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The following text was taken from a newspaper cutting* loaned by Ron Jeeps. It was an obituary for "Harry Williamson" who, as a German Spy parachuted into Oakington and was captured by the Willingham Home Guard headed by Lt Col John Henry Langton DSO.
According to Langton's Great Grandson, "...Home Guard Commander Col Langton interrogated the man at HQ The Three Tuns before calling in the police."

*Unfortunately the date or name of the paper are not known.


HARRY WILLIAMSON, parachuted into Britain in 1940 as Wulf Schmidt to spy for Germany in the run up to the expected invasion. He was rapidly rumbled and spared the noose after being “turned” by MI5. For the next five years he fed false information to his controllers in Hamburg . The Danish-born double agent so impressed the Nazi authorities that he was made a naturalised German by radio and awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class in absentia.

To his British spy chiefs Schmidt was known simply as “Tate” - he was thought to resemble the music-ball comic, Harry Tate. His value to Britain as a master deceiver was incalculable. He set false scents and traps for U-boats and misled the enemy to expect heavy D-Day assault across •the Straits of Dover on the Pas de Calais .

Towards the end of the war in Europe the introduction of Schnorkel U-boats enabled the enemy to recharge batteries. while submerged. There were insufficient mines to counter this development but “Tate” convinced the German navy that minefields proliferated where in fact they did not exist or were negligible. During the summer of 1943 he worked as a cover on a farm at Wye, a location which suggested he was well placed to observe a cross channel raid. This served the purpose, throughout 1943, of making Hitler jumpy in the West and relieving pressure on the Russians fighting on the Eastern front.

The next year he operated similarly before D-Day, embellishing his reports with news of fictitious plans for additional landings, in Scandinavia and on the French Atlantic coast. After U-Day “Tate” was set a new task of deceiving the enemy about of the accuracy of their V-1 doodle bug flying bombs.

Wulf Schmidt was born in 1911 at Abenra, South Jutland, an area which had been German-occupied since the Prussian war of 1854 and returned to Denmark in 1919. He served briefly in the Danish army before accompanying a consignment of cattle to Argentina. He made a second trip and then settled in the Cameroons to grow bananas. He did not return to Germany until just after the outbreak of the Second World War. He was recruited as an agent and operated in Copenhagen before volunteering to parachute into England . His English was good if slightly guttural; he was confident that invasion forces would follow him within weeks.

On the night of Sept 19th 1940 Captain Karl Gartenfeld of the Luftwaffe took off from Brussels in a specially black painted Heinckel 111 bomber and a despatcher pushed out Schmidt - armed with a new identity as Harry Williamson - over the RAF station at Oakington. He was doomed from the Outset, having been betrayed by a Gustav Caroli, a Swede who preceded him and had been caught. It fell to the Home Guard in the village of Willingham , near Cambridge , to bring him in.

He was ill prepared to resist interrogation. He was obviously very confused both by our duodecimal currency system and by the ration coupons with which he had been issued. Expecting torture, he was astonished by his courteous reception and generous offers of whisky.

On Oct 16th1940, after recovering his buried radio, be called up Hamburg and said he was living near Barnet; in fact he was at Radlett with his MIS minder. For the next two years the Germans plied him with questions. They seemed obsessed with the price and availability of food and sundry other items. They were especially anxious about the “many, underground food-stores” in England .

To gain the trust of his supposed controllers “Tate” fed back some fairly accurate information. But on occasions neither he nor his minders could resist a touch of cheek: on Sept21 1944 he recorded, “On the occasion of this, my 1000th message, I beg you to convey to our Fuhrer my humble greetings and ardent wishes for a speedy victorious termination of the war.”

After the war he remained in Britain and worked as a photographer for the Watford Observer and later as an export manager. A caged bird-fancier, he judged competitions in his spare time. For years he lived quietly keeping his story to himself until, curiously, publicity over an unpaid poll tax bill led to revelations about his colourful past. His marriage, to an English woman after the war, was dissolved. He had a daughter.



MORE: Barry Hayter, Great Grandson of Col. Langton provided the following account with further details of the incident: 

The German spy that you have reference to was the Dane Wulf Schmidt who parachuted into England on 19 September 1940. He drifted down close to RAF Oakington’s AA Battery near the Cambridgeshire village of Willingham. He had smashed his wrist watch on a strut as he jumped from the Black Nazi Heinkel 111. The next morning he walked into Willingham and bought a new pocket watch and washed a slightly swollen ankle in the village pump and bought a copy of The Times.

He had breakfast in a small cafe and started to retrace his way back to the field near Half Moon Bridge where he had hidden his wireless and suitcase. At 10:00 am, just as he was crossing the village green, he was challenged by Private Tom Cousins of the local Home Guard and escorted to their headquarters, the Three Tuns public house. Here he was interrogated by Colonel Langton, the commander of the Home Guard detachment.

Schmidt carried false papers and claimed to be a refugee. The explanation was considered unsatisfactory and a telephone call was made to County Police in Cambridge. Shortly before lunchtime on 20 September 1940 Schmidt was collected from the Three Tuns and driven into Cambridge, where he submitted to further questioning. By this time there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a German spy. Chief Constable Pearson of Cambridge call in the RLSO, (Regional Security Liaison Officer) Captain Dixon.

They decided to keep their prisoner in Cambridge overnight and then send him down to Camp 020 by car the following day. On the morning of 21 September 1940 Schmidt was taken out of his cell and put in the back of an unmarked MI5 sedan and was driven down to Camp 020 for professional interrogation by trained British counter-espionage personnel who had experience breaking down German agents. Schmidt resisted interrogation for thirteen days using his false legend.

At the end of the thirteen day of interrogation, he eventually capitulated and agreed to be a turned double agent and work for the British if they would spare his life. Schmidt was soon released from Camp 020 and driven into the Home Counties where he was placed under guard and supervision of a British ham radio operator. Shortly before midnight on 13 October 1940 he made radio contact with Hamburg without incident. He continued to transmit misleading information to the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) until the end of the war.

MI5 dubbed him TATE because of his likeness to Harry Tate, the popular music-hall comedian. After the war, he remained in Britain and married a British woman and became a successful business man.

I hope this answers your question. There was not any German spies operating independently under German control in Great Britain during the Second World War. They were either ALL turned as double agents under British control, incarcerated, expelled, or executed via death penality.


Nigel West. MI5:British Security Service Operations 1909-1945. Stein & Day (New York:1982)