Englandspiel Tragedy

The Englandspiel was a counter-espionage operation set up by the Germans that lasted from March 1942 to April 1944. Secret agents of the SOE who had been dropped over the Netherlands were often arrested immediately upon landing and forced to maintain radio contact with England. Despite hidden warnings in their broadcast messages, British intelligence continued to send secret agents, eventually over 50 of them were murdered in captivity. The majority in Mauthausen.

Churchill had set up the SOE in 1940 to “set Europe ablaze”, by helping the resistance movements in occupied countries. At its peak it had some 10,000 men and 3,200 women working for it, running agents and arranging resistance and sabotage behind enemy lines. The organisation had many successes, especially in France, but it had some failures, of which the disaster in the Netherlands was by far the worst.

Recently released records show that poor leadership of the Dutch section of SOE sowed the seeds of disaster. In the vital period Major Charles Blizard, who used the codename “Blunt”, headed the Dutch section, though he was replaced by a Major Bingham.

Under SOE’s “Plan for Holland” agents started to be dropped into the Netherlands in 1941. Among one of the first teams parachuted in, on a November night, was Thijs Taconis, a trained saboteur, and his wireless operator, Hubert Lauwers. The German security police then penetrated the embryonic Dutch underground movement and a stool pigeon informed on Lauwers, who was captured early in March 1942.

Portrait of secret agent Thijs Taconis, killed by the Englandspiel.
Born March 28, 1914 in Rotterdam. Sent by SOE, parachuted and arrested March 9, 1942. Died September 6, 1944 at Mauthausen.

He was forced to transmit messages to England, but was confident that SOE in London would spot a false security check. Unfortunately it did not. Shortly afterwards it told him to receive another agent. “Watercress” arrived on 27 March. He was captured and the process went on as further agents arrived. The lack of radio security checks was ignored by SOE in London. It was even stupid enough to radio back to one operator: “You ought to use your security checks,” thereby alerting the Germans to the existence of such checks.

The German operation was called Englandspiel – the England Game – and its chief strategist was Lieutenant Colonel H J Giskes. He reported daily to Hitler through Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr – German intelligence. By April 1943 the Germans controlled 18 radio channels back to London.

H.J Giskes

For about 15 months, SOE’s Dutch section planned the creation of resistance in Netherlands , recruiting and training agents, sending and receiving intelligence and other wireless traffic, the dispatch of supply-laden aircraft, all the time confident that a vigorous underground movement was being built.

A memo of May 1943 says: “The sabotage organisation as planned is now complete. It comprises five groups containing 62 cells and totalling some 420 men. These groups are now well equipped with stores and are ready for action.”

In reality the entire operation was compromised. The files reveal that, up to October 1943, SOE sent 56 agents to the Netherlands of which 43 were given a “reception” by the Germans. Of the 56 only eight survived. Of those captured 36 were executed in September 1944, at Mauthausen concentration camp. Eleven RAF aircraft were shot down in the process. (A later War Cabinet note observed that RAF losses on these missions had been “abnormally high”.)

The phoney network was finally revealed to London after the escape from Haaren concentration camp in August 1943 of two SOE agents, Pieter Diepenbroek and Johan Ubbink – “Sprout” and “Chive”.

Files in the Public Record Office contain the debriefings of “Sprout” and “Chive”, which make clear that the Germans had controlled the Dutch “Underground” movement for more than 18 months.

The Germans realised that their double-cross network had been blown. Giskes signed off with this message to London on April Fool’s Day 1944:

“Messrs, Blunt, Bingham and Successors, Ltd. London. In the last time you are trying to make business in the Netherlands without our assistance. We think this rather unfair in view of our long and successful co-operation as your sole agents. But never mind, when you come to pay a visit to the Continent you may be assured that you will be received with the same care and result as all those you sent before. So long!”

The files also show the courageous “Sprout” and “Chive” were locked up in Brixton Prison upon their return to London in case they were German double agents.

“Sprout” and “Chive” were convinced that the Germans had help from Major Bingham, then the Dutch section’s head. “No one else was in such a good position to `play ball’ with the enemy,” Chive told his MI5 interviewers.

The British author of the memo was clearly angered by the assertion. The two had had the temerity to make an allegations against a British officer, “which it is fair to say they have failed to substantiate”. The two were later released and allowed to join the Dutch Armed Forces.

The SOE post-mortem examination shows that serious doubts had been raised about the network as early as July 1942 but the warning had been ignored by the section’s chief. “Not only, however, does there appear to have been a failure to look the facts squarely in the face but also failure when suspicion had once been aroused to test suspicions.”

England game. Interception of dropped weapons. SD men Hahn and Eenstroth look over the dumped containers with illegal weapons, which were dropped by the RAF shortly before.

Major Blizard had gone by the time of the denouement. Major Bingham was posted Australia.

The Germans’ chief gain from the fiasco was that until just before D- day they thwarted all attempts to build a Dutch resistance movement into Allied plans and to equip it ready for action.

Several files on the SOE in the Netherlands are still withheld.

Below are just some of those brave men. These few were all murdered in Mauthausen on September 6,1944.

Portrait of secret agent Klaas van der Bor, killed by the Englandspiel.
Born: May 24, 1913. Broadcast by: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 16, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen
Portrait of Roelof Christiaan Jongelie, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 25 February 1903 in Amsterdam. Broadcast : SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachute and arrest : September 24, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Leonardus Cornelis Theodoris Andriega, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: November 22, 1913 in The Hague. Broadcast : SOE. Parachute : March 29, 1942. Arrest : April 28, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 at Mauthausen
Portrait of Charles Hofstede, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: December 17, 1918, The Hague. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachute and arrest : October 24, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 Mauthausen.
Portrait of Aart Hendrik Alblas, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: September 20, 1918, Middelharnis. Broadcast: MI-6/CID. Parachute : 5 July 1941. Arrest : 16 July 1942. Died : 6 September 1944 Mauthausen.
Portrait of Willem van der Wilder, killed by the Englandspiel
Born : July 1, 1910 in Kelichem. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 18, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Pieter van der Wilden, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 8 May 1914 in Haarlem. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 18, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Johannes Cornelis Buizer, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: September 11, 1918 in Almkerk. Broadcast: SOE. Parachuting and arrest: June 22, 1942. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Gerard van Os, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 2 May 1914, broadcast by: SOE/Plan-Holland, parachuting and arrest: 18 February 1943, died: 6 September 1944 in Mauthausen
Portrait of Jan Emmer, killed by the Englandspiel
Jan Emmer had escaped to England by boat in the autumn of 1941. He became a secret agent and was sent across the North Sea with Felix Ortt by the group Hazelhoff Roelfzema (Soldier of Orange).
Born: April 8, 1917 in Wormer. Broadcast by: MI-6/Contact Holland. Deposed March 12, 1942. Arrest: May 30, 1942. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.

The fifty Dutch SOE agents that had been captured by the Germans were transported to Mauthausen concentration camp in September 1944 as allied military forces were advancing into the Netherlands, and eventually executed. Giskes, the Abwehr mastermind of Englandspiel, was arrested by the British, but after the war was employed by the United States during the occupation of Germany.

Some of the officials of the Dutch government-in-exile in London refused to cooperate with SOE when the details of Englandspiel became known to them. They were ordered to do so by the Dutch Prince Bernhard, and a fresh start was made in mid-to-late 1944 under new leadership at SOE. Twenty-five well equipped and trained sabotage teams of two Dutch agents each were parachuted into the Netherlands. However, engendered by Englandspiel the British distrusted the Dutch resistance which prevented it from having an impact in Operation Market Garden, the unsuccessful offensive by allied military forces in the Netherlands in September 1944. The spearhead of the British forces, the First British Airborne Division, was ordered not to cooperate with the resistance. Had it not been ignored, the resistance would have been helpful in providing badly needed intelligence and communications to the division which had to be withdrawn from the battlefield after heavy losses.

Conspiracy theories in the Netherlands alleged that a traitor in SOE caused the Englandspiel and that Dutch agents were sacrificed to conceal allied plans for an invasion of the Netherlands. “For many, it was simply impossible to fathom how the devastation caused by das Englandspiel could have been the result of stupidity and ineptness. “The contrary and more accepted view of M.R.D Foot is that “the agents were victims of sound police work on the German side, assisted by Anglo-Dutch incompetence in London.”

sources

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/spy-fiasco-cost-britain-50-agents-1199631.html

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Englandspiel

https://europeremembers.com/story/engelandvaarders-and-das-englandspiel/

Odette Hallowes—Tortured and Starved in Ravensbrück—and Survived

This is one of those amazing stories of resilience and perseverance.

Odette Sansom, aka Odette Churchill and Odette Hallowes, code name Lise, was an agent for the United Kingdom’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) in France during World War II.

She was born on 28 April 1912 in Amiens, France.

She met an Englishman, Roy Patrick Sansom, in Boulogne and married him in Boulogne-sur-Mer on 27 October 1931, moving with him to Britain. The couple had three daughters, Françoise Edith, born in 1932 in Boulogne; Lili M, born in 1934 in Fulham; and Marianne O, born in 1936 in Fulham. Mr Sansom joined the army at the beginning of the second world war, and Odette Sansom and the children moved to Somerset for their safety.

In the spring of 1942, the Admiralty appealed for postcards or family photographs taken on the French coastline for possible war use. Hearing the broadcast, Odette wrote that she had photographs taken around Boulogne, but she mistakenly sent her letter to the War Office instead of the Admiralty. That brought her to the attention of Colonel Maurice Buckmaster’s Special Operations Executive.

Odette was recruited as a courier for the SPINDLE circuit of Special Operations Executive. She was a wife and mother of three who didn’t drink, smoke or swear, and to the casual observer, she was quite ordinary, perhaps even boring. Yet, she was a trained killer. She feared neither danger nor dagger—interrogation nor torture. She didn’t think twice about confronting German generals or commandants and often placed principle before prudence. Like her colleagues in the SOE, she signed up for the war knowing that arrest (and execution) was a very real possibility—a fate that awaited almost one in two for F Section (France) couriers.

She was betrayed by a double agent, Colonel Henri, in April 1943. Colonel Henri was a German officer who claimed he wished to work for the allies. Despite, Odette’s suspicions, his involvement led to her arrest.

Arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo, she was sent with fellow SOE agent Peter Churchill (no relation to the Prime Minister) to Fresnes Prison in Paris. At Fresnes, she was interrogated and tortured 14 times by the Gestapo, including having her toenails torn out, her back scorched by a red hot poker, and locked in a dark basement for 3 days at a time. During the interrogation she lied to the Gestapo agents saying Peter Churchill was her husband and the nephew of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to make the Germans believe she was a relative of Winston Churchill then she’d be kept alive as a bargaining tool.

In 1943, she was sentenced to death twice, to which she responded, “Then you will have to make up your mind on what count I am to be executed because I can only die once.” Infuriated, the Gestapo agent sent her to Ravensbruck Camp. At Ravensbruck, she was kept on a starvation diet in a cell where other prisoners could be heard being beaten. After D-Day, all food was removed for a week, all light was blocked from her cell, and the heat was turned up. She was expected to die after a few weeks but instead only fell unconscious and was relocated to solitary confinement. As a child she’d been blind and bedridden from serious illnesses for three-and-a-half years, so the darkness didn’t bother her, and as she was considered a difficult child (likely due to her illnesses) during her convent education, she was used to starvation punishments. As the Allies approached Ravensbruck, the commandant drove her to a nearby American base to surrender, hoping to use Odette as a bargaining tool to escape execution.

She testified against the prison guards charged with war crimes at the 1946 Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials, which resulted in Suhren’s execution in 1950. Roy and Odette’s marriage was dissolved in 1946 and she married Peter Churchill in 1947.

Despite her appalling treatment, she was not over-consumed with bitterness. Instead, after the war, she worked for various charities seeking to lessen the war pain for others. For her service, she was awarded the George Cross. Her humility meant she was not keen on accepting the award, but she did accept it on behalf of all agents who suffered during the war. She briefly married, Peter Churchill, before marrying her third husband, Geoffrey Hallowes. She died in 1995 aged 83.

sources

https://www.biographyonline.net/military/odette-sanson.html

https://time.com/5502645/decorated-wwii-spy-odette/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odette_Hallowes#Recruited_by_SOE

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The raid on Berck-sur-Mer

raid

You have to give it to the Brits, they don’t give up. Regardless how dire the outlook they will come up with daring stuff to overcome their struggle.

As it was the case in June 1941. They appear to be fighting the Germans on their own, Heavily outnumbered they had to come up with innovative ideas to fight the enemy. The British army send in a group of commandos assisted by French resistance on a raid on raid on Berck-sur-Mer in France.

The raid was highly successful. Media across the world reported on this daring action.

One newspaper article reported on June 18,1941 “One party of parachutists, heavily armed with Tommy guns and hand grenades, overpowered the airfield guards, rushed the control room and seized its occupants,”

New York Herald­ Tribune and New York Post, 18.6.41, repeated on WRUL.
“An amazing and daring raid by the British on a Nazi airport in the Northern
French town of Berck-­sur­-Mer. According to the Zurich correspondent of the
Herald Tribune, a detail of British parachutists landed on the airport,
overpowered forty German troops and pilots stationed there, and destroyed 30
planes. Joined by a number of Frenchmen who wanted to join the Free French
Forces of General de Gaulle, the British raiding party then made their way to
the nearby seashore, where naval motor boats were waiting to take them back
to England. The attack occurred during a heavy RAF raid on the coastal ports
of Calais and Boulogne and caught the Nazis flatfooted. Forty prisoners were
taken.”

It was believed by everyone except by the 40 prisoners, because it never happened.

The whole raid was a made up story. It was a genius bit of fake news WWII style. The man behind it was Canadian born Brit William Stephenson. Stephenson was the head of the SOE operating from New York, His job was to draw the Americans into war by propaganda. The  on Berck-sur-Mer in France was designated Sib 766.The ‘news’ wenet from London to New York, from New York to Zürich, from Zürich bakd to New York after that Stephenson’s team sent out to Dr Jan Loewenbach  the press attache at the exiled Czechoslovak government’s  consulate in New York, just to put the cherry on the cake and make it look completely genuine. The dirty news had been laundered and it was believed.

There were many more to follow. Ironically I recently saw an article in the Guardian Newspaper where they were remembering this ‘daring raid’ there was no mention that had had never actually happened.

william

The story of William Stephenson and his efforts to drag the US into war is written in a very interesting book by Henry Hemming titled “Our Man in New York: The British Plot to Bring America into the Second World War”

 

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http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/paratroop-raid-on-berck-sur-mer.59053/

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=eVyGDwAAQBAJ&rdid=book-eVyGDwAAQBAJ&rdot=1&source=gbs_vpt_read&pcampaignid=books_booksearch_viewport

 

Goldeneye-James Bond in WWII

naval-commander-ian-fleming

I have to confess that the title is actually deceiving, because this blog is not about James Bond as such but more about 007’s creator, Ian Fleming, and some of his WWII efforts. Looking at some of the operations it appears that his inspiration for James Bond may have partially come from himself.

In May 1939 Fleming was recruited by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, Director of  the Naval Intelligence  Division of the Royal Navy, to become his personal assistant. He joined the organisation full-time in August 1939,with the codename “17F”, and worked out of Room 39 at The Admiralty.

800px-Old_Admiralty_Building_2

Ian Fleming was soon involved in several WWII operations.

Operation Ruthless

Operation Ruthless was the name of a deception operation devised by Ian Fleming in the British Admiralty during World War II, in an attempt to gain access to German Naval Enigma code books.

In conjunction The code breakers at Bletchley Park, working on the highly secret German Enigma traffic, were having difficulty breaking into the German Naval signals. It was suggested that directly obtaining German Naval code tables would be the the fastest method of making progress.

code breakers

In effect this meant capturing a German Naval unit with the code material intact. Fleming proposed a scheme to do just this:

“TOP SECRET.
For Your Eyes Only.
12 September 1940.
To: Director Naval Intelligence
From: Ian Fleming

Operation Ruthless

I suggest we obtain the loot by the following means:

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.

In order to increase the chances of capturing an R or M [Räumboot – a small minesweeper; Minensuchboot – a large minesweeper] with its richer booty, the crash might be staged in mid-Channel.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101II-M2KBK-249-32_Frankreich_M-Boot_auf_See-595x383

The Germans would presumably employ one of this type for the longer and more hazardous journey.

NB. Since attackers will be wearing enemy uniform, they will be liable to be shot as franc-tireurs if captured, and incident might be fruitful field for propaganda. Attackers’ story will therefore be that it was done for a lark by a group of young hot-heads who thought the war was too tame and wanted to have a go at the Germans. They had stolen the plane and equipment and had expected to get into trouble when they got back. This will prevent suspicions that party was after more valuable booty than a rescue boat.”

Operation Goldeneye

Operation Goldeneye was an Allied plan during the Second World War, which was to monitor Spain after a possible alliance between Francisco Franco and the Axis powers, and to undertake sabotage operations. The plan was formed by Commander Ian Fleming

With no German takeover of Spain or invasion of Gibraltar, the plan was closed in 1943.

Map_of_Gibraltar_in_World_War_II

The object of the operation, was to ensure that the UK would still be able to communicate with Gibraltar in the event Spain joined the Axis powers. The plan also incorporated elements for the defense of Gibraltar had the Germans invaded through Spain.

Ultimately General  Franco , Spain’s dictator, declined to join the Axis powers, Adolf Hitler having refused to give Gibraltar and French North Africa to Spain after these had been seized.

Fleming later dubbed his Jamaican estate “Goldeneye”, and began writing his series of James Bond novels there.The name was also used for the title of the seventeenth James Bond film, GoldenEye starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond.

GoldenEye-02

30 Assault Unit

In Sep 1942, the Director of Naval Intelligence authorised the formation of the Special Intelligence Unit, composed of 33 (Royal Marines) Troop, 34 (Army) Troop, 35 (RAF) Troop and 36 (Royal Navy) Troop. The Special Intelligence Unit was later renamed 30 RN Commando (Special Engineering Unit), and was redesignated 30 Assault Unit in December 1943.

B Troop_33RM Section 30AU Jan 45

The unit was formed by Ian Fleming.

Fleming did not fight in the field with the unit, but selected targets and directed operations from the rear.[41] On its formation the unit was thirty strong, but it grew to five times that size.[42] The unit was filled with men from other commando units, and trained in unarmed combat, safe-cracking and lock-picking at the SOE facilities.

_66214436_naziflag624 (1)

Operation Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

bang_bang

I am just having a bit of fun here, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was never a WWII operation, however what many people don’t know this was the last book Ian Fleming ever wrote. But how cool would it have bnne if there actually had been an “Opertaion Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” The screen play for the movie was written by another WWII hero and legendary author, Roald Dahl.

DAHL

Fleming had first mentioned to friends during the war that he wanted to write a spy novel, an ambition he achieved within two months with Casino Royale. He started writing the book at Goldeneye on 17 February 1952, gaining inspiration from his own experiences and imagination.

007

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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Sources

BBC

ww2today