Denis Sefton Delmer, always known as Sefton Delmer, or ‘Tom’ to his friends, ('Big Tom', during his later work at Milton Bryan), had been born on 24th May, 1904, in Berlin, being registered as a British citizen by the British Consul General. His father was interned at the outbreak of the First World War but Sefton and his mother remained at liberty. The family were then repatriated in May, 1917.

Winning a scholarship, at Lincoln College, Oxford, Tom read modern history and by the time he left university, his father was working as a local correspondent
Denis Sefton Delmer
for a number of British publications. This gave Sefton connections with Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express and a chance encounter between Tom and Lord Beaverbrook led to Tom being employed by the Daily Express. He became the Berlin correspondent, in 1928.

Bilingual in English and German, he spent five years in Berlin meeting many of the leading Nazis, including Hitler. Transferred to Paris in 1933, he then rose to the position of Chief European correspondent in 1937. In the course of this journalistic employment he witnessed most of the European troublespots and being in Warsaw when that capital was first bombed by the Germans, he escaped to London and for his next assignment became a British war correspondent, attached to the French army.

Forced to flee at the Fall of France, Delmer returned to England and now aged 36 and weighing 17 stone hoped to make a big impression at British Intelligence. Yet the fact that he had been born in Berlin, together with his acquaintance with the Nazis, precluded such an ambition. He therefore continued as a Daily Express correspondent although his knowledge of German, plus a familiarity with the country, enabled him to make contributions to the German broadcasts of the B.B.C. His was the unauthorised and definitely blunt reply to Hitler’s ‘final peace appeal’, which caused a minor flurry!

Named the ‘Flying Baker, from his self piloted financial activities around Europe, Leonard Ingrams held connections with the Secret Service and as a friend of Tom, in September, 1940, suggested he should leave the Daily Express and begin work for secret broadcasting. Meeting a favourable response, Ingrams duly arranged an interview with Valentine William’s - Reginald Leeper’s deputy director of secret broadcasting - but although the outcome was successful, still the security people, for the reasons of his German background, turned him down.

Then in November, 1940, came an oblique invitation from M16 offering Tom an undercover role in Lisbon. Using his Daily Express position as a ‘front’ and with Hitler’s doctor included amongst the number, Delmer’s task would be to question those German Jews leaving for America - having bribed the Gestapo - and from these interviews hopefully gain a valuable insight, into the conditions of contemporary Germany.
Then a telegram suddenly arrived from Ingrams, suggesting that Delmer should resign from the Daily Express and return to England, where an important job awaited him. Tom accordingly Tom returned to London around January, 1941 but although told of the Woburn operations and his intended role, at first he could do little except attend a few Woburn meetings in Leeper’s room with Crossman, Walmsley and the infamous
Woburn Abbey
Voight. Soon, however, he was given authority to establish a new right wing broadcast station, partially to counter that of the German ‘Workers Challenge’ and his was the vision that realised the advantage of talking to the mass of the German people, not just a few dissenters. So was born Gustav Siegfried Eins, the first of Delmer's black stations and by style and effect it set the tone for many others, that were to follow.
Back to top