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Showing posts from January, 2016

The Heinkel 111 - Deliverer of Spies

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Between the summer of 1940 and the spring of 1941, the German Abwehr (Intelligence Service) attempted to insert a number of espionage agents into Great Britain.

Some were sent by boat, others were sent by aircraft. There has been a fair bit of discussion about which German aircraft was used to drop the parachute agents. General consensus seems to have settled on the Heinkel 111 (HE 111), a versatile medium bomber designed by the Germans in 1934.

Given the constrictions of the Versailles Treaty conditions, the Heinkel 111 was originally presented as a civilian aircraft and early models found service with Lufthansa. Soon enough, however, it's real potential as a bomber was exploited.

There are several Heinkel 111's still in existence, as well as a Spanish version (Casa 2.111) that is virtually identical to the HE 111. In addition, there are many model-building kits of the HE 111 that provide helpful information. Unfortunately, photos of the interior of a HE 111 are not all that…

False Alarm with Clara Bauerle

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In December 2015, I made a significant breakthrough with Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke, receiving his birth registration from the archives in Dresden. While searching on Ancestry for his mother's relations, I realized that a whole swath of new indexed German records had become available on Ancestry. Not only for Dresden, but also for Berlin.

After happily discovering numerous family records from the early 1920s, I turned my attention to peripheral research.

Could I find the death registration for Clara Bauerle? My initial excitement turned to disappointment when I realized that the newly released records for Berlin only covered the period from 1874 to 1920. My research has suggested that Clara passed away in Berlin in December 1941, a full 21 years after the most recent window into the past.

On the other hand, I did notice that several German cities (Hamburg, Mannheim, Mainz, Dresden) had death records that extended far as 1950 and 1952. So, once again, there is hope for …

Ramsey Rural Museum

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Near the town of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, is a historical treasure, the Ramsey Rural Museum. The Museum is managed and maintained by volunteers and is both quaint and informative. Housed in renovated 17th century farm buildings, the Museum exhibits include over 200 years of local history.

I visited the Museum briefly in 2010 and while I had a quick look around the war exhibits, I missed seeing a most interesting display which included a fragment of Josef Jakob's parachute. A contact at the Museum kindly sent me a picture of the display which I blogged about Josef's parachute gear a couple of years ago.

In August of last year, in conjunction with the Ramsey 1940s Weekend celebrations, I wrote a letter to the organizers of the weekend asking them for assistance in contacting the descendants of the locals who originally encountered Josef.

I didn't hear back from the Ramsey Weekend people but, last month, I learned through Martyn Smith, that  the Ramsey Rural Museum had poste…

A Well-Dressed Spy

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If I had any artistic talent whatsoever, I would attempt to draw the fashion ensemble that Josef Jakobs was wearing when he parachuted out of the German aircraft on 31 January, 1941. Alas, my skills do not lie in that direction, despite the fact that my mother studied as a seamstress and seems to have a bit of talent in that direction (see drawing at right).

There are several excellent descriptions of the clothing that Josef wore but, given that we are separated from that time by 75 years, the words "lounge suit" really don't create a picture in my mind. Researching German fashion in 1940/41 is also a bit of a challenge. If, for example, I find a picture of an English overcoat from 1940, would that look the same as what Josef was wearing? Good question. To which, at the moment, I have no answers. But, I figured I'd start somewhere.

Light Grey Herring-bone Tweed Overcoat
I found a picture of a grey tweed overcoat, but one made in England and it doesn't quite look …

Two Histories of Camp 020

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At the end of World War II, Brigadier Oswald Allen Harker, Deputy Director General of MI5 asked Lt. Col. George Frederick Sampson to write a brief history of Camp 020. In late September 1945, Sampson submitted his report to Harker and then retired from the Security Service, taking a job with the United Nations.

At Sampson's request, the history was sent to Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens, former commandant of Camp 020. Stephens read the history and offered his view.

It was too brief. It needed to be rewritten. He would be happy to do the job.

Stephens set about rewriting the history of Camp 020 with vigour despite the fact that he was serving as commandant of a British interrogation centre in Germany, Bad Nenndorf. While Stephens scribbled away in his unique style, avowing that "violence was taboo", prisoners at Bad Nenndorf were being physically abused by the guards.

Stephens' history was published in 2000 by the National Archives, edited and prefaced by arc…

Breakthrough on Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke

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For the past several months, I've been digging underneath the brick wall that surrounded the birth and parentage of Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke.

My two previous blogs can be found below:
Britain's Spy Catcher Mysterious Origins of W.E. Hinchley Cooke Britain's most famous World War II spy catcher had enigmatic beginnings but the curtain has now been pulled back from them.

With the help of the British Army Personnel Records, Hinchley Cooke's great grand niece and the Dresden Landesarchiv , we have a birth date and now a birth record for the famous spy catcher.

At the same time that I wrote to the Dresden archives, the birth, marriage and death records for Dresden, from the late 1800s and early 1900s, were released on the genealogy website Ancestry, resulting in a treasure trove of information.

I am still working on deciphering the German handwriting but here's what we've got so far.

Introducing the Family
Hinchley Cooke's father was William Thoma…