Snow by Madoc Roberts Read Free Book Online

Book: Snow by Madoc Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Madoc Roberts
line-of-fire leap-frogs the other. Worse still, they knew about the mass movement of troops from the east to the west coast, and the details of a tactical plan to funnel attacking German bombers towards British fighter aircraft. The plan involved creating a ‘channel’ through the defensive aircraft guns, lining it only with searchlights. The German bombers were intended to fly down this channel where the British fighters would be waiting for them.
    According to Owens, the Germans wanted their agents in Britain to report daily on any changes to this arrangement. The Welshman insisted that his contacts were waiting for his instructions regarding the channel, and then added rather chillingly, ‘To a degree my instructions will govern the position of attack on London, and I would like some advice on the matter.’
    Owens also offered details of the location and personnel of Dr Rantzau’s German Secret Service office, naming them as: Naval – Dr Becker; Army – Dr Laurance. Owens also promised to write to Dr Wentzel asking for details of their addresses, their call signs and instructions regarding the transmitter.
    Now, for the first time, Owens was supplying tangible details about German personnel, and his warning about the leaked report proved that at least some of the information supposedly gleaned from his contacts in Hamburg was authentic. In political terms, Owens was now anticipating a massed aerial offensive aimed at London, and this was bound to be highly controversial. The German air-raids on Madrid, and the Italian air attacks on Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, had moved modern warfare into a new realm, with centres of population enduring heavy airborne bombardments , and it was precisely these tactics that Owens was predicting would be applied to London. There had been much discussion about what protection could be afforded to the capital’s civilian inhabitants, and the need to fortify certain key administrative centres, but the debate about the construction of deep shelters and the degree to which residential areas would becomemilitary targets in any future conflict was highly-charged. Once again, Owens had demonstrated a talent for making claims that were guaranteed to attract attention at the highest levels.
    In these circumstances Owens was requested to stay in regular touch with Special Branch over the coming weeks as uncertainties grew during the crisis, and their meetings were usually arranged in public houses. At each encounter the opening gambit was to remind Owens that the caution given to him by Hinchley-Cooke still stood, that he was not employed in any way by the British Security Service, and that whatever he did was entirely on his own initiative. At these meetings Owens supplied information about individuals he described as German Secret Service personnel in Hamburg, and on one occasion he also showed the content of the letter he had written to Dr Wertzel, prompting the Special Branch officer to note that ‘it appeared to me that S for reasons best known to himself, desires to ingratiate himself with the British authorities.’
    Evidently preparations for the delivery of the transmitter were approaching completion, and Owens arranged a trip to Hamburg to carry out the final tests. Upon his return he arranged several meetings with MI5 and, after the usual cautions, revealed that the transmitter was to be delivered before 17 January 1939, and that he had received the code to be used. Owens described having seen a demonstration of the transmitter in action, explained how the code worked and offered copies of the transmitter’s technical manual. He then produced a Victoria Station cloakroom ticket, numbered: k.7845, and the key to an attaché case, explaining how the radio could be redeemed.
    Without Owens being told, the transmitter was recovered immediately from Victoria Station by Special Branch detectives and taken to Hinchley-Cooke who examined it and then had it returned. The ticket

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