Showing posts from October, 2015

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 74

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.

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

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.

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.
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.

Magazine Article Review - After the Battle Magazine - Volume 72

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.

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 …

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. HowardThe Mysterious Diary of Kenneth C. HowardKenneth 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. T…

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.

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 …