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Showing posts from March, 2016

Book Review - A Woman in Berlin - 2000

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The Book
A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City; Anonymous; Metropolitan Books, 2005.

Summary
In April 1945, the author, a female journalist living in Berlin, began to keep a daily diary as her city collapsed around her. The Russians arrived a few days later and the author writes in detail about the horror that unfolded.

Rape, looting, starvation, forced labour was the lot of the Germans who had hunkered down in Berlin that spring. Refugees from the East, who had thought Berlin a "safe" place, were also caught up in the maelstrom.

Writing with courage and intellectual honesty, the author provides an eye-opening personal account of a city pillaged and ravaged by the Russian Army.

While the author wished to remain anonymous, many now believe that she was Marta Hillers, a German journalist who passed away in 2001.


Review
I came across the title of this book while searching for something else online. The title and synopsis of the book intrigued me. While much has been…

Website Review - Latchmere House - St. Margaret's Community Website

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Today, I came across a new website/blog featuring an article on Latchmere House/Camp 020. The article is hosted on the St. Margarets Community website.

Written by Martyn Day, the article gives a brief history of Latchmere House and features a few quotes from its Commandant during World War 2, Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens.

The article concludes by giving brief stories of four spies held within Camp 020 during World War 2: Eddie Chapman, Josef Jakobs, Karel Richter and Wulf Schmidt. While factually accurate, it is unfortunate that the author hasn't provided any references or attributions for the photographs.

The low resolution copy of the Josef Jakobs photo was one that I provided to Find-a-Grave.

Review
3/5 - generally accurate but could use references and photo attributions.

The Red Caps who Guarded Josef Jakobs

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On 23 July, 1941, German spy Josef Jakobs was transferred from MI5's secret interrogation centre (Camp 020) to Wandsworth Prison.

Given that Josef was going to be tried by a military court martial, he needed to be kept in military custody.

After much discussion, it was decided that a cell at Wandsworth Prison would be officially designated as a military prison.

Naturally, the guards would also need to be provided by the military. A squad of six (or possibly eight) NCO's from the Corps of Military Police (a.k.a. Red Caps) were duly chosen and sent to Wandsworth Prison. Their identities, for the most part, remain a mystery. All of the Red Caps on the squad were sworn to secrecy at the end of their assignment but, with the passage of time, a few details have emerged.

RQMS Alfred Edward Watling
Alfred Watling was born in 1908 to William Watling and Florence Ada Etheridge. In 1918, Alfred's father, a Corporal in the Border Regiment, was killed in France. Young Alfred joined th…

Deciphering MI5 Documents

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When I first laid eyes on the declassified MI5 documents on Josef Jakobs, I was completely lost. One almost needs to be a cipher expert to decipher some of these documents. Over the years, I've become much more familiar with the terminology, the different divisions of MI5 and MI6, as well as the cast of characters who wrote the documents. It is now relatively easy for me to identify the signatures of the main cast of characters, to easily recognize that B2a means Thomas Argyll Robertson, as does T.A.R.

It's sort of like deciphering the codes used on WWI Medal Cards... but those are a bit easier as there are usually helpful folk out there who have created an abbreviation key.

Part of the issue with MI5 is that it went through restructuring in 1940/41. The divisional codes changed... and it's as well-documented as with the medal cards.


Here's a document from Robin William George Stephens, Commandant of Camp 020 MI5, also known as Latchmere House (B.L. - formerly B8(L)). …

Adventures in Book Publishing - Episode 1

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For the last 5 years, or perhaps slightly longer (if we include research time), I've been working on a book that tells the tale of Josef's life. It's been a tough slog sometimes, and the manuscript has gone through numerous permutations and revisions.

I do think that I finally have something that is moderately presentable and ready to be shared in some fashion. The question is... how?

Self Publish
There are umpteen publishers/printers out there who will happily help you to publish your book. Lulu.com and Blurb.com both come to mind as I've used them to publish some personal family history books. There is a bewildering array: cover design, editing, epub, ISBN, barcodes, etc.

There are also "vanity" publishers out there, but that doesn't really seem like a satisfactory option for Josef's story.

Get a Literary Agent
Everything I've read says that if you want to go the traditional route in publishing a book, you need a literary agent. Given that the co…

Follow-up to Double Agent GOOSE/GANDER

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N.B. I posted a blog in April 2019 with new information that seems to confirm his real name was Kurt Karl Goose
Back in December 2015, I wrote a blog post about Double Agent GANDER who descended by parachute near the village of Bozeat. I had discovered the recollections of John E. Forth (the son of the police officer involved in the capture of the spy) on the Village of Bozeat website and incorporated the information into the blog.

I also wrote to the webmaster of the Village of Bozeat website, sharing the information I had discovered and asking if someone could put me in touch with John E. Forth. The editor of the Bozeat Matters newsletter contacted me and... the story was included in their March 2016 newsletter. We'll see if it generates any leads.

The newsletter can be viewed here - click on the March 2016 newsletter and then the margins of the pages to "turn" pages. The story is on page 43.