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When the confines of Larchfield, in Aspley Guise, became too small, Sefton Delmer transferred his operations to a larger premises in the village, The Rookery. The house was equipped for recording facilities on 12 inch discs and in July, 1942, to extend the rehearsal apparatus in the house to huts outside, it was arranged to supply 21 yards of rubber covered twin wire. As the permanent liaison officer between The Rookery and the U.S.A., W. Hottelot often stayed at the house. As a new 'help', her duties to include accompanying the broadcast teams to 'Simpsons' and in
The Rookery, Aspley Guise
particular the priest for G7, in November, 1942, Miss Hodson became a member of the staff. Many dignitaries from the world of intelligence and propaganda came to stay at various intervals, including Ian Fleming, of James Bond fame, David Bowes L:yon, brother of the Queen and Otto John, the only conspirator of the Hitler bomb plot to escape abroad. At the end of the war much of the furniture was sold off and in a small desk several scripts, written in German, were found.
Woburn Abbey, the ballroom
The Helleshreiber
Perhaps in view of the responsibility for GS1, a minute dated 27th, May, 1941, decided that Delmer should now have joint responsibility with Crossman for Woburn’s German department. Delmer would be responsible to Reginald Leeper for the ‘special operations’ side whilst Crossman would deal with the ‘open’ B.B.C, aspects, answerable to the Minister of Information.

On the B.B.C., Delmer had been asked by Crossman to take on the task of replying to the broadcasts, on Radio Berlin, by Hans Fritzsche and to begin such a response on Thursday, June 6th., 1941, Delmer was about to drive to London when he received a phone call from Leonard Ingrams, asking him why he was not at Woburn abbey. An important conference had been convened but Delmer had not been informed and immediately he went to Woburn Abbey where, in the ballroom, long conference tables had been set up, at which were seated many eminent persons, from university dons to military men. Reginald Leeper then told the assembly that for several weeks Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff had known that around June 22nd. Germany would invade Russia. The meeting had been called to decide in which direction propaganda, overt and covert, should now be prepared. Delmer was asked to give the attitude of Der Chef and replied that he would be fully in favour!

During the early days of the GS1 station, the corporal had not entirely grasped Delmer’s concept of broadcasting and the burdens of rewriting much of the material fell upon Delmer himself. Understandably, he was then very relieved when the security checks were cleared on Johannes Reinholz, who performed the writing to Delmer’s satisfaction thereon. Prominent in the right wing opposition against Hitler, Johannes and his Jewish wife had fled to the safety of England at the last moment and at Aspley Guise they joined the GS1 team on June 5th., 1941. There Johannes played the part of Der Chef’s aide de camp, or adjutant, in the propaganda transmissions and he certainly induced a beneficial effect in the corporal, who now more comfortably assumed the mantle of the role, eventually writing the scripts as well.

The sole intent of the GS1 station was to dishearten and demoralise the German audience, convincing them of a growing underground resistance, deep within Germany and upon this belief hinged the whole credibility of the operation. With pornography employed without qualms, at least in the earlier stages, to capture the attention of the enemy soldiery, language offensive against the British was also employed, to the degree that Churchill found himself described as a ‘drunken, flatfooted old Jew’!

Despite lacking little in imagination, sources of intelligence proved the real need for GS1 and at first, newspaper extracts and interrogations brought back by Delmer, from Lisbon, had to suffice.

From Larchfield, Delmer and his increasing entourage soon transferred to a more spacious villa near Aspley Guise church, The Rookery, where Mrs. Maddy continued the housekeeping duties and her husband attended the gardens. Delmer’s wife, Isabel, taught Mrs. Maddy French cooking and as for more traditional fare, mushrooms could be gathered in plenty from the surrounding fields, free range chickens roamed the region and from the ducal estates, venison could be had.

In August, 1941, by the arrival of the third man to join Delmer’s team, Max Braun, the scarcities of the intelligence material began to lessen. A socialist leader, who led the anti Hitler front in the Saar, he had to flee from the simple motivation that the Nazis were trying to kill him. Together with his brother, Heinrich, a lawyer, at Aspley Guise he now took charge of the intelligence department and scouring obscure German newspapers for information and assisted by contacts in Europe, he began to assemble a card index on thousands of Germans. Other intelligence came from a radio operated teleprinter, left behind by a fleeing German journalist, which tapped the transmissions of the Berlin based D.N.B. (Deutsches Nachrichtenburo), the official German news agency. Thus press releases and Propaganda Ministry directives were often received and relayed by Aspley Guise even before they reached their intended recipients! Additional intelligence came from intercepted mail, interrogation of prisoners, bugged P.O.W. camps and probably heavily scrambled decodes from Bletchley Park.

Close co-ordination between the Admiralty and Naval Intelligence also helped the operation and evidence became apparent after only a few weeks that the station was sought for news or amusement not only by U boat crews but also figures in the highest army circles as well.

Of the personnel attached to Delmer’s operation, ‘Renee Halkett’ had joined in November, 1941. A thin, middle aged man, taken to wearing an eye glass, his real name was Von Fritsch, a cousin of the Commander in Chief of the German Army and as an ardent anti Nazi, after emigrating to England he assumed the name of his Scottish grandmother. Amongst the more notorious characters associated with the programme, at the end of 1941 the future of GS1 was put at risk by the outspoken Freddy A. Voight, who had been recommended by Campbell Stuart. Born in 1892, the son of a naturalised German father, he became the Manchester Guardian’s correspondent in Berlin and when involved with the wartime propaganda, unfortunately leaked the truth about the GS1 operation to the ‘National Review’. The printed paragraph was duly monitored by the Germans and subsequently ridiculed in the weekly ‘Das Reich’ but GS1 nevertheless came back on the air a few weeks later and continued to make an impression on the German listeners. No action was taken against Voight and later in the war he would again write articles which ‘gave joy to Haw Haw’. On this occasion he successfully claimed damages from the paper that printed the allegation!
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