secret war



August 1941

The last execution in the Tower of London

Most spies and traitors were hanged at Wandsworth Prison during the war. The decision to execute Jakobs by Firing Squad at the Tower appears to be because he was still suffering from his injuries – he could not stand up. He was blindfolded and placed in a chair for the execution – the officer in charge gave a silent signal to the Firing Squad and he was shot dead.



February 1941

First British Airborne Raid

Plans for the men to be evacuated by submarine had to be abandoned when the rendezvous site was compromised, and the plan had made no provision for an alternative rendezvous point. In any event the the escaping men, who travelled in four groups, found it extremely difficult to travel covertly across country in a landscape packed with small farms. They were all soon captured.



December 1940

German Spies executed at Pentonville Prison

The first executions under the Treason Act took place on 10th December 1940. Jose Waldberg, 25, a German national, and Karl Heinrich Meier, 24, a Dutchman of German origin, were hung at Pentonville Prison following their conviction at the Old Bailey in November.



November 1940

Surprise LRDG attack in the desert

To us now this seems an obvious role for Special Forces; however, at the time it was something of an epiphany. Bagnold’s patrols had covered 1,300 miles completely self-contained. They had impressed everyone, and even the most doubtful of their critics hud hegun to see what possibilities there were the exposed southern flank — which was thought to he quite impenetruhle — could he used with impunity hy the LRDG.



September 1940

Ian Fleming proposes 'Operation Ruthless'

1. Obtain from Air Ministry an air-worthy German bomber.
2. Pick a tough crew of five, including a pilot, W/T operator and word-perfect German speaker. Dress them in German Air Force Uniform, add blood and bandages to suit.
3. Crash Plane in the Channel after making SOS to rescue service.
4. Once aboard rescue boat, shoot German crew, dump overboard, bring rescue boat back to English port.



July 1945

USS Indianapolis torpedoed – 900 men in the water

By then we were in very bad shape. The kapok life jacket becomes waterlogged. It’s good for about 48 hours. We sunk lower down in the water and you had to think about keeping your face out of water. I knew we didn’t have very long to go. The men were semicomatose. We were all on the verge of dying when suddenly this plane flew over. I’m here today because someone on that plane had a sore neck. He went to fix the aerial and got a stiff neck and lay down in the blister underneath. While he was rubbing his neck he saw us.