Churchill’s Last Wartime Secret, the 1943 German raid airbrushed from history

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  • Author:
    Adrian Searle
    Was there a German raid on the Isle of Wight in 1943? Was it an attempt to steal radar secrets? Was it launched from the Channel Islands? The author, also a journalist, tries to answer these questions.

    For many years, there have been rumours of small-scale incursions by the Germans on the shores of the United Kingdom, between 1939–1945. The premise of this one is that a small-scale raid on a radar installation on the Isle of Wight took place sometime during 1943, carried out by a “platoon” of convalescent German soldiers. There have been other rumours of similar landings, and Searle references Shingle Street in Norfolk, as an example.

    The whole façade is built upon a single entry in the ARP log for August 1943, recording a Police report of “two dinghies full of Germans at sea off Ventnor”. What follows in this book is a mustering of various things that the author thinks supports his case. These include people retelling stories that “men from the ministry” called on them to sign the Official Secrets Act and not to repeat what they know. There is the involvement of three Germans, two named but now dead and one not named, who corroborate each other’s stories, he says. The German’s accounts do vary, some say prisoners were taken and another says two British personnel were shot. There are no records of either.

    What cannot be disputed is that there is no official record in the UK or Germany that say that the raid took place and when. Searle says that these records do not exist in the UK, by order. This is the only passing reference to Churchill and the book title. Is the author looking for a conspiracy, where there isn’t one? I think that he thinks that he has a compelling case, based on the evidence that he has seen and heard. I have my opinion, but suffice to say that it does not match his. I would love to be proved wrong.

    All that said, this is a well-written book that an attempt to uncover what the author seems to think is a true story. It is short enough to be read over a couple of days and does give the reader something to ponder.
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  1. beardyProf
    Why would this be a big secret, "20 Germans raided the IoW and were beaten off", even if they'd stolen some radar bits it's not big news. Why would they want to steal British radar, their own designs were quite adequate. Compared with say ULTRA this is not news, it's not even credible gossip. Sorry but my £10 will go elsewhere.
    1. dockers
      The author's argument is that, in the climate of the time, an admission that such a landing took place would be a severe blow to public morale. I would contend that public morale was not as fragile as that by this period of the war. Still, let's not let a rumour get in the way of...more rumours.
      dockers, Jan 20, 2017
  2. baboon6
    Why would a platoon of convalescent soldiers be sent on a commando raid ??
    1. dockers
      The author's contention is that it proved their medical fitness before being returned to their unit. I don't think that was really the case. The author has found a string of events which he is trying to connect.

      For a bit more detail of his claims, without buying the book, search Dan Snow's History Hit podcasts for the author's name.
      dockers, Jan 20, 2017
    2. baboon6
      Sounds like bilge of the first water ! Thanks for giving us the heads up.
      baboon6, Jan 20, 2017