Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, July 6, 2014


The story of German spies in Britain is without doubt a story of woe and failure.  Laughably unprepared agents were being inserted into Britain and most were captured within days if not sooner.  However there is one exception.
In the spring of 1939 Eddie Chapman was facing 40 counts of burglary.  He loved explosives, and used his knowledge to blow numerous safes throughout London.  He then shifted his attentions to Scotland where his luck ran out and he was arrested.  However using his remarkable charm and charisma he managed to get bail.  Of course it will come as no surprise that he immediately jumped his bail.  Grabbing his fiancée they took a flight to the Channel Islands, and booked themselves on a boat to South America.

The boat was due to leave the following day, so Chapman and his fiancée headed out for lunch.  As they ate Chapman spotted two policemen closing.  He simply rose, kissed his date goodbye and dived head first out of the closed window.  A chase down the beach then followed, but Chapman managed to give the police the slip.

Then he made a decision that would change the rest of his life, he carried out a rushed and ill planned burglary.  When he was caught he was sentenced to be imprisoned in the Jersey Islands for 2 years, then to be returned to mainland for the charges there.  However while in prison the Germans invaded.  Playing on a chance Chapman immediately volunteered to join the Germans.

After months Chapman was selected for training, and several more months of instruction followed.  But in December 1942 Chapman was given his first mission.  Armed with a pistol, some detonators, a wireless and a suicide pill Chapman was parachuted into Britain.  His target was to blow up the Mosquito factory at Hatfield.
Chapman was also given £990 of cash, but the piles of bank notes were held together with bands that said "Reich's bank, Berlin".  Even the pilot of the German plane later confessed that he thought Chapman had no chance of survival.

First he needed some explosives. He used his earlier knowledge and raided a quarry near Sevenoaks coming away with a substitutional pile of explosives.

All was set.  On January the 29th 1943 Chapman found himself lurking in the darkness made all the more profound by the blackout, next to the perimeter fence of the Hatfield factory.  He quickly scaled the fence and moved in.  He found the powerhouse of the building and planted his charges before withdrawing not having seen a single soul.

At midnight a huge explosion rocked the factory, blasting holes in the buildings walls, and smashing several transformers, throwing two to the ground.  Following Chapman's triumphant radio message to the Germans they sent over a plane to photograph the damage.  Remarkably the Reconnaissance plane had a very quiet flight, and returned with pictures showing the wide devastation.  Equally stories appeared in the Daily Express which confirmed the attack.
The Damage at Hatfield
Chapman was congratulated, and ordered to return to Germany via Portugal.  Chapman signed on as a crewman on a merchant ship and upon reaching Portugal he went ashore on leave.  He immediately returned to the German Embassy. He then used his initiative and asked the Germans at the embassy for an explosive shaped to look like a lump of coal.  He smuggled that back on board and stowed it in the coal bunker.  When sailing back to Britain the explosive would be loaded into the furnaces and detonate hopefully sinking the ship.
SS City of Lancaster, Chapman's ship to Portugal
Chapman was then returned to Germany, and sent to Norway where he spent considerable time within the German intelligence community.  For his services he was awarded the Iron Cross.

In 1944 Germany needed every asset it could get, so Chapman was dispatched back to London.  His job was to report on the fall of the V1's being launched at London.  Chapman remained at large for the rest of the war sending back precise targeting information for the V1 launches.  This enabled the Germans who had been overshooting their targets to lower the range and effectively bombard the capital.

Or at least that's what the German intelligence service thought had happened.

Back in December 1942 as soon as he had landed Chapman gone to the nearest house he could find and telephoned the police and handed himself in.  And he had then volunteered to be a double agent, codenamed "Zigzag".  The Hatfield bombing had been achieved by the special effects department from the Old Vic theatre.  The newspaper story in the Daily Express was a plant.  Originally MI5 had approached The Times to run the planted story, however the editor had refused stating:
"Nothing untrue had ever been published and he wasn't about to start now!"
Faked damage at Hatfield
The merchant ship in Portugal hadn't been sunk, as Chapman had handed the explosive to the ships captain and explained what was going on. He asked him to hand it into the authorities when he returned to England, which also allowed the British to obtain a sample of the latest German explosives.

While at the Norwegian safe house Chapman had covertly photographed all the visitors, including several spies, and then through a female fiancée in the Norwegian underground smuggled that information to the British.

On his return to London the V1's had been hitting perfectly, but due to Chapman stating they were overshooting the range was dropped and the bombardment caused less damage than it should have done.
Chapman, shortly before his death in 1997, being interviewed by the BBC.
After the war Chapman tried to get his story out, but failed as the Government hit it with a D-notice.  So he went abroad to publish and make it into a film. He married his first fiancée, the one he'd last seen in the Channel Islands, and lived in Spain until he died in 1997.


  1. Agents always make for the best stories, even if they never drove any tanks :)

    I really liked this one.

  2. Thanks Listy,
    I always heard that England had much success with double agents but apart from books like "The Paladin" and movies etc which you take as more fiction than anything I knew no details and assumed I never would.

    I hope you dont mind a little off topic request.
    I have posted a little request on the EU, NA and Asia forums looking for Aussies (or anyone) to support getting the white kangaroo emblem that was used by aussies in North Africa on captured tanks to be added into the game. Like the one in the pic in your "Ice cold in Tobruk" post.The threads are titled "Aussie player looking for support for a new emblem" or "Aussie players, do you want a new emblem?" Tanithia who is running the Asia developers Q&A threads sugested that it could happen if I could get some support going.
    If you think this is inappropriate requeste please feel free to delete this here. otherwise if you could do a little premotion somewhere I would appreciate it. maybe name the next orphan joey we get in care after you.
    Hopefully you will see "Big White Boomers" on the EU servers soon. I know if they are available I will buy gold and have them on my tanks.

    1. I've sugested loads of ideas in for historical emblems. Stuff like British Tac markings and Heer panzer div symbols.

      All of these are simple colours and shapes, which would take any artists about three minutes to knock up. But alas nothing has come of it.

      This gives me an idea on how to frame the idea, which I'd never thought of before. I'll keep you in the loop.