Showing posts from August, 2015

Laying a Spy to Rest - The Reverend Charles B. Flood

German spy, Josef Jakobs was laid to rest in St. Mary's Roman Catholic cemetery at Kensal Green on 18 August, 1941. His funeral service was carried out by Rev. Charles Bernard Flood.

Charles was the son of Ellen Mildred Bishop and Arthur Frederick Flood. Ellen was the daughter of a river pilot (William Bishop) and Arthur was a Chartered Accountant's clerk. Charles was their first child and was born 4 September, 1900 in St. Pancras. Two years later, Catherine Edith Mary Flood was born to the young couple.

Charles studied at St. Ignatius College in Stamford Hill and may have brushed shoulders with some of the older boys, including Alfred Hitchcock.

With the outbreak of war, Charles joined up as soon as he was able. Despite the official age limit of 18, many younger boys were accepted into the ranks, as long as they met the height (5'3") and chest measurement (34") requirements.

After serving in World War I, Charles joined the consular service for a few years and th…

Book Review - Operation Sealion - Leo McKinstry - 2014

The Book
Operation Sealion: How Britain Crushed the German War Machine's Dreams of Invasion in 1940; Leo McKinstry; John Murray, London. 2014.

In the summer and fall of 1940, England was faced with the very real threat of a German invasion. Pushed off of the Continent by the German Army, the Allied forces were in disarray having left most of their equipment and weapons in France.

With the Allies along the ropes, Hitler hesitated. Before he would send his troops across the treacherous English Channel, he wanted to be sure that the Royal Air Force had been neutralized. Was the RAF the only thing that protected England?

McKinstry outlines the dire situation of 1940 as well as some of the measures that the British authorities took to prevent invasion. The British authorities were absolutely "ruthless" in protecting the shores of England. Civil liberties, personal privacy, property rights and international legal conventions were all tossed aide in the struggle for surv…

Back to the Past - Ramsey 1940s Weekend

Every August, the town of Ramsey in Cambridgeshire, hosts a 1940s Weekend. For a few days, The Camp (a former search light battery unit) turns back time and visitors can experience all things 1940s.

According to their website, those attending the weekend will have a chance to:Immerse yourself with all the sights, sounds and tastes of the era. Living History displays situated amongst the original wooden buildings with vintage military, civilian and commercial vehicles exhibited all around. Re-enactors mingle with visitors and add to the atmosphere. The canteen will be open for spam sandwiches, bread pudding and anything else not on ration. The 1940s garden close by being central to the Home Front displays. There will be war time cooking demonstrations taking place in the Drill Hall. Battle re-enactments are also being planned. Vehicles from the period will be exhibited throughout the Camp area.
There's also a big dance, entertainment, possible flyovers by vintage aircraft…

Today in 1941 - August 18 - German spy Josef Jakobs buried at St. Mary's R.C. Cemetery

Today in 1941, on August 18, Josef Jakobs was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, London.

Fr. Edward J. Griffith, an Army Chaplain, had ministered to Josef in the days between the court martial and the execution. Fr. Griffith likely attended the funeral, only returning to his assignment in Liverpool on August 18/19. He was likely a co-celebrant at the Requiem Mass which was conducted by Fr. Charles Bernard Flood, a priest at St. James Roman Catholic Church (Spanish Place) in London.

Josef was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. In the mid 1970s, a layer of earth was placed on the existing graves in that section of the cemetery in order to create more graves.

Podcast - On This Day in History: Execution of Josef Jakobs - HistoryPod - Scott Allsop

A few weeks ago, I received a kind email from Scott Allsop, a UK history teacher. Since April of this year, Scott has been hosting a daily podcast about significant or interesting historical events. He wanted to let me know that he would be posting a podcast about Josef Jakobs' execution on 15 August.

Scott's podcasts are not long (generally less than three minutes) but he strives to ensure that they are thoroughly researched so that he can present a concise and historically accurate account.

Please visit Scott's website and listen to his podcast about the Execution of Josef Jakobs.

Podcast Link

Today in 1941 - August 15 - Josef Jakobs Shot at the Tower of London

Today in 1941, on August 15, German spy, Josef Jakobs was executed by firing squad at the Tower of London.

Josef and his Military Policemen guards left Wandsworth Prison at around 5:00 a.m. and arrived at the Tower at around 5:30 a.m. Josef was offered, and eventually accepted, a sedative to calm the nerves.

The execution took place in the miniature rifle range, now demolished. Josef was bound to a chair (as were all of the World War I spies) and a target was pinned to his chest. Major P.D.J. Waters commanded the eight-man firing squad. The execution was slated for 7:00 a.m. and the shots rang out at 7:12 a.m.

After the execution, Josef's body was taken to the mortuary under the Tower Bridge where it was examined by Sir Bernard Spilsbury and Eastern District Coroner W.R.H. Heddy.

The miniature rifle range was demolished in the 1960s and for many years, nothing served to mark the place where the World War I spies and Josef Jakobs met their end. Last year, Historic Royal Palaces er…

Today in 1941 - August 13 - King George VI rejects Josef Jakobs' Petition for Mercy

Today in 1941, on August 13, Josef Jakobs received word that his petition for mercy to King George VI had been rejected.

Josef's petition had wended its way through military, legal and political channels before finally being passed before the eyes of the King around August 9. None of the authorities had recommended mercy and King George VI did not deviate from their advice. He confirmed the finding of the court martial - death by shooting.

Josef's last chance at life evaporated and on August 13, the military authorities began to make immediate preparations for his execution at the Tower of London.

Today in 1941 - August 9 - Josef Jakobs' Petition for Mercy reaches King George VI

Today in 1941, on August 9, Josef Jakobs' petition for mercy reached King George VI.

Josef had begun to craft his petition after his court martial found him guilty on August 5 and condemned him to death. By August 8, the petition was wending its way through the military, legal and political channels. It passed by the Judge Advocate General, the Director of Personal Services and the Secretary of State for War.

On August 9, the petition was forwarded on to King George VI. Would Josef's "humble petition" make a difference?

Today in 1941 - August 6 - Condemned German Spy Josef Jakobs receives Spiritual Care

Today in 1941, on August 6, Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Edward Jackson Griffith visited Josef Jakobs to provide him with spiritual care.

Josef had requested the services of a Catholic priest when he met with Lt. Col. Hinchley Cooke on July 31. The part-time Catholic Chaplain at Wandsworth Prison had tried to visit Josef but had been told that since Josef was a military prisoner, the chaplain would have to consult military authorities. Letters had flown back and forth and the chaplain had apparently received permission to visit Josef but by July 31, Josef had still not received spiritual care.

Lt. Col. Hinchley-Cooke moved quickly and by August 5, military chaplain Fr. Griffith had been pegged as a good option given that he spoke German. Fr. Griffith was recalled from Liverpool where he was ministering to German POWs at a hospital in Knutsford. Arriving in London on August 6, Fr. Griffith would minister to Josef until his execution, and ultimate burial.

Today in 1941 - August 5 - Second Day of Josef Jakobs' Court Martial

Today in 1941 - August 5 - The Second Day of Josef Jakobs' Court Martial took place at the Duke of York's Headquarters (Chelsea).

The second day of the court martial began with the Prosecution re-commencing their cross-examination of Josef. Lt. Col. Hinchley-Cooke was re-called to the stand at one point to provide some clarification on points brought up during Josef's testimony. Shortly after noon, the members of the court retired to consider their verdict. After 10 minutes, they returned to the court and the court martial was formally concluded. Josef was handed an envelope that contained the verdict and the sentence: Guilty - to be shot.

A few blogs about Josef's court martial:
Overview of the Court Martial and the people involved
Members of the Court Martial
Judge Advocate at the trial - Carl Ludwig Stirling
Attorney for the Prosecution - Maj. Anthony Alfred Harmsworth Marlowe 
Attorney for the Defence - Capt. Eric Vincent Ewart White
Stenographer & Interpreter at th…

Today in 1941 - August 4 - The First Day of Josef Jakobs' Court Martial

Today in 1941 - August 4 - The First Day of Josef Jakobs' Court Martial took place at the Duke of York's Headquarters (Chelsea).

Under the supervision of the Deputy Provost Marshal, Josef was brought to Chelsea from Wandsworth Prison by the Military Policemen who had been assigned to guard him.

On the first day of the court martial, witnesses for the prosecution gave their testimony: the farmers who found Josef, members of the Home Guard who apprehended him and members of the Huntingdonshire Constabulary. Lt. Col. Hinchley Cooke (MI5) and a radio expert also testified. In the afternoon, Josef went to the stand and gave his testimony. Court was adjourned at around 5 pm during the prosecution's cross-examination of Josef.

A few blogs about Josef's court martial:

Overview of the Court Martial and the people involved
Members of the Court Martial
Judge Advocate at the trial - Carl Ludwig Stirling
Attorney for the Prosecution - Maj. Anthony Alfred Harmsworth Marlowe 
Attorney for…