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Showing posts from March, 2017

Media Review - Spy! - Episode 2: Camp 020 - 1980

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BBC - Spy! Episode 2: Camp 020 (1980)

Original Air Date - 20 January 1980
TV Series - Spy!

Duration - 47:00 minutes

Director - John Bird

A few years ago, I read snippets from Christopher Andrew's authorized history of MI5 (The Defence of the Realm). At the time, I was digging into background information on Lt. Colonel Robin William George Stephens.  Andrews noted that: "In 1980, ten former members of the secretarial staff at Camp 020 (some of whom had worked there from its opening in July 1940 to its closure at the end of the war) made a "vigorous' public protest at the BBC's portrayal of Tin-Eye Stephens of MI5 as a violent bully:

 'In fact the Commandant, though of terrifying aspect, was a skilled interrogator who obtained results without recourse to assault and battery. Indeed, the very basis of Camp 020 procedure was that nobody raised a hand against a prisoner. ... In sum, the Commandant's behaviour towards his officers, secretarial staff, guard t…

BS Historian Blog and Blank Rounds

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I came across a WordPress blog yesterday entitled the BS Historian - Sceptical Commentary on Pseudohistory and the Paranormal. I'll leave it to everyone's imagination as to what "BS" stands for. The anonymous author of the blog wrote a post on: Conscience Bullets – Firing Squads and the use of blank cartridges.

The blog author mentions Josef's execution and states that "There is no evidence to suggest that a blank cartridge was used in Jakobs’ case."

I don't agree with that statement as I do think there is a fair bit of commentary that indicates that was indeed the case. One of my blog posts looked at the British Procedure for Military Executions by Firing Squad, a document which states that two blank rounds were to be used.

The reasoning behind some rounds being blank was thought to be that it afforded each member of the firing squad a bit of doubt - "did I really fire the lethal round?". This worked well in the days of muskets when th…

Pervitin in Josef Jakobs' Pocket

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A book came out last year, written by a German author, that outlines the widespread use of drugs in the Third Reich. One of the main drugs was Pervitin, whose active ingredient is methamphetamine - today known as crystal meth.

I had come across suggestions of this before, that the German troops favoured methamphetamine while the American troops favoured benzedrine. Both drugs helped soldiers to stay awake, focused their attention and just helped them to perform at a higher level.

Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany goes even farther though and notes that Pervitin was seen as something of a wonder drug and was taken by housewives, truck drivers, train conductors and even Adolf Hitler.

"While Adolf Hitler allowed the world to believe he was a teetotaller who didn’t even touch coffee, a man who had thrown his last cigarettes into the Danube, the reality was that he was a super-junkie, addicted to cocaine, the heroin-like eukodal, and a toxic cocktail of narcotics s…

The India General Service Medal of Robin William George (a.k.a. Tin-Eye) Stephens

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It's been a while since I wrote a post on Lt. Col. Robin William George Stephens, a.k.a. Tin-Eye Stephens, fearsome former commandant of MI5s secret wartime interrogation centre, Camp 020.

I have, through this blog and my website, made contact with a distant relative of Stephens. Together, I'm hoping that we might crack the case of Stephen's death and place of burial.

In the meantime, I contacted the author of the 2014 Medal News article who has Stephens' India General Service Medal. I thought that perhaps tracing the history of the medal might lead us closer to Stephens himself. The author of the Medal News article bought the medal in the 1990s from a dealer in Norfolk.

Information that accompanied the medal indicated that "it was formerly in the collection of a well-known collector, Colonel Kingsley Foster and sold by Glendining (formerly a leading London dealer) in December 1971. Quite likely Foster acquired the medal directly from Stephens."

That seemed …

P.S. to the Paranormal surrounding Bella in the Wych Elm

Two local newspapers (Dudley News and Hales Owen News) from the West Midlands in the UK, recently carried the same article about the HD Paranormal investigation into Bella in the Wych Elm. See my blog post from Friday March3...

Both articles note:Jayne has also been in touch with the grand-daughter of Josef Jakobs - a German spy and the last man to be executed at the Tower of London after he was captured parachuting into the UK in 1941.

She said: "He had a photo with him of a lady who matched ‘Bella's’ description, named Clarabella, and claimed she was a spy and that he was supposed to meet her in the West Midlands.” The articles contains a few factual errors.  First off, I was never contacted by Jayne and therefore the "She said:" in the second paragraph does not refer to myself.

The photo Josef had on his person was of Clara Bauerle (not Clarabella) who was described as being a "tall" woman by Josef and another spy who knew her. Given that Bella i…

Terra Incerta Blog on The Fatal Chair

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A few days ago, Kit Ward sent me a link to his blog on the chair used at Josef's execution. He drew on my website and blog for a lot of the information and got most of the details correct.

It's always nice when people touch base before, or after, posting a blog. Even nicer when they have a link back to my website and blog.

The chair is obviously an evocative image that speaks for itself without needing a lot of words.



The Paranormal Side of Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm

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Yup, more Bella in the Wych Elm. It seems that this story will never rest. HD Paranormal is raising funds for a film on Bella using previously classified police and MI5 records. You can check out their page here.

They have naturally latched onto the idea that Bella is actually Clara Bauerle, the German cabaret singer who mysteriously "disappeared" in 1941. Despite the fact that I tracked down Clara's death registration in Berlin (she died December 16, 1942 of veronal poisoning), several people have questioned whether this might not just be a cover up. I guess if one is a conspiracy theorist, then one can find conspiracies and cover-ups wherever one looks.

Given that Bella's body is MIA and that there is very little information on either Clara or Bella... it is rather easy to create all sorts of juicy stories.

I've said all I'm going to say about Bella not being Clara. Dig around in this blog and you'll find it all. I was asked to participate in the HD Pa…