AXIS – spies and saboteurs

Nazi saboteur trial

Nazi saboteur trial

If the Allied powers had their spies lurking around behind the front lines, you can be sure the enemy was doing the same. Once again, you will find that I have certainly missed some of them and I am counting on you out there to fill in the blanks.

Takeo Yoshikawa

Takeo Yoshikawa

Takeo Yoshikawa began his career in intelligence in 1937 and became an expert on the U.S. Navy. He even received a thank you letter from Adolph Hitler after he informed the Germans of a 17 troop transport convoy that left Freetown and was en route to England; many of these ships were destroyed. On Hawaii, under the name Tadashi Morimura, he rented private planes and observed the U.S. installations on the islands. He would then transmit this data to Tokyo in PURPLE code; the U.S. did intercept these messages – but deemed them unimportant. When he heard the code, “East wind, rain,” he destroyed all evidence of his guilt since this meant Pearl Harbor would be attacked. August 1942, he returned to Japan. When he opened a business in 1955, he found the Japanese people blamed him for the war with the U.S. and his wife needed to support him the remainder of his life.

Velvalee Dickinson

Velvalee Dickinson

Velvalee Dickinson, from Sacramento, Calif., became associated with many Japanese organizations through her husbands brokerage business and remained sympathetic. Velvalee opened a doll shop and sent coded messages through a complex system that included Argentina and New York. She was eventually caught and tried in January 1944, sentenced to ten years. She was released in 1951 and somehow disappeared in 1954.

dickinson_store

No. 62 Squadron, Feb. 1941

No. 62 Squadron, Feb. 1941

Patrick Heenan was a captain in the British Indian Army that spied for Japan during the Malayan Campaign. He was stationed at Alor Star in Kedah, Malaya in June 1941 where most of the RAF, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force squadrons were based. When Japanese forces invaded on 8 December, their air raids were assisted by Heenan as he used a hidden radio and more codetransmitter. His treason cost No. 62 Squadron personnel and aircraft. He was arrested 10 December, court martialed and jailed in January 1942 in Singapore. When the enemy attacked that city, Heenan was shot in the back of his head and dumped in Keppel Harbour by his wardens.

The Black Dragons were a paramilitary group of Japan. Their agents operated during the Russo-Japanese war and then continued into WWII. They initially were directed to act against the Soviets, but were later expanded throughout Turkey, northern Africa, S.E. Asia and the U.S. Two American organizations influenced by the Dragons were the “Brotherhood of Liberty for the Black People of America” and “Nation of Islam.” On 27 March 1942, the FBI arrested a number of lack Dragons in San Joaquin, California.

FBI mug shots, March 1944, six of 33 in Duquesne spy ring

FBI mug shots, March 1944, six of 33 in Duquesne spy ring

The German U-boats that actually touched North American soil were setting agents on shore. The Duquesne spy ring is the largest espionage case in the U.S. to end up in convictions. The agents were sent to various sites to extract information and commit sabotage. One spy opened a restaurant, one worked at an airline and the others were at radio stations and messenger boys. The ring leader was Fritz Joubert Duquesne, a South African Boer who had worked for Germany in both wars. But, the U.S. had a double-agent within the group and on 29 June 1941, all 33 agents were arrested and sentenced to a total of 300 years in prison.

George Dasch spy ring, tean 1

George Dasch spy ring, tean 1

Operation Patorius was divided into 2 teams; one led by George John Dasch (aka – George Davis, a former resident of the U.S.) and landed 12 June 1942 off of U-boat 202 at East Hampton, Long Island. Their mission: to destroy power plants at Niagara Falls and 3 ALCOA factories. The second team landed at Ponte Vedra Beach, SE of Jacksonville, Florida. Their mission: to lay mines at the Pennsylvania Railroad at Newark, NJ and the water supply lines at St. Louis, Cincinnati and NYC. George Dasch turned himself into the FBI and the others were soon arrested due to his confession. Six of the agents were executed; 8 August, Dasch received a 30 year term, but was released and deported back to Germany in 1948. He did not receive a good welcome home and moved to Switzerland where he wrote the book, Eight Spies Against America.

Kerling, Team 2

Kerling, Team 2

Operation Elster landed at Hancock, Maine 30 November 1944 aboard U-boat 1230. Their mission: to learn what they could about the Manhattan Project and sabotage it, if possible. The FBI caught them in New York; one spent 10 years in prison and the other was released in 1960, operated a business in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and later retired to Florida.

14 May 1942, Marius Langbein landed near St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada of U-boat 217 for Operation Grete (named for his wife). He never carried out his orders, but rather lived off of the funds given to him by the Germans and then surrendered in December 1944. Being that he never committed a crime – he was found not guilty.

Werner von Janowski

Werner von Janowski

U-518, in November 1942 sank two iron ore freighters and damaged another in Conception Bay, Newfoundland before setting agent, Werner von Janowski, ashore near New Carlisle, Quebec. Upon seeing the man act suspicious as he left a hotel, Earle Annett, followed the spy and 3 hours later, notified a constable. The officer continued the tail, struck up a conversation with the suspect and Janowski confessed his intentions.

German U-boat, U-537

German U-boat, U-537

22 October 1943, Professor Kurt Sommermeyer and his team debarked U-537 at Martin Bay, Labrador to set up an automatic weather station, “Weather Station Kurt” or as the enemy knew it – “Wetter-Funkgerät Land – 26.”

When U-867 attempted to replace the batteries 3 months later, it was sunk. Left undisturbed, it was discovered in the 1980’s and is now at the Canadian War Museum.

Click on photos to enlarge

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Farewell Salutes –

William Henry Kempner – Newark, DE; U.S. Navy submariner, Korean War

Robert Earl Boggs – Columbus, OH; Jupiter, FL; U.S. Navy Commander, retired carrier aviator

Gary Lee Tyler – Roxbury, NY & Palm Beach Gardens, FL; U.S. Army Fourth Army Band, Korea

Edward J.W. Stuart – Alton, ILL. & Lake Worth, FL; U.S. Navy in Korea, ships USS Palau-CVE722; USS Midway-CVB-41 and USS J.C. Owens-DD7756

Eve Metz – Worchester, Mass & Delray Beach, FL; U.S. Army, Second Lieutenant, nurse during WWII

John Reeves Oakman – Boca Raton, FL; U.S. Army WWII

Russell Link – Lake Worth, FL;USMC sergeant

Roosevelt Garner, Jr. – W. Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Navy WWII Pacific, electrician’s mate

Willoughby Ted Quin – Lake Worth, FL; U.S. Army WWII w/ a Silver Star; reenlisted U.S. Air Force for Korea and Vietnam

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Current News –

Born on the Fourth of July – WWII Veteran U.S. Navy, Frank Eaton, born on 4 July in Northville, Mich., received a plaque honoring his military service on his 90th birthday from the city of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Funny or Scary? – In Tampa, Fla., A homeless woman, Suzanne Jensen, not only sneaked into MacDill Air Force Base, by turning a garbage can upside down and scaling the fence, once and staying for days at a time, but four times!! She also stole a military I.D.

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Personal Note –

Next week, gpcox is due for jury duty. Depending on that schedule, next week’s posts might be delayed. I always attempt to respond to each comment, but that also might be affected. I’ll do my best.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 13, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 98 Comments.

  1. Fascinating stuff! That U-boat found in Canada recently, had to be one of these operations.

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    • Nothing would surprise me. There were a lot more out there than I originally thought, so it only stands to reason that some slipped passed all detection as well. It would be interesting to hear from someone with access to the German archives and find out just how many U-boats came over here.

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      • Yeah, I think one problem is that a great deal of information was lost at the end of the war as Germany was collapsing.

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        • I suppose we would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed.

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          • Yes. I half expect one day some vault to be found under Berlin or somewhere that even the current German govt. doesn’t know about. The British Spitfire fighters found in Burma recently, no record had been kept of those either.

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            • It might have been a secret operation?

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              • The U-boats, sure. The Spitfires in Burma were buried as the Japanese were advancing.

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                • Just what all is out there to be still dug up do you think?

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                  • It’s hard to measure on the Axis side, but there were numerous U-boats that went missing and were presumed lost in action on the German side, but can’t be confirmed on the Allied side in battle reports which only say, ‘attacked suspected U-boat’, etc.

                    Then also, no one can be 100% sure that Germany and Japan both didn’t store, bury, or submerge in the ocean, files, reports, experimental equipment and/or pass on orders to sleeper agents in Allied countries to fit in and have a good life on VE/VJ days.

                    At the time of both nations surrender, it was presumed that there would never be succeeding government. Germany’s leaders firmly believed that Germany would be partitioned and wiped off the map (that was considered by the Allies). Japan’s leaders believed Japan would be made a U.S. State or territory and Japan’s people exterminated.

                    So it’s entirely possible that very low ranking people were told to hide or destroy various things and did not even know themselves what they were or presumed it was just to annoy the victors and nothing important. I dare say, some of those executed as war criminals probably took that knowledge with them if they had it.

                    On the Allied side, entirely different matter. There’s very extensive records of lots of things, except where territory was lost or occupied, such as the Spitfires in Burma.

                    But, probably about 50% of what is known, is still classified top secret. To this day, all files on Rudolph Hess are under lock and key and that’s for a reason. 😉 For the most part though, so much remains classified because the methods involved in obtaining information are still being used and they themselves are top secret. So, releasing the information, would tell everyone how it was gained.

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                  • Oh… and you also had die-hards, who thought the Axis would rise again. Like the hot heads that ran for office in Japan in the 1950’s I believe it was.

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  2. Really fascinating “intrigue”, gpcox…especially learning of the fate of Yoshikawa. But the Singapore spy… he sure got what he deserved (not that I support killing – unless deserved 🙂 )

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  3. Reblogged this on Serendipity Chronicles and commented:
    Time to curl up with another great post with your fellow fans of Pacific Paratrooper’s blog. If you’re not following him, please do add him to your blog list.

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  4. Another post which just drew me in. Your blog is the online equivalent of a book I can’t put down.

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  5. Very informative and in nice chewable bites too. Thank you.

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  6. One of my uncles was recruited by the OSS. He was Mexican American and looked Arabic. He spent his war time in Cairo pretending to be a playboy.

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  7. In Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 narrative “Unbroken”, we meet Kunichi James Sasaki, who just prior to WWII attended the University of Southern California with the book’s protagonist, Louie Zamparini. Sasaki shows up again later in “Unbroken” where we learn he was a spy for the Imperial Japanese Navy masquerading as a grad student to obtain American military secrets. Great post, sir! I look forward to reading your blog often.

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  8. Informative, as always.

    . . . I think that I too, in those situations, would have followed Marius Langbein’s example.

    It would seem like the sensible thing to do.

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  9. Very interesting and frightening. Thanks for providing sources. I will be doing some research of my own in regards to Janowski. Also, thank you for stopping by my blog!

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  10. I hope there are history teachers who are sharing your blog with their students. Such amazing information!

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  11. All the best with jury duty. Seems timely that you have been called to jury duty when your recent research for this post must have involved reading about the trials of spies. I wonder if those trials had juries and I wonder if all the spies were apprehended. Fascinating

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  12. A post with a wow factor. Intriguing stories. Never heard about that British spy, I guess they did not want that information in British history books.

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  13. I would bet that even those living during this time didn’t know about much of this. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I certainly didn’t. Again, tremendous research – but whsat else should we expect ???

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    • The media couldn’t print what it didn’t know and therefore panic was reduced. The next will be the war trials in the Pacific; then I’ll move thru the “peaceful” years and into the inevitable Korean War. Thanks for commenting and your interest, Judy.

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  14. That German weather station is now sitting at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. It is still in a very good shape for something that was left outside for many decades

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    • I guess the slogan, “German built,” was true back then also. Thanks for stopping in.

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      • And if I remember correctly they found the location of that weather station when the German archives were opened to public after the fall of the Berlin Wall, someone saw that information and relayed it to Canada otherwise it could still be sitting there because the location of the station was so remote

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        • Siemens engineer, Franz Selinger went thru Sommermeyer’s papers to write a history of the company and came upon the information. He contacted Canadian Dept. of National Defense historian, W.A.B. Douglas. Thanks for adding.

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  15. Fascinating as always. My first thought when I read your title was the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock movie “Saboteur” with Robert Cummings. So much about war and so many different things that one like me just doesn’t think about. Have fun with jury duty…. 😉

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    • Thanks, Linda. Ah, Bob Cummings and his show as a photographer – good memories; but can’t recall the movie. Thanks for stopping and have a great day.

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  16. As always, an eye-opening post. Both war and human behaviour are muddier and more complex than any history ever conveys.
    Good luck with the jury service. I agree, take a book.

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  17. Interestingly…they all look like spies…to me!

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  18. Who ever knew there was this much activity off the east coast of Canada – certainly not me! Illuminating as always.

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  19. Carol Schlaepfer

    More informative and very interesting story’s. Love them. I am learing a lot about our own history.

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  20. Cajoyoussong@aol.com

    GP…You don’t need to reply to this..esp if jury duty calls. Another interesting story. Amazing information. It is informative and very interesting reading. Carol

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  21. As always, another interesting and informative post. I always learn a little something new here.

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  22. So many interesting details – the last person I’d suspect as a spy is the old lady with the doll shop.
    Good luck with the jury duty, gpcox!

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  23. There are many plots to books waiting to be written here.

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  24. Great post. Scary stuff. I think if I had been around during the time period, I would be glad to be naive to these activities but be glad that we have experts out there attempting to uncover and prevent. Today with all the media outlets, if it is known we get to know it too and I am not sure it is completely a good thing. Keep it coming as I am learning so much from you.

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    • I totally agree; the media is NOT always a good thing – they have often done more to hurt a stressful situation than help. Sort of like a surgeon trying to operate while surrounded by other hands; he can’t get in to do his job.

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  25. So interesting. Looks like you’ve really done your homework. It would be great if you also noted your sources to point the way for some who would like to learn more.

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    • I have been forgetting to do that lately, haven’t I? I began to feel no one was actually looking at them. For this post I used: Wikipedia; “Americans Remember the Home Front” by Roy Hoopes; the National Archives & AOL images

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  26. Fascinating post! Interesting about the eggs too 🙂

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  27. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    Great post again…

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  28. Pierre Lagacé

    Stellar!
    Great post again worth reblogging on Lest We Forget

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  29. Wowza! And all I previously knew about WW era spies was that British spies used semen as invisible ink 🙂

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