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Showing posts from November, 2017

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Germany's Medium Bomber - Heinkel HE 111

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Last year, I wrote a post on the Heinkel 11 (HE 111), an aircraft developed in Germany in the mid-1930s as a civilian transport machine. Given the prohibitions against rearmament placed on Germany after WW1, the designers of the aircraft did an end-run by creating an aircraft that could ultimately be used as a fast medium bomber during WW2.

You can read my original post for more information on the HE 111's role in delivering spies over the shores of England. In this post, I want to share some videos I've come across that give a sense of the aircraft.

The last flying version of the HE 111, a CASA 2.111 developed by the Spanish under license, was owned by the Commemorative Air Force and crashed in Wyoming in 2003 killing both pilots.

Four actual HE 111's (not CASA 2.111s) remain (none flyable): one in Spain, two in Norway and one in Hendon, England.


The first video - He 111 Heinkel Bomber Tour and Flight Demo - was filmed in 1997 and is of the last flying HE 111. If you rea…

Another Clue in the Hunt for Robin William George Stephens

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I had a comment on one of my Stephens blogs the other day from Stephen D. Stephen had tracked down a London Gazette notice dated 22 May 1942 relating to the second "wife" of Robin Stephens.

It would appear that Joan Geraldine Pearson Dowling may not have married Robin Stephens, but simply undergone a legal surname change in 1942. This would explain why I have been unable to trace a marriage registration for Joan and Robin.
The Gazette entry states:
NOTICE is hereby given that JOAN GERALDINE
PEARSON DOWLING of 36 Grafton Street, Lincoln
a natural born British subject intends after the
expiration of twenty-one days from the date of
publication hereof to assume the name of Joan
Geraldine Pearson Stephens.—Dated 19th May 1942.
     CHARLES ROBINSON and SON, 2, Lampton
(042) Road, Hounslow, Solicitors. This discovery solves one lingering mystery. Still chipping away at the mystery of Robin Stephens' death registration (date, location, circumstances, etc.). Thanks to Stephen …

The Disappointing West Mercia Police Files on Bella in the Wych Elm

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Last month, I ordered the West Mercia Police files on the Bella in the Wych Elm case. The price was a bit steep but... the idea of actually being able to access historical documents on the case was too tempting. The archivist at the Worcestershire County Archives admitted that the files contained quite a bit of duplication. That is a bit of an understatement!

So, here's what you get for £250...

ITV Crimestalkers VHS recording - 1994 - 10 minutes
"Uses a mix of acted reconstructions, interviews with witnesses, still images, World War II film and commentary by Mr John Stalker to tell the story of the discovery of the remains of a woman's body in a wych elm in Hagley Woods and speculate on possible course of events which led to the woman's death. Reconstruction of the events surrounding the discovery of the body with interviews with Bob Farmer and Bob Hart, two of the boys who discovered the body. Exploration of the witchcraft ritual angle including interview with Terry …

The New and Improved Wandsworth Prison Museum

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Back in 2008, the Duke of Kent cut the ribbon on the official opening of the Wandsworth Prison Museum. The tiny museum, tucked in an old garage was stuffed to the ceiling with artifacts and documents from the more than 150 year history of  Wandsworth Prison.

The volunteer curator, a serving prison officer named Stewart McLaughlin, has tended the museum and its artifacts before and after that date.

In 2014, the museum shuttered its doors for several years while plans were put in motion for an expanded museum. Earlier this year, the new museum finally opened its doors.

Located off on Heathfield Road, in the north parking lot, the new building is much more spacious. Unfortunately, due to limited resources and the voluntary nature of the curator's position, the museum is only open by appointment. On the other hand, several Open House events have taken place since the museum reopened and there is always the potential for more.

I asked Stewart if he could send me some photographs of th…

London Bus Route 11 - Favourite Bus of Spies

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The title of this blog is a bit of a stretch... it's hard to say if Route #11 was the favourite bus of spies but it was definitely the route that showed up twice in the MI5 files (so far).

When double agent TATE (Wulf Schmidt) radioed the German Abwehr in Hamburg that he desperately needed more money, they suggested a complicated rendezvous on Route #11 which involved Victoria Station. TATE replied that Route 11 didn't pass by Victoria (rather strange as it most certainly did) and suggested Route 16 instead.

Around the same time, in early 1941, undiscovered spy, Engelbertus Fukken was taking Route #11 from Liverpool Station to Ludgate Circus and back. The tickets for his journey were found amongst his possessions after his suicide in an air raid shelter in Cambridge in late March 1941.

MI5 made enquiries and learned that the tickets actually had quite a bit of information contained within them:

Ticket #7974 (2d) - This ticket was issued on the 10th., March 1941, on a Route 11 …