukken (Willem ter Braak)
  • KV 2/449 - Security Service files on Arthur Owens (SNOW)
  • KV 2/2593 - Cases at Camp 020
  • KV 4/8 - Sampson's History of Camp 020 
  • KV 4/16 - Report on MI5 Operations during the War
BBC - WW2 People's War - The Village Policeman - article written by John E. Forth, son of PC 23, John William Forth - includes statements by Forth and the three farmers.
Bozeat - Village Bobby (same as the BBC Story)
Bozeat History
Wellingborough - WWII 60 Year Commemorative Edition (The Link 1945-2005).

11 December 2015

The Unchanging Ramsey Police Station

Ramsey Police Station (circa 1940s)  (From The Badgers Lair)
Ramsey Police Station (circa 1940s)
(From The Badgers Lair)
On 1 February, 1941, German spy Josef Jakobs was apprehended by members of the Home Guard, after he shot a pistol to attract attention. Having broken his ankle during the parachute descent, Josef was searched and taken into the custody of the Ramsey Police.

A farm cart transferred Josef to the Ramsey Police Station on 4 Blenheim Road. Here, Josef was searched more thoroughly and seen by the local doctor who braced his broken ankle.

The Ramsey Police Station has changed little over the decades and looks like it would have had a very interesting history. Unfortunately, other than a few photographs, I've been able to discover nothing about this handsome building on the internet.

Ramsey Police Station - a modern view  (From Ramsey Town website)
Ramsey Police Station - a modern view
(From Ramsey Town website)
In 2012, I visited Ramsey in the company of Winston Ramsey of After the Battle Magazine. The building is virtually unchanged, at least on the outside and is still used by the Cambridgeshire Police Force.

Looking at the old and new pictures, and playing the game of "what is different", one can see that the hanging globe light has been moved so that it now hangs over the main arched entrance way. In line with that, the narrow doorway over which it used to hang has been bricked over. The diamond pattern on the upper floor has also disappeared in the modern version. Any other differences? Obviously the fence is gone too!

One can only imagine that the inside of the building must look very different! If anyone has any information on the building, it would be great to learn a bit more.

07 December 2015

The Mysterious Origins of Britain's WWII Spy Catcher - William Edward Hinchley Cooke

William Edward Hinchley Cooke
William Edward Hinchley Cooke
Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke, an MI5 officer who helped catch and prosecute numerous spies during World War II. Hinchley Cooke picked up the nickname "Cookie" during his career, a rather innocent term for such a dedicated and dangerous MI5 officer.

While I have been moderately successful in tracing most of the MI5 officers who were involved in the interrogation and prosecution of German spy, Josef Jakobs, two have proved to be more challenging.

Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens, former commandant of MI5's World War II interrogation centre at Latchmere House (a.k.a. Camp 020 or Ham Common) was born in 1900 in Egypt to British expats. After about 1960, however, Stephens' trail runs cold; when and where he passed away is still a mystery.

With Cookie, we have the opposite problem. The circumstances surrounding his death are well known. He dropped dead of a massive heart attack in the street outside his home in March 1955. It is Cookie's birth that has been a bit of a mystery, but I've cracked open the case a little bit.

A bit of genealogy sleuthing, a fortuitous contact with one of Cookie's distant relatives and... I was able to apply for his British Army Personnel Records. Jackpot! Many authors have noted that Cookie's father was British and his mother was German but beyond that... not much was known. Was Cookie born in Germany or England? I had dug around on Find My Past, searching in the Overseas Birth Registrations for British Nationals, but had drawn a complete blank. However, based on his army records, Cookie was indeed born in Germany and the next step has been to apply for his birth registration from the relevant German archive. Keeping my fingers crossed.

A few other interesting tidbits from Cookie's file. Turns out that he was a law student at Gray's Inn in London at some point. His file doesn't indicate that he passed the Bar, so a legal degree was probably not part of his resumé. Still, his law studies do explain why he was so heavily involved in the prosecution of spies during World War II.

At some point, most likely in the period between 1922 and 1926, Cookie served in the Secretary's office at Vickers Limited. Vickers was a massive British engineering firm that dabbled in armaments, shipbuilding, airships and aircraft. Cookie's time at Vickers was listed as "Business Qualifications", a skill that would come in useful in running his office at MI5.

Given the fact that Cookie was born and raised in Germany, his German language skills were flawless. According to the German Abwehr, Cookie spoke German with a Saxony and Hamburg accent. He also picked up Dutch and French along the way. According to his records, Cookie was classified as a 1st Class Interpreter A.O. for German. His skill in the other two languages was "translator and fluent conversational".

On top of that, Cookie had traveled extensively throughout Europe - France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Most likely his work with Vickers Limited gave him a good cover story for traveling throughout Europe.

Finally, Cookie had trained with the Birmingham City Police "in all matters relating to the administration of a Civil Police Force".

Cookie had it all: languages, legal knowledge, police training, military experience, travel background, business skills. Although initially recruited into MI5 in 1914 for his language skills, it was clear that  after World War I, Cookie built up a diverse resumé that made him eminently qualified to serve as an MI5 intelligence officer.

There still some mysteries. While the army records give Cookie's regimental number for World War II, it isn't the same as what he would have used during World War I. The rather common surname of "Cooke" means that it is challenging to track down references to him in the London Gazette between 1914 and 1920. The Army Personnel records, for example, note that he was twice Mentioned in Dispatches, once in 1917 and then a year later. Even with the exact dates, I haven't managed to track those references down.

There is also some evidence to suggest that Cookie served as an interpreter/translator at the war crimes trials in Germany in 1946 and 1947. While his Army Personnel record makes no mention of such a duty, it would not be surprising given his background in prosecution and languages. We know, for example that Carl Ludwig Stirling, the Judge Advocate at Josef Jakobs' court martial, also served as Judge Advocate at the several war crimes trials in Germany (e.g. Belsen).

In 1954, Cookie was retired from the Territorial Army having exceeded the age limit. Less than a year later, he would pass away.

02 December 2015

The Spymaster and his Wife

Aurora - book cover
Aurora - book cover
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about German spymaster Nikolaus Ritter and his American wife, Mary Aurora Evans. I based the blog on information I had dug up on Ritter as well as several book reviews on Aurora's biography (written by her daughter, Katharine (Ritter) Wallace).

The biography sounded quite fascinating and I ordered a copy through AbeBooks.com, my go-to-source for second-hand books. As luck would have it, there was a copy at a Goodwill store in California, which was reasonably priced.

The book arrived last week, and I have been reading it with interest. The author provides quite a bit more information on what Nikolaus Ritter did during his time in America, a lot of odd jobs which he often left after a few weeks or months. It sounds like he was a bit of a Prussian aristocrat who didn't like to be ordered around. Also turns out he was a bit of a free-loader, living off of Aurora's income while in the States. Fascinating glimpse of another side of the man.

Deckname Dr. Rantzau - book cover
Naturally, there are always two sides (or more) to every story. For several years now, I've had a copy of Nikolaus Ritter's memoir in my possession. It's written in German but is one of the few windows into the operations of the German Abwehr.

Several months ago, I managed to plough my way through Monika Seidentopf's account of Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sealion). My German is quite rusty and the puzzling military terms meant that Google Translate was my new best friend. I do think, after a bit of effort, that I got the gist of the book. Which makes me think that now may be the time to tackle Ritter's memoir.

23 November 2015

Pathologist Spilsbury's Notes at the Wellcome Library

Wellcome Library Reading Room
Wellcome Library Reading Room
After Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August, 1941, his post mortem was conducted by two men: London Eastern District Coroner W.R.H. Heddy and renowned pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Both men likely took meticulous notes but trying to track those notes down has proved to be a wild goose chase.

In 2008 and 2009, a portion of Spilsbury's case notes, which he had transcribed onto index cards, were acquired by the Wellcome Library in London. The library is "one of the world's major resources for the study of medical history... and offer a growing collection of material relating to contemporary medicine and biomedical science in society". The index cards, about 7000 in total, contain just a fraction of Spilsbury's case notes. There are some temporal gaps but... it was worth a shot.

Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Index Cards (From Wellcome Library Blog)
Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Index Cards
(From Wellcome Library Blog)
In 2012, I visited the Wellcome Library in the hopes that the case notes might include an index card on Josef's post mortem.

The cards were slightly more organized than when the Wellcome Library acquired them. There were 25 boxes of index cards, arranged by date.

In reviewing the August 1941 index cards, I came across the cards for Werner Walti and Karl Theodore Druecke, two spies who were hanged at Wandsworth Prison on August 6, 1941. There was, however, no card on Josef Jakobs. This may be due to the fact that his execution was shrouded in secrecy.

The other option was case notes by Eastern District coroner W.R.H. Heddy. Those notes were not, however, held by the Wellcome Library, but by the London Metropolitan Archives. Coming up in the next post.

18 November 2015

Exporter of Stockings & Spies - Captain Julius Jacob Boeckel

What does it take to become a spymaster? What are the qualifications? For the German Intelligence Service (Abwehr) in 1940, the answer would have been, "Not much". We've already heard a bit about Major Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter. He was hired by the German Abwehr in 1937 to run spy rings in the United States and England. His major qualification? He could speak American English. Ritter had spent over a decade in the United States, dabbling in various ventures and employment opportunities. He was a businessman with no actual spy training.

In 1939 and 1940, the German Abwehr began to expand their operations. Ritter was stationed at the Abwehr offices in Hamburg where he was involved in gathering information about the air forces and air operations of the United States and England. He needed some help. Did he hire someone with espionage experience? Nope. He hired a businessman.

13 November 2015

The German Spymaster and the Alabama Schoolteacher

Researching the life Josef Jakobs has led me down some very interesting side paths. I have come across many interesting characters whose lives intersected with that of Josef. Some were friends. Many were foes. Some were both. When Josef was recruited into the Abwehr (the German Intelligence Service) in 1940, he brushed shoulders with spymaster Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter.

There is a bit of information about Nikolaus Ritter, a.k.a. Dr. Rantzau available online, but quite a bit more resides in some of the National Archives files in Kew.

Nikolaus Adolf Fritz Ritter

Ritter was born on January 8, 1899, in the town of Rheydt, a suburb of Mönchengladbach in the Rhineland. His parents were Nikolaus Josef Ritter and Käthe Hellhoff. Ritter's family clearly moved quite a bit during his childhood. Ritter attended the Volksschule (elementary school) in Bad Bederkesa in Lower Saxony from 1905 to 1910. From 1911 to 1914, Ritter attended the Klostergymnasium in Flensburg, just south of the border with Denmark. He finished his education at the Domgynasium in Verden an der Aller, southwest of Bremen. After making his Abitur, Ritter enlisted with the German Imperial Army. He was assigned to the 162nd Infantry Regiment and served on the Western Front. Wounded twice, Ritter was promoted to Lieutenant in June, 1918.

09 November 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 100

After the Battle Magazine - No.100  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No. 100
(From After the Battle website)

The Magazine Article
From the Editor, After the Battle, volume 100, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1998, page 23.

A very brief paragraph noted that the chair in which Josef Jakobs had been executed had been placed on display at the Royal Armouries in Leed. Included a photograph of the chair in a glass case.

Since then, the chair has been moved to the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London. It is on permanent display in the White Tower.

Review Score
N/A - just a brief note on the chair of execution.

04 November 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 80

After the Battle Magazine - No.80  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No.80
(From After the Battle website)

The Magazine Article
From the Editor, After the Battle, volume 80, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1993, page 2.

A brief mention of my trip to London in 1991.

Winston Ramsey, editor of After the Battle Magazine, kindly took me on tours of Latchmere House, the Duke of York's Headquarters, the Tower of London and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green.

Review Score
N/A - just a brief note, along with a photograph taken in St. Mary's Cemetery.

30 October 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 74

After the Battle Magazine - No. 74  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No. 74
(From After the Battle website)

The Magazine Article
MI5's Secret Interrogation Centre, After the Battle, volume 74, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1991, pages 50-53.

This issue of After the Battle Magazine contains an article on MI5's Secret Interrogation Centre, also known as: Latchmere House, Camp 020, Ham Common or simply Ham.

The article gives a brief history of the centre, how it came to be and a few of the stories that have continued to swirl about it. Touching on the issue of interrogation methods, the article does acknowledge that prisoners were often treated rather harshly, left to stew in their cells for a few hours, fed inedible meals and threatened with execution.

26 October 2015

James John Rymer - The Innocent Radio Engineer tainted by a German Spy

National Identity Card (forged) found in the possession of German spy, Josef Jakobs. (held at National Archives, Kew)
National Identity Card (forged) found in the possession of German spy,
Josef Jakobs. (held at National Archives, Kew)
When German spy Josef Jakobs descended from the heavens on the night of 31 January, 1941, he brought with him a load of trouble for one James John Rymer of London.

Josef Jakobs had been equipped with a National Identity Card in the name of James Rymer of 33 Abbotsford Gardens, Woodford Green. The ID card was notable for many reasons, the most glaring being the registration number 656/301/29. Registration numbers always started with a letter prefix and Josef's was clearly an odd one.

21 October 2015

Josef Jakobs visits Cannon Row Police Station

During World War 2, almost all of the captured German spies were taken to Cannon Row Police Station in London for a preliminary interrogation/statement. 
Josef Jakobs, who arrived via parachute on January 31, 1941, was no exception.

After a cold night in a potato field near Ramsey, nursing a broken ankle, Josef was discovered by the local Home Guard and taken to Ramsey Police Station. After being processed by the Ramsey Police, Josef was transported to London on the afternoon of February 1, 1941.

Red Lion Pub, Derby Gate, London (copyright 2012 G.K. Jakobs)
Red Lion Pub, Derby Gate, London (copyright 2012 G.K. Jakobs)
Many of the German spies had been told by their handlers that London was a bombed-out wreck, but as Josef was driven through the streets of London, he would have realized that the Abwehr spymasters had been lying.

16 October 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 72

After the Battle Magazine - No. 72  (From After the Battle website)
After the Battle Magazine - No. 72
(From After the Battle website)
The Magazine Article
From the Editor - Letters, After the Battle, volume 72, Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd., 1991, page 36.

Last year I wrote a short article review on After the Battle Magazine's classic piece on German Spies in Britain (Volume 11, published 1976). In the late 1980s, this magazine was one of the first sources of information that I cam across in my research on Josef Jakobs. In 1991, I wrote a letter to After the Battle Editor, Winston Ramsey.

In Volume 72 of After the Battle Magazine, Ramsey published portions of my letter to him as well as the photograph of Josef that I had sent to him. The article also includes a photograph of the memorial statue in the Chapel at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Kensal Green, London.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - Accurate although the source of Josef's photograph was not acknowledged in the photograph caption.

12 October 2015

Lt. Col. Charles R.T.M. Gerard - The Man in Charge of Josef Jakobs' Execution

When Josef Jakobs was found guilty of Treachery (espionage) by a military court martial in early August 1941, his fate was placed into the hands of the London District Deputy Provost Marshal, Colonel Charles Robert Tolver Michael Gerard. It was Gerard who would make arrangements for Josef's execution and who would ensure that everything surrounding the event was carried out with military precision.

Early Life
Charles Robert Tolver Michael Gerard (we'll just call him Charles) was born on 28 February, 1894, in the rather posh district of St. George/Hanover Square in London. His parents were the Hon. Robert Joseph Geard-Dicconson and Eleanor Sarah Bankes.

Charles' grandfather was the 1st Baron Gerard of Bryn but Charles' uncle ended up inheriting the title. But as fate would have it, eventually Charles' own grandson would inherit the 5th Baron Gerard of Bryn title due to a lack of male heirs in the other line. Charles' family was quite well-to-do and the household bristled with an array of maids, cooks, footmen, butlers and coachmen. It comes as no surprise then to learn that Charles was educated at the prestigious Eton College in Windsor, Berkshire.

Badge of the Grenadier Guards
Badge of the Grenadier Guards
World War I
With the outbreak of the war in 1914, Charles was a prime officer's candidate. He obtained a commission in the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Charles arrived in France on September 19, 1914, with the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. Within a month, Charles and his battalion were enmeshed in fighting around Ypres. The battalion suffered heavy officer losses and by December, Charles had risen to the rank of Lieutenant.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Service Order (DSO)
In early 1915, Charles was appointed as an Aide-de-Camp to the Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, a move that took him out of the trenches but not out of harm's way.

That fall, likely whilst on leave in England, Charles married Aimee Gwendolyn Clarke in London. By 1917, Charles had risen to the rank of Captain and was serving as Adjutant to Lt. Col. Viscount Gort, Commander of the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards. In early 1918, Charles was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.). He was also Mentioned in Despatches twice (1916 & 1918), having earned those for gallant and distinguished service in the field.

Inter-War Years
Badges of the Manchester Regiment. In 1923, the badges changed to the fleur-de-lis.
Badges of the Manchester Regiment. In 1923, the badges
changed to the fleur-de-lis.
Charles is rather hard to pin down during the inter-war years. Some information suggests that he served with the 5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, ending up as a Brevet Colonel.

On the family front, Charles and his wife Aimee, had two sons together. Rupert Charles Frederick Gerard was born in October 1916 and Robert Guy Standish Gerard was born in 1921. Both sons were educated at Eton College, but by 1929, it was clear that Charles and Aimee's marriage was not an amicable one.

Aimee filed for divorce which was granted in 1930. That same year, on 25 September, some might say with unbecoming haste, Charles married Norma Rogers.

5 Great Scotland Yard - offices of the Deputy Provost Marshal, London District during World War 2.
5 Great Scotland Yard - offices of the Deputy Provost
Marshal, London District during World War 2.
World War II
With the outbreak of the war, 45 year old Charles was remobilized from the Reserve of Officers as an officer in His Majesty's Armed Forces.

Charles eventually gained the rank of Colonel in the Grenadier Guards, but he saw no active fighting.

His role in the war was to serve as Deputy Provost Marshal for the London District, essentially the chief Military Policeman for the London District.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)
Officer of the Order of the
British Empire (O.B.E.)
It was in this role that Lt. Col. Charles R.T.M. Gerard would come to oversee the execution by firing squad of Josef Jakobs.

In 1944, Charles was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). Both of his sons would end up receiving commissions into the Grenadier Guards. Rupert would end up a Major and Robert, a Lieutenant.

After the war, Charles disappears from view, and we only know that he passed away in Windsor, Berkshire, on 14 January, 1971, at the age of 76.

Ancestry.com - genealogy information
British Army List
The Gazette
The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918, Volumes 1-3, published 1920.
The Peerage - entry on Charles R.T.M. Gerard

07 October 2015

Update on the Hunt for Kenneth C. Howard

N.B. See my February 12, 2017 blog for a break in the search for Kenneth C. Howard

Two small notebooks are contained in one of the Josef Jakobs folders (KV 2/27) at the National Archives in Kew, England. Both notebooks seem to be the property of one Kenneth C. Howard from Birmingham. They were sent to MI5 by the Birmingham Police in June 1941, but the only spy connection seems to be a reference to Karl Theodore Druecke. Nowhere in the MI5 files on Josef Jakobs is there any mention of these notebooks nor any questions around Kenneth C. Howard. Unfortunately the Druecke files were heavily weeded - so no help there.

I've done several blogs on Kenneth and his little notebooks:
Who is Kenneth C. Howard?
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
A few weeks ago, a couple of comments were left on the second blog offering some genealogical threads that might help track down Kenneth. The most promising seemed to be the idea of looking at the electoral lists for Birmingham and examining the address of 17 Evelyn Road - the address given in one of Kenneth's notebooks.

I did some digging and pulled up the electoral registers for 1930, 1935 and 1939. The registers are definitely not well indexed but after a bit of hunting, I found 17 Evelyn Road:

1930 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road
1930 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road

1935 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road
1935 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road

1939 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road
1939 Electoral Register - Birmingham - 17 Evelyn Road
Alas - 17 Evelyn Road had different occupants for each sweep of the Electoral Register - none of which included any Howards. Unfortunate.

It is, of course, possible, that the family have lived there in between those snapshots in time. Or even that they moved into the house after 1939.

So, this appears to be a dead-end. On the other hand, it made me think of the 1939 National Registration database. Apparently though, one needs a name as well as an address to get information - all for the princely sum of 43 GBP.

So the hunt for Kenneth C. Howard continues...

02 October 2015

Mysterious End of Robin William George Stephens - a.k.a. Tin-Eye Stephens

I've written a couple of blogs about Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens, the commandant of MI5's secret World War 2 interrogation centre, Camp 020.

The first blog touched on the life of Stephens and was based on readily available information. One of the enduring mysteries around Stephens is the actual date of his death. It is not mentioned in any of the literature and while the death of his second wife is well-documented, that of Stephens is not. Admittedly, with a surname like Stephens, and a first name that fluctuated between Robin and Robert, it is a bit hard to pin down a death date. There are a lot of Robert Stephens in Britain.

2nd Lt. Howell Charles Stephens (brother of Lt. Col. Robin W.G. Stephens)
2nd Lt. Howell Charles Stephens
(brother of Lt. Col. Robin W.G. Stephens)
A few months ago, I did an update on the family of Lt. Col. Robin W.G. Stephens. I had tracked down Robin's parents, William Henry Stephens & Julia Elizabeth Howell, as well as an older brother, Howell Charles Stephens. Howell was killed in action during World War I, and the parents endured internment on Jersey during World War 2. But there was still no break on the death date of Robin.

Since then I've done a some more digging and come up with a few tidbits. Much of my second blog on Stephens' family, was based on deduction. Stephens and his brother went to the same school and both were born in Egypt. A William Henry Stephens married a Julia Elizabeth Howell in Egypt, etc. I'm happy to report, having ordered the birth certificates for both Robin and Howell that... they do indeed have the same parents - the couple mentioned above.

Stephens Family Grave - Cheltenham (From www.remembering.org.uk site)
Stephens Family Grave - Cheltenham
(From www.remembering.org.uk site)
I've also learned that there is a memorial to Howell Charles Stephens in the Bouncers Lane Cemetery in Cheltenham. While Howell was commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres (his body was never found), a memorial was also inscribed on the family grave in Cheltenham.

I also tracked down the Probate records for the death of Robin's father, William Henry Stephens. William passed away in October 1962. His will was dated 1956 and he left his entire estate to his sister Lillian Beatrice Birt.

Some digging on Ancestry confirmed that our William Henry Stephens did indeed have a sister named Lillian Beatrice Stephens. She married Henry Birt in 1903. Unfortunately, Lillian passed away in 1960, so William's estate likely passed to her children.

This naturally leaves one wondering why William didn't leave his estate to his son Robin. Two options seem to present themselves...

(1) Robin was estranged from his father
(2) Robin predeceased his father

Option 2 would help to narrow down Robin's death date, for he retired from the Army in 1960. If he predeceased his father, then that would leave a 3 year window (1960-1962) for his death. Alas, William's will was drawn up in 1956, when Robin was very much alive.

This would seem to leave us with Option 1 - that Robin was estranged from his father. Perhaps Robin's father disapproved of his son's divorce in the early 1930s? Perhaps William was upset over the court-martial of Robin after the war? Perhaps Robin disapproved of how his parents comported themselves on Jersey while under German occupation? Another dead end, but a few more pieces of the puzzle.

28 September 2015

Another Clue in Tracing the Enigmatic Clara Bauerle

Tondokumente der Kleinkunst und ihre Interpreten:1898-1945(Berthold Leimbach)
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst
und ihre Interpreten:
(Berthold Leimbach)
A few weeks back, I tracked down a resource that possibly had fresh information on Clara Bäuerle.

If you recall, Clara is considered by some researchers to be a potential candidate for the mysterious Bella in the Wych Elm. Several online resources, however, indicate that Clara died in Berlin on 16 December, 1942. I've been trying to dig up information to substantiate that date.

This new resource: Tondokumente der Kleinkunst und ihre Interpreten: 1898-1945 (privately published by Berthold Leimbach in 1991) had a page on Clara Bäuerle, a portion of which was visible on Google Books.
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - page on Clara Bauerle
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - page on Clara Bauerle

This rather obscure book isn't available in North America, so I had a cousin track it down in the Staats Bibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library). After much anticipation, my cousin sent me a scanned image of the relevant page.

The image shows:
  • Top left - brief biography of Clara.
  • Top right - the standard promotional photograph that Clara handed out at concerts. This is the same image that Josef Jakobs had in his possession.
  •  Bottom part of the page is a discography of Clara Bauerle's recordings, which I had already tracked down through other means.
Soooo... what does the biography actually say? Good question.

The German reads:
Bäuerle, Claire
Als Hedwig Clara Bauerle am 27. August 1905 in Ulm geboren. Die frühen Jahre liegen im Dunklen, erst 1936 taucht sie als Schauspielerin am Stadttheater Gera auf. Es folgen Engagements in Landsberg (1937) und Pforzheim (1938). 1939 und 1941 wird ihr Name in den Bühnenjahrbüchern noch einmal erwähnt, dann nicht mehr. Bekannt geworeden ist Claire Bäuerle wohl auch eher als Sängerin (Altistin) des berühmten Orchesters von Bernhard Etté. Auch der Film holte sie sich.
Bäuerle, Claire
Born as Hedwig Clara Bauerle on 27 August 1905 in Ulm. The early years lie in darkness; she first surfaced in 1936 as an actress at the Gera City Theatre. There followed engagements in Landsberg (1937) and Pforzheim (1938). In 1939 and 1941 her name appeared one last time in the Theatre Yearbooks but nothing after that. Claire Bäuerle became most well known as a singer (contralto) with the famous Bernhard Ette Orchestra. She also appeared in movies.
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - biography on Clara Bauerle
Tondokumente der Kleinkunst - biography on Clara Bauerle
Alas, no mention of her death but... it would appear that her full name was Hedwig Clara Bäuerle, a very interesting clue.

While MI5 was investigating Josef Jakobs' association with Clara Bäuerle, they tried to determine if she had ever been to the United Kingdom.

They found a German named Klara Sofie Bäuerle, born on June 29, 1906; arrived in the United Kingdom in October, 1930; left Warwickshire for Germany at some unknown date.  The Central Register of Aliens had been notified of her departure on June 21, 1932.

From this, it would appear that Hedwig Clara Bäuerle and Klara Sofie Bäuerle were two very separate individuals. There is no evidence that Clara Bauerle traveled to the United Kingdom during the 1930s.

As for the author of the Tondokumente book - he appears to have passed away in the 2000s.

23 September 2015

German Spy, Josef Jakobs breaks into the world of Fiction

His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal  (from Amazon.com)
His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal
(from Amazon.com)
Josef Jakobs has broken into the world of fiction. Susan Elia MacNeal, an American novelist, has written a mystery series that features heroine Maggie Hope. Maggie swirls through the espionage corners of Britain. In His Majesty's Hope, Maggie takes on an undercover mission behind enemy lines in Germany. While Maggie is tip-toeing through the minefield of Nazi Germany, a dialogue takes place in London between a man named Hugh and John Cecil Masterman (chairman of MI5's XX Committee):


“What about those who won’t turn?” Hugh asked. He knew about one captured German spy in particular, Josef Jakobs, who had parachuted into Ramsey in Huntingdonshire in January. Jakobs had been picked up by the Home Guard, who found that he’d broken his ankle when he landed. When arrested, he was still wearing his flying suit and carrying forged papers, a radio, British pounds, and a German sausage.

“He was tried in camera and found guilty under the Treachery Act of 1940. He was sentenced and executed by firing squad in the Tower of London only a week or so ago.”

“I see,” Hugh said.

“One of the other captured spies, hearing of Jakobs’s fate, has proved much more amenable. We’ve been able to persuade him to work as a double agent for us.” Masterman grimaced. “The key word to remember with double agents is disinformation. We feed them disinformation to send back to their contacts at Abwehr in Berlin. However—and this is a big however—we must also include some true information, to make the false seem credible. So it’s a game, really. A very, very high-stakes game.”

A seagull flying overhead shrieked. “Yes, sir.”

“Our prisoner’s a German, name of Stefan Krueger. You’ll be working with him.”


Published in 2013, it's nice to see that the author has given a relatively accurate, albeit brief, portrayal of Josef Jakobs. The implication that Josef "won't be turned" isn't entirely accurate. On February 2, Josef accepted MI5's demands to work against the Germans, but his long hospitalization and the public nature of his capture meant they couldn't use him. But... it's fiction, as is the Stefan Krueger character. Overall readers give it 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Seems like it might be worth a read.

18 September 2015

Red Herrings in the hunt for German Spy, Josef Jakobs

Asparagus and Flying Aces - these are the two red herrings that can lead one astray in a search for information on Josef Jakobs. Google Search is a wonderful tool but it doesn't always return the best search results. There are tips and tricks that you can use to improve the search results. First, one must realize that Josef Jakobs/Jacobs is a fairly common name in Germany and the Netherlands. Fortunately, search results generally return only the more "famous" results.

Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof
Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof
One of the primary red herrings in the hunt for Josef Jakobs is a place near Berlin called "Josef Jakobs - Spargelhof" - essentially "Josef Jakobs - Asparagus-farm".

Back in 1996, some entrpeneurs purchased a rundown Bauernhof (farmyard) near Beelitz and transformed it into a mecca for asparagus lovers.

A quick perusal of their menu reveals that everything is made with asparagus. Here in Canada, the "good" aspargus is pencil-thin and green. But in Germany, spring is Spargel-Zeit... and it is thick, short and white. Just to be clear... this place has nothing to do with Josef Jakobs, the German spy.
Josef Jacobs - Flying Ace
Josef Carl Peter Jacobs
WWI Flying Ace
(from Wikipedia)

The other red herring that crops up on occasion is a World War I flying ace named Josef Carl Peter Jacobs. Born in 1894, this Josef Jacobs was one of Germany's premier World War I pilots. He amassed 48 victories (tied for 4th place amongst Germany's flying aces). During World War 2, Josef Jacobs joined the Luftwaffe Reserve but declined an invitation to join the Nazi Party. He ended up moving his company to The Netherlands in a bid to avoid the Nazis. After the war, Josef Jacobs moved to Bavaria where he eventually passed away in 1978. Needless to say, this Josef Jacobs also had nothing to do with German spy, Josef Jakobs.

So, how does one filter out search results in Google Search to have less Flying Aces and Asparagus? Fairly easy... Google Search uses something called Boolean operators to help improve search results. Before you freak out - Boolean operators are just a way to tell Google to use AND OR and NOT in searching. Here are a few examples:

Use double quotes to encapsulate a phrase or word to force Google to search for that:
  • instead of searching for Josef Jakobs (370,000 results)
  • search for "Josef Jakobs" inside double quotes (15,900 results)
  • instead of josef jakobs ramsey (5600 results)
  • search for "josef jakobs" "ramsey" (692 results)
Use minus signs to force Google to exclude certain words/phrases

  • instead of josef jakobs
  • search for "josef jakobs" -"spargelhof"
  • this will force Google to search for Josef Jakobs while excluding all references to Spargelhof
I find that these options usually work best when single words are enclosed in double quotes as well - consistency is key
  • don't do this: "josef jakobs" london - spargelhof
  • do this "josef jakobs" "london" -"spargelhof"

Google Search is a pretty smart tool but these tricks just gives you a bit more control over the results that you want to see. It can take some getting used to but once you've got it down, it'll become second nature.

09 September 2015

Retracing the Footsteps of German Spy, Josef Jakobs

During his time in England, Josef was held, or taken to, various locations in Cambridgeshire and London. In the interests of clarity, I have created a Google Map with these locations marked on it.

If you follow the link to the map, you'll find that it is interactive. Zoom in and click on the various markings for a bit of information about each location and how it played a role in Josef's case. I'll be updating the map on occasion and probably extending it to Continental Europe.

Retracing the Footsteps of German spy, Josef Jakobs Image of the Google Map.
Retracing the Footsteps of German spy, Josef Jakobs
Image of the Google Map.

04 September 2015

Book Review - Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around the Fens - Glenda Goulden - 2008

The Book
Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around the Fens; Glenda Goulden; Wharncliffe Books, Barnsley, South Yorkshire. 2008.

Every once in a while, I come across a "true crime" book that makes me shudder, not because of the gory crime scenes but because of the poor research. This is one such book.

First,a confession, I did not read the entire book, only Chapter 14 in which the author relates the dramatic capture of two sets of German spies in the fens of Cambridgeshire.

The first story purports to tell the tale of Wulf Schmidt (later double-agent TATE). Apparently a Home Guard Volunteer met two men in Danish uniform walking along a road near Willingham. He gave them directions to the village but was uneasy about their story. The authorities were contacted and guards from nearby RAF Oakington arrived to take the two men into custody. One man hung himself at Oakington while the other (Schmidt), was found to be a reluctant spy during interrogation at Oakington. He quickly caved and agree to become a double-agent.

Nope, sorry, none of that is accurate. Schmidt landed alone and was apparently an ardent Nazi who only broke under intense interrogation at Latchmere House. He had been preceded by his friend and fellow spy, Gosta Caroli, who had landed several weeks earlier. Schmidt learned that Caroli had already betrayed him and decided to tell the English everything.

The author next turns her attention to Josef Jakobs. On the morning of February 1, two farmers heard shots coming from a clump of trees. Again, not true. The nearest trees to Josef's landing place were several hundred metres away. They found a man lying on the ground holding a Luger pistol (it was actually a Mauser pistol). According to the author, Josef was an ardent Nazi who never made a plea for mercy. Again, not true. On February 2, Josef agreed to work as a double-agent for the English, but his long hospitalization, plus the public nature of his capture, meant that the English dismissed him as a candidate.

This book was accessed via Google Books so the Bibliography was not visible. Clearly the author has relied on out-of-date reference material.

Review Score
1 out of 5 - At least for Chapter 14 - I can't speak for the historical accuracy of the remainder of the book.