Author Topic: A German spy in Colney Heath!  (Read 4674 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline epiphany

  • Opinions on most things
  • ****
  • Posts: 708
  • Thanked: 77 times
A German spy in Colney Heath!
« on: April 06, 2013, 01:28:22 pm »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/35/a4421035.shtml

I have not heard about this before and thought it might be of interest.

Cherry Green Trees is a guide camp in Roestock Lane, Colney Heath just behind Roundhouse Farm
and marked as Johnson's Spring on O/S maps just outside North Mymms parish.
What a spy might of found of interest locally I do not know - perhaps De Havilland at Hatfield might
have been a target?

During the Battle of Britain according to the Cherry Green Trees history section on their website a German pilot baled out of his crashing plane and sheltered in Cherry Woods.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 01:58:28 pm by epiphany »
 

Offline epiphany

  • Opinions on most things
  • ****
  • Posts: 708
  • Thanked: 77 times
Re: A German spy in Colney Heath!
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2013, 04:13:23 pm »
More on Karel Richter including original MI5 report - fascinating! Apparently he was only 'at large' for two days.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/homefront/spies/richter/default.htm
 

Offline trekbat

  • Opinions on most things
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • Thanked: 18 times
  • Forum Member
Re: A German spy in Colney Heath!
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2013, 04:36:02 pm »
It's disappointing that the Beeb have published this account without apparently checking the facts.

"We quickly came out to think the situation over. Being war time there were no vagabonds, tramps etc around so who could be living there?"

I would think during wartime there would be a number of people living rough apart from those mentioned above - they wouldn't have disappeared during a war, and there would also likely to be draft dodgers and deserters.

"At the farm the farmer pointed to his phone and gave me the police phone number..."A week or two later, I think it was in a St Albans newspaper, that a spy had been caught."

Seems improbable that an adult on hearing children alerting them to a possible spy / saboteur would simply point them to the phone without investigating or calling the police themselves. Also, captured spies were usually tried to be 'turned' so it seems unlikely that they would release news of their capture at a secluded location that quickly.

"a German spy caught in Tyttenhanger Park, London Colney on 14th c. Karel Richard Richter. He had been dropped by parachute on 13th May 1941 and was caught by the Home Guard and taken to Tess Road Police Station. There was no doubt whatsoever that this was 'our' spy, the date and place were right and naturally the Home Guard had been alerted by the police and succeeded in the capture."

Again it seems unlikely that Police would just depend on the Home Guard, a full search using regular Army units and local forces like the Home Guard was more likely.

Official accounts of the capture of Karel Richter (some sources refer to him as Karl Richter) give a much simpler version of events - he broke cover and his accent excited suspicion, leading to a report to the Police and his capture / surrender to them.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/homefront/spies/pdf/richter.pdf


"my cousin who was a Security Guard at the Tower of London said many years ago a company were making a film which included spies shot at the Tower, and he was asked to sit on a chair, with lots of gun holes in it. This he did. So we wondered was Richter shot and not hung and this was the actual chair he died in."


I'm not an expert on military executions but unless they had a leg injury it seems odd that they would be seated ("Are you seated comfortably? Right, then we'll begin..."). Most film depictions suggest standing tied to a stake or against a brick wall. Although during WWII hanging was also used.

"In his autobiography, Albert Pierrepoint recalls how one of these spies gave him and the warders a serious fight in the condemned cell. He refers to this man as Otto Schmidt but in fact it was Karl Richter whom he executed on the 10th of December 1941."
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/wands.html

While I don't know how reliable this site is, I do recall reading a similar version of his fate published in the reputable 'After the Battle' magazine(http://www.afterthebattle.com/) ie. he was hung not shot.
 

Offline trekbat

  • Opinions on most things
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • Thanked: 18 times
  • Forum Member
Re: A German spy in Colney Heath!
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 01:06:30 am »
There are indications that execution by firing squad was more favoured in WWI than in WWII (but not always at dawn or standing up - I suppose, in a confined area, it would make sense to have the bullets travelling on a downward trajectory into the ground to avoid ricochets so it would help if the prisoner was at a lower level ie. seated).

"Between 1914 and 1916, eleven German spies were imprisoned to await their death. By firing squad, either in the 'shed of death' (the miniature rifle range - since demolished), or strapped to the 'killing chair' and despatched in the castle moat...Another fourteen German spies were hanged, either at London's Pentonville or Wandsworth prisons, during the Second World War. [according Leonard Sellers' 'Shot in the Tower', eleven spies were shot at the Tower of London]"
http://www.culture24.org.uk/history%20%26%20heritage/war%20%26%20conflict/tra14025

Also, tried googling 'Tess Road Police Station' and there were no hits. Nor were there any hits on 'Tess Road' when I tried searching for it on Streetmap.com.
 

Tags: