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Showing posts from April, 2015

Today in 1941 - April 30 - Major Robin W.G. Stephens pushed Josef's case in the direction of the Treachery Act

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Today in 1941, the Commandant of Camp 020 (Latchmere House), Major Robin W.G. Stephens wrote a report on the progress of Josef Jakobs' interrogations.

Stephens was skeptical about most of Josef's story and had no doubt that Josef "came over here as an active and willing spy for the Germans".

The day previously, Lt. G.F. Sampson and 2nd Lt. T.L. Winn had questioned Jakobs about his knowledge of another spy being trained in Hamburg. Based on the description provided to Josef by MI5, Josef thought the man might be identical with a spy named Karel Richter.

As it turned out, the description of the man had been provided to double-agent TATE (Wulf Schmidt) by the German Abwehr. TATE needed money, and this spy would soon bring him what he needed. MI5 was excited... they had another spy in their sights... and thanks to Josef, they had a name to go with the description. But Stephens was dismissive of Josef's usefulness.

"It may be that [Josef] thinks he is gaining our …

The Mystery of the Vanished Spies

Did the British Security Service (MI5) capture every single one of the German spies who parachuted into England during World War II? That was the claim made by John C. Masterman, chair of MI5s Double-Cross Committee, in his classic book published in 1972. Today, MI5 still claims that the only spy to evade their net during World War II was Engelbertus Fukken (alias Willem Ter Braak) who committed suicide in a Cambridge air raid shelter early in 1941. But is this claim of infallibility actually true?

In February 1941, double-agent SNOW visited Lisbon to meet his German spy master, Nikolaus Ritter. During their conversation, Ritter expressed frustration with the parachute method of inserting spies into England. He acknowledged that the Abwehr had “lost many men by parachute”  and his suspiciouns were aroused. “We’ve sent a lot of men over and nothing’s happened. They’ve gone wrong. There’s something wrong somewhere.” How many men did the Germans actually send over by parachute? The Brit…

X-ray Images of Josef Jakobs' broken leg

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Within the National Archives at Kew, London, Josef Jakobs' KV 2/24 file contains copies of his medical records from Dulwich Community Hospital. The medical records have the original x-ray images of Josef's fractured leg. These images naturally do not photocopy well but the National Archives has helpfully digitized some of these x-rays.

The National Archives has five images of Josef's x-rays available for purchase, conveniently labeled 1 to 5. The images are not in chronological order. Images 5 (Feb 3) and 2 & 4 (Feb 5) are the most interesting. Image 3 was taken on Feb 3 and shows the upper part of the tibia and fibula. Image 1 was taken on March 4 and shows the partially healed fractures.
According to the medical records, Josef had a "comminuted fracture of the lower end of shaft of tibia and fibula with overlapping tibial fragments and forward displacement of the tibial fragments". This rather dense medical description becomes more understandable when accom…

A Brief Internment in Brixton Prison for German Spy Josef Jakobs

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Condensed timelines of Josef Jakobs' time in England generally have him landing in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, being transferred to Ham Common (a.k.a. Camp 020) on the outskirts of London and then being executed at the Tower of London. In truth, Josef was transferred between several London locations from February 1 to August 15.

On February 1, after being briefly interrogated at Cannon Row Police Station by Major T.A. Robertson of MI5, Josef was transferred to Brixton Prison Infirmary for treatment of his broken ankle. On February 3, the doctors at Brixton Prison decided that Josef's broken ankle needed more medical attention than they could provide, and Josef was transferred to Dulwich Community Hospital.

Josef was not done with Brixton Prison however, and around March 31, Josef was once again held in the Brixton Prison Infirmary after developing a fever at Ham Common. Josef would spend about two weeks in Brixton Prison Infirmary, being released to Ham Common on April 15, 1941.

Today in 1941 - April 17 - German spy Josef Jakobs wrote his Third Statement to Camp 020 Interrogators

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Today in 1941, Josef wrote his third statement about his life and handed it to Captain George F. Sampson, one of the Camp 020 interrogators.

On 17 April, Josef typed up a third statement in which he gave the reason for his journey to England. Josef spoke of how horrible life was under the Nazis. He believed that England would never be able to beat the Nazis since there was no landing spot for them on the Continent. England could only hope to defeat the Nazis if they enlisted the support of anti-Nazi groups within Germany, of which there were many. Josef said that he belonged to one such group, and that they had supported his mission to England, in order to obtain the support of the English government. In addition, they hoped to acquire monetary support from refugee German Jews. Josef restated his desire to help the English.

The statement, typewritten in German, was translated into English by the officers at Camp 020.


Today in 1941 - April 16 - German spy Josef Jakobs wrote his Second Statement to Camp 020 Interrogators

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Today in 1941, Josef wrote his second statement about his life and handed it to Captain George F. Sampson, one of the Camp 020 interrogators.

On 16 April, Josef typed up a second statement in which he tried to prove that he had not come to England as an enemy. He spoke of how he had been betrayed by a friend (Van Hees) when he confided that he had no intention of helping the Nazis in England. Instead, he planned to contact the English Secret Service or, failing that, make his way to America where he had an aunt. Van Hees informed the Gestapo of Josef's plans and they in turn informed the German Intelligence Service. Despite this information, the German Intelligence Service sent Josef to England, albeit without the Swiss passport he had expected. Josef spoke of how his leg was hurt while still in the aircraft but that he decided to jump anyhow.

The statement, typewritten in German, was translated into English by the officers at Camp 020.


Today in 1941 - April 15 - Josef Jakobs was returned to Camp 020 and wrote a statement about his life

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Today in 1941, Josef was returned to Ham Common (a.k.a. Camp 020) from Brixton Prison Infirmary. Upon his arrival at Camp 020, Josef was handed over to Captain George F. Sampson who induced Josef to make several statements.

On 15 April, Josef typed up an account of his life which was handed in to Sampson the following day. The statement touched on Josef's birth and childhood, leading into his World War I service with the 4th Foot Guards Regiment. Josef then went on to relate his post-war activities, his dentistry studies and his trip to Argentina. After returning to Germany in 1924, Josef practiced as a dentist, got married and had three children. With the financial turmoil of the early 1930s, Josef engaged in various questionable business transactions which eventually culminated in 1934 with his arrest and imprisonment in Switzerland for gold forgery. After his release from prison, he returned to Germany and became involved in a blackmarket passport business through which Jews wi…

T.L. Winn - Dentist and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941

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In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, I had purposely left Second Lieutenant Winn to the last. I had very little information to go on and, since Winn was a rather common name and I had no first initials for the man, the odds of tracking him down seemed slim.

But persistence pays off. Whilst flipping through the KV 2 files on Josef Jakobs, in search of signatures for the other interrogators, I came across the signature of T.L. Winn, who had signed a report on behalf of Stephens. I had the key that I needed and, with that in hand, unlocked the British Army List and the London Gazette to uncover the story of Second Lieutenant Thomas Leith Winn.

Early Life
Leith (as he was known in later years) was born to Thomas Cromwell Winn and Marie Elmore Hilton on 29 November, 1894, in Hackney, London. Married in 1890, Thomas and Marie welcomed their first child with open arms and had him baptized at St. John of Jersualem Parish on 28 June, 1895. As a surgeon, Thomas was quite well-…

R.A.F. Short - Travel Clerk and Interrogator at Camp 020 during 1941

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In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, it has become abundantly clear that few of them were chosen for their prior experience with interrogation or intelligence work. They were drawn from the ranks of diplomats, tailors, former soldiers, dentists, historians and even travel agents.

In his history of Camp 020, Stephens touched on the qualities of a good interrogator: "Obviously a man of experience is required, essentially a man of common sense. If he has traveled, so much the better. If too he has seen war, lost much, that is an advantage. The wider the range of his interests the better.... So much depends upon personality, upon mood, upon the man who can impress or cajole, blow hot blow cold, stand down at the psychological moment, without jealousy, in favour of another officer." Stephens had quite a motley crew of interrogators at his command in Camp 020, but such variety meant that the right interrogator could be chosen to match the character of each spy. …

D.B. Stimson - Tailor and Administrator at Camp 020 during 1941

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In researching the lives of the Camp 020 interrogators, it is always nice to across an individual with a rich history. Such an individual is Douglas Bernard Stimson, "Stimmy" to his colleagues. Although technically not an interrogator, Douglas was in charge of Administration at Camp 020 and had interactions with the prisoners.

Early Life
Douglas was born on 23 October, 1897, in the Parish of Kew, Greater London to William Adolphe Stimson and Ellen Beatrice Phillips. William and Ellen had married in London in 1892 and Douglas was their third child. As fate would have it, Douglas and his older brothers (Montague Adolph and Eric Malcolm), born in the late 1890s, were all drawn into the maelstrom of World War I.

But before that happened, Douglas would have a pleasant childhood growing up in Richmond, southwest of London. William was a Master Tailor and the family was evidently well-off with a Cook and Nursemaid as servants.In 1911, Douglas was attending school in Swaffham, Norfo…

A.D.M. Evans - United Nations Director and Interrogator at Camp 020 in 1941.

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One of the Camp 020 interrogators involved in the questioning of Josef Jakobs was not included in Richter's parachute outing. A.D. Meurig Evans was a 2nd Lieutenant and while Evans is a rather common name, Meurig Evans is a bit more unique. Again, by cross-referencing the British Army Lists and the London Gazette from 1940 and 1941, we find only one A.D.M. Evans being commissioned into the Intelligence Corps, Albert Dan Meurig Evans.

Early Life
Albert was born 25 May, 1902, in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, Lancashire. His father, Albert Edward Evans was a Liverpool native and schoolmaster at an elementary school. His mother, Katherine Eleanor was a Welsh lass, born in Strata Florida, Cardiganshire.

Albert's parents were apparently married in 1902 which makes one wonder if Albert's imminent arrival precipitated a hasty wedding. By 1911, Albert had two younger sisters to order around, Katherine Eirys and Helen Vivyenne. The family must have been fairly well to-do for they also…